Travelling in a post-COVID world is going to differ drastically from the last time we were on a vacation. With physical distancing being the need of the hour and road journeys making a comeback, this might just be the ideal time to dive into the unexplored. If you do not mind roughing it up a bit on your trips, we suggest you head out to these 5 abandoned towns in India where history, legends and myths walk hand in hand:
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
As opposed to Tamil Nadu’s bright and striking culture, Dhanushkodi is eerily quiet and toned down. One of the smallest coastal towns in the world, it is the only land border between India and Sri Lanka. Flanked by the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, the town’s beach stretches upto 15 kilometres. Dhanushkodi was washed away by a massive cyclone in 1964, and declared unfit for inhabitation by the then Madras government. It soon came to be known as a ghost town. You can spot the ruins of yesteryears here, including a church and the railway station’s water tank. It is when you take a walk across the beach that the whooshing wind sounds and vast stretches of white sand strike you as eerie. Mythological legends say that it is here that Lord Rama created a setu (bridge) to Lanka (Sri Lanka) since the neighbouring country is only 30 kilometres away. Apart from religious devotees, Dhanushkodi is also preferred by travellers looking for offbeat travel destinations. Entry before sunrise and post sundown is prohibited.
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Usually known for the pristine white sand desert, Kutch also hosts the abandoned town of Lakhpat in its far northwest corner. Previously an important port city, Lakhpat has now been abandoned for almost 200 years, after an earthquake in 1819 lead the town to its current fate. The earthquake that changed the course of river Indus to its present one, dried up the town. And people were forced to abandon it. Facing north across the Great Rann towards Pakistan, the place has 7 kilometres of fort walls forming a boundary and making for spectacular views over the Rann. You can spot vast expanses of uninhabited land here. The highlight of this remote location is the clear night sky, perfect for stargazing owing to the clean desert air. The endless horizon also paves the way for a breathtaking sunrise and sunset.
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With strong mythological roots, Sidhpur is believed to be the place where warrior Parasurama performed the last rites of his mother. The town on the outside is characterised by mansions in pastel shades, with striking European architecture. However, visitors are few. It was initially inhabited by the Dawoodi Bohra community, who subsequently moved out in search of greener pastures. They built the mansions at the height of their prosperity, and visited regularly. However, with time, the ties weakened and it was soon left alone. The town receives most of its footfall during the annual Sidhpur Camel Festival on the banks of Sabarmati river.
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If local legends are to believed, Unakoti suffers the curse of Lord Shiva. Home to hundreds of rock-cut sculptures and scattered ruins of ancient temples, Unakoti is a treasure trove for lovers of archeology. Lying in the middle of a lush green forest, these sculptures are made out of sandstone. Large parts remain buried beneath the earth, and have never been excavated. It is believed that these sculptures are one less than a crore ('koti' in Sanskrit), lending the place its name. Till date nobody has found out how or when these uncut rock statues were made.
Situated less than 20 kms away from Jaisalmer, Kuldhara is rooted deep in history and legend. Once a prosperous village inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins, it is believed that the village caught the 'evil eye' of Salim Singh, the then prime minister of the state. Singh wanted to marry the village head’s daughter, forcibly and against the family's wishes. The villagers formed a council, fled their ancestral homes and cast a curse, that nobody will ever be able to settle here again. The place has stayed abandoned. You can spot long rows of extending mud houses without roofs and crumbling walls. An eerie silence surrounds the air. It looks frozen in time, in some places nature has taken over the structures.