5 Famous Abandoned Towns

I am going to go on a “rant”. I was walking to the photocopy shop today to get a few sheets xeroxed. Though it is supposedly the monsoon in Mumbai, the rains have more or less completely, spectacularly and wholly failed (from where I see it) and its too sunny and humid to be smiling or even kind of joking about.

Because of this fucked up climate, I am also not well. So when I walked to the copy shop, I noticed the absence of any empty space to walk in. This was because the “roads” were clogged with trash or dogs or people or vehicles. The sidewalk is in a current state of 404. I more or less stopped myself from hulking out, took the damned copies and went home.

And whenever this happens (and it happens a lot), I always think : How would it be if Mumbai was empty, with just 1 million people instead of 20?

That thought soon progresses into : How would it be if India was “empty”, with just 200 million people instead of a billion?

I don’t know if I can ever answer the second question, but I have found answers for the first. There are plenty of abandoned human settlements in the world, called ghost towns. Whenever I get bugged with the stupid crowds here, I space out and fly into my imagination’s “Abandoned Mumbai”.

I’ve now finished my “pretentious rant”. I’m no Shakesphere, quizmaster or photographer. So I’ll move on to the “list” straight away.

Now, check out 5 (of the many) abandoned places in the world :

San Zhi – Taiwan.

Basically, these weird looking houses were built as a getaway place for the rich Taiwanese and American officers returning from their Japan posting, back in 1978. But as most horror flicks-to be go, numerous accidents, some fatal, finally halted work. It never took off again due to unwillingness and the lack of funds.

And obviously, there are rumors that the city is haunted by the ghosts of those who died. Rumors behind these rumors say that the site was a burial ground for Dutch soldiers who died in the II WW. One more rumor says shit started going down only because of the destruction of a dragon sculpture to widen a road. Apparently, that kind of thing is really really bad.

I have got to ask one thing : even if ghosts exist, what are they made of?

Again, obviously, the Government covered it up and distanced itself from the whole “resort’, mysterious happenings, weird buildings and all. Now, its becoming obvious that construction may never happen again and with the value of the land dropping dramatically, this is going to be around for a long long time.

I mean, who’d want a house in a place said to be haunted by ghosts of construction workers/soldiers/angry half-dragons?

Prypiat – Ukraine

EVERYONE knows about the Chernobyl disaster. A reactor went out of control and blew the fuck up, killing a lot of people and the nearby settlement of Prypiat, Ukraine was absolutely abandoned and has remained so, for the last 30 years.

Yeah, that black shadow MAY BE a ghost.

What is truly disturbing about Prypiat is that it was occupied by normal civilians like me or you at one point. Imagine if you had to just leave Delhi/Mumbai/Chennai et al suddenly, and you could never go back. You just had to drop everything and run, or you’d get cancer which you’ll pass on to your off-spring too.

That’s how Prypiat is. No matter how much Call of Duty 4 tried to romanticize it by including it in the game, its still lethally full of radiation. But this has not, weirdly enough, stopped nature from reclaiming it. Now, if you went there (don’t come near me), you’ll probably be able to see trees inside buildings and a perfectly thriving flora and fauna there.

And of course, as long as you have unguarded places with things of value, you’ll have idiots going and stealing them. So Prypiat is ironically infested with vandals and thieves, who have stolen everything from toilet seats to completely ruined children’s toys.

Way to go, idiots. Enjoy your cancer.

Oradour-sur-Glane – France

WW II was not particularly a nice phase in humanity’s short history. Plenty of innocent people died. Plenty of soldiers died. World history as we know it exists only because of WW II. If it was not for the craving for a single sandwich, we may not even have Israel and Palestine right now.

That being said, there’s no justification in trivializing deaths and laughing over it, because a death is a sad event. Which is what makes the whole story about Oradour-sur-Glane even more horrifying.

That's the car of the towns doctor.

Basically, the Normandy Landings had just taken place and this alarmed the Germans. A regiment of these Germans moved into a town north of Toulouse when they heard that a German officer was being held hostage by the French Resistance.

They confused the name of the town where the Officer was supposedly being held, with Oradour-sur-Glane. They called out the people. They asked for papers. They then led the men into barns and shot their feet, so that the men could die slowly. The blew up a Church where women and children (some as  young as week old) were being held.

In all, close to 650 people died in a matter of hours and the town was abandoned.

After the War, a new town was built nearby and the unfortunate original was left as it is to serve as a reminder for the stark days of the War.

Varosha – Turkey/Greece (disputed)

Compared to the other towns on this list, Varosha has a relatively normal existential-backstory. It was built in Cyprus, and I say “was” because the Turks totally invaded Cyprus and fenced off Varosha to everyone but UN inspectors.

Greek Cypriots fled to Greece and Turkish Cypriots ran away to Turkey (or so I assume). And take a look at the pictures taken by a very brave photographer. Apparently, there’s a car dealership that still has 1974 models in it, just rotting away. Come on Turkey, be cool.

Gunkanjima – Japan

Gunkanjima is just one of those things you can expect from the Japanese. Part of the 505 islands belonging to the Nagasaki prefecture, it was a coal mining facility and known for its coal mines during the Japanese industrialization period. If you look at it, it seems to be a very scary prison indeed, but people (lots of people) lived here and worked their butts off – the 15 acre island had a population of nearly 6000 people. That’s ridonkulously high.

Mitsubishi “bought” the island and built huge concrete monsters that would enable people to stay safely, well protected from the Pacific rim’s infamous typhoons.

It was soon abandoned after petroleum was discovered and shut down completely in 1974. I wonder what is with 1974 – it created 2 of the 5 ghost towns in this list. As with the previous entry, travel is completely prohibited without permission, and even if you request for permission, there’s no guarantee you’ll even kind of get it.


Posted on July 8, 2011, in Everything Else. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I just noticed that this list has a lot in common with this one: http://www.cracked.com/article_19617_the-6-most-mind-blowing-modern-ghost-towns.html

    Of course, they’re all pretty famous places.

  2. WWII is fascinating, in a completely non maniacal point of view.
    Well, the one thing that gets me thinking is, if Chennai did become ’emptier’ we’d at least not have the need to get on the frikkin bus this early each morn.

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