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Showing posts with label Desert Safari. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Desert Safari. Show all posts

Best places to visit in Oman



Oman, formally the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation on the Arabian Peninsula's southeastern shore.
Holding a deliberately significant situation at the Persian Gulf's mouth, the United Arab Emirates flanks the country toward the northwest, Saudi Arabia toward the west, and Yemen toward the southwest. Arabic is the official language of Oman.
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24 hours in Bikaner

A quick escape to the warmth of Rajasthan is just what you need this winter
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Ethnic stay at Bishnoi Village...

We have stayed in Jodhpur and visited Bishnoi Area for one day. However on visiting the Bishnoi region we realised that we should have stayed in Bishnoi region and should have visited Jodhpur for a day's trip, as all the attractions in Jodhpur can be done in one day trip. Staying at Bishnoi region will also give a chance to experience Bishnoi culture and life in desert. But where to stay in Bishnoi region, we got our answer in Bishnoi Village (www.bishnoivillage.com), situated amidst Bishnoi villages, about 22 K.M. from Jodhpur city on the route of Jodhpur to Udaipur.

Bishnoi village is an ethnic resort designed in traditional Bishnoi spirit of living. The Resort consists of comfortable huts with thatched roof and attached bath room providing running hot and cold water. Huts are made of eco friendly local materials and plastered with cow-dung. The cow-dung is traditionally used as an antiseptic and insecticide. The huts are beautifully painted in traditional style by local women artisans. Its elegantly appointed rooms have their own individual character and furnishings.
Camp Site Tent (Activities):- The camp is exclusive, consisting of 10 deluxe tents tastefully decorated with attached bathrooms providing running hot and cold water. The Tents are beautifully decorated in traditional style by local artisans.  
Lots of activity is arranged in the resort itself which can be enjoyed/ indulged by the visitors. Likewise Camel riding, birds' watching, spending time with Bishnoi families... 
  
One can also enjoy the local fairs in its most original form. Local artists with their traditions and culture will surely enrich your memories. Resort organises safari (to villages Guda Bishnoiyan, kakani, khejarli)wherein one can see local craftsmen on work, shepherds, farmers and most important Black bucks and chinkaras roaming freely in their natural habitat.


Finding black bucks is very common in Bishnoi region, due to fact Black buck is protected and preserved by Bishnoi people. During the village safari, one can see the Bishnoi way of living very closely and spot Black bucks and even Siberian cranes (winter times) in the water bodies. Black buck fighting is very common in this area, but can be seen only for 2 months during their mating season (month of October and November)
Most important the FOOD, be assured to enjoy authentic Rajasthani meal like Ker sangari ki sabji, kadhi bajare ki roti, dal bati.... Will suggest to try Dal Bati, it is very different from what you will get in other cities, you will fall in love with. Enjoy the food...
One can easily plan a 2 night or 3 night stay at this resort. Resort can arrange a pick-up and drop facility to Jodhpur railway station.
Will recommend to try this version of Jodhpur travel itinerary, you will surely feel the difference. Contact details are as follows:
Bishnoi Village: http://bishnoivillage.com/
Phone : +91 94141 29233
Keep travelling Guys...





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Golden City of Jaisalmer

This is a place whose skyline is crafted in Gold, has been a travellers’ delight since long. Located in the heart of scorching and arid Thar Desert the Golden Yellow colour becomes a delight to eyes much before the majestic “Jaisalmer” begins.

 

Boarding an early morning train (Delhi-Jaisalmer Express) from Blue City of Jodhpur, we comfortably arrived in “Golden City” at 11:15 AM with second half still with us to explore. The mighty and impregnable fortification of “SONAR Qila” rising like a mirage from the ground, which is also the largest living fort on this earth is the landmark and defines the skyline of this city.

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Bishnois of Jodhpur


Visit to Jodhpur has been an amazing one, but somehow internal pleasure was not there. The joy of learning new culture, meeting different people was still to be attained on this trip. It was then came to know about visiting Bishnoi region, located at edge of Thar Desert; a distance of 22 km. from Jodhpur city.

Why? What is so special about this village? Special...Special is the custom here, special is the living philosophy and above all special is the practice of preservation of trees and wild life.

This is the place, Khejarli village where 363 people sacrificed their life to preserve trees. In 1763 Mehrangarh fort was being constructed, gypsum was required in huge quantity to cement the rocks. Gypsum was prepared in those days by heating the rocks, to heat the rocks wood was the only known source. So then king of Jodhpur asked his soldiers to cut the Khejri trees which were abundant in the region around Jodhpur. As the solders reached the region to cut the trees, Bishnois obviously tried to persuade the soldiers from not cutting trees. When soldiers used force to remove Bishnois, these Bishnois simply offered themselves to be killed before cutting the trees by raising slogans of:
सिर साटै रुंख रहे तो भी सस्तो जाँण " 
सिर के बदले  भी अगर वृक्ष बच जाए तो उस बलिदान को  सस्ता ही समझना 
“Even one head chopped in saving a tree is worth and has not gone waste”
It was only when 363 bishnois were killed, the news reached the king. The king then ordered not to cut any tree from then. Picture kept at existing Guru Jambheshwar temple is self-explanatory in this regard:  

A memorial has been built as a remembrance to that act and on the place where the remains of those people who sacrificed themselves have been buried. Bishnois also do not burn the dead bodies of the gone, but bury directly in order to preserve wood, as it comes from trees only. Every year on the anniversary day of that sacrifice, people gather here in huge numbers to pay homage to ones who taught to this world the value of preservation of natural resources. 


There are around 20,000 Bishnois in this area. Bishnoi sect was started by Guru Jambeshwar in 1458 AD. Bishnoi sect is based on 29 principles (Bish – 20, Noi- 9: the name Bishnoi) which emphasize on love, peace and harmony among humans, animals and most important nature. They love fellow human beings and preserve Khejri trees (source of Kair Sangri) and worship Black Bucks. Their dedication to these principles can be seen by this: even if black bucks enter into the field of standing crop, people do not scare them or try to move the herd out of the fields. There is also a temple dedicated to guru Jambheshwar. 

In the campus there are lot of peacocks here in the temple roam around freely. Peacock is the only bird which reproduces when the female (peahen) swallows the tear of mail species. Tear come out after peacock get tired dancing in the rains/ monsoons. Till the time tear comes out, peahen calmly stands by the side of peacock.

Let’s go close to the life style of a Bishnois. They still live in traditionally house built with the cow dung and mud, no need to use fan as the interiors are very cold in the peak scorching summers too. They also have their traditionally built refrigerators out of husk, cow dung in which they keep and store food items. Food is cooked on chulhas, only the dried branches of trees, which have fallen to the ground by themselves are collected for cooking. You can see tea being prepared on a Chulha. Bishnoi Ladies are very hard working; they get up early do household work and help man in fields also. 

I got a chance to have tea made on chulha (earthen furnace). Bishnois welcome the visitors with opium tea. Though opium is banned, but bishnois have permission to cultivate for their religion and customs associated to it. Here is the apparatus for preparing opium tea. Opium is put into the long tube and tea is distilled slowly through the opium. 


Such is the harmony here that ladies can afford to roam around in forests without any fear. This is a place where animals and birds can live without fear. One can find a lot of migratory birds like Siberian cranes here in the local water bodies and Guda Lake. Local water bodies are not encroached by any means by the locales and are reserved only to serve birds and animals.

Living on the edge of desert is not easy, but Bishnois have created a wonderful self-sustained ecosystem and are not dependent on external means for their daily requirements. We in cities might not value water so much, but the importance of water preservation is exemplified by these simple people. Hats off. Khejri tree is a prominent plantation in this region. A tree which grows/ survives/ flourishes by only rainwater. No extra water is required. Sangree is obtained from this tree, which is one of the most consumed vegetables here.



While moving around on narrow but well built roads, we were often coming across freely roaming chinkaras, black bucks and other animals. Amazed by the culture, we moved ahead to see the craftsmanship of these people, check out:



  • Pottery work; beautiful toys, images of Gods/ Goddesses, piggy banks, lanterns and utensils are much sought after. Crocodile visible in the back is also hand made by potters here. Prepare one crocodile is very time consuming and generally takes 2-3 months to make one.


Block Printing: Bed sheets with a rich mix of colors is prepared by traditional methods. these bed sheet go with number of steps and then finely a beautiful bed sheet form. You are free to buy bed sheets, good thing that they will show you bed sheets as many as you want to see, but will not insist slightly even to purchase even one. 

Bishnoi family was kind enough to show us the Dari weaving facility and told us the intricacies involved in the process. This is a community co-operative where most of the community members take part in Dari weaving. It ensures livelihoods for all of the families in this village. By this time, we were very hungry and excited as it was the time to have our lunch with a bishnoi family. Menu was Bajre ki roti, kair sangree ki sabzii, Yellow Dal and Besan ki Kadhi. Every dish was yummy and much tastier than any exotic meal in any restaurant or hotel. 


For explorers there is also an option of staying with the Bishnoi family, in their houses:

The Safari time of 6 hours in villages of Guda Bishnoiyan, khejarli and kanai passed like a second. But the take back experience of this place was awesome and worth for every moment. Take one day for Bishnoi safari and continue your journey to Jaisalmer or Bikaner.

For Information: This was the place where actor Salman Khan had killed the Black Buck, the act which was condemned widely. Black bucks are worshiped here as re-incarnation of their Guru Jambheshwar. As told by locales, had the vehicle been stopped by them, matter would have been very serious, justice might have been done there itself.

These days we keep hearing about people fighting all over the world for more resources. But after coming here, I firmly believe that peaceful co-existence is not that difficult if we learn to be happy within our means. People here are happy in whatever they have, but what makes them different is the pride in their culture and legacy. At this moment, Colossal Palaces and Forts do not look so great as compared to a Bishnoi house.

Remember: Needs can be fulfilled, but GREED cannot be. There are sufficient resources for everyone on this earth. Keep exploring Guys...
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Akal Wood Fossil Park, Jaisalmer

One of the most sought after heavens for history lovers is "Land of Rajasthan". Every lane of Rajasthan is a testimony to this. People come to this colourful land to cherish the royalties and glorious past of India.

If history is only sought, there is something here which is much older than the history itself. YES, this place has been a testimony to Jurassic age, to be honest pre Jurassic Era. History buff inside me was getting curious as we were approaching "Akal Wood Fossil Park". 

Get ready to take a plunge beyond History. Akal Wood Fossil Park takes you back to the pre Jurassic era, 180 million years back! In this area, once stood a forest 180 millions years ago. Then the area submerged in to the sea and the tree trunks got preserved in the form of fossils. The fossils of trees' trunks are preserved in this park, just like mummies in many parts of the world.

Witness to pre-Jurassic Era
This fossil park is spread in 10 sq. km. and 21-hectares is preserved area for 25 fossilized tree trunks. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. 

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Kuldhara - Curse of the Exodus

"A COMMUNITY VANISHED OVERNIGHT"

Where people used to celebrate festivals, sit together in the night alongside the bon fire and which was once an oasis in the Thar Desert, is now an abandoned spot. Along with Bhangarh, this place Kuldhara is considered as one of the most haunted and cursed place. But, Why...?

Something had happened one night when all the residents from Kuldhara had abandoned the place; however they left a curse that this place will never be inhabited again. The curse stays till date...


Most of the curiosity is centered on the main village of Kuldhara where the head of Paliwal clan used to live. However, there are 84 more villages around Kuldhara which are also lying abandoned till date.
Haunted lanes

If we take a plunge into the history lanes, all the abandoned places have been flourishing centers in various time zones, some of them were way ahead of then civilizations. This is true for Bhangarh and I believe the same for Kuldhara too. So first investigate the history of Kuldhara: Around 13th century, Paliwal clan migrated from Pali to settle in Kuldhara due to tyranny of the Pali king. Majority of the clan members were believed to have been brahmins, so mention of Paliwals come as Paliwal brahmins most of the times -


  • With their knowledge and enterprising nature they turned Kuldhara (and 84 villages around Kuldhara) into a flourishing place for trade and commerce activities. 
  • The farmers were adept in cultivating crops like wheat in the desert lands. It’s true, they were masters in identifying rock layers underneath the sand which could hold the required quantity of water for cultivation. Such was effluence built into the region that each new family was welcomed with a brick and a gold coin from every other family in the village. Brick was meant to build a house and gold coin to start a livelihood. I have not heard of such levels of prosperity and brotherhood in the history of mankind.

Then the question is why these people deserted this prosperous place. Some legends behind this: 

  1. The prosperity of Kuldhara had become a thorn in the eyes of Mughals/ other invaders. It is said that in the 18th century, a raid from the invaders resulted in the exodus of the  entire community from the Kuldhara area. It is believed that all the water sources and wells got poisoned due to dead animal carcasses, While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara, which stays till date. 

  2. Once a prime minister of the region (Jaisalmer),  Diwan Salim Singh got captivated by a beautiful girl of this community and wanted to marry her.  When his proposal was not approved by the community, he threatened Kuldhara residents with dire consequences. To preserve their dignity and keep honor intact, people from Kuldhara and nearby 84 villages made an exit in one night (around 1825 - 1830). While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara that this place will never see any inhabitation, which stays till date. 

  3. Taxes were increased by the government/ king to such an extent that residents had no option but to leave.

Widely believed and accepted reason is the 2nd one. However when looking at the condition of the houses, it looks highly improbable that this desertion took place only 200 years back. None of the houses have roof or even a part of roof intact. Houses look like they are lying in this state for much more than 2 centuries. Other reason to question this belief is that this was a peaceful exit, and residents took with them only bare necessary stuff and there was no fight. 

This cart got left behind, most probably there were no animals left to drive this.

So structure of the houses should have remained intact, albeit with gradual deterioration with time. One house which is said to be of the head of the tribe has roof intact. Belief and logic do not coincide here, mystery is still unsolved.

Underground tunnels, which no one has dared to explore...
House is being renovated by ASI

I personally feel that something related to reason no. 1 is more appropriate. Generally raiders/ invaders after looting, used to destroy everything, India is a witness to many such raids. Whatever be the reason, the status of Kuldhara as a paranormal activity infested place is intact. Visitors to this place often complaint of uneasiness, touching on shoulders and sudden drop and rise in temperatures.


Around 19 km. from Kuldhara is Khaba fort, which again was abandoned along with the Kuldhara. Now ASI has taken over and converted it into a museum with ancient artifacts on display.

Walking around this fort gives a feeling associated with minimal human activity; however, one can find lot of peacocks around this fort. From top of this fort one can another abandoned village with all the houses in ruins. This village was inhabited by around 80 families and got abandoned along with Kuldhara.


Now Paliwals reside in many parts of the country and doing well, but some of them do not celebrate Rakshabandhan till date. It is believed that Kuldhara was abandoned on the day of Rakshabandhan.


The place is different and not so popular in the tourist circles, only visitors are inquisitive souls like us. Situated at 23 Kms. from Jaisalmer City, one can hire auto rickshaw or taxi to Kuldhara. However, to include Khaba fort in your visit itinerary, better hire a taxi. 


Keep exploring Folks.
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