A Day In The Thar Desert
Travelling through the desert, I saw just two colours – the yellow sand beneath me and the blue sky above me. Hello my dear friends, this time I am writing to you from the heart of Thar desert, also called the Great Indian Desert. It lies in the northwest part of India. The desert starts just outside the town of Jaisalmer and extends right till the Indo-Pak border and beyond. It is a hot, arid region covered with sand dunes; receives very little rainfall with poor vegetation.
A visit to Rajasthan and not going on a camel safari to the desert, at least for a day is quite unthinkable. These safaris range from one day to seven days scaling from sleeping on mats to staying in simple tents to glamping like the royals in luxurious tents. These are organised by local people as well as travel agencies.
Mode of Transport
The only mode of transport here are the camels or the Ship of the desert. As for tourists like me who are not comfortable riding on camels, we have access to camel carts and jeeps too.
Flora and Fauna of Thar
The desert, also called the ocean of sand, is not as empty as it looks. It is dotted with the local flora and fauna. There are drought resistant shrubs over here. Also, khajri/khejri trees grow throughout the desert. It is also home to many species of birds, reptiles and animals like scorpions, mongoose, red fox, wild cat, falcon, Indian bustard, lizards, vipers, eagles etc. They have learnt to survive in such adverse climatic conditions.
Villages in the Desert
There are these tiny villages in the desert with a handful of small huts with thatched roofs.
People of the Land
The best part of this place are the people of the desert, very warm hearted and friendly. They are generally dressed in colourful costumes and pair it up with attractive jewellery. Many of them can converse in reasonably good english since they have been receiving visitors to their beautiful land from all over the globe over the years, though most of them have never been to a school.
Scarcity of Water
While you & I may complain at the slightest discomfort, these beautiful ladies in the heart of Thar make several trips to the beri (a traditional well with a narrow mouth where rainwater gets collected) during the day & every single day. They walk on hot sand while the scorching sun shines brightly above their heads. They fill their pitchers with water at the beri & carry the same to their homes. Life is tough, but so are they and nothing can shake their smiling hearts.
The Beautiful Duo
This morning I was quite comfortable resting between two bolsters just like the other tourists on the camel cart. At the far end I could see this small girl, gorgeously decked up walking barefoot on the hot sand holding her father’s hand. She huffed & puffed and at last caught up with our cart after which she danced beautifully to the music played by her father. Most of the tourists, well educated & soft spoken city dwellers like us ignored the father & daughter duo. Finally, when one of us handed her a small token of appreciation, she thanked us & left for her home – walking back all the way on the hot sand holding her father’s hand. The biggest lesson they taught me that afternoon – that of having enough & where to draw the line. A majority of us do so much injustice to the unorganised sector like this one and then we talk of economy & development. We surely need cities with hearts, to say the least.
The Lambadi Experience
Here we are dressed like the Banjaras or the Nomadic tribe of India who may have origins from the state of Rajasthan in India. They are basically wanderers moving from one place to another in search of trade. They speak Lambadi which has no script of its own. Hence their literature, songs and dance are carried forward orally from one generation to the next. They also love music and play folk instruments. Their embroidery and tattooing are very popular. They make ornaments and ornate jewellery. The women wear heavy metal jewellery and ivory bangles. They wear very colourful clothes decorated with small mirrors, coins and beads. They are acrobats, magicians, storytellers and fortune tellers. They are a close knit community.
Well, I too am a nomad at heart – in love with distant lands with no fixed plans.
The Enchanting Manganiar
This lovely singer here is following our camel cart just as we are entering into the Thar Desert. He is a Manganiar. In fact, the Manganiars are a Muslim community who belong to the Thar desert. They are trained in singing and playing instruments from a very young age. The folk songs sung by them are passed down from generation to generation. Coming to the present time, we are enjoying this performance thoroughly.
While I have been to so many places in Rajasthan, this visit to the Thar desert will be closest to my heart. Everything about this place is so unique – the camel rides on the sand dunes; the ruins around the desert; the warm smiles of the people; the lovely performance by the Manganiar and much more. How good I feel to be lost in the right direction. A day in the desert is simply not enough. The breathtaking landscape will be in my memories forever. So, until we meet again, take care and keep smiling. Bye.