Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rajasthan Diary

As planned, I left most of my luggage at my friend’s home and reached New Delhi rail station. I was waiting in the platform with a cup of chai at three in the morning. Suddenly a female voice announced “the Delhi-Ajmer express is two hours late from its scheduled time.” Well, I heard ‘Welcome back Home.’

My first stop was Jaipur, a city famous for its forts and palaces. As you can imagine, enough has been written and said about the city over the years; and I didn’t see anything different either.  The only thing that still shines behind its pink wall is its legacy. I was restlessly waiting to get through the day; finish my visit of the history and reach Jodhpur. As usual, after the delay of couple more hours, I reached Jodhpur in the next morning. I rushed to the local bus station and took a two hours bus ride further north from Jodhpur.

So here I am; after traveling precisely 7864 miles and 100 years backward from American civilization, Im in this small village of Rajasthan named Osian. The village itself is little known for Jain heritage and its bearer, a 8th century built Jain temple. Due to the fact that the temple is on top of a hill and in the backdrop of Thar Desert, the panoramic view from here is breathtaking. Now if someone thinks, the temple is the only thing in this village then he couldn’t be any more wrong. Rather, the real Rajasthan starts from here.  The village is known as the gateway of Thar Desert and the exotic beauty in it is just beyond imagination.

  But the problem is that it’s so hard to get reliable information about these little known places unless you take a package tour from a travel agency. Again with very few tourist-info center, self-traveling is even harder in India.  Now here is a quick tip for self-travelers in India which I got from one of my friend. The deal is that you got to drink lots of tea. Well, Im talking about drinking tea in the local tea stall. While drinking you can ask all sort of questions to the tea stall owner. Trust me on this; he will give you more information about the locality than any tour guide could ever give you. So I bet on this and asked the owner, where can I go for desert camping.  At first he told me about a place called Raggie’s Camel Camp. Well, the price tag can easily shake the base even of a rich westerner. So, I told him “Do I look like a person (aka white foreigners) who can spend rupees 10K per night?” He gave me a smile and handed over the contact of another desert camp.

I took the phone number and called them from the local PCO. Well, I got a deal with one seventh of the previous price which includes all possible things that you can do in the desert. Few minutes later a guy came to pick me up with his motorbike. After riding four miles further north from the Jain temple, we reached this small shack; they call it ‘Desert Cafe’   

Several things were on the agenda and we began with the ‘Jeep Safari’. We started with a visit to the years old tiny “Bishnoi” temple. Here, the “Bishnoi” community worships one of their heroes (only body) who fought alone with the Mughal solders until his last breath. The myth is that he was so brave that even though he was beheaded 6km far from this temple; he kept fighting only with his body throughout the entire route. My guide Vim Singh kept explaining that they still sacrifice hundreds of goats to honor this great warrior. He was explaining so passionately that belief was shining through his eyes. I had neither the guts nor the urge to argue with that belief.  So we kept following the route of his fight and paid our due respect at the other temple where they worship their hero’s head. Now, goat was not the only thing that they offer in these temples. To my surprise, they offer alcohol both ‘Desi’ and ‘Belati’ to honor him. I can’t imagine how much this guy used to drink.

After consuming a little from the offering we jumped into the wilderness of Rajasthan.  

The roads through the desert were bumpy. Sometimes the roads were so bumpy that you can hardly see what is coming in your way. “Its even more important to keep driving faster in such situations”, my guide explained, “otherwise you will be dragged to the sand pit”. Someone has to keep moving with the sheer belief that there is better road ahead.  And quite often than not, the road ahead is smoother. I was wondering isn’t it true for every aspect of our life? Isn’t our life could be far better if we just keep moving without allowing our past to drag us in its pit?

People say Rajasthan is the land of the Kings; I feel pity for all those kings. Is it even possible to think oneself as a king in the middle of this emptiness? Is there anybody ever lived on this land who have beaten the harshness of the nature which is roaring around me. I found this place rather perfect for surrender and "let things go".  The only thing that can rule here is Nature.

The scorching sun burned everything around me except the soulless yellow sand of the desert. The heat burns not only all the living organism but also burns human soul; all the accumulated pain, misery and bitterness in it.   I wanted to throwaway my t-shirt and lie down over the sands for hours. Not to get a good tan (I'm born with that) but to burn all the scars on my heart.

As soon as the darkness of the night declared its supremacy over the desert, I took shelter in the tent of our camp. The hospitality of the camp was more kind than I had imagined. I was directed to a tent which had a bed and even a personal bathroom. The only scary part of the tent was that there was no lock in the door; to be more precise there was not even a door. So with every puff of air the curtain was dangling so widely that one can only imagine that something is entering the tent.  The sight was fearful but with several reassurances from the guard of the camp, I sunk in the bed with sleep.  If anything fearful did not enter to the tent that night, one thing surely did; and that was cold. But that night, nothing could have taken away my sleep; least of all -- cold.

Next day, at the end of the first leg of my journey, when I got into the train for Delhi and said goodbye, I felt nothing but gratitude and humbleness for the offerings of this barren land. I felt empowered. I realized royalty has nothing to do with the countless forts and majestic palaces; neither it has anything to do with the wins in the battlefield. If one can win the battle with his own soul; if one can dominate the mundane misery in it; royalty becomes an inseparable part of his lifestyle. So, I no longer wonder why so many kings born in this place. I no longer wonder about the majestic beauty and power of the sand.  


  1. what to write about this junk work!!! oh sorry if its so why should i bother to write hmm??this fellow has came to do something but as usual again he did some extraordinary task along with his regular activities.

    its really nice to travel thru this nort region of india by his word.along with this pic and description i nearly to these places...

    the comments on the desert king and kingdom really needs 2nd thoughts..how could they did??

    would like to see more on this kinda topic...all the best...

  2. solid lekha man...really soul touching ;)...amar inner munade misery kome gelo onektai :D