Sep 30, 2013

Off the beaten track- Bishnoi and Pali villages in Rajasthan



From Jodhpur, just 25KM away is Guda Bishnoi village in the middle of the desert with sparse vegetation. The village is known for the migratory birds and endangered Black Bucks (an Indian antelope). The place became popular when a celebrity was beaten up by the poor villagers for shooting and killing two black bucks. The villagers then filed a police complaint for the same. And so it is not a place for anybody to get caught while hunting!

A kitchen in the corner

The villagers, the Bishnoi tribe, are 100% vegetarians and lead a very simple and clean life. They are very poor, live with minimum facilities and at times they sleep without food ... but, they prefer to die saving the animals and trees in their village and around! They even bury the dead because cremation needs wood!

They worship nature in every form. They follow 29 principles preached by Guru Jambeshwar Ji around 500 hundred years ago. Actually, Bish-noi  means twenty-nine! During 17th century when King's men were cutting down the Khejri Trees around 360 Bishnois died protesting. They hugged the trees when the king's men cut trees. Along the trees they were cut too! This happened in the nearby village Khejarli. This was the place where the Chipko Movement (an initiative to save trees) originated in India. These people are poor but they live for a cause and they work hard for it!

I went on a drive on the long deserted roads, the area is actually Khejri forest. These trees are thorny and provide hardly any shade. The nuts collected from these trees are edible. I saw few Black Bucks from far enough not to get a good picture. In the picture are Chinkara or Indian Gazelle, other deer species which share the habitat with black bucks. Very hot area difficult to step out and walk off the road. If not good footwear it is possible to hurt your ankles.

From there I headed to another village called Pali popular for its pottery work. The potter demonstrated few things about pottery. I too tried and made a small pot. My niece was very good at it and she made one very artistic piece in her first ever try! It isn't easy as it looks. Though not a great buyer I bought some terra cotta camels and colorful bedsheets/quilts as gifts just to help them.

I really don't mean to highlight their poverty by displaying these pictures. But, I would like to highlight their selfless belief to save the nature and wildlife even in that extreme poverty. And they consider it an honor. There is film, Willing to Sacrifice based on incidents where Bishnois took bullets to save Indian Gazelles from poachers. It won the Best Environmental Film award in 5th International Festival of Films held in Slovakia.

A scene from Guda Bishnoi

I was amazed by the dedication of these people. When the organizations that get heavy funds  in the name of conservation of nature and culture hardly do much work, and these poor people are willing to sacrifice their lives even for a single tree or an animal! It was a thought provoking half a day excursion from Jodhpur which I consider was one of the great experiences in Rajasthan.
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Holy Mice!

This post is linked to Nature Notes and Our World Tuesday.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

28 comments:

  1. Wow! A lovely trip through rural belt of Rajastahan:)

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    1. Yes, Bhatia ji. There is a grand Rajasthan and remote Rajasthan too :)

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  2. This is awesome. So happy to know about people who still care for the environment, trees and animals. A lovely post, Kusum!

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  3. Thanks Niranjan! It is their religion!

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  4. Beautiful post! I have heard a lot about the bishnoi tribe and their love for nature...enjoyed reading this post!

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    1. Shaivi, glad you liked the post! Thanks!

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  5. it is very educational. not all in this world is pretty and shiny, i applaud travelers who also show the grimy, the dirty, and the poor conditions.

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    1. Agree, not all in this world is shiny and pretty. So, lets appreciate the beautiful side of everything!

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  6. Such a wonderful post, Kusum!! It is indeed educational!! I agree that it is great to learn of people in the world today who still care for the environment, trees and animals. We all need to remind ourselves to appreciate the beauty that can still be found almost everywhere if we take the time to look. And not just look at it, but help to preserve it in whatever way we can. Thank you for this!!

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    1. Yeah, if there is no healthy natural environment we wouldn't exist for long! By the time humans realize this it would be late!

      Glad you like the post Sylvia, Thanks!

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  7. Wonderful post and these people are beautiful and live well though poor with material things ~ their spirits must be close to divine ~ Great photos and I so enjoyed hearing about this culture ~ and their dedication to a 'way of living' ~ carol

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    1. Thank you Carol, glad you like the post. These people worship environment as God and saving i is their religion!

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  8. Very interesting post. I have never heard of these people and it is wonderful to know that they care so much about the natural world.

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    1. Yeah, it is a small community spread over states of Rajasthan and Punjab. They are poor and hence even Indians hardly know them!

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  9. Kusum, this was wonderful. I have never heard of these amazing people. What a great thing to learn...it is too bad that caring for the earth is something that is so rare, but most of us don't want to sacrifice that much .

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    1. Yes, caring for Mother Earth has become rare now a days. And most of us only talk about it than doing anything about it :)

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  10. What a delight to see such photos of everyday life in the heart of the country. These people put the rest of us to shame with their ethics.

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    1. I agree with you Mary. Glad you liked the post.

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  11. We get to learn a lot from rural Rajasthan, especially when it comes to Nature. Wonderful pictures thanks for this piece of information. Last para is very well written.

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  12. HI Kusum I found your post very informative and tastefully illustrated. Great to know about these people and there great love of nature. It is a pity most of the world does not have this attitude.

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    1. Thank you Margaret, glad you like the post.

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  13. Hi Kusum - I have been there 2 years ago and was very impressed!And I fell in love with Jodhpur!What a great place.

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    1. Glad to know you had been to this place and had a great time!

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  14. Great post, I enjoyed learning about these villagers. Their love of nature is amazing, I am very happy to see people can be so selfless. Thanks for sharing, wonderful photos!

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  15. I don't think you highlighted the poverty as much as you did a group of people who should be admired and copied. That kind of love of nature makes them rich in things many of us will never understand..I really enjoyed this post...Michelle

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  16. What an amazing post. And amazing people too.

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  17. wonderful peak at a special place. thanks. Pearl at Humanyms

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