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Rajasthan

25-Dec-09 to 02-Jan-10


[Introduction] [When to go] [Ajmer] [Jodhpur] [Jaisalmer] [Jaipur]


Jodhpur


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Road from Ajmer to Jodhpur is excellent but does pass through some hilly area so that your speed is slowed down. Inspite of that and inspite of tankers & trucks plying on the highway, we did the 418kms long journey in 3 1/2 hrs, which is excellent as compared to other parts of India.

Jodhpur turned out to be a real surprise. The hotel we stayed in Hotel Ghoomar was a nice comfortable place. The only drawback was the traffic noise and the sound of train chugging along as the railway tracks are nearby. Just two blocks from it is the Naya Bazaar which heads straight into the Walled City & the Clock Tower area, which is the main shopping area of the city.

Ajmer - Jodhpur RoadGate into the Walled City
Ajmer Jodhpur Road Jodhpur, Walled City
Bangle sellers in the Walled CityClock tower
Ajmer Jodhpur Road Jodhpur, Walled City


The best and the most surprising part about Jodhpur was our visit to the Bishnoi Villages. Bishnoi is a sect of people who really love the earth so much, that they even do not chase off animals who eat up the crops they sow in their fields! In 1730AD, 373 people were killed when to protect trees, which a king's men were cutting, they offered their heads instead!! This is the world's first tree hugging incident ever recorded.

Bishnoi VillagerWorld's First Tree Huggers
Bishnoi Village, Jodhpur Amrita Devi
Odd memorial for Bishoi's who died hugging treesPond built by Bishonis for wild animals in the desert
Worlds First Tree huggers, Jodhpur Pond built by Bishnoi for wild animals in Jodhpur


To visit the villages it is best to take a taxi with a driver-cum-guide, from the hotel itself. We paid Rs 700/- for a 3 hour trip. They also take you to some Bishnoi homes for a cup of tea and opium! Sadly, the Bishonis are opium addicts and use opium powder to cure cold in small children. An amazing mix of environment senstivities with opium. Be sure to tell them not to put opium in your tea! Towards the end of your tour, the driver will try to take you into a "Handloom Factory" to buy "genuine" stuff....BEWARE! Say a frim no because you will get everything much cheaper in the town.

World's First Tree Hugging Incident -- 1730 AD



On a Tuesday (the 10th day of the month of Bhadrapad, according to the Indian lunar calendar, in 1730 AD, Amrita Devi, a Bishnoi woman was at her home with her three daughters, Asu, Ratni and Bhagu bai, when she learned that a number of people had descended on their otherwise sleepy village of Khejarli, named after "Khejri" (Prosopis cineraria) trees, found in abundance in the village. The people were a party of men sent by Maharaja Abhay Singh, the ruler of the kingdom of Jodhpur, in the Marwar region; their mission was to fell green Khejri trees to burn lime for the construction of the Maharaja's new palace and there was a lot of greenery in the Bishnoi villages even in the middle of the Thar Desert.

Amrita Devi protested against the Maharaja's men who were attempting to cut green trees as it was prohibited according to Bishnoi principles. The malevolent feudal party told her that if she wanted the trees to be spared, she would have to give them money as a bribe. She refused to acknowledge this demand and told them that she would consider it an act of insult to her religious faith and would rather give her life to save the green trees. At that point she spoke these words:

"Sar santey rookh rahe to bhi sasto jaan"
(If a tree is saved even at the cost of one's head, it's worth it)

Having said these words she offered her head. The axes, which were brought to cut the trees, severed her head. The three young girls Asu, Ratni and Bhagu were not daunted, and offered their heads too. The news spread like wildfire. The Bishnois of Khejarli gathered and sent summons to their counterparts in eighty-three Bishnoi villages in the vicinity to come and decide on the next course of action. Since the supreme sacrifice by Amrita Devi and her daughters had not satisfied the royal party, and the felling of green trees was continued, it was decided that for every green tree to be cut, one Bishnoi volunteer would sacrifice his/her life. In the beginning, old people voluntarily started holding the trees to be cut in an embrace (as in the 20th century Chipko Movement).

Despite many valiant old persons sacrificing themselves, the Hakim (the royal party's leader), Girdhar Das Bhandari, taunted the Bishnois that they were offering unwanted old persons. Soon, young men and women (including the recently married) and children were sacrificing themselves in a similar manner.There was pandemonium. The tree-felling party was badly shaken. With their mission unfulfilled, they left for Jodhpur to relay these events to the Maharaja. As soon as he learned about it, he ordered the felling of trees to be stopped.

By that time, three hundred and sixty three (363) Bishnois, young and old, men and women, married and unmarried, rich and poor had already become martyrs. Honouring the courage of the Bishnoi community, Maharaja Abhay Singh apologised for the mistake committed by his officials and issued a royal decree, engraved on a copper plate ordering the following:
  • All cutting of green trees and hunting of animals within the revenue boundaries of Bishnoi villages was strictly prohibited.
  • It was also ordered that if by mistake any individual violated this order, he would be prosecuted by the state and a severe penalty imposed.
  • Even members of the ruling family would not shoot animals in or near Bishnoi villages.
[Introduction] [When to go] [Ajmer] [Jodhpur] [Jaisalmer] [Jaipur]