We left Jaisalmer at 7.30am. Originally we planned
to stay in a small town called Bap, en route to
Kichan. A renovated havali, which looked fab.
Somewhere to relax for a couple of days, may be
with hot water and a dhobi service. No reply to
our emails, and Samshu had a plan. No contest.
We set out on the Bikaner road, past Pokaran.
In May 1998 India detonated five nuclear devices
which left a huge cater - strictly off limits. The road
runs along the Thar desert and seems mainly to
be the home of military installations to the north.
The Pakistan border is very close by. Shepherds with
their goats and sheep, a few houses, not much else.
On the road
a light bite at a dhaba hut, the best curries
cooked before your eyes and the parathas
delicious, not to mention the chai.
a festive lorry
The reason for going to Kichan was to see the
demoiselle cranes. They arrive from Siberia to
overwinter. For the last 150 years or so, the villagers
have been putting out grain in the morning and
evening. Result, thousands of cranes descend on
feeding grounds. I was fortunate enough to
see them on The Rann in Gujarat last year.
They are huge, flying off with a whooshing noise.
I noted that the claw print was as big as my hand.
Now, Keith is very patient with my textile
thing, so it was only fair to do the wild life bit.
So here they are. An amazing sight. Great drifts
of twenty plus leaving the feeding grounds every
five minutes or so.
Tick - time to move on. Next stop Rohet,
near Jodphur. I should say here for those
who have not travelled on Indian roads,
distances can only be estimated in Indian
time! Another dhaba stop for chai and nibbles.
We stopped off to stretch legs, take in the
countryside, arriving south of Jodphur at 3pm.
We are now following Samshu's plan. First off
a safari in the land of the Bishnu, who are very
protective of their land and wildlife. Without entering
a safari park, we saw antelope, black buck
and deer. Brilliant, there they were just
doing their thing.
We had booked in to the Rohet Havali. I was
quite excited since Bruce Chatwin and
William Dalrymple spent time here writing.
Oh, what a disappointment. A lovely haveli, but
with very obsequious staff. No, they hadn't a room
for us, but we could stay in a posh tent 17k away.
A snip at £150 per night. We didn't think so.
Over to Samshu. We will go to Todgarh, he
declared. Another chai stop, and on the road
again. It was getting dark. Oh, those scary
lorries, playing 'chicken'. Quite terrifying.
Eventually we turn off to a road suitable for
two cars. Jungle country - watch out for eyes
in hedgerows. Over narrow gauge
railway tracks, small villages, a few lights in
the distance. Stopping to ask for
directions every so often. At around 9pm
Samshu suggested a beer might be called for.
Crazy, nothing there but a shack with a
metal door. A knock was answered by
Samshu's friend. Beer produced which was
consumed under a sky so dark the stars looked
like golden beads on black velvet.
More directions for Todgarh required.
We arrived at 10pm. It had been a long
day for us all. A great welcome. We were
the only guests. I did note that the
havali appeared to be a construction site
Our bedroom was fantastic. So huge,
with a four poster bed and a bathroom to
loose yourself in. By this time we were only
to happy to have arrived - and so to bed!
This is a picture taken in the morning.
Pretty impressive to say the least!
Our room is the one on the left hand turret.
Note - picture of Demoiselle cranes
courtesy of Mr. Rawling. If you want to see
fabulous pictures of India, check out his
website on the side bar.