Rajasthan Stories - Day 4: Osian & Thar

We woke up to a beautiful morning at Jodhpur. Our plan was to cover a few places outside town the first day and explore Jodhpur the next day. Though Rajasthan is at times called the region of death, 'Marushtali', owing to the Thar desert, most of us go there to see this very arid landscape. No different was our situation and we headed out to Osian early in the morning. Osian is an oasis in the Thar, 65 kilometers from Jodhpur towards Bikaneer. Lacking time to include Bikaneer in the itinerary, Osian was our best bet to get a feel of the desert. Camel safaris are available from Osian which takes you into the Thar and let you spend a night in one of the camps or huts there.

There are frequent buses available from Jodhpur to Osian from the main bus station. Osian is also famous for the two ancient temples, one Jain temple and the other dedicated to Sachayi Matha. Both are exquisite pieces of architecture worth spending some time at. The most famous personality in Osian is Babloo guide, whom we met as soon as we got down at Osian. He arranges camel safaris and has been mentioned in articles written in Lonely Planet and Outlook Traveler. Soon we struck a deal with him for a safari and a night halt inside the desert. Having half the day to spend at the temples, we soon headed out to the Sachayi Matha temple. The temple is situated on a hill on the either side of the road to the Jain temple.

The temple, supposedly dedicated to Sachi, one of the wives of lord Indra, is a place of worship for both Hindus and the Jains. The temple complex is pretty big with awesome views of the distant sand dunes and Rodea trees adorning the courtyard. The carvings on the ceiling are truly fabulous and the outer walls are full of well detailed sculptures of Hindu and Jain deities. The guide who accompanied us had already fled the scene suggesting that we spend way too much time at every point; he is probably used only to the slam-baam-thank you mam kinda tourists. Anyway, we were better off without him as we could linger around the amorous figures as long as we wanted! We even found a villain figure with resemblance to Shrek, which made us hypothesize that the story of Ogres originated in India.

After spending quite some time there we walked towards the Jain temple. This one is in no way behind the Sacahayi Matha temple in terms of architectural splendor. There are a few serpentine figurines portrayed all along the outer walls and there is even a small shrine dedicated to the entwined serpents or dragons or whatever they are. Time flies when you are roaming amidst these ancient monuments and we soon realized that we had to catch some lunch before reporting for the safari. Fortunately we found a brightly colored house just outside the temple where they serve lunch on request and we barged in without further delay. After a simple but tasty Rajasthani lunch we headed out with Babloo to a place just outside the village center, to meet our ride for the rest of the day.

Mahipal and his elder brother Rajesh were ready with the camels when we reached there. One of the camels 'Heera -The Diamond' was quite a celebrity since some article on him got published in some travel magazines. But he had none of the egos we normally associate with celebrities. The other two camels Manak and Pappu-Don were equally fabulous animals. Soon we started our journey and it was quite an experience. You have to hold on firmly to the animal when it sits down and gets up as you are lurched forward when it stands up on its hind legs first. You also need to get used to the rocking motion as they move and let your body sway with it than trying to be stiff. The guys we were riding on were quite well behaved animals, except for an occasional charge towards a low hanging branch of the Khejri tree. Mahipal was quite a talkative kid who kept on talking throughout the journey about life in the desert.

As we marched on the vegetation grew thinner and sand dunes took their place. There were occasional shrubs and Khejri trees with Black Bucks and the Blue Bulls running amidst them. We also spotted few quails and peacocks running across the camel trail. Apart from these the only other inhabitants were the desrt rats who peeped from their tiny holes and went down the instant they spotted the caravan. We stopped by Mahipal's elder sister's house on the way for some hot tea and red carrots. We reached a big sand dune by evening and decided to watch the sunset from there. Mahipal's house, our night halt, was visible at a distance from there. Leaving us there to spend some time playing with the sand Mahipal and Rajesh went home taking the camels with them. We ran up and down the dunes and posed for pictures with the dunes and the setting sun in the background.

By the time we reached the house Mahipal's elder brother and Dad were also back from work. His family consists of his mom, an elder brother and an elder sister as well. We were offered cold beer, an offer quite tempting to reject in-spite of the chill that had befallen the desert as the night walked in. Lying down in desert sand, sipping beer and watching the multitude of stars in the open sky.. this is truly the stuff dreams are made of. After a simple but tasty dinner with the family we decided to sleep out there in the open. As I snuggled into the comfort of the mattresses I envied the life of the people in the deserts, in-spite of the all the perils they might have in their daily life. I was soon overcome with the satisfaction of a day well spent and in no time sleep was over me!

Click here for more pictures!

Rajasthan Stories - Day 1: Jaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 2: Jaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 3: Ranthambhore
Rajasthan Stories - Day 4: Osian & Thar
Rajasthan Stories - Day 5: Mandore & Jodhpur

Rajasthan Stories - Day 6: Udaipur
Rajasthan Stories - Day 7: Ranakpur & Kumbalgarh
Rajasthan Stories - Day 8: The Taj Mahal

1 comment:

Rajasthan travel said...

Its nice to hear your experience visiting Rajasthan. Thanks for sharing.

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