27th Jan 2007 – In the morning we saw the captivating frescoes in the open art gallery of Nawalgarh. After that we decided to spend our evening having a camel cart ride to the countryside around Nawalgarh. At 4:00 clock, camel cart was at DS bungalow. Babli, the owner of DS Bungalow, put “Gadde” on it to make ride comfortable. We had taken camel ride in Jaisalmer and were thinking that camel-cart ride would not be that interesting. We discovered that there was no comparison. After beautiful Havelis the ride was icing on the cake.
We were all set to start the journey. First we went to a nearby quaint sleepy village.
The cart was passing between the narrow sandy by lane with the farms/village houses on both the sides. Soon the tussle started between the cart owner and the camel. The camel started to graze from the sides of the bye lane and cart owner had to push it hard to continue.
The ride was idyllic. We passed by the oasis of wheat field, where wheat pods (Ghenu ki Baaliyan) were swaying with the wind.
Then we came across this beautiful scarecrow protecting the mustard field.
And we moved on leaving the village behind.
Now there were we, surrounded by endless vistas of semi-arid desert stretched up to horizon.
We stopped here for sometime. Kids started to play, and adults moved to some serene time and philosophical mood.
Jaishree left her footprints on the sand.
Anirudh started to wonder how fast time passes; like the slipping sand from his hand. In-fact the four hours of our cart drive passed quickly and it was time to return.
At one side of the track we saw a tree with a few nest built by Baya “the weaver bird”.
About Baya: Baya in their non-breeding period resembles common female house sparrow. These birds build these artistic nests. It seems that the nests are hanging from the tree in a fragile manner, but they are very sturdy. It’s hard to remove these nests from the tree without almost destroying them. Male Baya are polygamous in nature, breeding 2-3 female Baya’s one after another in the breeding season. They build the half nests in the form of helmet (even with a strap) to attract the female. Female Baya inspects several such nests and then choose the most artistic one to move in. They are supposed to construct the remaining nest together but most of the time after mating when female is about to lay eggs, male moves out and female is left alone to complete the nest. Male constructs 3-4 such nests at a time. After moving out it moves to another nest start luring another female Baya. Three – four months later these nests are abandoned and then used by other birds.
While coming back these horse riders zoom past us in the twilight.
We rode back when sun was about to set, and the last rays turned everything – the sand, the smoke of evening meals being cooked in village house, the farms, the Khejri trees and our mood – mystically serene and calm.
nice pics. much less text. you are not doing justice to Jaishree Khamesra Legacy :),
nice travelogue ..so you left your footprints on the sands of time …
Yaar I am very technical, but Jaishree feels from the bottom of her heart. This is reflected in her writing too. I too wonder that if Jaishree would have written this complete article, she would have written it very beautifully (Needless to say a few beautiful lines in this aritcle are hers).
Thanks backpakker for your compliments.
Your Shekhawati write ups provide a good reading as you have made observations as you truly felt. I have so far covered 26 out of 32 Thikhanas of Shekhawati spread into three districts -Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu. I started my explorations in Shekhawati in 1996 and still continuing. Earlier it were negative -color and B&W films, and now digital, photography that I do. As per your indication, you belong to Khetri, which has changed to some extent in 15 years when I saw it first in 1997 and again in 2014. The old charm is almost gone but facilities for visitors had improved. In those days, I could not find a good restaurant where I could eat Dal without oil and chillies and simple rotis. On that evening in Khetri in 1997 I had to eat simple rotis with salt and a glass of milk taken from a hotel on make shift bus stand.I agree with you that heritage properties are being cruelly treated by owners/users and they see every opportunity of making money in the process of demolition of a beautiful haveli and creating a market with ugly shops. Ratangarh, Sujangarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Nawalgadh etc. have lost many beautiful buildings. I was shocked to see the condition of Havelis in the main street of Ramgadh. In 1997 there were no encroachments and chhatris could be seen in splendid isolation………unspoiled. Likewise the masonry wells with their lofty architecture looked as silent sentinels of yore.
Sorry for delay in my reply. I am really impressed that you have explored in detail the twenty-six thikana of Shekhawati and also have pictures of all these changes as well. Truly incredible.
I was brought up in Khetrinagar, though the facilities for any visitors might be equally bad even in those days, but the town-ship was a happening place, which like most of the Public Sector Units has lost all its sheen today. Though it is not my birth place, but I am still quite attached it. So much so that after my father’s retirement, I have not visited it. I fear that I would not be able to withstand its neglected form.
I wish that now as Shekhawati is emerging a popular offbeat destination in Rajsathan, locals will understand their importance.
Thanks again for your comment. It was a pleasure to get a comment from a person who has travelled so much in Shekhawati and had such an in-depth knowledge about it.
Thanks, Manisha that you cared to post a response. Khetri’s majestic Panna Sagar has lost some of its sheen due to bad decision of painting it with emulsion and lime and also installing flood lights. I couldn’t go uphill to check the condition of the fort and the lone masonry well in its central location. People like me feel pain when neglect starts destroying the already decaying heritage properties. The older generation was wiser that knew how to create a decorated built environment and how the best use of space could be discovered for future growth and development of mind. Now these concept have been thrown to the dustbin and everyone is busy finding ways to make a little money at a great cost.
Dear Ranbir Singh
Its a privilege to get a comment from such an erudite traveler. I can understand the anguish of someone who cares and has an understanding of the great value of these heritage buildings.
Thanks for keeping us all updated.