DEEPER INTO THE WORLD OF RURAL TOURISM: BISHNOI VILLAGE
Image credits – Thank you so much Chotaram Prajapat & Homestay.
Have you ever wondered what is it like to live in a desert land with bare minimum amenities? Aren’t you curious about how culture shape-shifts in Rajasthan? Do you want an authentic Rajasthani experience that is beyond palaces and castles?
Well, in that case, only a quintessential Bishnoi Village Safari can please your cultural appetite.
Believe us; in this monochromatic land, there are more colours than one can name. Culture drips from every nook and cranny here. And, drenches one in what we call the Rajasthani magic.
Bishnoi Village in Rajasthan is a destination where time and space became one entity and refused to move ahead. Although the village co-exists with us, it does live back in time. However, that never became a hurdle in its pursuit of introducing the world to an authentic Rajasthani lifestyle and spreading happiness.
So, if you plan to go on this joy ride anytime soon, then we have jotted down everything that can be helpful to you.
Hello! Bishnoi Lifestyle
The best way to describe the lifestyle of the Bishnoi would be, “simple”.
Mind it, by simple, we don’t mean bland. In fact, Bishnoi village is the opposite of dull as there is something or the other always going on in the village premises.
Bedazzled in the amazing culture of Marwar, Bishnoi village seems like a completely different world. However, it is as regal as any other place in Rajasthan. Although there is no palace or castle here, the culture is no less. Women here too wear heavy jewelry and the colourful attire is the same as in any other place in Rajasthan.
However, what set them apart from other villages such as Rusirani is their selfless love for nature and the fact that they live in thatched huts, which interestingly is an amazing lodging option. But we will talk about it a little later in the blog!
The locals live in clean households and the area inhabited by them has well-functioning traditional water harvesting system. Despite the difficult desert living conditions, there is always plenty of food here in Bishnoi Village.
All about Bishnoi Village History
The Bishnoi community of the Khejri Village was founded in the late 1400s by a spiritual leader Guru Jambheshar.
Bishnoi or Bish (twenty) noi (nine) translated to 29, which were the number of principles set when the foundation of the sect was kept. The sect’s religious philosophy was then pen downed as poetic literature, which is still available in a compilation called Jamnagar.
All castes of the community were welcomed to the sect as long as they followed the 29 principles which included some living practices and some rituals as well.
Later, after the demise of the spiritual leader, he told the sect that black buck was his manifestation and they need to conserve it along with the environment.
But what made Bishnoi a prominent name in history is an incident that happened in 1731. 363 Bishnois, men, women and children alike, gave their lives to protect trees from cutting. This haunted the then government of Maharaja Abhay Singh so much that he had to retreat and apologize for the massacre.
Despite those many people attained martyrdom, the government did ban tree felling in that region after that incident.
Fact: Do you know that the tree hugging movement was inspired by the Chipko movement of Uttrakhand?
Reveling in Bishnoi Tribe Culture
Locals of this village practice Hinduism and are Viashnavites (worshipper of Lord Vishnu) as their spiritual leader were famous as Vishnu’s incarnation.
They worship nature and consider Khejri trees (trees surrounding the village) to be sacred. As a result of which many customs and tradition of this region revolve around nature. Don’t worry; you’ll get a hold of it once you are there.
Rajasthan is famous for its hot and dry climate. For locals, the best way to deal with this adversity of temperature is via their clothing.
People of Bishnoi village wear light cotton clothes, preferably the colour white.
The men of the village are generally seen in white coloured dhotis, white kurta and huge turbans. As for the women, odhni (head scarf), ghagra (skirt), kanchli kurti (blouse) and dhabla are the elements of their attire.
However, the attire of younger women is a little different. They wear Pada, pothdi, puthia and odhni.
Other than that, married women of this village are always seen wearing gold jewelry, especially, a circular gold ring and earrings.
The Bishnoi are pure vegetarians. Moreover, wild fruits and vegetables play an important role in the diet of the locals. Their food contains amazing vegetarian delicacies that will leave you wanting for more. So, it is better you get your taste buds working up before you pay it a visit!
Villagers in Bishnoi village stay in tiny groups also famous as Dhaani. These Dhanis have thatched roof huts made out of nothing but mud. Neatly kept, with a common courtyard, these hygienic huts follow a unique construction that avoids the growth of vermin.
Villagers also have special granaries for protecting crops and other supplies from rains. And if you are worried about clean water, then, let us assure you that sumps are also made near every hamlet for storing water.
Locals here cook food in earthen ovens and they have a separate compound for their cattle too.
Don’t worry; I won’t list all the 29 rules here.
Out of the 29 principles of the sect, 8 of them prescribes preserving the biodiversity. 10 principles talked about hygiene and health. Moreover, 4 other principles provided the guidelines of worshipping. And lastly, the final 7 constituted healthy social behavior.
The most enticing rule that we found was about the restriction of the colour blue. Why, you ask? Well, as we told you the villagers here are naturalist, and as blue dye involves cutting of many shrubs, the colour isn’t used by any villager of the Bishnoi sect.
Also, the people of the Bishnoi sect cannot consume alcohol.
Bishnoi tribal art consists of a lot of craft pieces that show the finesse of the local artisans.
Terracotta pottery is among the best examples of their artistic prowess. The potters here spend a lot of time shaping clay and convert them into utensils, toys and what not.
Another aspect of Bishnoi art is “durry” which is a carpet made from thick colourful strands. Depicting the life in the deserts, with animals and trees, this craft piece form Bishnoi Village is famous all over Rajasthan.
Bishnoi- The real MVPS of forest conservation!
Although the locals here are more into arts and crafts, they adhere to a lifestyle that respects nature in every shape and form.
To put it in perspective, people of this village are devout worshippers of nature. In fact, the Bishnoi tribe even prohibits cutting of trees. In the gist of which, unlike other Hindu communities, Bishnois of Rajasthan bury their dead ones instead of cremating them.
They make a great deal about saving their wildlife too. The dedication of the villagers is such, that there is even a popular saying here in Rajasthan, “If you are a hunter, the worst thing that can happen to you is to be caught hunting by a Bishnoi”. Whoa!
To be honest, that’s the reason why deer and antelopes feel free gazing in the village premises, which is great for anyone who loves a good wildlife watch.
Fact: In 1996, Nihal Chand Bishnoi sacrificed his life trying to protect wild animals. Whoa! That’s some dedication.
Bishnoi Village Safari: The perfect Itinerary
1. Visit a local household
Once you enter the village, balmy winds and households with primitive amenities will welcome you. Although beautifully decorated, these households will invite you with warm smiles and open hearts.
You will be offered opium tea as a welcome drink by the locals as it is a common practice to brew opium with the tea.
Get comfortable and look around. Believe us; even after a decade you will find this place as it is. So, take a mental picture or an actual photograph.
After you absorb the ambiance, the villagers will start showing you around. Explore the crops and share their knowledge of the environment. After which, you move forward for some rural skill development sessions.
2. Indulge in village chores and learn a thing or two about Rajasthani cooking
Start your rural tour by learning the basics of the kitchen with Rajasthani housewives. Learn how to churn wheat and make a round “roti” (Chapati).
Learn the secrets of Rajasthani cooking while you watch these ladies make super yummy vegetarian food for you.
Gorge on to this wholesome meal and get ready for your other half of village safari on your iconic trip to India.
3. Spot some wildlife in Gudha Village
If you are a fellow green panther, who loves spotting wildlife, then this will be no less than a treat.
Watch wild animals in their natural habitats and enjoy the prowess of Mother Nature.
Spot many different desert species including Antelopes, Gazelle, Dumessille Crane, Rabbits, Blue Bulls, Migratory Birds, and Peacocks.
Rekindle with your inner wildling and enjoy this unique co-existence of man and nature.
4. Rejoice in the art of block painting at Kankani
Learn the art of block painting that can turn a normal cloth into a colourful art piece. Watch these people make bed sheets, clothing items with intricately carved blocks, and try your hands with it too.
5. Get your palms dirty while shaping a clay utensil at the potter’s village
Who doesn’t love pottery? It is such a calm and soothing art form that brings nothing but glee to one’s heart.
On a side note, it is sad that this Bishnoi Village art or for that matter Indian art is getting extinct. But not for you as you can enjoy the entire process of ceramic making here in Bishnoi Village.
If you want, you can by tipping them at the very end or buy amazing gifts from them to take back home.
6. Weave the world famous Bishnoi rug
Weaving is no child’s play and you’ll understand this once you enter the weaver‘s village on your Bishnoi Village Safari.
Learn about this intricate art of rug making while getting to know more about the local lifestyle. Weave your first-ever rug and enjoy the colour mixing process.
Once you are over with it, click some great pictures beside the cutesy huts nearby. If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can stay in these huts at night. If not, then, this is the end of your Bishnoi village Safari!
Bid adieu to all the families and drive back to your hotel.
How to reach Bishnoi Village?
You can reach the Bishnoi Village enroute Udaipur from Jodhpur.
The nearest airport to the village is located in Jodhpur. So, there is no chance you can reach this place via air. From the airport, you will find a lot of cabs and buses that can take you directly to the village.
Are you wondering about the nearest railway station? Well, that’s in Jodhpur too. Moreover, from there too you can find buses and cabs.
Note: Maximum times, an open jeep will escort you to the village because of the tedious topography. As exciting as it does sound, it gets really bumpy and the dust keeps flying around. Make sure that you take a scarf or Bandana with you when you start your journey.
Best time to visit the Bishnoi Village
October – March is the best time to be in the Bishnoi village. Similar to the best time to be in India, these months best from a temperature point of view. Plus, these times are as well perfect for camel safaris. Furthermore, spotting migration birds during this season is quite usual.
On another note, monsoon starts here from July and ends in August, making it difficult for travelers to enjoy their Rajasthan adventure to the fullest. So, make sure you do not plan your trip anytime around it.
Did you like what you read? Then, plan your perfect holiday in Rajasthan today for reveling in the mojo of many such places. Request a quote now!