Get a feel of the real Rajasthan

Get a feel of the real Rajasthan
Highlights

Camel rides into the desert, sliding down the sand dunes, seeing the sunset behind the dunes leaving an orange-crimson tinge all over, dancing around the bonfire as the stars completely light up the sky (a sight so stunning that you have to drop everything else and just stare!) - In a nutshell: Mesmerising!

Camel rides into the desert, sliding down the sand dunes, seeing the sunset behind the dunes leaving an orange-crimson tinge all over, dancing around the bonfire as the stars completely light up the sky (a sight so stunning that you have to drop everything else and just stare!) - In a nutshell: Mesmerising!

The reality was better than what we had actually anticipated and left us with just a feeling “Yeh dil maange more!” Yet, when we had planned the Rajasthan tour, Khuri was nowhere in our itinerary.


Khuri, a small village about 50 km from Jaisalmer, and situated on the edge of a desert, offers a rustic charm to the travellers


We were travelling from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and it was on the bus that I heard about Khuri, a small village situated on the edge of the desert.

The description sounded appealing and we decided to take a detour to wallow in the glow of the desert. After reaching Jaisalmer, we headed for Khuri.

The road from Jaisalmer to Khuri was delightfully deserted with not a single soul in sight -just a strip of tarmac with desert on either side.

The atmosphere was very hot and windy and I had to tie a drenched towel around my face with just my eyes exposed.

We occasionally spotted camels, wild horses and cactus in the midst of sand, which was actually in the midst of nowhere!

After travelling for around an hour with mixed thoughts in my mind, I spotted a small teashop with signs of people around. On enquiring about Khuri, I learnt to my intense relief that we were at Khuri.

Although the commonly visited touristy spots of Rajasthan (Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, etc.) have got over commercialised, life is still very different and refreshing in the interiors of the state.

Khuri with its unique rustic charm is one such destination that is yet to make a prominent mark on the tourist map.

Khuri has escaped mindless commercialisation and the crowds that descend to visit the sand dunes in and around Jaisalmer.

For the typical tourist, there is really not much to see or do in Khuri. But for the intrepid traveller, Khuri is a gem of a destination waiting to be explored.

When you travel interior, you realise that people, who live in villages like Khuri are totally disconnected from the outside world in all aspects.

They dwell in their own little oasis of happiness and difficulties. We got to meet married kids, who were well under 10 and yet go to school (I was shocked to hear from a small girl of around six that she was married one month after birth).

If something has to change to develop India, it ought to begin at places like Khuri.Staying in houses made of mud and straw is the USP of several homestays that have sprung up in this small village.

We put up at Badal House in Khuri, which is actually a homestay –a cluster of several hutments that serve as rooms. And it comes with an unbelievably cheap price tag.

The rooms are basic with a cot, a fan and an attached toilet. But the meals are elaborate by village standards.

Although extremely spicy, by staying at a home stay in Khuri, we got a real sampling of desert life and authentic Rajasthani culture.

The meals have been prepared by Badal’s wife, who appears covered demurely in “ghunghat” (veil) like all the Rajput women.

We get to know from her husband that she won’t be sighted on the streets fetching water from the village well like other women, as she is a Rajput.

“The women you see at the well are not Rajput women. In Rajput households, women don’t do any outside work,’’ Badal proudly informs us.

Visitors to Khuri typically split their sojourn into a night in the village and one in the desert. We too follow suit. A night in the desert offers an ideal occasion to star gaze.

The camel safari to the dunes is great not so much because of where we are headed but of what one passes along the way.

Sitting high on the camel back, I am witness to the medieval theatre of ancient desert rituals. I pass women in colourful ghagharas and cholis, arms covered in bangles, walking back from the well, balancing pots of water on their head.

Further beyond there are shepherd with their folk and still further the camel pond, where all the camel men gather to exchange gossip while their camels tank up.

Somewhere in the shrubs, one can catch a glimpse of the elusive Chinkaras. I am finally glad to dismount from the camel and sink my feet into the desert sand.

I see lots of tourists riding on camels but I choose to walk. The sun is setting and this is the time when all tourists take out their camera to shoot, shoot and just shoot.

But as soon as the sun goes down a storm whips up as if on cue. The camel men and their camels remain dignified in face of the storm.

The rest of us, creatures of the urban jungle, run, scream, scamper and fall down on the dunes, making a complete mess of ourselves. The storm, however, dies down soon and sanity is restored.

Later in the night, we spread out around the bonfire in the heart of the desert and enjoy the melody of local folk songs.

For me, the desert would no longer be the same again as this was one destination I wasn't going to forget in a long time.

Fact File
Location: Khuri a small village about 50 km south-west of Jaisalmer.
Accessibility: Buses and other vehicles are available from Jaisalmer.
Accommodation: Resorts and home stays offer authentic Rajasthani cuisine. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are served.
Excursions: A trip to Desert National Park (DNP), about 65 km north, can be clubbed with a trip to Khuri. One of the largest national parks in the country, DNP’s population consists of over 120 resident and migratory birds.
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