Archive | July 2011

Bishnoi Village

Roop soon directed Prem to turn onto a dirt road off the main two-lane rural highway. There was nothing around for miles.

We saw an antelope. I had read that the Bishnoi people consider them sacred.

Soon we came to a village and parked the car. Prem was concerned about the group of children which immediately gathered, so he stayed behind to keep an eye on the car.

The village homes weren’t as colorfully painted or as tidy as the ones I’d seen on the internet.  I now understood that the websites that offered Bishnoi village tours must have taken photos only of the wealthiest and prettiest village houses, and they hadn’t come to this particular village to do it. After a twinge of disappointment, I realized I was seeing something that was off the tourist circuit. How great is that!

The group of kids that were following us begging were crowding around too closely, making me a little nervous. One of the girls tried to steal one of my earrings and pulled on it. I have pierced ears, so this was really not good. I yelled so that they would back off. I took my earrings off and never wore them again for the rest of the trip.

We saw a woman painting her hut.

Like in Ghana, West Africa, painting the houses is women’s work.

The houses weren’t the only things that were painted.

Although what I saw was interesting, there wasn’t much to see in this particular village.  If I return to Jodhpur, I’d take a half-day Bishnoi village tour that the hotel arranged. The local tours are done with a jeep. A jeep would have been much better than our Tata Indica since the roads to the village were rough and rutted.


Roop Riyaz, Durry Udhyog

The area around Jodhpur is known for villages with dhurry weavers.  I didn’t have any specific weaving village in mind. We just got in the car and drove in the direction of Salawas.

We stopped at the first dhurry place I saw, which was right on the main road  about 20 kilometers out of Jodhpur. As we pulled into the driveway, I saw a man who had been waving at cars run across the street. It was Roop Riyaz, the dhurry maker himself. He welcomed us inside.

It wasn’t a typical shop but his home where he and his wife both created the dhurries and sold them. He sat down and posed for a couple of photos demonstrating the technique. He seemed stern and serious at first, but he was soon joking and laughing.

“This is not carpet,” he said, “this is dhurry. Carpet one side only. Dhurry two sides. This side Sunday, this side Monday. Hee!! Hee!! Hee!!”

Roop said that both he and his wife could work on the same piece at the same time. It takes a couple of months to finish one, depending on the size.

He invited Prem and me to sit and have tea. Then he turned around, grabbed a pre-wound red turban and jammed it on his head. He was now in business mode.

“This too hot for all day,” he confided. “After ten minutes, I have to take it off. Hee!! Hee!! Hee!!”

Opening his storage room, he took out a pile of neatly folded dhurries and began flipping them open and laying them out for display on the tile patio.

His young son quickly came to help. Some of the dhurries were bigger than he was!

Roop’s wife was shy and didn’t speak to us. Maybe she didn’t speak English, but she didn’t even speak to Prem in Hindi. She seemed preoccupied and looked worried to me. I wondered if she were worrying about not having enough money.

Roop had quite a family to support. He had five children, plus his mother-in-law and father-in-law lived with them. If his wife was worried about money, she had every reason.

I usually like to shop around and don’t tend to buy at the first place I visit, but I had a good feeling about this man and his family. Moreover, the prices he quoted me seemed quite reasonable, so much so that I didn’t ask for a discount. He gave me a small discount anyway.  I made my selections.

As they wrapped up the dhurries I had bought, I asked Roop if he knew where the Bishnoi villages were. Prem had never been there before. I only knew they were somewhere around the village of Salawas.

“Yes, I know the Bishnoi village,” Roop said. “I take you there. No charge.”

Just then some tourists arrived and sat next to us. I was a little disappointed, thinking that now Roop would have to take care of his customers and couldn’t come with us. But his first duty was to his family, and if he needed to stay and do business, so be it. However, he let his wife take care of them. He yanked off the turban, giggled and climbed into the back seat.

*  *  *

Roop Riyaz
Dhurry Udhyog
Near Petrol Pump, Main Pali Road, Mogra
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Tel:  011-91-982-965-9069

Jaswant Thada Cenotaph

A stone’s throw down the road from Meherangarh Fort is the stunning Jaswant Thada cenotaph, a memorial built in the 19th century to honor Maharajah Jaswant Singh II, the 33rd ruler of Jodhpur.

This marble monument was built in 1899.

Photography wasn’t permitted inside.

After this it was time for lunch and a bit of rest before taking in the Umaid Bhavan Palace, part of which has been converted into a hotel.

It turns out that the palace is off limits to tourists unless you’re staying at the hugely expensive hotel. The only thing you could see was the museum, which was small and not very interesting.

Umaid Bhavan Palace in the distance

Umaid Bhavan is intriguing when viewed from a distance, but since you’re not even allowed on the grounds, it’s not worth the trouble to get there.

Meherangarh Fort, Part 2

My luck continued. There was a musician playing in a small alcove.

Just past the musician I passed through Lohapol (the iron gate) and saw the above handprints, commemorating the queens who committed suttee on the funeral pyre of their husband, Maharajah Man Singh.

You need to be part mountain goat to see Meherangarh. It’s so huge I couldn’t imagine seeing half of it in one visit. And I didn’t.

It was midmorning and getting hot. After I took this photo, the man smoking the hookah could no longer tolerate the blistering sun and left.

More music at the fort that day.

I was parched but not even tempted by the water woman who was selling glassfuls to passersby. Prem drank the local water once and suffered for it later.

Every fort has cannons and a fantastic view.

The lady selling puppets I imagine was going to get her plastic bottle filled by the water lady.

I went to a nearby cafe and had bottled water instead, plus I got a photo of my waiter pausing in the doorway, watching the tourists go by.

On my way out, I saw that the lone drummer had been joined by the rest of the band.