Kheechan, Desert National Park & Jaiselmer

A 130 km drive from Jodhpur brings me to the small town of Phulodi. This is a hub for trading of table salt. My purpose is to visit the small hamlet of Kheechan which has shot into prominence as it plays host to a large number of Demoiselle Cranes who visit the area every winter thanks to the Jain Community's commendable efforts to feed them large quantity of grains on a daily basis. The sight of a large number of birds - by some estimate numbering over 15,000 is by all accounts a treat for the eye. Here are some views

Amidst the huge numbers of Demoiselles, here is this lonely Common Pochard doing the rounds

After this wonderful view, the next destination is the Desert National Park, 40 kms beyond the town of Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert close to the Indo - Pakistan border.
It is further drive to the "Winds Desert Camp" situated right in the midst of the Desert and as we alight from our bus, we are welcomed in traditional Rajsathani style by the camp staff to the beat of Dholak (drums), garlands and kunkoo (traditional red dot on the forehead that is considered auspicious in India). Feels royal as we are assigned to our very well equipped tents!

It is time to explore deep into the Desert National Park (DNP) past the very touristy Sam Sand dunes where 6 Camel carts with their ever smiling owners owners await us. as we clambor on the rather uncomfortable carts with barely a quilt, it seems more feasible for us to alight and walk along to get a real feel of the area. Being in the Desert and understanding the unique ecosystem is an exhilarating feeling. Vegetation and animal life is sparse but very different from what you would see in most national parks. Some photos of DNP followed by views of the Winds Desert Camp

Grey Shrike

above & next two: Desert Wheatear

At dusk a sighting of a flock of White-rumpedVultures

View of DNP

above & below:  Indian Gazelle locally called Cinkara

Views of our camels - the ship of the desert!

some views of the sand dunes

Sunset in the sand dunes

Lalu - the lead camel - looks very disciplined with a no-nonsense air!

and the Homosapiens!

view of the Winds Desert camp

After an early morning checkout & bidding goodbye to "Winds Desert Camp" we have just enough time to check out the princely city of Jaiselmer, before proceeding back to Jodhpur for our journey back home. Jaiselmer was built by the Rajput ruler Rao Jaisel in It is an amazing living fort made of yellow sandstone found in the area. It is not one of those forts that is just a tourist attraction but one that is throbbing with life. As you wind your way, through the old ramparts, you come across old temples - Jain & Hindu as well as a number of hotels & shops selling artefacts. It truly caters to the appetite of the tourist. Here's recapturing the short photographic moments

Entrance to the fort

For orgainsing a wonderful camp, I thank Bombay Natural History Society and our Group leaders - Vandan Jhaveri & Whosane Tinwala; our camp staff for the courteous and special care, camel cart drivers who did a grueling trek & our patient bus driver. On a trip like this, my  camp-mates added that special touch of enthusiasm & thank you to you all especially my friends, Meena Wadhwani & Veena Gandhi for making this a memorable trip

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