Bishnoi Village Safari – A Glimpse into the Rural Communities of Rajasthan

The historical tour of Mehrangarh fort, Gadisar Lake, and Mandore Gardens in Jodhpur had left us craving for more of the rich heritage of the Marwar. Our host at Blue House suggested us a village safari wherein we could drive through the interiors of Jodhpur and learn the cultural aspects of the rural life.

The safari jeep was ready sharp 9.30 in the morning. Devisingh our guide briefed us on the places we would be visiting on safari. We drove through the industrial areas on the outskirts of the city into the rural neighborhood of Salawas Village.

Pottery Community in Salawas Village

Our first stop was the pottery community of Salawas Village. Pottery is the family business of the Muslim community of the Salawas Village. At the entrance, there were several pots spread out to dry in sun with a few ready for sale. We received a warm welcome from the family members who seemed excited to see us. One of the family members who had been practicing the art for four years came forward to demonstrate us the making of pottery.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

The process started with kneading and wedging the clay lump by mixing it with ash and sawdust. The lump of mud was then placed on the potter’s wheel and spun with a stick. The lumps were beautifully shaped into pot, vase and a piggy bank one after other which left us awestruck.

We learned that the mud is transported by the men from a pond 60 km away from the village. A small share of which goes to the panchayat who use it for the welfare of the village. Thereafter the women of the house smoothen the mud by beating with sticks and making it usable to be shaped into wonderful clay items.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

The unfired pottery is left to dry in sun for a week and then heated to high temperatures in a kiln for the firing process. This would strengthen and set it into the desired shape.

Some of the finest work of pottery were displayed for sale. We bought some clay souvenirs and bid them farewell.

Wildlife of Guda Bishnoi Village

On our way to the Guda Bishnoi community, Devisingh asked us to look for wild animals. They could be easily spotted around the serene Guda Lake which is home to numerous wildlife species.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

There is a high probability of spotting Antelopes, Cranes, Rabbits, Blue Bulls, and, Peacocks amidst the sprawling khejri tree groves. We could spot a lot of peacocks, a flock of blue bulls at a distance and a horde of camels pass by us.

Bishnoi community

Devisingh drove us to a family from Bishnoi community and gave us an insight into their lifestyle. The Bishnoi community adheres to 29 rules laid down by their Guru saint Jambheshwar. The basic principles of Bishnois revolve around respecting other humans and resolute protection of flora & fauna.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

They reverently protect the deer as they believe the deer are a reincarnation of their Guru Jambheshwar.

They are vegetarians. They don’t allow felling of trees and just use the branches for domestic purpose. And for the same reason, they do not burn the bodies instead they bury them.

The guide apprised us of an infamous incident from 18th century involving the massacre of 363 Bishnois. The villagers hugged the trees and refused to give up to the King’s men who were cutting trees ending in sacrificing their life. The King on knowing of the incident apologized and planted back the trees with a promise that his seven generations would not fell trees. Another such brave incident was seen in 1996 when Nihal Chand Bishnoi gave his life protecting the wildlife.

The only source of their income is farming of pearl millet and green gram which is very unpredictable due to scarce rain. Hence to preserve the community government has appointed guides like Devisingh who would take tourists to a different house every time and walk us through their heritage and give us an opportunity to donate anything we wish for their welfare.

The house of the Bishnois is made of small hamlets called ‘dhannis’. They have round huts with thatched roofs and beautiful hand paintings. The mud floors are smeared with cow dung.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

An old man wearing a simple white dhoti kurta and white turban demonstrated us through turban tying method and his age old opium machine used for traditional occasions. There two lovely kids staring at us with utter curiosity while the women worked backyard on their farms. The older boy showed us around his house.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

Opium drink was served in many traditional occasions like family gathering and celebrations or when a dispute is settled on sharing an opium drink. Today the consumption is illegal in India but is grown for religious purposes and consumption requires special permission.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpury

Weavers Community in Salawas Village

We reached the weaver’s community where a person demonstrated us weaving of carpets locally referred as ‘durry’. These carpets are weaved with interlocked weave which makes them reversible.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

It was fascinating to watch the primitive method of weaving carried forward through generations. It was amazing how they created these delightful carpets with a spectrum of vibrant colors. The community has around fifty skilled artisans who are involved in this durry weaving business.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

At the end, the person showed us through some of the ready products too. The products ranged from simple jute or wool to high-quality silk. Each of these carpet takes around a month to complete depending on the complexity of the design.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

Factory Outlet

The last stop of our safari was a factory outlet Shri Ganesham Exports where we could see how the locals worked on beautiful handicrafts and other products like embroidery bed sheets, quilts, mats, and handbags.

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

Bishnoi Village Safari Jodhpur

Our safari ended here and we asked our guide to drop us at the old market where we decided to devour on some the local delicacies. Also, the old market also has around 7000 shops to shop from to satiate your shopping spree.

Have you been on a safari to experience the rural lifestyle of Rajasthan? Do share with us in comments.

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11 Comment

  1. I’d love to see that many camels race by me so closely! That looks so exciting. And I wonder about the sound their hooves make when so many of them are running by? Looks like you got a nice window into the local culture there. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It is nice to do these kinds of offbeat things once in a while. It is nice to know that Bishnois are so loyal to their wildlife and trees. I wish more people would do things like them to protect their trees. It is a good initiative by the government to provide them with additional sources of income.

  3. Ivy says: Reply

    That’s a LOT of camels (those are camels, right?)! This village sounds like an awesome place to get your cultural fix. I love how skilled the pottery makers and weavers are, there’s nothing quite like handmade products!

  4. I loved reading about their culture and traditions! I can’t imagine there was a better place for you to visit to learn about local customs. And those rugs – how beautiful are they?!

  5. This must have been an amazing experience. These people are so talented with their crafts. It’s really impressive. Must have been interesting to see how all of these things were made.

  6. Naomi says: Reply

    Rural life can be so fascinating! That is where the real life and traditions are still alive. Excellent post

  7. Jean says: Reply

    I’d love to see these camels up close and personal. As well as the women beating the clay. Did you get any photos of that?

    1. mm GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      No, we could not witness that Jean. The clay was already ready for the demonstration.

  8. This Bishnoi village safari is such an authentic slice of local life. We’d love to witness the lamp and rug making in person. Those arts are so amazing and beautiful. Thanks for these insider tips.

  9. That pottery art has always been something that piqued my curiosity. I love that there is so much culture in this community. I loved the opportunity to get a glimpse into their lives with this post.

  10. I liked to read this post and know more about this small village, you have got a nice experience there!! They made many homemade stuff and I can say sincerely: wowwww everything looks nice! Interesting reading about massacre of 363 Bishnois, thanks for sharing, it’s always a pleasure read some experience from your blog! 😀

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