Friday, April 2, 2010

Jaisalmer Desert National Park

Mr Ramanan, along with his family, visited the Jaisalmer Desert National Park earlier this year. Jaisalmer is in the western part of Rajasthan in the heart of the Thar Desert. An outpost in the desert, it has its share of forts and palaces as well. In fact, most tourists visit Jaisalmer to get a feel of the desert, and to see its fort, havelis and the local culture.

The Jaisalmer DNP is a large sanctuary and one of the important ones in India, showcasing desert flora and fauna. So, here is his trip report, which makes for interesting reading! And of course his wonderful photos.
We in the south are so familiar with rain-fed forests like Top slip and kalakaddu, so a first-time visit to a DNP leads us to wonder what living thing can there possibly be, in such a bone-dry area? We reached Jaisalmer by the only train which runs daily from Delhi to Jaisalmer.
We boarded the train at Jaipur around 12.30 in the night and one has to be very careful to board the right bogie as the train splits in to two! One goes to Barmer and the other Jaisalmer. After 13 hours we were in Jaisalmer, and after Jodhpur on the either side of the track from the train itself we started seeing desert creatures like peacock, demoiselle crane, vultures and foxes.

From here we have proceeded to Sam Dhani which is about 50 KM from Jaisalmer where we stayed with RTDC resort. As we didn’t have the time to go DNP on the same evening we enjoyed a package tourist thamasha at Sam Dhani. The package includes a drive on the camel to sand dunes, where we were allowed to stay and enjoy the sunset. We were then taken to another resort to witness a local cultural programme for two hours.


The next day we could enter the DNP only after 7.30 am as the people are reluctant to start very early morning. To get into the park a permit is compulsory, as we knew about it we got it from the Director DNP at Jaisalmer itself. For an Indian for a day permit cost about Rs 285 and for foreigners it is difficult as they have to get first permission from the district magistrate. Then, based on this the Director will issue permit for them and it is expensive for them.

The drive to DNP is 30 odd KM from Sam Dhani. Along the way, we saw several BSF and army camps as the DNP is situated close to the Pakistan border. Our vehicle is not permitted inside and the only mode of sight seeing inside the park is by camel cart and it is really indeed eco-tourism!
The terrain is made up of rocks, compact salt lake bottoms and sand. Huge sand dunes form about 20 percent of the park but you will probably not get a chance to see it. The flora comprises of Dhok, Ronj, Salai, Bear and Palm trees. We proceeded on the camel cart and inspite of the open terrain we were unable to locate any of the game there as all of them are so well camouflaged. So in the first drive we solely depended on the cart driver. He described all the desert species in the local language.
Quails
On the second day our eyes got used to the terrain and we ourselves started spotting and enjoying all the birds and animals. We sighted various types of vultures - white backed, long billed, cinerous,white scavenger and the red headed. Also, all the three sand grouses - black bellied, spotted and chestnut coloured.
Eurasian collared doveWe also sighted falcons and lot of eagles which I couldn’t ID. Brown-headed ravens, bulbuls, house sparrows, shrikes, doves and desert wheater are commonly sighted. And finally of course the Great Indian Bustard very far off. They are very shy and photographing them inside the park, for that matter any birds or animals is very difficult as they are not at photographic distances.
Chinkara and foxes are commonly sighted inside. We saw two kinds of foxes the one with black tipped tail is known as Desert fox and another with white tailed which is slightly smaller than the other one is Bengal fox.
I didn’t make a note of all the species as I was concentrating on photography and still I was sure that I would have seen more than 80 species of birds and three species of animals!
Cinkara - male and female
A dust storm started on the second day evening. This was an experience in itself. We couldn’t get to the park but we witnessed the beautiful sight of changing shape of sand dunes from our resort. The storm covered what we tourists spread over it like plastic cups and bags and empty bottles and we saw the real beauty of the desert. But the sad part of it was that the next day again our tourists invaded the area with more and more of plastic bags and bottles. The “YELLOW BEAUTY”, as the local call the sand dunes lasted only for a few hours.
The next day morning again we ventured into the DNP but sighting was very poor because of the dust storm but we were enthralled by the camel cart driver who insisted that we should get married to many girls so that we will have lot of boy children and further narrated that he was married to four wives and had more than fourteen children!! I hope at least he will remember his number of children.
From there we travelled back to Jaipur and made a one day trip to Sariska Tiger reserve only in vain. We didn’t see the radio collared Ranthambhore tigers but when we were inside a check post which is called as Kalli Katti, one of the jeep drivers and the forest guard asked us do you have biscuits with you? So we gave him a few and immediately he ground it into a fine powder, asked my daughter to spread both hands and poured them on her hands. From nowhere about 30 tree pies emerged and without any hesitation started feeding from my daughters’ hands.

We really enjoyed it but on our way back I saw the instruction board of the forest department which instructed tourist not to feed the animals. Did it apply to the birds as well?
Mugger-Sariska
Grey Langur relaxing - Sariska
Black-tailed Godwit - Sariska
Sunset - Jaisalmer

7 comments:

  1. Lovely photos! Which time of year was it? Amazing that the desert supports so much life.

    Sekar

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  2. Incredible India even in the desert!!! Nice to see the birds so attentive in Sariska, they know when food arrives!! =D

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  3. What fantastic photographs!
    I went to Sariska about 25 years ago - lovely place. Did not sight any tigers, but saw an enormous porcupine, and tons of monkeys in a temple in the middle of the forest. There was a very nice Rajasthan Tourism lodge there, and the front area was full of peacocks every morning!

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  4. Lovely! We'd like to use the GIB photo for a panel in a mobile exhibition for environmental education and request your permission.

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  5. Sanskriti, thank you!

    I just checked with Mr P Ramanan, (who is the photographer), and he says he has no objection, since you are using it for educational purposes. He requests that he be recognised as the photographer.

    Thanks!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    You also must know about Damdama Lake which is a best place to enjoy weekends.

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  7. Really Thanks beautiful all about information Rajasthan Tour package situation part of india. As view of place nice destination for wandering and stay.

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