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This Week in Pictures: Life Around The Serai, Jaisalmer

 

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The Thar is not only an incredible topographical feature that spreads across most of western Rajasthan, overlapping the frontiers of two countries, it is also a roundabout of history. Armies, caravans, settlers of all races have passed through its landscape, bringing with them a diverse knowledge of architecture and craftsmanship. The local stone of Jaisalmer, golden to light, forms the foundations of some of the most intricately carved monuments of this region. From the SUJÁN Archives.
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An elderly local administers to the preparation of the family meal. Life in Jaisalmer was traditionally harsh and water scarce. One of the reasons why local cuisine is so full of ingredients sourced from local flora capable of growing in the barren environment of the Thar. Elders and particularly the women of Jaisalmer will regularly oversee the preparation of the family meal. Photograph by Anjali Singh.
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The region of western Rajasthan can be topographically harsh and inhospitable but the people – well versed with adversity – are members of some of the most hospitable and warmest communities. Water, which was a luxury in the region till as late as the 1970’s is more easily available now and is a boon for both humans as well as the livestock local villagers breed. From the SUJÁN Archives.
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A local Raika or camel-herder sits outside his home of mud and thatch. The Raikas are a pastoral community who believe they were formed by Lord Shiva and have traditionally bred only camels though some of them have now diversified into cattle-herding as well as breeding of sheep and goats. From the SUJÁN Archives.
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Villages around Jaisalmer represent a sense of timelessness. Neatly layered village homes of mud-works and adobe construction, with alleyways that do not just link them to each other but also to a whole social culture provide fascinating points for excursions and visits. Photograph by Anjali Singh.
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Jaisalmer’s camels were used for multiple purposes, historically. The Emperor Akbar marched from his capital Agra all the way to Gujarat in the 16th century on his sweeping conquest of the region. Practical for military use and hardy draught animals, the camels of the region were sometimes used for their meat and often for their milk. Camel-hide was utilised for a vast range of uses from footwear to forming part of musical instruments. Minutes out of The Serai, Jaisalmer, guests can sometimes come across herds such as these in the community grazing lands that spread across the area. Photograph by Anjali Singh.
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A local Raika lad smiles at the camera. Village life is easier for him today than it was in rural Jaisalmer for the generation preceding his. With schools becoming more accessible and better healthcare available to rural communities children today are better educated and informed about the outside world. At The Serai, Jaisalmer we welcome guests to visit and participate in our community development programmes aimed at providing a better, cleaner and more secure lifestyle for the communities living in our vicinity. From the SUJÁN Archives.
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Local shrines and chhatri’s dot the local landscape. Even the simplest village shrines are elaborately carved and stand proud – sometimes centuries old – in corners, at crossroads and serve as landmarks for local mendicants and travellers. From the SUJÁN Archives.

 

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