This week as the monsoon has begun to arrive in Rajasthan we look up to the skies in hope that the rain gods will shower some heavy blessings across these lands and spread relief for all those who rely on their waters.
Author: Robert Postma
The morning is silent save for the hum of my air conditioner in the corner. Inside my tent it’s cool the true sounds of the new day are evident as I turn it off and am greeted by the songs of birds. A new day is dawning. I realize that this is my favourite part of any day. Day break fills me with a sense of the unknown, what will happen today, what will I get to see? A tiger stalking prey through the forest, a leopard searching out a cave to wait the heat of the day away in, perhaps a desert fox playing with its young. One thing for sure is that there will be an amazing sunrise that will take my breath away. Other than that, it’s a surprise here in India. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Those of you who have been fortunate enough to have visited SUJÁN JAWAI will have had a deep interest in this wilderness coupled with a curiosity for discovering a unique culture. Growing up in Karnataka, little did I know that I would one day be living and working in this unique part of Rajasthan, in wildlife with SUJÁN. An organisation which has taught me the value of putting conservation before anything else and given me a home, very far away from where I belong.
The forts and palaces of Rajasthan are examples of the most spectacular architecture symbolising dynastic power and built as strategic military defences by the proud rulers of this region. For modern visitors they represent the grandeur and opulence of the Rajput courts, their legendary wealth, their turbulent history and their readiness to find and embrace death, if defeated. Some of the largest forts in Rajasthan have seen bloody battles, long sieges, intrigues, jauhars (immolations) and sometimes, defeat. Since the region is strategically located along India’s western frontier through which historically important trade routes passed, it was constantly under attack by forces intent on entering North India, right from the time of Alexander the Great.
“The day lies so still
Long grasses of a summer passed
don’t nod to acknowledge the season
Winter’s rest before autumn’s fall complete
An air replete with hue’s and calls as keen birds feast
And starlings gather atop the ash black leaves that chatter
To motion bare branches still.”
Miles Richardson, A Blackbird’s Year
Even in major cities (like Mumbai) you hear tales of leopards roaming the streets in search for a quick bite. India, with its vast population, has many animal-human contact, occasionally with an unpleasant outcome. There are areas though that boast a positive and peaceful relationship. Jawai stands as an epitome for mature understanding between man and animal.
The myth of the creation of the camel is dates back to Hindu tradition. Parvati, the goddess of power and the consort of Lord Shiva (the supreme god who creates, protects and transforms) was waiting for Lord Shiva to finish with his meditation. To pass the time, Parvati was playing with the clay and mud where she sat and had moulded an unrecognisable five-legged animal. She marvelled at her creation that she asked Shiva when he had returned to breath life into her clay sculpture. Shiva had originally rejected her proposal as he believed that no place would be habitable to this penta-pod and therefore by giving life to the animal he would not be able to protect and sustain it. However, Parvati persisting and persisting, Shiva had granted her wish.
As a Ranger in the Field Team, a lot of what we talk to guests about is the beautiful Jawai landscape that hosts both temples and wildlife, but the happenings on the ground in between these granite hills has as much of a role to play in this unique region.
A few days ago, JAWAI and the rest of India celebrated Diwali with characteristic gusto. Occurring on the cusp of summer and winter Diwali is also a reminder that winter is coming and it is a game of droves as the cooler temperatures attract a whole range of birdlife that migrates to Rajasthan, and Jawai. Predators, waterfowl and other kinds come roving to the Jawai Bandh and its surrounding scrubland. So here is a list of some of our favourite winter visitors:
The ‘candy-floss’ pink walls of SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur can look back at the passage of time like few other buildings of Jaipur. With a history that first saw the light of day in 1729, when the site on which the palace now stands was created as a garden by a Maharaja for his queen, to the heyday of Pax Britannica in the 19th century when it served as the Residency of the British Political Agent to Rajputana, Rajmahal has absorbed a rich tide of history. As a home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the palace accentuates the trappings of a handsome heritage. It embodies the tastes and reflects the lifestyle of a Maharaja in the 21st century; a dazzling combination of tradition and modernity set in polished stone and acres of wall-paper amidst sprawling, verdant grounds.