The guide we hired in Bhuj, Sakur, was able to communicate some questions for us, but most of the experience was in seeing their lifestyle and in non-verbal exchange.
The Rabari women were as interested in, and sometimes puzzled by, the four of us, as we could have ever been with them.
Rabari women dress in black wool, with large pieces of silver jewellery. The men, children excepted, wear only white, with some colour in their shawls.
Rabari boys and men are usually seen wearing earrings ~ they're called toliya ~ that are cone-shaped and look quite heavy.
Another stop on our road trip through the Rann of Khachchh, the Jalu village was established in 1971, when the partition forced many Rajputs to flee Pakistan. There were about 15 families ~ the men herd cattle and the women embroider.
One of the older women in the tribe gave me a wall-hanging from her hut ~ I had expressed a lot of admiration for it. It's a woven cirular piece, made entirely of plastic from candy/cigarette/tissue wrappers. It may sound a bit odd, but the colours are perfectly arranged and it's quite striking (and an incredible use for "garbage").
The village had a lot of of puppies and baby goats running around; at night, they are all herded into a hole in the ground, to protect them from leopard threat.
The inside of the round-homes (bhoongas) that we visited were spotless, which would be incredible work in the desert. There are shelves built into the walls and bedmats are put out of sight to make the space livable during the day.
This gentleman was the only young man in the village of Jalu when we visited ~ the other men were out with the herds.
Unfortunately, even Sakur, our guide, wasn't able to determine why he was at home. . .no translation was needed for the pride he was showing in his newborn, so we assumed that was the reason. Sakur wrote down some mailing instructions for us. Whether the photo actually got there later on. . .unknown.
Even if you aren't able to spend a night, a visit to the Dhoramanath Monastery is still recommended. . .the main building and some of its sections date from the 18th century. . .and there are small shrines dotting the pathway to the nearby hilltop temple.
A sunset (or alternatively sunrise) visit to the temple near the Dhoramnath Monastery shouldn't be missed.
The climb is fairly tough; it's only 3 km, but over very rocky terrain. It's a good idea to bring water, a flashlight if you are staying to watch the sunset, and solid shoes of course.
The Temple is occupied by a mad, chillum-smoking Saddhu, plus a few of his friends. . .he is the brother of the monk at the monastery below. We were warmly invited into this temple as well. . .
If you can arrange for a car to meet you on the other side of the hill, there is a normal stairway down to ground level and a main road.
Mechanisation still hasn't hit farms in India ~ work is done by beasts of burden (both human and animal).
It was a fantastic experience being led around the farm, then resting in the shade and enjoying tea. It was evident that our guide Sakur knew the owners well, as we were given an exceptionally warm welcome.
Approximately 30 km from Bhuj, we stopped at a village called Varnor. It's home to Rabari and Harijan tribals: the Rabari are nomadic cattle herders (women stay in the village and are known for their embroidery skill) and the Harijan are weavers.
We stopped in at this local Muslim family's farm, near Tarya (about 15 km from Bhuj). They invited us for chai under the shade of an enormous neem tree. . .
They farm chili peppers, castor oil and corn. . .it was a lovely break.
There are many smaller and bigger hills around Bhuj which might interest adventurous tourist. Many people get stuck in the middle of the town and finding it hard to find peace. Therefore I highly recommend you to explore Tapkeshvari hills and surrounding hills.
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Have a fun!