Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Conservationists Of Flora and Fauna Life

The Bishnoi’s, a community living on the edge of Marusthali near Jodhpur are the earliest ecologists known to the world. They consider it their religion to preserve all flora and fauna life and thus are well known as the conservationist and have been so from early 15th century. The Bishnoi sect founded about 500 years ago believes that all forms of life apart from being sacred are vital to each other’s existence.

The Bishnois derive their name from bees (twenty) and nau (nine) – The 29 principles laid down by their founder Guru Jambeshwarji. He was born in a Rajput clan in Nagaur, Rajasthan. He was a wise ecologist and had cleverly packed 29 tenets by which his followers must live. About 90 percent of the farmers of this community strictly adhere to the 29 tenets laid down by him. About 8 tenets of these 29 are prescribed to preserve bio-diversity and encourage good animal husbandry, 10 are directed towards personal hygiene to maintain good health, 7 for healthy social behavior and 5 tenets guides to worship God.

People of this community avoid wearing blue clothes as the dye used to color these is obtained by cutting a large quantity of shrubs. They are teetotaler and normally wears white shirt, dhoti and turban. This is also comfortable and ideal for hot dry desert climate. Only Bajra is grown during monsoon season. The grown bushes in the fields are helpful in checking loss of sand from wind erosion and also provide fodder for animals during famine. They usually lives in small hamlets called ‘Dhannis’.

The Bishnois, , however, have sacrificed many lives for their principles. Three centuries ago Amrita Devi and about 360 Bishnois were hacked to death because they clasped to save the trees, which the axe men came to cut for the palace of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur. On hearing the news of their sacrifice, the remorseful Maharaja recalled his men and proclaimed that no tree and animal be killed in Bishnois villages. As a result, the blackbuck (Indian Antepole) and the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) wander freely in Bishnois villages and no hunter dares to kill them.
Their village is recognizable from a distance due to the presence of plenty of trees, vegetation and freely roaming herds near their homes. To minimize the damage to the fragile desert eco-system, the fields are ploughed with simple ploughs using bullocks or camels. Bishnois do not sell dairy products or raise sheep or goats for slaughter. They maintain groves known as orans for the animals to graze and birds to feed. Rainwater is stored in tankers (underground tanks) and this water is used for drinking purpose. Natural fertilizer as cows and buffaloes dung rather than chemical fertilizers are used as far as possible so as to check pollution. Cow dung flags are also used for cooking purpose.

The attire of Bishnoi women is very attractive with silver trimming and gorgeous jewellery. These women, with their heavy nose rings, earrings, bangles, anklets and solid, chunky necklaces, looks too attractive. Women who are the founts of life usually wear vibrant red and orange colors while men prefer white as it symbolizes cleanliness and purity. Trip to Bishnois villages around Rohet, Luni and Sardarsamand near Jodhpur is an unforgettable experience.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Forts that surrounds the city - Jaipur

The capital city of Rajasthan - Jaipur built on a dry lakebed is surrounded by hills crowned by invincible fortress and observation posts. Of them the Nahargarh Fort (Tiger Fort) in the northeast of Jaipur was built by Sawai Raja Jai Singh II as a retreat for his wives in 1734. It has an unusual design with the queens’ apartments arranged around a central courtyard. It also provides a bird’s eye view of the city.

This fort is crowned on the Nahargarh Hills at a height of 600ft with massive walls and bastions. It is 15 km. from the center of Jaipur. The fort encloses some magnificent structure as Hawa Mandir and Madhvendra Bhawan also. Some beautiful views of Man Sagar Lake and the city below can also be viewed from the fort. Hills of Gaitor lie at the foot of the fort where the cenotaphs of Raja Jai Singh and other kings can be seen. A palatial duck blind lies in the midst of the lake that was used by royal family for shooting.

Another formidable fort is Jaigarh that is also crowned on a hill and is within walking distance from Amber fort. Jaigarh fort is also known by the name ‘Fort of Victory’. It lies at Hill of Eagles (Chil ka Tola) and 400 feet above the Amber fort. The fort gives a wonderful view of Amber fort below. It is surrounded by water on all sides. It commands a view unrivalled in the whole of Rajasthan. Its immense canon on wheel ‘Jaivan’– the largest in Asia- is made of eight metals including gold and silver. A hundred kilos of gun-powdered is needed by it for one shot and it could send the ball 30 km away. Sixteen elephants were needed to tow this because of its weight.

Amber fort is the fort built along with Jaigarh and Nahargarh fort in 1592 by Raja Man Singh. It is also built on hills at the entrance of Jaipur. The high arches and towers of the fort interrupt the hills that surround Jaipur. Its wall has seven gates that protect the invading armies and wild animals from entering in the city. Now the city has expanded beyond the walls. This fort is a superb example of the old Rajput architecture along with Mughal style. Diwan-e-khas, Diwan-e-Am, latticed opening, beautiful little gardens with fountains capture the attention easily. The view over a deep narrow valley and wider plains beyond adds to its beauty.