People of Marwar

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2013

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In February 2013 did Marwar Yatra. Route was Nagaur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur. This collection shows you people I met in these places. Also includes dances at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, pics of camels/peacocks and local products like textiles, furniture and dhurries. Met this lady at Nagaur Cattle Fair. Ornament she is wearing in centre of forehead is called Rakhdi. In the neck she is wearing a Kanthi.

In the same fair number of shops sell utensils and other items of home use. Right of picture u see a senior citizen in traditional dress. Different communities wear the pagdi in different ways. More about pagdis in the Havelis of Jaisalmer section.

In the same shop three Rajput women in lehenga dress. It is so comfortable. Earlier most women wore cotton dresses ie very good for for Rajasthan where it is hot. Due to increase in cotton prices some women shifted to nylon ie not as comfortable. To see more pics of Nagaur Cattle Fair Click here

In Nagaur Fair saw this lady who had just saved her husband after he was accused of some wrong doing. Few minutes later was busy on the phone. She had a very attractively dressed daughter who just refused to be clicked. White thing that she has on her hands is called Chudha, made of lakha today. Earlier made of elephant teeth. Cell phone was truly changed the way all Indians communicate. In a sense it has broken all barriers.

Inside the Karni Mata Mandir met these four ladies. This temple is also known for the thousands of rats inside it. U see rats on side of pic. To see pics of Karni Mata Mandir Click here

About 10 kms from Bikaner is the National Research Centre on Camel. About 350 camels live there, lots of research goes on there. Camel milk available there. U see a person in local dress.

32 kms from Bikaner is Gajner Palace. There is a palace hotel with a lake in front. The whole area is a bird sanctuary, has wildlife spread over 6,000 acres. Left of pic is hotel staff who took us in a solar powered boat and right Is my driver Lalit Singh Pawar. Very good driver, based in Jodhpur. If you need to contact him nos 9571750291, 9352739277. To know more about Gajner Palace Click here

50 kms from Bikaner is Kolayatji, an ancient pilgrimage spot with temple of Kapil Muni. It has a huge artificial lake that you see in the pic with many temples on lake banks, reminded me of Pushkar. Saw nos of devotees take a holy dip, u see some. Place is very quiet and serene, has very positive vibrations. Did not feel like leaving the place. Lake was full with waves as u can see.

About one hour from Kolayatji is the famous Indira Gandhi Canal. Was very keen to see it so took a detour from Kolyatji. U see canal with caretaker of this mini dam Nand Kishore Ram. He has worked here since 1981. Drove along the canal for about 5 kms. Where canal water goes place is transformed. Lots of greenery, farming and trees cover roads as if it is dense forest area.

Along the Indira Gandhi Canal met these school children. So full of energy, wanted to be clicked and the world to see their picture. In simple language there are various outlets from the canal so that water goes to distant areas as well. U can see them when we upload pic collection on canal.

Next stop was Jaisalmer for Desert Festival. It starts with a Shobha Yatra from the Fort Gate. U see men in traditional dress with ornaments and girls dressed in local attire with lots of jewellery as you see in this picture, do observe carefully.

Local girls are part of the Shobha Yatra (ceremonial procession), add color to the festival. Ladies in Kalash Yatra. This tradition is very popular in Rajasthan for any cultural and religious function for eg if there is Gangaur function or a Bhagwat Geeta talk or kisi ne Teej ka undyapan kiya that purpose ke liye and so on. Girls and ladies carry kalash on their head and form part of a procession from temple to home or vice versa depending on the occasion. Doing so is considered Shubh or auspicious.

As part of the procession are men in local dress and ornaments. The festival has a Mr Desert competition. Left to right u see Mr Desert 2011, Mr Bikaner 2011 and Mr Bikaner 2013. Their beard ka style is quite different from what we see in other parts of the country, loved it.

Another group of girls. On their head is a kalash embellished with Om and Swastik.

A number of local residents stood in their homes to watch the ceremonial procession. U see three generations of a family, grandfather, son and daughter. Note the expressions on their faces.

Another group of men in local clothes. Loved their ornaments, beard and moustaches. Sporting a Dharmic haar wearing all round the neck. Colorful cloth on waist is a kamar bandh.

The procession goes through narrow lanes to enter the main market square. U see a group of six men in local attire. One is more impressive than the other.

Ladies performing the Kalbeliya dance, part of Kalunath Jogi''s group. This dance and music had me captivated for all of 3 days of the Jaisalmer Festival. In English they call it Gypsy dance. The dance is associated with snake charmers. Ladies wear traditional black skirt. To know about Kalbeliya Dance, see Videos Click here

Part of the ceremonial procession were these dancers from Balotra. It is Dandiya Gair dance. Had to run to a terrace top to get this pic. To know more about dance Click here

Camels are an important part of life in the desert. They are dressed up like brides, very colorful. The BSF carry themselves and camels in real style.

U see a local girl. Please admire her saree and jewellery. Observe, too good to describe.

In the main market met this group of local women who were part of the procession. Ladies are wearing Rakhdi in centre of forehead ie round ornament. Left of pic lady in red color dress is wearing Ramnavmi in the neck and Bangadi in front of the bangles. Rest all ladies are wearing Kanthi in the neck.

Part of the Desert Festival is a Turban Tying Competition for foreigners. They were given a Safa. It was an enjoyable sight seeing them trying to tie a turban.

These gentleman are contestants of the Moustache Competition. Left to right second person - moustache is really long.

Next program in the Jaisalmer Desert Festival was the Miss Moomal Competition. U see lady contestants. More than the women I was fascinated by their clothes and jewellery. Moomal is the name of a princess. Moomal and Mahendra, Rajasthani folklore''s very own Laila-Majnu. To read more about them Click here

Observe their ornaments carefully. Coming from a big city I casually asked one of the girls if it was pure gold. The look she gave me said it all.

A close up of one of the contestants. Such was the rush of people who wanted to click them that I was fortunate the young lady patiently waited till I got the focus right. Note jewellery.

Every contestant has to walk on the stage and say a few words. This one was super confident, to me her look says it all. Description of jewellery is - Rajputi Aaad: Necklace which is going "on the neck. Ram navmi: long necklace below rajputi aaad. Rakhdi: top of head round ornament. Baju bandh: she is wearing on the arms. Paunchiya: she is wearing in front of all the bangles. "

Next I went to Jaisalmer Fort. Ahead of the Fort Gate saw these women selling local silver jewellery. Observe their features, clothes and jewellery carefully.

People live in Jaisalmer Fort. I was walking in the fort where saw this painter drawing a sketch.

Pagdi is an important part of tradition. In the fort there was a shop selling turbans. A child trying on the turban. Looks cute. There are different Pagdis for different communities. More about that when we cover Havelis of Jaisalmer where tell u which pagdi represents which community.

The Festival had cultural events every evening. U see Mansi Singh Panwar. She dances with all that you see on her head. Does it with such ease. Dances on broken glass also. Amazingly graceful. Saw her dance on all 3 days, fascinating. To see her on You Tube Click here

Braj ki Holi dance by Ashok Sharma and Group. Very very good. Top is Krishna with flute in one hand and sudarshan chakra represented by steel thali in another hand. All over pic are marigold flowers or gainde ka phool.

Early morning had gone to see the Jain Temple at Lodurva, the ancient capital of Jaisalmer. As I walked out of temple saw nearly 10 peacocks, stood spellbound. As I walked towards them they ran away. Used my zoom lens to get a closeup of this amazing creation ie such an integral part of Rajasthan.

"In Jaisalmer was walking in the market when saw this lady. Wearing Kanthi: round in the neck, Nath: Pin in the nose, Bhuj Bandh: ornament on the arms, Kadley: bangles on the hands. "

Lady in blue has a silver choker round her neck and a Nath: Pin in the nose.

One of the competitors of the Mr Desert contest with one of the performing artist whose dance you see in the next pic.

I forget the name of this artist. She has performed many shows on Sony TV. Her co dancers are Japanese who camped in Jaisalmer a month before this event to train for this performance. In the background is Jaisalmer Fort.

This tank is in the village of Longowal, was captured from the Pakistanis during the 1971 war. Those who have seen the movie Border would be familiar with the Battle of Longowal. This battle is a tale of 100 odd soldiers and their steady resolve which forced an entire Pakistani brigade backed by two Armoured Regiments of T59 and Sherman tanks to retreat. Note India''s real enemy is China.

The third day of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival was at Sam Dunes ie 45 kms from Jaisalmer. U see a group of local ladies waiting for the evening program to start. Festive atmosphere amongst a riot of color.

Person on right is Kalunath Jogi the man behind the famous and exciting Kalbileya dance event. A Hungarian girl has also become part of his dancing group. U can see her pictures in the Kalbileya dance photo collection that we shall present later. To see a video of Kalbileya dance Click here

Three ladies at Sam Dunes. I was the first person to click them that evening, they demanded money. I said am desi so no money. In the background are Sam Dunes.

On way to Thanot (120 kms from Jaisalmer towards Indo Pak border) I walked into this village to get a feel of actual village life. However, the villagers esp ladies refused me entry. Again used zoom lens to click this pic. Found many village ladies apprehensive of men with cameras, perhaps people have misused their pictures or they are plain wary or urban folk. Note the solar panel on right of pic.

In Barmer visited Gramin Vikas and Chetana Sanstha. Is an NGO that works with local women to produce textiles. Their Secretary Vikram Singh took me to a few villages to get a feel of what they do. U see two ladies at work. Both in ghoonghat, u might think conservative actually dynamic. The one on right manages a working group of about 200 women and covers villages in a 25 kms radius. We will be uploading NGO''s work on site, need to promote their work. Sitting in Barmer marketing your products is not easy.

In the same home as the preceding pic saw whom I think is the mother-in-law of the young lady. Lady is wearing a small aaad necklace and dharmic haar round the neck, Jhumka in the ears, Baju kadla on the arms made out of pure silver, Dhaal utaar chuda: Bangles on the hands and Kadley on the foot.

This is two double bedsheets ie an eg of Applique patchwork made by NGO Gram Vikas and Chetana Sanstha. They cost about Rs 3,500/ a piece. Also see their products on facebook Click here. Phone nos of secretary Vikram Singh is 91 9413308843, 9680990029 and email

About 40 kms away on the Jodhpur Jaipur highway is the Aravali Gurukul Ashram. It shall house many institutes including one on management. It is promoted by Varun Arya, an IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad Alumuni. When the project was started it was barren land. U see Varun A with a brinjal grown in their nursery there. To know how a wasteland was transformed into a green belt Click here

Last leg of trip was Jodhpur. Near the Ghantaghar or clocktower visited the Girdikot and Sadar markets. I saw two ladies selling bangles and local jewellery. This is one of them. First she did not smile. I cracked a joke and pretended to focus but actually clicked, great smile, can model for Colgate toothpaste. Lady is wearing Ladiyon wali Rakhdi with teeka on the head.

One of the shops in the market, a riot of colors. It is ironical in many parts of India that Indian women continue to wear traditional clothing whilst men have shifted over to western clothing ie pant, shirt as seen in this pic. Captions for ornaments worn by local women given by a pal from Jodhpur Priya. Three cheers to her.

This lady sat next to the lady in the earlier but one pic. In the background you get an idea of the products sold by them. Very colorful and full of life markets. For those who are to get married this market has the A to Z of what the bride and bridegroom need. What might appear as small shops do business worth crores.

After a long day visited the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel in the evening. In its lawns saw many many peacocks, this is one of them. Enjoy.

Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel is amongst the best palace hotels that I have been to. You see Chain Singh who is part of the Umaid Bhawan''s Team as doorman of the palace. We shall be presenting a separate photo collection of the Palace. It is beautifully maintained and staff very courteous. To know more about the Palace Click here

Next I went to village Salawas ie about 35 kms from Jodhpur to meet Prajapati Roopraj who makes dhurries. U see him weaving a dhurry. He lives in a village, has facility to accept payment by credit card, can deliver his products anywhere in the world thanks to DHL. His first son is doing engineering, second B.Com and third works with him. After visiting his home realized how cottage industry can change the lives of people. We will be uploading pics of his products separately. His email id is, site and nos 91 9982400416.

9 kms from Jodhpur is Mandore Garden, the ancient capital of Marwar. It has extensive gardens with high rock terraces. As you enter the garden was greeted by musicians who play some lovely local music for you. Was sad to see his state, a part of local tradition and culture will die with him.

Heard about exports of furniture, other items from Jodhpur. Thanks to a friend got to visit the shop of leading exporter Nirmal Bhandari. U see painting of a container.

This export co like many others buys old wooden furniture from the interior areas of Rajasthan, uses it to make furniture that is exported. U see eg of such furniture. Some of the designs are are very creative, was a bit taken aback at use of various materials. Was told the products are in great demand in the U.S. Making of wooden furniture is big business in Barmer and Pokaran as well. However, did not have the time to visit those markets.

This silver furniture had me bowled over and raised aspirations. In March 2013 Three Seater Sofa cost Rs 4.5 lakhs, Single Seater Sofa Rs 2.25 lakhs, Camel Bone Table (40x80x25) Rs 18,000/. If you wish to buy email Nirmal Bhandari at Esamskriti seeks to promote Indian craft, textiles and India, has no financial interests in such transactions.

Buying antique, period furniture from others and reselling them is big business in Rajasthan. U see some of the items for sale in Mr Bhandari''s showroom. I visited a couple of other showrooms as well and realized that export of furniture has huge employment potential. Carpentars can work from home or in factories.

In centre of pic is Swamiji who was being felicitated after returning from the Maha Kumbh Mela at Prayag. Right of pic is the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel. I was dozing in the hotel room when a friend called to say rush for this pic, thank you Sanjay. In case of any errors or omissions in captions do write in.

My last stop was Jaswant Thada Jodhpur ie the memorial of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. These ladies thought I was a photographer and asked me to click them on payment. I told them am a passion driven photographer. I asked where are your husbands. They said hubbies busy at work so come to enjoy. None of them gave me their contacts. If u know them mail me and I will email you the pic. Do visit Marwar and assure you will have the trip of your life. Best time November to February. Need any travel tips mail me.

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