Last day of the trip – I woke up at 4:45 (with great expectations for the day ahead) but somehow kept lazing around. Finally ready @ 6:45 and left phalodi. reached Khichan at 7:05 at the bird feeding shelter. At that hour the only inhabitants of the shelter were a small grey bird and a cat eyeing it hungrily. There was a peacock around though !!
Were promptly greeted by sewakram who offered that we wait at the roof of his house while the birds arrive. Suddenly we heard a call (its a very characteristic call that the Demoiselle crane has) and I looked up to take this shot:
My father showed me that across the dry river bed behind the houses the cranes had started arriving and the number exceeded 1000 easily. Per the wildlife warden on duty at the chugggaghar, this year at present there are 4000 birds in the Khichan area and still arriving. Then suddenly like a swarm, more than 20 flew from across the river and came to the open field behind the feeding area.
This was followed by another batch and then yet another till over 200, all crowing and whistling their own unique calls were behind the fence.
They started flying in small groups to survey the chuggaghar but didn’t land. This continued for over half hour.
The number across the river and near the feeding area was close to 2000 by then as the birds kept arriving from the nearby fields.
Then at 8:15 am, some diwali enthusiasts burst a rather loud cracker and suddenly they were all off!!!! what an anticlimax. Exchanged numbers with sewakram (his take on the situation was the birds should return within the hour) so as to get a tip when they return – and we could eat a bit in the meantime. Started driving only to stop 50 meters from the ‘chugga ghar‘ as on the right side, the field was full of cranes – flock was Atleast 500 strong maybe more. Managed several shots and a video.
Then they started flying and landing in an empty school compound and about 50 assembled by the time we left.
Was very happy and left Khichan at 09:30 am towards Nagaur. Entered Nagaur at 11:30 am – spotted 4 chinkaras that eluded my camera en route. Achintgarh fort is large and devoid of buildings – drove through nakash darwaja, kutchehry pol and one more. Didn’t feel like stopping.
Left Nagaur at 11:58 for ajmer – NH89 surface good to very good…..Pulled into merta city shy of an hour but couldnt find any decent place to eat. Arrived at pushkar around 2:15 pm….immediately greeted by unwanted guide who deliberately misled us into some alley claiming road ahead is closed and then suggesting he could ‘show us around’ as he’s a brahmin’s son. Stopped for lunch at aroma restaurant close to mela ground and brahma temple. Pleasant garden setting (and the walls are decorated with some paintings as seen below) and good food esp great chhach.
First stop at brahma temple – could sense people must feel strongly about this temple.
Plenty of stones at temple and at ghats bear names of the donors and several are in urdu – noticed one in devnagri donated by a family from mirpur khas, sind. Later walked to brahma ghat repeatedly avoiding guides/pandits. Everyone in Pushkar seems to be trying to sell something to you – some stuff is good – Gulkand for example, others simply try to act as guides for a town that finishes before you can pronounce its name. Touristy kitsch abounds (see below):
The ghat weren’t too crowded and they do have an air about them and a remarkably unhurried ambience.
The shoe-minder mentioned a total of 52 ghat though I couldn’t count more than dozen.
Many pigeons on the ghats and few geese and ducks as well.
Noticed a gleaming gurudwara amongst other buildings (it was built by the sikhs after Guru Gobind Singh visited the area) ……. left pushkar at 4:45 pm.. Took us a while to get to the Kishangarh highway (NH8) but very smooth sailing after that. Found a good highway motel for dinner and back home by 9:15 pm in Jaipur. (as they say on irctc tours – tour ends with pleasant memories!! 🙂