Bishnoi Village Safari: Day trip from Jodhpur

Jodhpur is home to many famous attractions including the Blue City and Mehrangarh Fort.

However, if you’re in Jodhpur for more than a couple of days, you should definitely sign up for a Bishnoi village safari.

The Bishnoi people are a religious sect who live in Western Rajasthan. Bishnois (bis means 20 and noi means 9) follow 29 religious principles. In particular, they believe in protecting the natural environment. In fact, they can be deemed the original tree huggers.

According to local history, in the 18th century, Amrita Devi and 362 Bishnois hugged their village’s sacred khejri trees to protest the maharaja’s command to fell them for construction of a new palace.

It is claimed that Amrita Devi said: “Sar santey rookh rahe to bhi sasto jaan. If a tree is saved even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it.”

She and the others were beheaded by soldiers until the king ordered the killing to stop.

Bishnoi villages are located in the Thar desert, some kilometers away from the city center. Here are a few highlights of our day trip.

opium
The Bishnois are known for their opium tea ceremony to welcome guests at their homes. Although opium is illegal in India, the Bishnois are allowed it for religious purposes. Here is pure opium and raw opium cut with sugar.
opium
Bishnoi villager, Ramu, sets up apparatus to mix opium with water and filter it two or three times before it is consumed. The two pots are called kalla. That’s why the welcome ceremony is called the kal ceremony.
opium
Ramu demonstrates how we should pour and sip the amal or opium tea from the palm of the hand.
food
Because the Bishnois live in such a harsh desert climate and have no electricity, most of their food has to be dried. Pictured from left to right: dried ker sangri (beans from the khejri tree), dried kaachar (sour fruit related to the melon family) and other unidentified seeds.
mill
This mill is used to manually grind pearl millet (bajra) into a flour to make chapatis (flatbreads).
children
These are Ramu’s grandchildren: Baby Kanchan and Sonia.
bishnoi woman
This is Ramu’s wife. Notice her traditional Bishnoi clothing and jewelry. Doesn’t she look regal?
rug
Next, we visit a homestay where the owners weave traditional rugs or durries. They weave 7-8 hours a day. It can take up to a month to weave two rugs and it takes 3-4 years to learn the craft. Durries are woven from cotton and wool (including fibers derived from coconut and camel hair).
curry
The family’s daughter-in-law prepares a traditional Bishnoi meal in the basic, mud floor kitchen: millet chapati, yogurt curry, and curried aloo (potato). It is totally vegetarian and delicious! This made the list of the best things we ate in India!
homestay
Here are our lovely hosts at the homestay: Duriya, Shambhuram, and their son, Chhotaram. The daughter-in-law who prepared the meal is MIA. Shambhuram is curious about whether our marriage was a love match!
jeep
This is our ride for the safari: a Jeep Willy.
bedsheet
Bishnoi village people are also well known for their woodblock printing. Here’s a lovely woodblock printed bedsheet. A detailed piece can take up to 15 days.
potter
We also visit a traditional potter in another Bishnoi village. Here is Pakani, the potter, and his daughter, Ashwari.
sculpture
Here are some of Pakani’s finest clay camel figurines. We also watch him spin the potter’s wheel, shaping the wet clay with his fingers and cutting the finished product (a small pot) with a string.

Thinking of doing a Bishnoi Village safari? Pin this for later!

Jodhpur (4)

9 thoughts on “Bishnoi Village Safari: Day trip from Jodhpur

  1. Bishnoi! What a strange Indian name! I read a lot about India but not read about a location like this before. The village people look very different to the stereotypical people of India.

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  2. I have heard about this Bishnoi community cause of an infamous case related to a film hero. They strive to protect nature and animals despite of the adverse climate. I wold love to visit on this trail to their village and interact with locals. Loved their durry work, seems to be a lot of effort.

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  3. That sounds like a day trip that is a must when you’re in the region! It amazes me that there are still villages like this that have managed to preserve their culture and tradition! I would love to visit this village if I ever make it to the area. Interacting with the locals would be a fun experience!

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  4. I mossed this during my trip to Jodhpur, I wish I had time to explore this beautiful village. It’s really commendable how these villagers strive to protect the nature, we all need to learn a lesson from them on saving environment. The village handicrafts looks gorgeous, especially the woodblock print fabrics.

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  5. I have been to Jodhpur for quite a few times. It was only the last time that I was looking fo places to visit nearby and ended up in Osiya. Bishnoi village safari is another great option that I will visit next I am nearby. The history associated with Amrita Devi is very interesting. I specifically love all the photographs from your write-up. They offer a view of the Rajasthani culture.

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  6. The Bishnoi tribe is so well known and their history is quite colorful. I have a few friends who belong to the village and they sure have some lovely tales to share. Glad you were able to visit it for yourself. Even from what you share in the post, I know this is a unique experience. Something I would love to do.

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  7. Amazing photography! I actually just got back from traveling around India. Such a beautiful place and interesting read 🙂 I wish I had known about this prior to my trip. oh well :/ next time. Safe travels! Mariella

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  8. This place looks so interesting. Love your pictures as well, they are really beautiful. I would love to discover this beautiful village 🙂

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