An Acquaintance to Rajasthan Chapter#1 (GangaNagar)
Intro: During our India Trip 2013, travelling to Rajasthan will remain unforgettable. My significant other and I decided to truly meet Rajasthan by roaming around as remotely as well could. We packed come cotton clothes and pairs of flip-flops, and off we went. Hospitality, generosity and amiability in Rajasthan are beyond imagination! People might not have been materialistically “so called rich” but they are honest and own giant hearts. We were deeply touched by lives of many brothers and sisters here. We need to get some more tourism in these areas to enrich ourselves by the true love that ‘still exists out here. I am starting off my travelogue with my first chapter, now that Rajasthan lives in me. I can speak of it right from within me. Kotakoura to Sriganganagar
After having lunch and delicious carry-out treat of Kotakpura’s speciality Atta Chicken & Dhoda Sweet with our friend in Kotakpura, we headed to Sriganganagar early evening, last week of October 2013. Oh,I must mention that Atta chicken is a must-taste dish, which is marinated, wrapped in a muslin cloth, then covered with wheat flour dough (hence the name) and roasted in a slow-fire oven. Once the shell turns hard, it’s cracked up to serve the steaming hot chicken inside garnished with dry fruit. Dhoda is one of Punjab’s traditional sweets. Dhoda’s richness is symbolic of the verdant land of milk and honey. After getting through the cities in Punjab, there was already considerable change in the landscape as we neared Ganganagar.
The Sun was almost set and roads were peaceful with almost no traffic. There was special caution that we were slightly aware of, which was to be careful of street animals being the major cause of accidents. Sometimes, you would not realize until you come very close to a dark coloured cow or get hit in worst case scenario. I must add that the road was very well paved and smooth throughout, I would still recommend that travelling during the day is much safer because of animals that would appear from nowhere. We had made quite a few stops on the way, and drove very slowly. I am sure it would not take that long for a local resident to travel.
So, then we were in Ganganagar by late night. You can call the place a little Punjab because it has substantial population of Punjabi people. Although Punjabis living here may own hectares of land, but their life-style is much simpler as compared to that of Punjabis living in Punjab, just an opinion. About Ganganagar: Named after Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner, Sri Ganganagar district was once part of Bikaner state and was mostly uninhabited region. The history of this district is testimony to the vision and efforts of Maharaja Ganga Singh, who built the Gang Canal after the Indian famine of 1899–1900. The waters of Satluj River were brought into the region through the 89-mile long Gang Canal in 1927, turning this region into a breadbasket of Rajasthan. Economy highly depends on Agriculture in this district. We stayed two nights in the village called 39wala, near Gajsinghpur. It seemed as though we had landed in the old Punjab that we hear about, or watch in movies. There are many mud houses, very well decorated with animal imagery.
You get to see a lot of men wearing chaadar kurtas. Punjabi and Bagri cultures dominate the district. Punjabi women wear a suit and salwar with chunni (cloth on head). This attire has also become popular with women of other communities. The embroidered Odhni (mostly red in colour) is a symbol of Bagri women. A long shirt and ghaghro (long frock type clothes) and borlo (a head ornament) is the traditional dress of Bagri women. The ghoonghat (or veil) is mainly in vogue among Bagri women. Men mainly wear a pant-shirt, kurta-pajama and dhoti. Here is where I got the idea to buy many cotton ghaghras and kurtas to travel rest of Rajasthan. The attire was not only comfortable but also made me feel that I was one of them and likewise for them.
I won’t be wrong to say people ‘respect’ water. There is ‘rain-water collector wells’ all over. You will meet many local Physio-Therapists, who have been in the occupation for generations. Meet Sonabai, a local physio-therapist from Gajsinghpur, Rajasthan. She has magical healing powers in her hands with her expertise earned through past 8 generations. Sonabai, is a favourite one for post-partum massages, chronic back pains, cramps and what not. Many of my followers have asked for her contact number, which is something I couldn’t get of her. Once you land in GajSinghPur or other villages as such, you will meet many therapists with magical healing powers.
People of Rajasthan have a very keen place for cattle in their lives. Animal sculptures, paintings, or animal love in general is visually common throughout the state. We visited a cow-stable, which also had a temple within. Cows are kept very clean, cared for and worshiped. In fact, right behind the stable was also a dairy barn which had hundreds of sheep and goat in the open space, grazing freely.
Walking back from stables, we met two brothers, Kushal and Gopal, who had set up a fire-pit next to the train-track, and were cooking chapatis. Not only they shared their food with us, but also shared the reason why they were stationed there from two nights. Gopal’s wife was in labour pains and was being treated at a mid-wife’s house nearby. Gopal had two sons before and his wife was to deliver the third child. When I asked him if the child was planned, Gopal just shied away and did not reply. Stick around, I will bring on my next exciting chapter very soon as we travel toward Bikaner.