Picture Perfect Khichan
Khichan is idyllic with picturesque habitats, stunning lakes, ancient temples and interesting locales.
I visited this beautiful Thar countryside known for hosting the guests – “Demoiselle Cranes”
A sleepy serene village near Jodhpur, Khichan is the favourite haunt of the special winter guests – the pretty Demoiselle Cranes. Since many years, they flock in thousands from their native land, supposed to be Eurasia and Mongolia and stay on from October to around March.
Watching their activities is like going through a dream. The best way to enjoy their company is just to follow ‘Their Itinerary’. At the break of the dawn, they love to assemble near the gate of Kurja Resort. They spend morning hours here, it’s their pre-breakfast meal, nibbling on something they like in the soil here.
The ‘Kurjas’, as they are called by the locals here, are largely omnivores and are adored by their hosts. If they choose a spot, they stick to it irrespective of the spectators, comprising of camels and goats passing by. Yes, if human beings get too close as they would with their cameras, the feathered ones get ruffled.
After spending about two hours, the cranes start flying in specific direction in a great sense of discipline. Each one follows set rules and one can see V shape formations with the female leading the group.
Their next sojourn is ‘Chugga Ghar’. This is an enclosure made exclusively as their feeding ground. Sevaram, a native of the village has taken over the task of looking after them. Every single day, he feeds the birds and get the injured ones hospitalized. After savouring their breakfast for good 4-5 hours, kurjas then go exploring the village. They come back in the evening for a sundowner at the lake of the village. The picturesque lake surroundings are ideal for quiet relaxing moments. It is sheer bliss to be seated in their company who are merrily enjoying their siesta. The gentle waves that dance to the melody of the chirping birds fill the air with rhythms of romance.
While the stars of the region are the migratory guests, there are also local residents like nightjars, pelicans, raptors, deer, chinkaras and rabbits.
Unknown and barely explored, the sandy wild land of Khichan is spectacular for both bird watching and for the brilliant wildlife teeming here. ‘Desert Fox’ is Khichan’s most prized secret treasure. Normally considered very unfriendly, it is the visitor’s luck if they manage a photo op there!
The best way to explore the village life is to go walking. There are old exquisite havelis which even in the present state of neglect look, beautiful. The village is a treasure house of creative arts and crafts. It is heartening to see that in the village ancient craft is still being practiced. There are weavers busy at their spinning wheel (charkha) and women in veil assisting them.
Lunch At ‘Gol Ghar’
It is impossible to visit a dwelling and not have lunch in their ‘Gol Ghar’, gazebo kind of neat and clean huts. Known for warm hospitality, they serve an enticing meal. Bajra chappati, gattey ki sabzi, curry and green chilli fresh pickle and mouth-watering dessert delicacies are among the culinary delights on the lunch menu.
Khichan is not a hamlet to be covered in a hurry. To do full justice would require at least two full days.
For those who like to venture out of the village, the temple of Goddess Latiyal Devi and Shantinath are some of the oldest temples of the town, Phalodi which is around 5 km away. Parasnath Jain temple made completely of stone is an architectural marvel worth visiting.
Besides getting a rejuvenating dose away from the mundane chores, in Khichan it’s a joy to see the locals respect and enjoy the cranes flocking through the city freely. Khichan is a snapshot of the countryside at its very best.
Essential Facts :
How To Reach : Two hours comfortable and picturesque drive from Jodhpur.
Where To Stay: Kurja Resort in Khichan is affordable and organizes village safari and camel rides. The in-house naturalist accompanies visitors on safaris and nature walks.
When To Go : If you are into birding, then Jan to March is the best time when you can see the cranes in Khichan.