I stood by the Guda Bishnoi Lake completely charmed. As far as eyes could see it was full of Demoiselle Cranes, only at that point people told me they were Siberian Cranes. I had my doubts but a lake full of cranes by any name is a delightful thing!
Guda Bishnoi is about 25 kilometers from Jodhpur. It is as of now not so frequented by tourists. That also means you have to find a transport of your own to reach there. When I was visited, we were about 20 people by the lakeside, out of which many were locals!
Guda Bishnoi has a fascinating history. Bishnoi Sect was started by Guru Jambheshwar. He was born in 1451. His gave 29 principles but his main teaching was to protect the wildlife and trees, which Bishnois practice ardently even today. It is said that the guru was reincarnated as a black buck, hence the reverence of the animal within the community.
Bishnois are also known for the Khejarli Massacre which took place in 1730. 363 Bishnois died while trying to protect the trees which the King’s troops had orders to chop off! Even to this date Bishnois bury their dead as cutting trees is completely banned! To know more about the fascinating story of the Bishnois, do watch the two part documentary made by B.V.P. Rao.
Back in the present there is an elevated platform near the lake from where tourists can watch the birds. There are two rooms as well but my driver for the day, Gyan Singh ji told me they were with the forest department. I turned my back to the world and got engrossed in watching the birds.
Various parts of the lake were claimed by different different flocks as their own. However, it was not a rigid division. The birds happily kept visiting each-other. Demoiselle Cranes would rise like clouds and go settle at another bank! They loudly cawed all the time and yet it was pleasant to the ears!
Gyan Singh ji got me a pair of binoculars to see the black bucks drinking water at the far side of the lake! From the binoculars I switched to the telephoto lens but the binoculars were more powerful!
After being engrossed for a long time with my camera I turned back to see Gyan Singh ji grinning at me. He probably didn’t anticipate my happiness at seeing the birds. I asked him if it was possible to have our lunch there? The hotel kindly had given us packed lunches. Gyan Singh ji and I enjoyed our kathi rolls, fruits and juice under a tree in the compound.
I went back to stand by the lake after lunch. The birds now decided to walk in a line along the closest bank of the lake! I am sure the antics would go on but for me it was time to back to the hotel as I wanted to go to the Mehrangarh Fort in the evening.
On a more practical note there is a washroom for ladies in the premises but when I used it there was no water to flush. The wash basin outside had water. What to do, practical notes are almost always jarring!
But then for a nature lover Guda Bishnoi Lake is a birder’s paradise. It is also in the ‘not so discovered’ category as of now.