Day #10 - Jaisalmer - Tanot - Bajju - Bikaner

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The day started very early.. thanks to the nice rest we got at The Royal Palms in Jaisalmer. We decided to head for Tanot - on the recomendation of Ashish Godbole - "it has a beautiful mandir" he had said.

On the way we spotted the Chinkara - the Indian Gazelle, some eagles, hawks, dung beetles and thousands of cow, sheep and goats. The best part of the drive was that - just like last night we were the only people on the road. During the entire 120km drive we saw 1 cyclist, 6 bikes, 2 cars, 11 jeeps (loaded with people).

Did you know that the name Gazelle is believed to have been derived from the urdu word Ghazal - love poetry! The creatures look really lovely and cute!

When we reached Tanot mandir - the only thing there anyway we found a BSF post there are the jawans were busily painting the walls and watching over the deserted place. We decided to mark the temple as the 'point' and leave.

I, being what I am, walked upto the BSF post and asked them how far the border was. i was just trying to strike up a conversation and give them something to talk about... they must be really lonely doing this mundane job, I reasoned. 2 minutes into the conversation and after they had 'enquired' everything they wanted to know about us one of them asked me "Do you want to go see the border?"

Yes... yes... is it possible?

A few posts/bunkers from an era gone by 
After a series of formal questions, some 'ledger-filling' and depositing the 'original driver's licence' we were allowed to go to the 'Border' - incidentally this was the same place that the story in the movie Border (Sunny Deoll et al) takes place!

So with 'sandese aate hai' on our lips and the warm desert wind on our face we headed towards the border and the post technically referred to as 609!

When we reached the end of the road, where a sign read 'No Civil Veh beyond this point' we parked and walked the rest of the way thru the desert sand. A short 100 mts. later we were within 'touching distance' from the completely fenced Indian Border and we were greeted by a cheerful BSF jawan Subodh from

He made polite enquiries about where we were from and then helped us understand how the Indian borders are protected. I must say that after that conversation we felt very proud of the work they are doing.

The completely fenced border is electrified and apparently "at night it looks like diwali... so bright" - the high mast lights looked down on us as he spoke. We were able to look thru his bonoculars as he showed us the Pak army posts and he explained how the 'chief's' met every morning and exchanged information.

We also shared some of our snacks with Subodh and his collegue and left behind a tamil magazine for his other 'madrasi' collegue who was in 'the other tower - 4 kms from here'.

Happy and with glee written on our faces we headed towards Bikaner. The roads were excellent and we made good speeds. We were almost at Bikaner and it was only 6pm... and the sun was still out so we decided to go over to the border town of Bajju - yes it's really called that!

At Bajju we wanted to turn back... and just as we were trying to figure out the best way thanks to a disagreement between the MapMyIndia GPS, the Eicher Map and the share-taxi wala's directions - all three of them were giving us different routes - we were spotted by a police patrol!

The inspector, Mr. Das, said that this was a "restricted area as notified by the district magistrate" and we were "not supposed to be here". When I told him that we did not see any signs to this effect and all  we wanted was to spread the message of stem cell banking... so, if we were not 'allowed' here, we would be happy to go where normal, civilian, Indians were allowed to travel without any special permits, and carry on with our drive. He was not convinced and wanted to talk with us and made us go back to the police station with him.

Images from every bollywood movie where innocent people are detained indefinetly in police custody flashed in our minds. Wonder why the mind does that... negative thoughts are always that come instantly... the good memories have to be searched, probed, remembered... damn!

15 minutes after we reached the police station and after the 'roll call' for the evening was done - they interogated us thuroughly. They were doing their duty all right, but we did feel harassed the way we had to explain everything twice and prove what we were doing here, why we needed to spread a message - "Kaam, dhanda nahi hai kya" type of questions!

To cut a long story short - for a couple of hours, Prabha and I were explaining stem cell banking and the future of medical science to about 20 constables and officers! Our audience included some wife beaters and some wifes (who had all come to lodge complaints) and numerous people who hang around police stations.

At the end of the conversation they decided that we were 'genuine' and the SI and Inspector were convinced that we had 'strayed' into this restricted area as there were no proper signs warning people from 'outside'- deciding to blame the 'sarkar' (everybody's favorite scape goat) for not putting them up!

When we asked jokingly then if we should consider NH15 only to be our 'border', he vigorously nodded his head and said "Yes!"

After 750kms and over 15 hours of driving we checkd into Raj Vilas Palace hotel in Bikaner.


Amitava Chakraborty said...

Great adventure and you guys got the guts as I once chickened out with my brother visiting from the USA goading me on to bash on regardless way in 2000 when our two families were visiting Jaisalmer from Udaipur. Poor chap having won the Masters Cup in Photography as the photographer of the year was fooled into taking a 18 hour ride Delhi to Jaisalmer for a govt sponsored Desert Festival on the 26th of Feb and now is on his way to Jodhpur. You can just google search Robi Cahkraborty and see his works and for the Master'c Cup check out I always was into going to such unknown places and check my blogs out on :

& my recent adventure trying to reach Longstaff col on Nanda Devi East's shoulder :

Amitava Chakraborty said...

Sorry as his name is Robi Chakraborty and not the Cahkraborty I typed in by mistake !! Lol

Niraj Yadav said...

Spicy travelogue :)
Particularly the flashing of detention part :D

Post a Comment