Khichan, a small village near Jodhpur Rajasthan, comes alive every winter with the congregation of 12 to 20 thousand of Demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo). The spectacle starts well before sunrise when tiny specks start appearing on the northern horizon on the pre-dawn deep blue sky.
The residents of Khichan have had a special affinity to these cranes called “Khurja” in the local language. The arrival of the birds is considered auspicious and several ballads celebrate the importance of these birds in the culture of Rajasthan. Central to the spectacle is the spreading of JOWAR ( millets, a form of grain ) in a protected enclosure called Chugga ghar ( or the feeding house ).
Soon several flocks of Demoiselle cranes start arriving from all sides in a typical V formation quite like a squadron of fighter planes. By the time dawn approaches and the sky rapidly changes hues from blue to a golden amber, the whole sky will be filled cranes. The calls of the cranes soon assume a crescendo as they start landing. The reason for interest of the cranes in this particular hamlet is the grain that is put out for the cranes as a daily ritual by the local jain community trust with financial support from across globe.
As time progresses, cranes who have already fed will keep flying out of Chuggaghar and a new group who has been patiently waiting outside on the fringes will keep coming inside for feed. After feeding they will fly off to water bodies around village for drink or an occasional bath. Just before noon the cranes are all gone and Chuggaghar presents a deserted look. In fact for somebody arriving in Chuggaghar in the afternoon, it's hard to imagine that such a nondescript place was the stage for something so spectacular earlier in the day.
This annual congregation of the migratory Demoiselle cranes has fascinated me ever since I made my first trip four year back. I make sure to spend at least 1-2 week every winter, trying various possibilities & perspective to truly represent this huge congregation.
Hope you enjoy photographs, please drop your comments.
First group arrives before Dawn
Horizon to Horizon, every side you see.
Marching cranes towards Chugga Ghar
Cranes Inside Chuggaghar
Some are waiting for there turn on nearby Dunes
After feeding, cranes arriving at waterhole
View from old Haveli
Portrait of Crane
World of Crane
Crane on Canvas, my creative impression of Cranes
Best time: Dec-Feb
Nearest place to stay: Phalodi
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur
Khichan is on Jaipur -Jaisalmer Route and also while driving from Jodhpur- Jaislamer you can take Phalodi road.
Contact: Seva Ram, Mobile:09982372596 . His house is next to Chuggaghar. He will share history with you, also offer you Tea & Biscuits
Tip: Reach early before sunrise, and settle yourself on roof of Sevaram house, wait for this amazing nature spectacle.
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