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A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 5 - The Border Run

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Sunset at Khuri Desert Jaisalmer
Sunset at Khuri Desert Jaisalmer


A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 5 - The Border Run

Continued from series of post on Jaisalmer and Bikaner Trip. 

To read from the beginning click here

The next morning we got up early and a Jeep safari had been planned by Kasam Bhai. Anupma was still not feeling well so she preferred to stay back and three of us got into the jeep. After running on the tarred road for some time, the Jeep entered the desert and then started the dune bashing. It was fun. We three were standing in the open rear portion of the jeep. It was thrill fun and we were being tossed from side to side. It was very dangerous as compared to the dune bashing we had done in Dubai, but more fun, thrilling and much more adrenaline rush.

Jeep Safari and Sunrise
Jeep Safari and Sunrise


Sunrise and Sand Dunes
Sunrise and Sand Dunes

Our Ride
Our Ride

open vacant roads
Open vacant roads

Enjoying roads with no traffic
Enjoying roads with no traffic


After dune bashing, the Jeep was parked on dunes and we watched a sunrise there. As it had drizzled the previous night and the sky was overcast. So the sun was not very clear, but the calmness of the morning coupled with the fresh smell of desert created a pleasant effect. After enjoying this beautiful morning, we started back. This time the driver took a different route and it was a secluded road. Soon we were at our resort after a few photo breaks. After reaching the resort, we freshened up, packed the luggage and were ready for breakfast. We said goodbye to Kasam Khan and left. Kasam Khan was a great host and became a good friend. The desert experience was good except for too much of rush. Our first stop for the day was Tanot Mata Temple.

Beautiful desert and Roads on the way to Tanot Mata Temple
Beautiful desert and Roads on the way to Tanot Mata Temple


Tanot Mata Temple – Legend and History


Tanot Mata Temple is situated at a distance of about 130 Kms from Jaisalmer. Tanot Mata is also known as Avarh Mata by local people. She is supposed to be the reincarnation of Hinglaj Mata, whose Shaktipeeth is in Baluchistan – Pakistan. As per the legend, there was a Person of Charan community named Mamdia who lived in that area. He did not have any issue. He travelled to Hinglaj Mata seven times on Foot. The goddess was happy with him and granted him a wish. He asked the goddess to take birth in his family as his daughter. After this, he was blessed with seven daughters and a son. Aavarh was one of those seven daughters. The Bhati King of this area Tanurav established Tanotgarh here and got a temple dedicated to the Goddess, which became famous as Tanot Rai.

In history, the temple shot to fame, in 1965 Indo Pak war. Pakistani forces did heavy shelling in this are by hurling nearly 3000 Bombs. It is believed that due to Tanot Mata, none of the shells exploded. Later on, BSF built a Temple here and till day maintains it. The unexploded bombs are also displayed there.
Tanot Mata Temple
Tanot Mata Temple

Tanot Mata
Tanot Mata Temple

Unexploded Pakistani Bombs at Tanot Mata Mandir
Unexploded Pakistani Bombs at Tanot Mata Mandir


Vijay Stambh
Vijay Stambh Commemorating India's victory over Pakistan





The Roads in this area are very good. The scenery is awesome with a vast expanse of desert on both sides. Midway we were stopped by some private security guards as some film shoot was going on somewhere ahead ( which we, later on, came to know was Badshaho starring Ajay Devgan and Imran Hashmi). After waiting for 15 – 20 minutes, I lost my temper and they had to let the traffic go. On reaching the temple we paid obeisance to the Goddess. BSF also runs a small canteen. We were feeling hungry, but the canteen had nothing to eat except for biscuits and col drinks. So we pushed ahead to our next destination Longewala and will have something to eat en route.

Longewala


Longewala a small post on the Indopak border became the turning point in the 1971 Indo Pak war. When the majority of Indian Forces were busy in Eastern Pakistan ( now Bangladesh), the Pakistani General Yaya Khan decided to attack India's western borders with an intention to capture large tracts of land and later use it as a bargaining chip.

The Post of Longewala was protected by Alpha company of 23 Punjab Regiment comprised of only 120 men under the command of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri. This was an important post because if it fell, the enemy could capture vast territory. On the Night of Dec 4, Lt. Dharamvir, who was sent to Border by Maj. Chandpuri for patrolling informed of Pakistani forces advancing toward the post. Major Chandpuri informed his headquarters immediately. He was told either to hold the defence or retreat as the reinforcements will take time to reach. The odds were against him, but Maj. Chandpuri decided to hold even thou they were hugely outnumbered against the 4 mechanised armoured divisions and 3000 plus soldiers. However, he started to prepare his defences. There was not enough time to lay a minefield. Airforce support when asked for was not possible as The IAF jets did not have night vision capabilities. Pakistan attacked at 12.30 a.m. Maj Chanpuri let their column of 45 tanks advance till 15- 30 meters from their post and then fired from Recoilless guns and destroyed 02 tanks and 01 jeep

Pakistanis army was startled with this sudden attack and they got confused. They hit a small barbed wire and took it as a sign of minefields. They wasted a lot of time in bringing forward sappers and found it to be a fluke. In this process the left the road and surrounded the Indian post from all sides. Though hugely outnumbered, the inability of Pak tanks to move faster in soft sand and the accurate firing by The Alpha company and the destroyed 12 Pak tanks till 5.00 a.m. With the crack of dawn, IAF planes took off from Jaisalmer airbase and started hunting for Pak Tanks. They destroyed 26 enemy tanks and the rest were captured. Totally about 100 vehicles were destroyed. Later on, the Pakistanis were forced to withdraw when counteroffensive from 20Lancers and 17Rajputana Rifles destroyed them completely.
A memorial at Longewala
A memorial at Longewala

Indian Flag flying high with a a captured Pakistani tank kept beneath it.
"Jhanda Ooncha Rahe Hamara Visv Vijayi Tiranga Pyara" Indian Tricolour flying high with a captured Pakistani Tank kept beneath it.


Remembering The Martys
Remembering The Martys


When we reached Longewala heard read and listened to the stories of The battle of Longewala, it was a hair-raising experience. A small memorial commemorating the brave men who laid down their lives for the country has been made here. We Saluted the martyrs and had idlis at a stall run by the Indian army. The Idlis were made Fauji style, but as we were famished and we gobbled them.


We had not planned for today afternoon and evening and intentionally kept it unplanned. We had two options now. Either we Go back to Jaisalmer and spend the evening there or we go to Khuri the other desert. It was decided since we had missed the wilderness of desert, we unanimously decided for Khuri. I called up Badal Singh at Khuri to book rooms in his homestay and also asked him to arrange for a camel cart.



When we reached Badal Singh's house we were offered a choice of Rooms and he also had 03 Bungas – Traditional circular mud huts with thatched roofs. Everybody unanimously chose Bungas. After freshening up we chit chatted with Badal Singh over tea. Our ride was already there. I had chosen camel cart this time as the entire family can sit together and have fun. We passed through the lanes of the village and we were already loving it. At some distance was small jungle very rarified to be called a jungle with acacia trees. A very vast open tract of land had 2-3 wells and village women were carrying water from there. In one side we saw a large flock of peacocks. And one of then was dancing. Watta scene man. Soon we were at the Sand dunes. We left the cart and started the ascending the sand dunes on our own. They were very clean and pristine. Not much of the visitors. This is what we had in mind. We had a great time here. Sarthak went berserk running sliding rolling up and down on sand dunes. Ladies were busy getting photographed and taking selfies.
The Bungas
The Bungas

A woman carrying water at Khuri
A woman carrying water at Khuri
Peacocks
Peacocks
 The pics of Khuri village not good and have shake due to improper camera setting and as they were taken while sitting on a moving camel cart. But I have put them here to give an idea of the surroundings.

village well
Village well also acts as a meeting point for all the village women

Beautiful desert
Beautiful desert

Sun, Sand and the Cart
Sun, Sand and the Cart

Another shot of sunset
Sun rendering its yellow hue to the sand of Khuri Desert

A young performer
A young performer

Having fun on sand dunes
Having fun on sand dunes



Posing for a shot while watching sun go down
Posing for a shot while watching the sun go down

The beautiful Sunset Finally
The beautiful Sunset Finally

Sunset was magical. We had a great time. Khuri made up for the disappointment at sam. Actually, anybody looking for facilities, dance and other luxuries should visit Sam, but people like me who want a place away from hustle and bustle should visit Khuri.

We reached back at our homestay changed and freshened up. The third Bunga had been occupied by two German Girls, who were travelling across India. The dinner was served after some time. It was traditional Rajasthani dinner with Jwar ki Roti, Ker Sangri ki sabzi, dal and Badal Singh was Kind enough to get Papad ki Subzi made on my demand. He is a great host. After small talks, everybody went to sleep. We had a long day ahead when we drive back from Jaisalmer to Ludhiana


Next day the fifth day of our journey was non-descript. We just did was mile-munching and enjoy the vistas around while we drove back. The dive in Rajasthan was nice and met the same hustle and bustle when we entered Punjab. Starting at around 7.00 in the morning, we reached home in about 12 hours. These 5 days were amongst the best five days the family had spent together.




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