Opium Ceremony | West Rajasthan

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Opium Ceremony or Amal – Ka – Dastur or Riyan is a ritual practiced in the Thar Desert areas of Western Rajasthan possessing, serving and consuming opium is illegal, serving the drug to guests has been ages old ritual for the people of this part specially among the Rajputs and Bishnoi communities to build strong relations among the two person and community, Ladies are not part of these ceremonies.

Amal Ka Dastur , Opium Granule and Poppy Bulb

Amal Ka Dastur , Opium Granule and Poppy Bulb


Amal Ka Dastur , Apparatus used for preparation

Amal Ka Dastur , Apparatus used for preparation

Right from preparing, serving and then consuming it is a proper religious ceremony . Opium granules are dissolved in water , ground and mixed with jaggery, sugar, saffron and milk and then strained in a wooden pot filtered by using cloth cap upside down and extract is collected again in a wooden pot .

Amal Ka Dastur , Opium, Jagary, saffron and milk are grounded

Amal Ka Dastur , Opium, Jagary, saffron and milk are grounded


Amal Ka Dastur the mixture is filtered and extract is collected

Amal Ka Dastur the mixture is filtered and extract is collected


First of all it is offered to the lord Shiva and then to the gathering .

Amal Ka Dastur , first offering to Lord Shiva

Amal Ka Dastur , first offering to Lord Shiva

The opium ceremony, where it is taken in small doses, is an important part of any social occasion, be it a birth, a wedding or a funeral in the Thar region of West Rajasthan The ritual is followed by all the castes but it is most prevalent and important ritual among the Bishnoi and the Rajput community, each ceremony has a different name for the occasion 

Amal Ka Dastur , Few drops are taken on palm and licked

Amal Ka Dastur , Few drops are taken on palm and licked

Riyan Ceremony is a big gathering for a marriage , a birth of a child or just a community social gathering . People present their are offered the dose one by one by the elder of a family who first washes the palm and wipe it with one end  of his Turban ( Pagadi) and few drops are put on the palm which is immediately consumed by the guest . Attendance in such gathering means support to the host family and not accepting the opium is treated as an insult .

 Amal – Ki – Manuwhar  ( Amal means Opium , Manuwhar means To offer) in this ceremony the family offers the small doses of the extract to the people to show their gratitude by their presence .

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Kanoi Village, Maganiyars and Sand Dunes , Jaisalmer

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Kanoi is a desert village towards West about 35 km  from Jaisalmer on Sam road with beautiful virgin Sand Dunes , about 400 small brick and mud houses with a population of about 3000 people of mixed castes living here since many generations  in harmony .

Kanoi Village house

The different communities live in the  Kanoi village are  Rajputs , Suthars ( carpenters ) take care of the daily simple need  machines  and tools in the village , the Kumhars ( potters ) take care of the  supply of pots used in daily  house hold  jobs and making pots for carrying  water , few Brahaman ( Priest ) community is also there .

Kanoi village , Nomads huts

There are the Manganiyars who also call them self the Mirasi a Muslim community, patronized by the Royal families and the wealthy merchants families in North India for many generations.

Kalbelia girls and Manganiyars or Mirasis at Kanoi , Jaisalmer

They are the people who have protected the cultural heritage of singing of Rajasthani Folk Music and also preserving their age old musical instruments like Sarangi , Kartal , Bhopang , Morchang , Algoja , Dholak , Dhol , Kamaicha . Kanoi village is a nursery for the Manganiyars or Mirasis , they train the young boys in singing and playing the age old musical instruments , narrating the myths and fables, history and legends, of Kings and Conquerors, Sages , Sufis and Saints from the region. Ladies are restricted they do only the household jobs they even feel shy in the presence of outsiders. It is only the Kalbelia ( Snake Charmers ) girls who accompany the musical groups for performances with Merasis or Maganiyars

Kanoi village has produced the world fame Rajasthani Folk Singers and Musicians  Mr. Chandan Khan and Sadak Khan earned world fame at Bharat Mahotsav in 1980 at Moscow and then many European Countries , tradition is carried forward by Mr. Jalal Khan and Mr. Khudu Khan and many more youngsters  . Their music is complex and secular, its roots spread wide, though chiefly in Hindustani classical music . They have traveled , entertained and received  appreciations   from  all over the world for their Music . 

The profession of people in Kanoi village beside the agriculture  is Animal Husbandry , Sheep, Goat , Camel and Cows which are the integral part of their life . The agriculture is depend on the rains , the villagers have dug the drains which collects the water when it rains and pour it in a series  underground water tank , this water is used for drinking and daily use


Rain water collected and diverted to Kanoi village through the drains

People are poor , living  extreme hard life but always welcoming the visitors with smile .

Foreigners enjoying Sand Dunes of Kanoi Village , Jaisalmer

The only palace to stay in Kanoi is Desert Spring Camp , it has 11 Royal Tents and 15 Comfort Tents , every evening there is a Rajasthani folk dances , puppet show and Maganiyar’s folk songs .

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Jaisalmer , City and Fort , Rajasthan

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Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort



Jaisalmer a World Heritage City founded atop the Trikuta Hill in 1156 AD by Maha Rawal Jaisal Singh a Bhati Rajput , Sixth in his ruling generation, the earlier city was Loduvra , still has a Jain temple remembering its past .

A yellow stone which is available in abundant around  is used in the architecture of this city . It has given the identity of being named as Sonar Qila   or The Golden City of India .

World famous Balcony in stone at Patwa Haveli, Jaisalmer Fort

This city had a strategic location on route for trading caravans en route Persia , Middle East , Egypt ,Africa , Sindh ,  North and Central of India carrying Silk and Spices .

The Bhati Rajputs are Chandravanshi claims to be decedents of Lord Krishna , In 1293 AD the Turk emperor Ala Ud Din Khilji invaded India and captured the Fort , the Bhati Royal families migrated for safety to various places like Jaisal , Larkana , Talwandi . It was after 1627 AD when Mughal Emperor Shajahan took over , the Rawal Sahal Singh  acknowledge  his patronage and then in 1818 AD the King Mulraj accepted the political alliance with the British . After the 1947 AD the creation of independent India and Pakistan the trade route was shifted to Mumbai port and city lost its importance as a trade route.

Main entrace Toran gate Jain temple , Fort Jaisalmer

In Jaisalmer water is scarce as it is part of Thar Desert  it is almost entirely a sandy waste . There are no perennial streams, and only one small river Kakni  which flows for about 48 km and then vanishes into Rann Kutch . Amar Sagar was the water reservoir used as a main source of water which got dried up due to increase in demand for agriculture .

House , living Museum , Fort Jaisalmer

In 1367 AD Rawal Gadsi Singh excavated a lake now known as Gadsisar Lake  a water conservation tank to fulfill the water requirements of this dry city, till 1970 AD before the Rajasthan Canal came in , it was the main source of water for Jaisalmer 

Gadsisar Lake , Jaisalmer , Rajasthan

This city remained strategically important due to skirmishes between India and Pakistan , roads , rail head and the Rajasthan Canal served to revive the surrounding desert areas.

Kanoi Village , Desert Spring Camp at Sand Dunes

Tourism is a major industry in Jaisalmer , famous for its Sand Dunes , Desert wild life , Camping , Camel and Jeep  Safaris  around Jaisalmer attracts tourists from all over the world.

Sunset at Kanoi , Sand Dunes, Desert Spring camp

Tourists from all over the world come and stay at Desert Spring Camp to have an  experience of Sunset and Sunrise in the Thar Desert .

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Kawariyas , Devoties of Lord Shiva

Every year in the Shrawan month of the Hindu calender ( July, August ) more then 10 lakh ( one million ) number increasing every year, devotees from various part of North and Central India gathers at Haridwar and Gangotri to to take holy water of river Ganges, carry  it on their shoulders walk to their respective Lord Shiva temple in their city or village and pour it on Shiva Lingam.

The prepration is done much before the Kawariayas leave from their home by observing strict disipline of simple vegetarian food , sleeping on floor and away from induldging sex ,tabaco and alcohol, wearing saffron colour cloths,  they leave from home at least 7 -10 days before Shivaratri after performing the pooja for Haridwar or Gangotri by any means of transport , again after performing the pooja they fill their small copper or brass urns , hang it on a decorated  bamboo stick , wearaing saffron cloths bare foot or non leather sandals or shoes start their return journey back home trekking up to 600 – 700 kms to reach their respective destinations before the Shravan Shiva Ratri . these devotees of Lord Shiva are as young as toddlers with mothers and as old as one can walk long distance I have seen 80 years old covering distance of more than 300 kms with young devotees even crippled , lame and blinds undertaking this journey chanting BOL BUM. One wonders is it just faith that makes them complete such a long journey on foot or there is some divine power which makes them perform to do.

There are kawariyas who carry the Ganga water themself upto their destination , there are another set of Kawariyas who carry it as a relay race a team of devoties accompany in a truck and turn by turn each one carries, walk or run with the Ganga water while others rest and wait for their turn in the vehicle these are called the Dakiyas or the Postmen.

Legend is when the churning of Sea took place ( Samundra Manthan) ambrosia (amrit ) and poison (vish) surfaced. No one wanted to have poison. Yet consuming poison was crucial as it would have caused  destruction had it touched the earth. Lord Shiva drank the poison but kept it holding in his throat which caused tremendous heat in his body. To pacify that heat Gangajal was poured over Lord Shiva.

It is not only a yearly ritual for the Kawariyas to carry  the holy water of Ganges but villagers and people on the way take it as their religious duty to feed ,  medical help , offering foot massage, arranging for night stay and rest to Lord Shiva devotees, large number of camps are erected on highways  from Haridwar to Delhi , Jaipur , Alwar, Agra, and Haridwar to Sahranpur, Ambala , Panipat, Rohtak , the main highway Haridwar to Delhi NH8 is closed for traffic for 4-7 days due to heavy rush of walking Kawariyas back home .

There are similar rituals at Deoghar in Jharkhand state , the devotees over 7-8 million in number bringing holy river Ganga  water from various places and pour it over the Shiva lingam at Baidyanath Dham Deoghar

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Triyugi Narayan Temple, Yatra Chardham Uttrakhand

Triyugi Narayan temple / village is situated near Gauri Kund about 15 km by motorable road at a height of 1980 meters ( 6500 ft.). Architect of this temple resembles the Sri Kedarnath temple, built by Adi Shankarachrya, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, having a silver image two foot tall accompanied by Ma Lakshmi and Ma Saraswati. This temple is witness to the celestial marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati. Lord Vishnu completed all the formalities of as a brother and Lord Brhama creator of world as a priest in the presence of “Rishis” sages of that time , the place is marked by a stone called Brhama Shila .

Triyugi Narayan Temple Uttrakhand

Pilgrims offer “Samidha” the pure fire wood at a square “Hawan kund ” Fire place to the eternal flame which is supposed to be burning since the marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati. It is also known as “Akhand Dhooni”

The eternal Flame at Triyugi Narayan Temple

Before the marriage ceremony the Gods took bath at three different “Kunds” small ponds, the Rudra kund, the Vishnu kund and the Brahma kund, these three ponds are recharged by inflow of Saraswati Kund , legend is it originated from Lord Vishnu’s navel .

Saraswati Kund under the canopy, Triyugi Narayan Temple

Lord Brhama had a bath at Brhama Kund before the marriage of Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati .

The Brhama Kund , Triyugi Narayan Temple

Lord Vishnu had a bath at Vishnu kund before performing the ceremonies as brother of Ma Parvati at marriage .

Vishnu Kund , Triyugi Narayan Temple

All other Devas and Rishis had a bath at the Rudra kund to participate and be witness to Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati marriage.

Rudra Kund, Triyugi Narayan Temple

Triyugi Narayan is suppose to be the capital of King Himavat ( Himalaya) during the Satya Yug. After the death of Ma Sati, Lord Shiva’s first wife, Ma Parvati was the rebirth of Ma Sati, at first she tried to win the Lord with her beauty but could not succeed she did penance “meditate” at Gauri kund and finally Lord proposed to her at Gupt Kashi and then the marriage was solemnized at Triyugi Narayan at her father’s place

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Sri Kedarnath Trek preparations for 2015

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The Govt. officials with their team are working with full strength to make sure that the pilgrims do not face any problems at Sri Kedarnath Yatra starting from 23 April 2015 , photos shared by Mr. Narender Singh Negi .

Sri Kedarnath Ji Temple photograph on 22 April 2015

There was a snowfall on 22 April 2015 at Sri Kedarnath Ji and around the mountains , the clearing of snow near the Holy Shrine of Lord Shiva is on full swing.

Making pathway , clearing snow at Sri Kedarnath Ji

The 15 km trek starting from Gauri Kund to Rambara is 7 Km , from here the pilgrims will cross the Mandakini river a trek to Limchuli and then To Sri Kedarnath .

The trek from Gauri Kund to Sri Kedarnath


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Yatra Chardham year 2015 New route to Sri Kedarnath

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The Yatra Chardham in Uttrakhand Himalayas for the year 2015 starts from 20 April 2015 , with the opening of the Kapat ( Doors) at Dhams on following dates  Sri Yamunotri Dham  21 APRIL, Sri Gangotri Dham 21 APRIL, Sri Kedarnath Dham 23 APRIL, Sri Badrinath Ji Dham 26 APRIL

Sri Badrinath Temple

Sri Badrinath Temple will open on 26 April 2015

Sri Gangotri Temple

Sri Gangotri Ji Temple will open on 21 April 2015

The roads from Rishikesh / Dharsu Bend  to Uttarkashi are in  good conditions , a new bridge over the river  Bhagirathi, near Matli is constructed , the soft road area which are prone to land slides in Maneri and Gangani remains travel worthy , in case of  heavy rains one is to take precautions while driving in this area and follow the instructions from the Police and Local Administration .

Sri Kedarnath Temple

Sri Kedarnath Ji Temple will open on 23 April 2015

In the year 2013 floods the trekking route got washed away form Gaurikund to Sri Kedarnath Ji . In the year 2014 a longer  route was opened for the pilgrims starting from Son Prayag to Limchuli and then to Sri Kedarnath on the left bank of River Mandakini was taking three days of trekking journey with a night halt at Limchuli  . The work for the shorter route is on full swing now for the Yatra year 2015. Army helicopters are ferrying the equipment, diesel for the generators for the construction sites .  The pilgrims will start the trek from Gauri Kund to Rambara  07 km. ( Seven kilometer) on the Right bank of river Mandakini and from Rambara  pilgrims will cross the river Mandakini to reach Limchuli 05 Km ( Five kilometer) , from here onward there is a normal walk and no climbing on a well prepared broad trek of 03 km ( Three kilometer ) to Sri Kedarnath Ji. The buildings which were not damaged during the floods of year 2013 are being repaired and arrangements are being made to house five thousand yatris ( pilgrims) near the Shrine , more  facilities will be available at Limchuli for a night stay  .

Yamunotri TempleSri Yamunotri Ji temple will open on 21 April 2015

There was very little  dammage to the roads during the 2013 floods in Yamunotri area , now all roads and treks are in good condition from Dharsu Bend till Janki Chatti and the the Six kilometer trek is well prepared to receive the yatris ( pilgrims)

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Dwarka, Somnath Highway Bridge collapsed

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The main link road Dwarka to Somnath the Highway 8E is blocked due to the bridge over river Bhadra collapsed on the midnight of 7th April 2015. this place is about 30 km from Porbandar , 130 km from Dwarka and 120 km from Somnath .

The traffic between Dwarka/ Porbandar to Somnath is diverted from Porbandar to reach Junagarh and then take the Junagarh – Somnath Highway, this diversion is additional 60 km , 3 hrs. extra time.

Collapsed Bridge over river Bhadra , Dwarka-Somnath Highway


Collapsed portion of Bridge over Bhadra river, Dwarka-Somnath Highway


Collapsed Bridge of Bhadra river , Dwarka-Somnath highway

The wetlands of Bhadra river around this bridge is very famous for bird watchers , the migratory birds from as far as Siberia start arriving around October, they spend the winters here and start flying back to their home early March ever year.

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Somnath – Dwarka Highway Bhadar river bridge fallen

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National Highway 8E is very busy road is used by people  traveling from Dwarka to Porbandar,  Somnath , Viraval , Bhavnagar , Sasan Gir is disturbed now, the bridge over river Bhadar, situated at 130 km from Dwarka , 30 km from Porbandar and 120 km from Somnath collapsed on the night of 07 April 2015 .


Fallen Bhadra river Bridge on Dwarka-Porbandar-Somnath Highway

People now travelling from Dwarka to Somnath will have to take a diversion from Porbandar to reach Junagarh and then take the Junagarh – Somnath highway, this diversion has increased the travel distance by 65 km and travel time by two hrs.

The wetlands of Bhadra river near this bridge are very famous for its migratory birds during the winters .

Bhadra river which flows in Gujarat originates near Jasdan , flowing for about 200 km in the West direction and meets the Arabian sea at the Western Ghats forming the backwaters and a lake near this bridge.

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Khardong-la , Leh, Ladakh

Khardong La situated at a height of 5359 meters , it is among one of the  highest pass with motor road , it is a gate way to Shyok and Nubra valley , it is 39 km south of Leh in Ladakh , it is most of the time covered under snow and a blanket of fog , South Pullu is just 15 km. where permits are checked and if weather is not good one is to wait here for road clearance .


Khardong-la ( pass) on way  Leh to Nubra valley

The two bases on either side of Khardong-la are North Pullu and South Pullu. Inner Line Permit (ILP) is not needed to reach Khardung La peak, however Inner Line Permit is needed to cross North Pullu to reach Nubra Valley , photocopies of permit obtained from The DCs office in Leh are to be deposited at both the points .


South Pullu , before Khardong-La

High Altitude Sickness is the main concern for the travelers who have not acclimatized them self . One can expect  long travel delays due to traffic congestion on narrow one-lane sections, washouts, landslides and road accidents on this highway .  The highway  is closed every year  from approximately October to May due to snow .

It is one of the most visited point in Ladakh by motorbike and Jeep adventurists, one needs skill, good health, presence of mind , fast reflexes and lots of self control to drive on this stretch of road, one feels on top of the world after reaching the Khardong La Top .

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