Small towns leave a very different impression than do the large and bustling cities that most tourists never stray beyond during a visit to India, even if the visit lasts several weeks. We were lucky in that our Rajasthan tour included plenty of driving time through the countryside and an overnight stay in Jojawar, a tiny village between Udaipur and Jaipur.
There wasn’t much to do here aside from walk around and then relax at the hotel, which was fine by me. We had been moving pretty swiftly throughout our trip so far.
I don’t know the population of Jojawar, probably a few thousand which would mean it is too big to be a village, but nonethless it definitely had a small village feel. We did a walk around the cow-filled streets and observed the shop keepers and villagers doing their thing. Repairing or building things, selling things, etc. We saw some cobblers making Rajasthani style shoes (pointy tipped things that look like something an elf would wear) out of camel leather.
Many of the homes in the village were shuttered, with the families having moved out to the city. Fences and doors were closed and locked and windows were covered in bars or with closed shutters. Some of the home were actually quite nice, with new paint, verandas and marble work. I wondered how people were able to afford such homes in a tiny village. Selling off farm land? A family member working in IT near a city sending money back home? Who knows. It seemed like half the houses in the village were not occupied when we were there.
One thing I am still not used to is the situation with stray dogs in India. They are everwhere. A few are adequately cared for and fed (though not well-cared for in my opinion), others appear on the verge of death. As an animal and dog lover it breaks my heart to see this situation, and the apparent apathy of people walking by animals (puppies included) in desperate need of some sort of veterinary care. Even worse is seeing people with pure-bred Labs or Saint Bernard’s (we’ve seen several) when there are obviously millions of strays that need homes. Buying a pure-bred dog from a puppy farm is tantamount to killing a stray/pet-in-need.
India is an amazing country, but it is also full of paradox. It is a land of mostly vegetarians who believe in “Ahimsa” (non-violence) and respect for animals, yet this situation is persistent. I saw a dog seriously injuried and bleeding on the side of a road in the busy market area of Jojawar, with nobody giving a damn about it. It has obviously been hit by a reckless driver. People were walking right around this dog like it didn’t exist. It made me sick. There was no vet in the town (I asked upon seeing the dog) and there wasn’t anything I could do at the time with our tour group moving on. I felt helpless and am now kicking myselff for not trying to do more to help this animal in need. I do hope and pray she passed away quickly.
The one good thing about India is that stray dogs aren’t euthanized/killed as they are in the US and elsewhere. I will comment more about this situation with strays later, but I think there is an opportunity to raise awareness and promote more aggressive neutering/basic vet care in India to naturally control this situation. Tolerance is one of the great qualities of India but when tolerance turns to apathy there is a problem.
OK, back to the trip report:
Jojawar itself was nice and calm, with views of the Aravali mountains from the rooftop of our Hotel, which was a “Haveli” or heritage home built in the late 18th or early 19th century (I think, perhaps earlier). It used to be the Jojawar ruling family’s palace, and is currently owned and operated by the descendents of the royal family. It was a nice hotel, and we were greeted with beating drums and a shower of rose and marigold flowers from overhead as we entered the compound! There was a pool (albeit not heated) and wonderful courtyard. It was a nice place to relax for the evening, watch the sunset get some good sleep before contuing to Jaipur the next day.
Oh yeah, the buffet dinner was great!
Photos: dinner, some shots from the roof of our hotel, a village bricklayer, stray puppies (they looked healthy), etc.