If you want be in the middle of nowhere and still have a good time then Jawai bandh is the place to be. Jawai Bandh is a dam built on Jawai river, which is a tributary of the river Luni. However today the whole place is called Jawai bandh.
Jawai was not really a tourist location till a few years back. The only thing famous here was Ranakpur Temple, located 50 kilometres from Jawai bandh. However 2-3 years back Discovery channel did a documentary on Leopards in the area. That was the trigger, which resulted in this place being developed into a tourist location. However it’s still work in progress. Not much of tourist crowd. Thus it’s a great place to go and chill if privacy and virgin territories are your kind of thing.
While leopards are indigenous to many parts of Rajasthan, this part got a lot of the publicity, thus huge infrastructure has been developed to support leopard safari. However the result is that all leopards have moved to other areas. I guess they don’t like their privacy invaded any more than we do.
Trains to Jawai are available from the Major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur and Ahmedabad. If you are coming from our of India. You can land in Delhi/Ahmedabad airport and then take a train to Jawai. The nearest stations are ‘Mori Bera’ and ‘Jawai Station’. One can also drive down from Delhi or Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad to Jawai
New Delhi to Jawai
If you are flying in locally then the nearest airport is Jodhpur. You can take a cab from Jodhpur. It’s about 150 Kilometres from Jawai.
Jodhpur to Jawai
Our resort was relatively a new property and literally in the middle of nowhere. Our cab took a winding route. Got lost a few times,then finally drove down a dirt track and finally we were there.
After our first day where we just chilled out and got some rest we decided to explore the surroundings the next day.
Our plan was to visit the famous Ranakpur Temple in the first half and come back for a Leopard safari in the 2nd half.
We set out in the morning. The only way to get to Ranakpur from interiors of Jawai is to take a pre-booked cab. The hotel receptions also can also be helpful. App based cabs like Uber and Ola DO NOT work there. Also network coverage can be a an issue. Like i said, It’s a place for people who want to switch off from society!
It took us an hour and a half to reach Ranakpur Temple. While there is no entry fee to enter the temple. There is a fee of INR 200/ USD $3 for an Audio guide. And INR 100 / USD $ 1.5 for camera and photography charges.
However you need to be vary of priests who will come and put a dot on your head and expect a tip. Also they may approach you to do various Pujas and rituals for a fee. You can engage or ignore them depending on your interests in those matters.
The temple is over 500 years old. Interestingly this was one of the temples that my husband and i considered for our marriage. However we finally went with ISHA yoga Foundation in south India. You can read all about it in my post
“ Mystical Marriage”
Coming back to the temple. Darna Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction of the temple in the 15th century following a divine vision. The temple honors Adinath, the first Tirthankar of Jains. The Ranakpur temple is one of the largest and most important temples of Jain culture.The campus includes various temples such as Chaumukha temple, Surya temple, Suparshvanatha temple and Amba temple.
The main temple in this complex is Chaturmukha temple which is a 15th century temple dedicated to Adinatha. Built using white marble in the midst of a forest. The temple name is credited to its design of chaumukha— with four faces.The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolise the Tirthankara’s conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.The temple is one of the largest Jain temples and considered one of the holiest Jain shrines in India.
We spent at least 2-3 hours taking a good look at the place. The architecture is stunning. My guess is anyone with an interest in history or architecture is going to love this place. The carvings are intricate and pregnant with allegorical meanings.
The statues of all the Jain spiritual leaders till this date and their stories have been captured in fascinating detail in this temple.
Meditation Anyone !
After a good first half in the temple. We set out for lunch nearby. The temple area is a well developed tourist destination. Thus its filled with eating joints .And you can take a pick of the kind of cuisine you may like.
After our temple tour we went back to our resort for our leopard safari. The safari needs to be booked in advance. The safari guy picked us up from the hotel and took us to a common point from where all safaris commence. The vehicle of choice is an open jeep. It comes fully loaded with water, snacks (Potato Chips), Tea/Coffee and binoculars to ensure you have the perfect safari experience. It’s a good idea to wear a hat. It can be sunny and hot.
The rate for the safari was comparatively cheap compared to other places we have been. A single jeep which can accommodate a maximum of 4 tourists comes for INR 4500/ USD $ 60. The safari lasts for about 3 hours. They start by taking you to Jawai Bandh the dam that gives the place its name. Then we go looking for some Leopards, so that we can invade their privacy and then they take us to a lookout point that gives a bird’s eye view of the entire place.
Our first stop was Jawai Bandh the dam. I was expecting this to be a small stop on the way. But once we got there the true natural beauty of the place dwaned upon me. Its a pity we went there when sunlight was not very optimum for photography. The images are flat. However believe me when i say the pictures do NOT capture even 10% of the beauty.
It’s a huge lake that has been created as a result of the dam. Its spread over a catchment area of 720 Square kilometres. It almost looks like a mini-sea. The waterbody is home to exotic migratory and indigenous specials of birds. At any point of time you can easily see a few crocodiles / alligators swimming around in the water or basking in the sun on a rock. We saw a lot of them.
While the scheduled stop here was only for 15 mins .We insisted on spending more time and ended up being there for at least 30-40 mins. . Too bad it was in the middle of an itinerary. Else we would have loved to spend 2-3 hours there.
The sun was too bright to permit great photography
After our time at Jawai Bandh we moved to leopard spotting. Now this place does not have any forest area. It’s basically rough and dry terrain. The vegetation and flora and fauna is pretty Grand Canyon-ish.
Leopards tend to live in caves in this dry hills. And while the place is known for leopards the place is also infested with another animal which is not so glamorous. Hyenas! Its a constant territorial war between these two species.And humans often bear the brunt of this gang war!
Most of the western media stories of leopards straying into Indian villages are from this region. Man and animal boundaries are extremely blurred in these parts as a result of human population slowly encroaching into animal territory.
The safari was an ok-ok experience. The guides will amply make it clear in the beginning that the possibility of seeing a leopard remains a “possibility”. There are no guarantees that you will be able to spot one.
After an hour of roaming around looking for this wild beast, we finally came upon a cave structure in the rocky mountains. A small family of mother leopard and its two cubs came out for a brief while. I think it lasted all of 2 minutes.
Watching the leopard family
Then all of us humans rushed at them to take pictures and they vanished back into the cave. That was the end of leopards for that evening. It goes to show we still have not learnt how to handle wildlife in a mature fashion.
Image Source : Safari driver. It’s the same mountain cave. But the pic is of another day. We were not able to shoot with our cameras. They were far away!
The driver then took us to couple of other spots filled with scenic beauty. We had a good time. We finally went up to the lookout point. The view is stunning. It gives a bird’s eye view of the whole valley.
This is where the tea and coffee comes out. You can sit here admire the view and enjoy the drink. Too bad by the time we reached this point the sun was almost down. Owing to the poor light we were not able to click any pics 🙁
Post that the driver dropped us back to our resorts. By the time we reached it was evening. Time for a nice drink and dinner. That is exactly what we did 😉
If you like to know anything about this place do reach out via the comments section. I will try my best to share.
If you like our content do follow @sajannair