For thousands of years, livestock herders have migrated across the plains of Rajasthan with their camels, sheep and goats. Caravans of ‘Rabari’ or ‘Raika’, as the pastoralists are known, used to be a common sight in the region but their numbers are dwindling rapidly as younger generations move away to the cities in search of more lucrative work.
One of the last major concentrations of Raika is along the western flank of the Aravalli hills, between Jodhpur and Udaipur. Driving through the area, you’ll regularly see men in voluminous red turbans and white cotton tunics, and women with distinctive bands of white bone armlets, walking alongside roads with their animals or gathered at local markets.
This is generally about as close to Raika life as most visitors can hope to get, which is why we are delighted to have teamed up with an NGO called ‘Lokhit Pashu Palak Sansthan’ (‘LPPS’ for short), who support pastoralist communities in Rajasthan. For a unique experience in India and to help fund their excellent work, LPPS have set up a small guest house deep in the countryside at the foot of the Aravallis where you can experience the Raika way of life at close quarters, visiting the homes of local herders, watching them milk their camels and joining the men as they graze their livestock.
Facilities at the guest house are simple but adequate, comprising a couple of pleasant rooms with en suite bathrooms and verandahs. Past guests include none other than Joanna Lumley, who stayed here during the making of her recent series on India and evidently enjoyed the experience!