A FORT IN MARWAR
Perched on the edge on the great Thar Desert in the heart of rural
India, the unique fort at Khimsar offers a wide range of experiences.
The battle-scarred walls and turrets remind one of the glorious past of
Khimsar is a small village situated around 92 km on
highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner in the northern Indian state of
Rajasthan. The village of Khimsar provides an excellent starting point
to explore the district of Nagaur, which lies midway between Jodhpur and
Bikaner. There are good road connections from Khimsar to other important
tourist destinations in the region including Jodhpur, Bikaner, and
Khimsar has an extreme climate with hot summers and cold winters.
Temperatures during the summer months range between 42.2°C and 27.3°C,
and between 27.5°C and 9.5°C during winters. Annual rainfall in this
region is around 31-cm. Recommended clothing for the summer is light
tropical while light woolens should work in the winter.
On the highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner, an hour out of the Rathore
stronghold, past the medieval temples of Osian with their stunning stone
carvings, is the small township of Khimsar. Established by a scion of
the house of Jodhpur, Khimsar was once a small kingdom. And though
Jodhpur royalty claim it was never independent, the Thakurs of Khimsar
claim that not only was it an individual entity, but that one of the
visitors to their ancestral fort was Emperor Aurangzeb himself. The
construction of the fort initially began in 1523 but the family moved in
to the fort only during the 18th century after a new zenana or ladies
wing was constructed. Thakur Onkar Singh, the present occupant of the
fort, built a regal wing for himself in 1940s. The pride of Khimsar
today is still that fort, 450 Years old and currently home to the 18th,
19th, and 20th generations of the Khimsar thakurs.
SITES TO VISIT
The fort architecture of Khimsar offers great heterogeneity. Originally,
the fort walls, turrets, and stables were built solely for war, and were
constructed around the beginning of the 16th century. Subsequently, by
mid 18th century, the royal family moved in when a new zenana or ladies'
residence was constructed. Finely carved windows in stone were
constructed in this section for providing purdah or veil for the ladies
in waiting. Thakur Onkar Singh, the present chief and the 17th direct
descendant of Rao Karamsi (the original builder of the fort) built
himself a regal additional wing in the 1940's. Today, this fort ranks
amongst the premier Heritage Hotels of India.
Jodhpur is the largest city in the entire Marwar region and one of the
most famous tourist destinations in Rajasthan. Major tourist attractions
in the city include the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mahendragarh Fort, Jaswant
Thada, and Mandore Gardens.
Osian is a small place situated around 27 km off Khimsar and known for
its sixteen ruined Jain and Hindu temples. These temples date
to the eighth and eleventh centuries. The most important temples are the
Sachhiyamata Temple and the Jain Temples. While the Hindu temples are in
a dilapidated condition, the Jain temples are well preserved.
Nagaur is around 43 km away from Khimsar and famous for its cattle fair.
Thousands of people bring camels, bullocks, and horses for sale. Camel
races and other sporting events are organized at this fair.
WHAT TO DO
Jeep Safaris can be organized but require an advance notice. The
excursion runs deep into the heart of the desert as hunting around the
settlement is banned. As the jeep roars up, deer and chinkara take to
the air in elegant strides, silhouetted against an early morning sun.
And there's nothing like a picnic tea or breakfast taken in the shadow
of the high dunes in the open countryside.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels are available in Khimsar for accommodation though on the higher
side of the cost chart. The heritage hotels here are an experience in
themselves and provide good value for money.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest airport from Khimsar is Jodhpur, around 92 km away. Indian
Airlines connects Jodhpur with Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai through regular
flights. The airport is located around 6 km off the city center.
The nearest railhead is Jodhpur on the Western Railway broad-gauge
network. Jodhpur is linked to various centers in the region by express
and passenger trains. New Delhi, Agra, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Udaipur, and
Ahmedabad are some of the important cities that are linked with Jodhpur
Khimsar is situated around 92 km on the Jodhpur-Nagaur-Bikaner Highway.
State transport corporation buses and private buses connect Khimsar with
other centers in the region.
Buses, taxis, and jeeps are available on hire to enable tourists to
visit the places around Khimsar