If you love birds, you will love Khichan, a desert village in Jodhpur, India. Bird watching is a specialized hobby (some consider it a sport) and may be enjoyed only by the patient, nature enthusiast and one who knows how to appreciate the true beauty of the wild. Khichan, however, is known to convert regular tourists into avid bird lovers.
Jodhpur is found in Rajasthan, a northern Indian state that is famous for the Great Indian Desert. Jodhpur is at the mouth of the desert and Khichan is 150 km to the west of Jodhpur. There are many reasons for you to see Rajasthan and one of them is to see the birds.
The most important bird species that visits the village is the crane, which is why the place is referred to as the “Demoiselle Crane Village”. Local villagers prepare and offer about 5,000-kg worth of bird seeds to attract the wild cranes as they come here to spend the winter. Watching them feed is quite a spectacle even for the untrained bird watcher.
The birds are believed to have come from as far as Eurasia and Mongolia. The Demoiselle crane is the tiniest type of cranes and so they can travel far and wide. The state of Rajasthan has no real winter to speak of and the cranes enjoy the warmth they get in the desert village.
According to local villagers, a bird lover living in the area noticed a few migrating birds to the desert and convinced some of the villagers to feed them. The people guessed that the cranes have traveled far and must be famished. They fed the birds as long as they were in the area and this practice continued until more and more cranes came to rest in the desert.
The crane is one of the most graceful birds when they fly. They stretch their neck and head to move forward while their legs are stretched to the back. They take this graceful position to gain speed and altitude.
The locals love cranes not only for their grace and tenacity to cover great distances, but also for the fact that they are monogamous. People find that amazing and mostly unheard of in the wild. These colorful birds are friendly.
They come in August and leave in March the next year. It is fortunate for local villagers that this type of birds will eat anything – plants, insects, small animals, cereals, beans and peanuts, and so they are fed with whatever they seem to like. Today, over 9,000 cranes visit this humble village in the desert.
Through the years the villagers have learned how to feed them properly and you can join them anytime you like. They offer the feeds two times a day. The best months for you to visit are from November to February, which is the peak season.
The village of Khichan has caught the attention of thousands all over the world. It has been featured in the “Birding World” magazine, which has an estimated circulation of 4,000 copies every month. You can watch the cranes (and a few visiting peacocks and other birds) as they nestle into their favorites spots in the village – the heritage buildings, tourist lodges, sand dunes, ponds, and at the edge of the village.