THAR DESERT, INDIA: How I spent two days atop a camel and what I learned along the way…
I wasn't a natural on a pachyderm I can tell you, (in fact I was terrified!), but when the guide put one of his boy-helpers on the camel with me I started to relax and enjoy the journey. The scenery in the Thar Desert (Rajasthan, India) was magnificent. I'm always surprised that a giant expanse of sand, which at first thought might sound monotonous, is actually so full of life and variation, especially as the sun moves through the sky, changing the light and shade. Camping out under the stars that night was heart-breakingly beautiful. If my bum hadn't been so sore I think I could have stayed out there a lot longer!
The thing that struck me the most (apart from the Camels' amazing finery and decoration) was the obvious love that the guides had for the animals.
'According to myth, the camel was created by Lord Shiva at the behest of his consort Parvati. Parvati shaped a strange five-legged animal from clay and asked Shiva to blow life into it. At first Shiva refused, saying that the misshapen animal will not fare well in the world, but later gave in. He folded the animal's fifth leg over its back giving it a hump, and commanded it to get up, uth . That is how the animal got its name. The camel then needed someone to look after it, so Shiva rolled off a bit of skin and dust from his arm and made out of this the first Raika. Historically, the Raika of Rajasthan have had a unique and enduring relationship with camels. Their entire existence revolves around looking after the needs of these animals which, in turn, provide them with sustenance, wealth and companionship…'