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Catch up with Cranes in Khichan

By: Akshatha Vinayak

There was a time when our mothers used to show us the small sparrows and feed food. It was such fun to drew out the birds which accidentally barged into our homes. Now, young kids play Angry Birds game while eating food! In fact, birds are considered as a nuisance in many localities. It is sad that we are not letting them come to their land. Thanks to the mobile towers, even crows are less in number these days.


A Haweli in Khichan
Photo Courtesy: Govinda rajpurohit

In such times as these, there is a village called Khichan in the deep quarters of Jodhpur where birds (cranes) from foreign land are welcomed with an open hand. It all started a few years ago when a person named Ratanlal Maloo, was given a task of feeding the pigeons. As he began putting the grains, more birds and squirrels began to flock the place. Interestingly, a dozen Demoiselle Cranes also came to feed on the seeds. From then on, the number of migrating Demoiselle Cranes has increased.


Cranes Come in Groups 
Photo Courtesy: Chinmayisk

What are Demoiselle Cranes?

Demoiselle Cranes are the smallest species in crane family. They are mainly from Eurasia, Mongolia and China. Demoiselle Cranes migrate to Africa and India (Rajasthan) during the winter. These live in the grasslands, desert areas and around the water bodies. Demoiselle Cranes are smaller in size when compared to the cranes. The portion of head towards the lower body is black; the upper body is white in colour.

Cranes Rajasthan

Demoiselle Cranes at Churu
Photo Courtesy: Sumeet Moghe

In Khichan Village, the feeding of grains that started in a small proportion increased over the years. It looks like these Demoiselle Cranes love the ambience and the hospitality which is showered over them in Kheechan. So, every year starting from the end of August, these cranes come here to feed on the grains. Records say, now around 9000 cranes come here every winter.


Cranes fly away to some other place after eating grains
Photo Courtesy: Travelling Slacker

Thankfully, the villagers created a patch of land looking at the numbers. Today, up to five quintals of grains are put in this piece of land. Cranes come here exactly for their meal time. However, this area gets overcrowded, and many flocks of birds just wait till some birds fly away.

Best Time to Visit Khichan

Khichan is a desert region; tourists come here only during the migratory season. Cranes begin coming here towards the end of August and go back by February. The season from November to February is considered as the peak time for bird watching in Khichan.


Fly together
Photo Courtesy: Francis Bacon

Unfortunately, like any other human settlements, Khichan is also getting hit by the development. Some people are not supporting the cause of feeding the cranes here. However, several foreign organisations have recognised their work and that is why Khichan is fondly known as the Demoiselle Crane village in Rajasthan.

If you are an avid bird watcher, then head to this village where you can enjoy looking at the families of 'Kooraj' (cranes) who have made this their second home.


Thousands of cranes migrate to Khichan
Photo Courtesy: ANKITNARANG297

How to Reach Khichan

Khichan is around 150km from Jodhpur. Phalodi is the nearest town to Khichan.

By Train: Phalodi Railway Station is well connected with the rail routes of the other major cities like Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

By Bus: The town of Phalodi is accessible by road from the major cities. Several buses are there from Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur.

By Air: Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport situated near Khichan

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