Rann of Kutch and Gujurat Solar Park, Gujarat, India Week 143 December 26th - 27th 2013
observed in the fields near Dholavira we think its grown for its oil.

But which oil?

When we needed to visit the village at Dholavira (to 'xerox' documents) we were firmly warned not to visit any other villages as we are in a military area.

There are reputedly several standing stones (menhirs) on the island of Khadir.

This is possibly one. Beside the road.

Maybe neolithic. 

Its unlikely that someone woke up one day and said "let's build a citadel". There's probably some evolution from little plans to big plans.

From neolithic to Indus Valley Civilisation.

The broken earthenware jar next to the standing stone isn't old at all. Just that the same shaped jars, with the same style decorations, are in use now as were a few thousand years ago.

As we crossed the causeway from the island we spotted a couple of sambar.

Just after they'd spotted us.

We are stood at the top of a convenient bird watching tower.
We'll figure out what they are later.

They are probably the same sort of birds we saw in flight a couple of days ago. Not flamingoes.

We thought we'd follow a different route than when we came in.

A shorter road to Santalpur. We couldn't understand why the gps didn't choose it.

As the road deteriorated we stopped at a convenient Border Security Patrol outpost.

We took tea with the Commander and Assistant. The assistant was from Assam, gave us his phone number for future use if we needed help, and phoned locals to check on the condition of the road ahead. Passable for our vehicle.

We were offered lunch but figured we needed to find a park before nightfall.

Our sort of road.

There is no indication on the maps that it is any different to the sealed roads we've been on.

We figured this might have been a 'wannabe toll gate' at the beginning of the causeway.
There's water either side of the causeway which brings the birds closer to us than they've been.
Lots of them. Flamingoes.

The tide is out.

The Rann of Kutch used to be open to the sea until a geological uplift cut it off.

And spoonbills.

We wondered which design of bill was the more efficient and effective.

There are more flamingoes than spoonbills.

And of course pelicans.
Spoonbills walk faster and move their beaks faster than flamingoes.

A very fast marching pace, just short of running.

The causeway was a bit slow. At least the truck was driven a bit slow.

The eagle entertained us by landing a couple of hundred meters in front of us. Then using the wind to soar further along the causeway until we caught up.

This bit slowed us down. A crawl over the large stones.
The eagle must be getting tired, or more used to us, it waited longer.
A short hop across a small island, then, oops!

No more causeway.

We proceeded cautiously.

Way to the south of us is the Little Rann wild ass sanctuary.

This one has strayed a bit, and is keeping its distance from us.

We've seen a few of these.

In Aus we'd call it a Rainbow Bee Eater.

We haven't seen any bees.

As we move on to firm ground there are signs of habitation.

And the sounds of Lister and Petter diesel pumps.

Our passing woke the pump operator.

The village had a nice new concrete dovecote.
Gujurat has a lot of desert.

And now has a lot of canals.

This one is still under construction.

A mongoose?
We are nearing the Gujurat Solar Park. And a desert full of wind turbines.

Our overnight stop in the Santalpur fuel station was interesting.

A series of visitors keen to tell us about the neighbourhood and the developments that were occurring.

An enthusiasm we haven't met elsewhere.

The Gujurat Solar Park has 850Mw of solar panels.

About 5 acres per Mw. Aim for the future is 4 acres.

Impossible to give a real impression of the size from road level.
We muddled our way past security.

Second lot of security took us to the Commander.

Cdr. M Jagdish, the Operations AGM.

When sites in the park were first advertised there were no takers.

Government power corporation took on the role of changing land use (unused agricultural to industrial) and to provide basic infrastructure.

Individual companies then lease land, install panels (5 - 100 Mw projects), connect to the power network and sell their energy to the government.

This is part of a cable laying gang. The sand is being laid in the bottom of a trench (mechanically dug).

The cable will be laid on top of the sand.
Our enthusiastic host provided vehicle with driver and showed us round.

Including to the top of that tower (in a lift).

Enthusiastic about the provision of employment, primary schools, and water (needed to clean panels) to the area.

The buildings house inverters to convert from the DC the panels provide to AC that the grid requires.

After lunch provided at the solar park we headed north.

More shallow water for the flamingoes.

Not a clue.

But we did notice the long beaks.

We are beginning to notice the difference in dress in different parts of India, even differences between States, and areas.

Carrying things on heads seems universal.

This land is flat and accessible with wheels, in contrast to Nepal where heavier loads are carried on the back with a band round the forehead. 

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India Week 144 December 28th - 31st 2013

Peter Sun, 05 Jan 14 23:22:50 +1100
Yes, it is a mongoose.
The British took indentured labour from India to Fiji about 120 years ago to work the copra plantations.
The Indians took the mongoose (and other critters) and it is still there, of course.

Doug Milne Sun, 05 Jan 14 23:27:30 +1100
The first picture is of the castor oil plant, which grows wild in Australia on creek banks. Apparently varieties of it are grown in India for Castor Oil. It also contains a toxin, Ricin, which a Japanese Terrorist group managed to isolate and use.

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