TEXT AND PICTURES BY RAKESH GIRI GOSWAMI
Jodhpur is an important tourist destination in Rajasthan for both domestic and foreign visitors.It is also part of desert triangle circuit. From travel point of view every place has some important aspects to offer like historical palaces, monuments,temples, natural scenery, water falls, dams, gardens, food,crafts.So that such things are able to cater to tastes of every age group. At times new developments also take place in form of a new temple or a new garden which become added attractions. One such development has taken place in this city when Machia Biological Park was opened to visitors in 2016. It has been developed in old Machia forest block located along NW periphery of Jodhpur. This place is 8kms. from main railway station, 5-6 kms. from city centre. So has easy approach. It is also in the vicinity of lake Kaylana which is main water supply source to city and also a picnic spot for locals.To give exact distance this park is only 500mts. east of this lake.
Geography and History
Machia park represents a rocky undulating topography consisting of igneous rock Rhyolite. This area is an old forest block from the time of former rulers who used to come here for hunting and picnic. Though due to rocky nature there was forest in name only earlier. At the northern end of forest ruins of an old fort can be seen.In 1942 freedom fighters were also kept in custody in this fort by the then Maharaja.
Machia is old forest block having 640 hectare area,out of which 41 hectare has been developed as biological park by state forest deptt. Official website tells us that initial idea for park was floated in 1982-83 but actual work started from 2009. Park has an elongated shape, central part and periphery have walking path ways.
Fauna and Flora
in this park there are 20 enclosures for animals set up along W,E,SW,SE boundary of park.The map shows that large number of animals are present there but not so,as we could only see Asiatic Lion, Leopard, Deer, black Buck Chinkara, Python. The iron cages for desert Cat, Fox, Jackal were empty. Of course govt is honest enough to admit that they are still procuring animals and a board to this effect was also displayed.
As this area is rocky terrain with many depressions where water can accumulate,these have been used as water ponds for crocodile and alligator
As mentioned above this area is rocky terrain,so earlier it had only scanty desert vegetation like Prosopis cineraria,Prosopis julieflora, Cappris dessidua and other thorny bushes,shrubs and grasses which can survive in desert conditions. Since this area is having good water availability, forest department started a systematic plantation programme in 2009 by putting up Neem, Gular, Kaner, Gulmohar,Vougenvilea and other ornamental plants on rocky areas as well as along pathways. Department also did landscaping work at selected places.The results are amazing.
As all visitors have to see park on foot, govt has set up 4 sets of shelter huts with water facilities at different points in park, where yu can rest for half an hour and relax.
The park also has a building known as nature interpretation gallery,it is sort of museum where nature's aspects are shown in form of pictures and posters.
If you want to study park in detail it might require 2-3 hours. After this hectic schedule your gastronomical desires might flare up. For this purpose govt has setup a restaurant named GOPIYA on SW fringe of park where you can get hot and cold drinks, normal snacks, famous Jodhpuri snacks like Michi Vada,Pyaaz Kachori, and equally popular curd lassi. If you do not want to eat here, can go to nearby lake where roadside stalls offer all items listed above.
Park has excellent safe parking facilities for vehicles. The normal ticket is Rs 30/- for Indian visitors and Rs 300/- for foreigners.This is quite high and govt should reduce it. If you are carrying still and movie cameras then you have to shell out extra money. There are no additional charges for photography through mobile phones. As park is near to city and connected with road leading to Kaylana lake, public transport is available from morning to 9 in the evening.
This park is a must visit for nature lovers. It is indeed a pleasant surprise for those who have seen Jodhpur earlier but are coming again after many years.