“I want to go to the Wood Fossil Park at Akal.”
I am at my hotel’s reception in Jaisalmer and am trying to work out an itinerary for the day with Sushil, the car driver-cum-guide arranged for me by the hotel. The hotel’s owner and the receptionist are also there offering suggestions and advice.
Silence greets this statement of mine and three pairs of eyes turn to look at me. Since I receive no response, I repeat: “I want to go to the Wood Fossil Park at Akal.”
At this, the hotel owner clears his throat, puts on his most persuasive expression and says: “But why, Madam? There is nothing in Akal. Nobody goes there and it will be a waste of your time. You will be very disappointed.”
“I don’t think it will be a waste of time or that I will be disappointed.”
But the hotel owner, receptionist and Sushil do not agree and try their best to persuade me to drop Akal from the list of places I intend visiting. It takes them a while to realise that I have no intention of listening to their ‘advice’, and after about 15 minutes of back and forth, they grudgingly agree and send me off with dire warnings of grave disappointment in store for me.
Akal is about 17 km from Jaisalmer and after an uneventful drive, we are at the gates of the Wood Fossil Park. The gates are shut and when Sushil toots the horn, a security guard appears but does not open the gates and keeps staring at us.
Sushil gets off to find out the reason and comes back after a discussion involving a lot of looks in my direction. The security guard finally opens the gates, and Sushil gets back into the car. As drive into the Park, Sushil asks me: “What is so special about the place we have come to? Why did you want to come here?”
And I tell him that to understand what makes this place special, we have to travel back in time to about 180 million years ago. Continue reading “The wood fossil park at Akal”