In search of The Dhaneta Jats

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

If there is any project that has come close to risking my equipment and life, it was photographing the Dhaneta Jats.

An old foxed book in my guest room , spots of deterioration and yellow with age had majestic strength to send me searching the Baani grasslands for India’s most reclusive tribe - The Dhaneta Jats. Protective, traditional and almost impossible to photograph, I yearned to see them up close.

The book that started it all. My search for the Dhaneta tribe

Braving the heat and the long stretches of parched dusty desert along with a local contact, I went in search of the elusive Dhaneta Jats . In the West Baani , 100 kms out of Bhuj , my guide took me to the first Dhaneta village.

Dhaneta Jat man
The village headman - A dhaneta Jat

He introduced me to the so called village headman, Gulam Saga Jatt.

Dhaneta Jats are sunni muslims and proud of their community and ancestry. Gulam Saga flaunted that the Dhanetas own the ‘best milk-producing buffalos in the country’. These buffaloes are prized possessions and cost a fortune in the open market . People as far as from Punjab come to buy these buffaloes. The conversation quickly changed to the drought that the region was facing and the hardship the tribe was going through and that many families had migrated to other regions for this season.