If you search ‘Jawai’ over the internet, you will get several articles that tell you about the population of leopards, birds and the dam in this area, but there is no mention of its history. That’s because there isn’t much to tell, we find the earliest mention of Jawai in 1946 when the dam construction began by umaid singh, before that, it was just a place with granite hills and a river that didn’t attract any attention from tourists or government. The granite hills could be millions of years old but archeologists never really found anything interesting about them.
However, Jawai is located near the Pali district that dates back to the pre-historic age. A sage called Maharshi Javali found a shelter in this region for doing meditation in the Vedic age. According to the Hindu legend Mahabharat, the Pandavas are believed to make this place their makeshift home for a while during the exile period. In 120 AD, King Kanishka had conquered the Jaitaran and Rohat area which are part of Pali today. By the end of 7th century AD, king Harshavardhan from Chalukya Dynasty took the reign over these parts of Rajasthan.
After the arrival of Mughal, the Rajput kings of Rajasthan tried to repel them, but they had to face many setbacks due to the infighting. By the end of the 16th and 17th centuries, Pali and all the surrounding areas fell under the rule of Rathores of Marwar. At the time of 1857 mutiny, the Thakurs of Pali took up the arms against the British and the conflict lasted for many days. Besides the region, the tribals living in this area who are known as ‘Rabari’ also have a history. However, it is conflicted as some experts believe that they migrated from Iran via Afghanistan and Baluchistan, while some others think that they have a connection with the Rajputs of Rajasthan.
There are many legends associated with the origin of the Rabari people. One version says that they were born out of the consort between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Another one mentions that Parvati wiped off the dust and sweat from the body of Shiva and created a camel with that mud. The camel ran away and then the goddess created the Rabari people to take care of it. Having believed to be created by Goddess Parvati, the tribe worships her, all their rituals comprise of rituals seeking advice from her. As a result of this, Rabai people also have a matriarchal system and most of the important decisions in their community are taken by the women.
The myths clearly suggest that these people have a connection with animals and they are still clinging to the stories by living a nomadic life and rearing cattle in this area. There are 133 sub casts in the Rabari community and they are found in many parts of Rajasthan. Due to their tolerance of wild animals, leopards have thrived in this area and their population is increasing rapidly. The big cats often hunt on their cattle but the tribes do not mind it as they regard the leopards to be sacred. And due to this, Jawai is emerging as a popular tourist destination in Rajasthan.