Home » Honoring Tradition: A Visit to Nagaur’s Cow Sanctuary

Honoring Tradition: A Visit to Nagaur’s Cow Sanctuary

A unique experience to understand the Indians' devotion to cows

by Paola Bertoni
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During my trip to Rajasthan, I visited the Nagaur cow sanctuary. It was an interesting place decorated with posters and altars dedicated to cows. Our guide called it ‘the most beautiful thing in India’. The sanctuary is located along the road between Mandawa and Jodhpur and is the largest goshala in the region. It provides shelter to old or injured cows living in a huge shed. The whole place is quite mesmerizing and attracts many worshippers and Indian families daily.

The importance of cows in Hinduism

During your trip to India, you will immediately notice the importance of cows in the country’s culture. Considered sacred according to Hindu tradition, cows are not food. They play a vital role in the daily lives of Indians. Indeed, cows provide milk, Ayurvedic medicines and fuel from their dung.

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However, unlike in the West, domestic cows in India roam freely on the roads, including those with an owner. Drivers, however, are extremely careful to avoid cows. Injuring or killing one of these animals, even if accidentally, is a grave sin for Hindus.

In India, hurting cows is indeed one of the worst actions a person can perform, so no one dares to slaughter them when they are debilitated or old. For this reason, gaushalas also house cows at the end of their productive life, as well as sick or injured cows.

Cattle shelters spring up spontaneously throughout India. The government or offerings from the faithful support them. Despite widespread poverty and environmental problems, the presence of shelters like the one in Nagaur is constantly increasing.

Paola Bertoni, bloggers from the Travel Blogger Italiane community and an Indian family at the Nagaur cow sanctuary
With my fellow bloggers from the Travel Blogger Italiane community and an Indian family at the Nagaur cow sanctuary

The Nagaur cow sanctuary: a unique and weird experience

Visiting the Nagaur cow shelter lets you observe the treatments reserved for injured, old or sick cows in India. Inside the sheds, cows live similarly to cows herded in a traditional stable but with more space. However, what is most striking is the presence of the enormous pots used to prepare the cows’ food. Families and devotees cook daily for these sacred animals.

For Indians, taking care of cows is considered an act of good karma. Therefore, many families visit the shelter together to cook food for the cattle and leave offerings as a sign of devotion and respect. During our visit to the cow shelter in Nagaur, an Indian family invited us to share the experience. It was indeed a unique moment of my trip to India.

Cow shelters such as the one in Nagaur fully testify to the deep love and respect Indians have for these sacred animals. In the shelters, the cows are cared for and revered until the last moment of their lives in an approach opposite to the Western way. Injured or terminally ill cows are not euthanased to reduce their suffering but are left to die naturally.

Despite the loving and attentive presence of the faithful and volunteers, the sight of the dying cows can be perplexing. The answers to our questions were even more surprising. The idea of a quick and painless death seems horrifying to Indian eyes, just as it seems terrible to us to see animals (and people) suffering in a long agony. Yet it is precisely these profound cultural differences that make India such a fascinating country.

The cow sanctuary in Nagaur, India
The cow sanctuary in Nagaur, India

How to reach the Nagaur cow sanctuary

You can reach the Nagaur cow sanctuary along the road between Mandawa and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. You can look it up on Google Maps using ‘Shri Mahaveer Cow Shelter’ or ‘Nagaur Gaushala’. Although the exact address is complicated to find on the map, you must notice it because it is a large shed without walls visible along the road.

A visit to a cow lodge like the one in Nagaur is a curious experience. I recommend you do it on your Indian trip because it allows you to understand the importance of these sacred animals in Indian culture. In particular, the Nagaur lodge I visited offers protection and care for old, injured or sick cows. If you can join a family intent on cooking for the cows, the experience will be even more unique and extraordinary.

Hoping for good karma, I left an offering to feed the cows at the Nagaur shelter. To find out if these sacred cows will reciprocate with their beneficial influence, all you have to do is keep following the blog and leave a comment on this unusual experience.

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