Ten Years Ago Today . . .

. . . I was in India.

When I first heard of the city of Jaisalmer I was entranced, it seemed to me to be at the end of the world. The golden city is  dominated by the fort, a living, vibrant place that has a life of its own, hanging on the edge of the far west of India.

It’s a very commercial town, everywhere you turn someone is trying to persuade you that you need spices you’ve never heard of, saris, wall hangings, ornaments of all types. I expect it’s even more touristy now. But that doesn’t spoil it’s charm, the twists and turns of each cow inhabited alley, gets under your skin and even deeper into your nostrils.

There are several Jain temples, with finely detailed interiors, and a plethora of Buddhas.

The stoneware is so beautiful it’s hard to know where to look.

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But there are quiet spots to reflect,
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And sculpture to wonder at,
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Haveli’s are mansion houses of the wealthy. While some in Rajasthan are dilapidated, many are well maintained and open to the public for a few hundred rupees. This one was a museum come antique shop, I think pretty much everything was for sale at a price, even though it was also a home.


In the afternoon of October 20th,we went wandering around the streets. As in cities all over the world, groups of men gather on street corners and squares to play cards and board games, while the women are hard at work trying to feed their families.
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The fort is one of the biggest in the world, built high on a hill with three layers of walls and ninety nine bastions. Here is a view from one.
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In time for sunset, we went just outside the town to see the fort change colour, by day it’s the colour of a lion, but at sunset it turns to a honey gold.
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Although the sunset was disappointing, traveling friend and I were happy to be all dressed up in our finery, in the most mesmerising city at the end of the world.

jais17Jaisalmer is around 800 kilometeres from Delhi, and it can be reached by train, an overnight journey. Better still, try a slow journey and stop along the way. Rajasthan is wonderful and the people are warm and friendly, who are justifiably proud of their heritage.

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Sara Rosso at the Daily Post says that ‘On top can be a feeling, a perspective, or a physical location’ and asks us to share photos that express On Top this week for the photo challenge.

My photos were taken On Top in Bikaner, Rajasthan,

from the roof of a temple.

This is a photo that I’ve posted before. O don’t what it is about it but it’s one of my all time favourite photos, so I’m sharing it again. It’s the same place as the gallery facing a different direction.

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Join in at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-top/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand 2

It should have occured to me before that some of the grandest places I’ve seen, were in Delhi and Rajasthan, northern India. So here is a little gallery of some grand places I visited there.

Savitri

Poetics at D’Verse offer the theme of place this week so I’ve chosen a photo I took at Savitri hill in Pushkar, Rajasthan. It’s a place that evokes strong memories for me.

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Savitri Hill

Savitri I was beaten

am I Gayatri?

briefly chosen by Brahma

did I displace you?

you sacrificed Yajna

to play games with Laksmi

Parvati and Indrani

you still sit in anger

staring east at your rival

separated by lake

by Pushkar the great

Holy pilgrimage

and the one to defeat me

weak mortal

Travel Theme: Hot

Oh Ailsa I love hot! This is the hottest place I’ve been 44 degrees – or at least the hottest place where I had a thermometer. It’s an abandoned village in the Thar desert, Rajasthan and I’ve written about it here I hope you’ll pop back to see, because I didn’t have so many followers then! To see some more hot shots visit Wheres my backpack

Sunday Post: Reflection

Jake has a beautiful shimmering reflection here created for his Sunday challenge. Maybe you would like to join in or just visit? I have chosen a photo that I took in the City Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan. I’m the pink reflection in my salwar kameez!

The story goes that Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II had two of these beautiful giant urns made to take on a voyage to England. He filled them with water from the sacred Ganges because it would be against his religion to drink English water. They could each contain 4000 litres, I hope it was enough to last him! This was in 1901 and they are still the largest  sterling silver vessels according to the Guinness book of world records.

Travel Theme: Sunset

Ailsa has pushed my buttons this week, who can resist a sunset shot? As I have several on Lucid Gypsy, I had to try to pick something other than landscape. This one was taken in Pushkar, Rajasthan, at the Sunset Cafe a popular place to watch the world go by.

Visit http://wheresmybackpack.com/ to see beautiful sunset shots from around the world.

 

 

 

Karni Mata, facing my fear

In the depths of the Thar desert, Rajasthan, stands the wonder that is Karni Mata, and bravely or foolishly we decided to visit. We had been advised to put socks on, so we obeyed and left our expensive walking sandals by the entrance in a pile of worn, grubby, flip flops. It was only 9am but the courtyard felt like a hotplate and we were grateful for the barrier the socks provided. Right away we spotted rats running along the ground. I stood still and looked around, realising there were odd ones everywhere, mainly quite still but on all levels of the temple walls, on little crevices and niches. Following the route around, I kept my head facing directly forwards, on a neck that was as rigid as the temple walls. My eyes roamed in every direction to the degree where whatever that muscley cordy thing is that stops eyeballs falling out, was hurting. I didn’t want to see them, but I wanted to know where they were and whichever way I looked I could see them. Not many, not flocks or whatever the collective term is, but a few, just going about their ratty business, dashing, pottering, sitting upright with whiskers twitching. 

The place was getting busier, mainly with Indian families, well dressed tourists, the women and young girls in colourful saris and salwar kameez, the men in smart fawn trousers and neatly pressed shirts. Judging by their appearance, our sandals probably looked less posh in the pile now.

We were being funnelled from the sun towards a cave-like entrance. Just as I was thinking what on earth is this dark hole, someone drew my attention to the walls where a series of hand prints were visible. ‘It’s the widows’ they said, ‘they were mourning and about to commit Sati . . . throw themselves on the pyre. I’d heard of this of course but having it presented to me was another matter. The rats scurrying around my feet became as nothing. How could I fear an eight inch long-tailed creature when those women had felt compelled to throw themselves onto a fire? Looking at every hand, I reached a point where the hallway turned a corner, into total darkness. My worst nightmare and I turned to look behind, meeting the eyes of the Hindi women who saw that my eyes were moist, ‘Don’t worry’ they said, ‘the practice is outlawed now, it rarely happens, keep going it’s okay’. I had to walk on and after five yards or so another corner with light at the end.

Emerging into the heat I took a deep breath and the stench registered for the first time. A bell sounded and I don’t know if it was coincidence or if the rats knew it was chow time, but far too many of them emerged and headed towards a corner area. There an elderly man had set down large metal trays of milk, which they devoured. 

I felt very queasy, but also drawn to watch, it was easier in the courtyard. It is considered very bad luck to step on or harm any of these creatures; they are revered as sacred Hindu deities. There are thousands ruling in this temple, with its ornate silver doors and marbled floors littered with droppings. Just a few are white, and I saw one, supposedly very auspicious. Having them that close made me feel really anxious. I don’t think it was auspicious for me; Karni Mata could have been where I caught the bug that made me lose three days of the journey being ill. I still can’t bear rats, but when I look back at my photos – very few because I couldn’t concentrate – and don’t have to avoid stepping on them, they look nearly, just a tiny bit cute. Apart from those tails. I’m glad I dared to visit and I’m grateful to Mugan Singh for the sock advice.