Sunday, 24 October 2010

Holy rodents!

Well, I have to say that I really loved Jaisalmer. There was something really magical about the setting, the golden colour of the sandstone and the living fort. Plus we made some really nice friends. So it was with a little sadness that we said goodbye and moved on to Bikaner.

Now, I must admit I kind of forced us to go there because I wanted to see the Karni Mata temple in Deshnok. Stu was not so keen. In short, the Karni Mata temple is full of rats, which are believed to be the reincarnated relatives of the goddess Karni Mata (an incarnation of Durga). So the rats run free around the temple, worshipped by pilgrims, and fed sweets by visitors. The temple has lots of holes in the bottoms of walls to allow the little guys free access to the whole place, and there is netting across the open ceiling to prevent birds of prey from swooping down on the blessed ones.

Here are some of the little fellas, drinking from one of the big bowls of milk left out for them.

We dutifully bought some ladoos to crumble on the floor for the rats, and we spent a while looking out for a white rat (if you spot one it is meant to be very good luck). We didn't see one, unfortunately. Actually, the rats weren't too bad at all, and we coolly maintained our composure; neither of us got an attack of the screaming heebie jeebies, which I'm pretty sure would be frowned upon in a place of worship! I have a video but it won't upload at the moment - I'll try again later.

That afternoon we stopped at a roaside 'daba' for lunch - it looked very low-key, and was one of the best meals we've had! Then we went to check out the Camel Research Centre, which was well worth a visit. There was a good museum with info about the four different kinds of camels, and a pen with young and baby camels (really sweet). Finally, we had a kulfi (ice cream) made with camel milk! It definitely tasted different from ice cream made with cow's milk - creamier, and a slightly odd consistency, but delicious!

Here's Stu enjoying helping the young camels reach some flowers they wanted to munch:

Eating camel kulfi!:
A burst of enthusiasm:

We had a quick look around Bikaner old city too, but didn't bother with the fort and palace museum, etc, as we've seen an awful lot of those already! Unfortunately, the guest house we were staying in had a really weird, unfriendly vibe, so we decided to move on quickly to Pushkar. More on Pushkar later! x

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