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Published: February 20th 2006
Sikhs holy temple around 1 AM
Enclosed in a marble perimeter, pilgrims walked around the temple at all hours of the day and night.
Feb 4 to Feb 9
Karni Mata - Rat temple, for us, the Indian sideshow, something so completely different, to Hindus, sacred, important and auspicious. Drop the shoes, be respectful and step inside, just remember to scrub those feet at night, pigeon and rat poo are everywhere. Its good luck to: have a rat run over your feet, eat food a rat has partially chewed on and spot a famed white rat. Fascinating, they are so well fed they couldn't possibly be interested in you or your big toes, still I tread lightly.
Bikaner wouldn't get too much tourist business if it weren't for the spectacle of so many rodents but they too have a fort, unimpressive on the outside, ornately painted on the inside with many turn of the century photos of raj put kings. Men wearing curtains and giant tassels were all the rage. Bikaner room choices are the stuff of nightmares, getting in so late we had to settle for a place next to the train station and I, with my standards greatly reduced, even had to lay my tent groundcloth down on the bed. Good to see, good to go.
Door you can't close
I love this photo, rat in every corner, on every ledge.
Punjab and home to the Sikh religion, men don't cut their hair their entire lives and wraped in perfectly tied turbans of all colors. The Golden Temple dazzles, their holiest shine and also very humble, not out to charge non believers entrance fees, they even ofter tourists a free dorm bed if they wish. I observed fellowship in Armristar around every corner, free food corners, pilgrims sleeping inside the temple, I was impressed by the charity on display. The temple itself is said to be casted with 750kg of pure gold and from the way it looks at dawn I wouldn't count it as fake.
Armristar is 30ks from the border of Pakistan and the border closing ceremony didn't disappoint, the energy felt most like a state high school football game. I was almost expecting cheerleaders to go with the marching band, crazy chanting MC and huge bleachers. The guards, all very, very tall, march with all the flair and enthusiasm of juiced up speed walkers. They take off at speed towards the double gates an just before they would crash into the iron, a huge foot stomp is delivered as if they were squashing the entire
Just a nap
So much curd and grain makes for a sleepy rat
country. Indian flags, DVDs, popcorn and endless chai stands lead up to the border.
Only one night for all that, we jumped in a couple of buses to Himachal Pradesh and their small capital of Shimla. The former summer capital of British India, it is an Indian tourist heaven. Softies, (ice cream,) designer coffee, and endless steps and narrow passage ways we arrived late and were stuck with touts who followed us around as we looked for a room. The next two days were spent getting hiking, eating 12 pastries a day and running from monkeys. To Agra next capping seven stops and 1500 ks of travel over five days.
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