Karni Mata: Temple of the thousand rats

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Ever since watching a documentary on Discovery channel about a temple in Deshnok where rats were welcome, and even holy, I had been dreaming about going there. The day I had been waiting for had finally come, and I was twiddling my thumbs for nearly an hour when we were getting closer to the temple.  

The documentary had described how monks lived with these rats, and let them taste every meal before the humans were allowed to eat. There were also several bowls of milk laid out on the floor for the rats to drink. Entrance was free, but an extra pair of socks should be budgeted for when visiting the temple, as there are rat excrements everywhere. The feet can also not be lifted, due to the strict rules saying that if a rat is stepped on and killed, it has to be replaced by a rat statue made out of gold. Therefor we had to drag our feet along the ground, letting the rats run over our feet as we walked. The experience was amazing, and I must say that my relationship with rats has changed after visiting the rat temple. By watching the rats up close without having any fear of them biting, one could see through the rats ugly looks and see that all the rats had different personalities. Some were running around full of energy, while others were lazy sleeping on the stairs and tables in the temple. We even spotted a white rat, among the thousands of grey ones, which is supposed to bless you with good luck.
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The temple has certainly lived up to my expectations, and is a MUST SEE if you go to India. If you are afraid of rats, I think you will walk into the temple with fear, and come out with nothing but love for the small creatures. Ten thumbs up for this place!
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Living an everyday life in Pushkar

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Pushkar is a small and charming hill city right outside of Ajmer. The town curls around a lake that is supposed to be holy, and Hindus have to visit the lake at least once in their lifetime. Since it is a pilgrimage town, we felt like we had to take part of one of the religious rituals the town had to offer. When we came to the famous Brahma temple, we were offered a tour through the blue temples, where no donations or payment were asked for. BUT at the end of our one hour tour, they separated us by the holy lake, making us sit down in front of each our statue of Hindi gods, where a man would make us swear on our family that we would make a donation of at least 500Rupees/60NOK to the temple. After they fed us with bad consciousness, one of us gave in, and the other one refused. There is no need to say who was who in this situation, but if anyone should visit this temple in the future, one should prepare oneself for guides who will do whatever it takes to make you feel bad and give a donation.
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Except from riding camels around a mountain, we have spent the days washing clothes and shopping for new supplies. Compared to many cities in India, Pushkar has a both spiritual and relaxing atmosphere, where you will find a lot of interesting tourists, living a life where they take everything at ease. 

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The so-called “Sun City” Jodhpur

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When we arrived in Jodhpur we did not have any clue on what to expect. We had just chosen the city, as it was written in capital letters on our map, and because it was on the way on our route up North. When we arrived in the city we were immediately glad that we had put the city on our itinerary. The big market by the old clock tower was swarming with people. Some were selling, some buying, others fixing things and some, like us, were there for the sake of observing. Since our expectations had been low, we were quite impressed of what the city had to offer. We attended a dance show, got our shoes fixed at the market and had dinner on a rooftop with good view of the fortress above the city. It was a city well worth visiting, on the way between Udaipur and Pushkar.

Forts and temples in the outback of Rajasthan

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Since we had grown tired by overcrowded trains with noisy and snoring people, we decided to hire a taxi for a week. As long as we agreed to not stay longer than two nights in the cities we visited, the travel agency we booked through did not ask for money for the drivers accommodation. Gas and food the driver also had to provide for himself, and we were the ones in charge, who decided where and when to stop. On the way from Udaipur to Jodhpur, we decided to take to major stops.

The first one was in Krumbalgarh, which is known for its big 15th century built fortress. It took us quite a long time to reach the top by foot, but it was well worth the walk when we came to the top. Here we had a spectacular view of the long stretching fortress walls, which reminded us of the Great Wall of China, and we also enjoyed watching the many monkeys at close hold, until they started chasing us away.
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The second stop was in Ranakpur, where the famous marble Jain temple is located. After being at the architectural masterpiece of the Krumbalgarh Fort, the Renakpur temples were not that impressing, but we found a painted elephant, which we were quite amused of. The park area around the temple also had a good atmosphere, and was a nice place to stop for a chai break, before we drove 5 hours non-stop to Jodhpur.
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Udaipur “The romantic city”

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Udaipur is known as the romantic city of India, and is also the place where the James Bond movie Octapussy was filmed. This movie was shown in many of the hotels, guest houses and rooftop restaurants along the Lake Pichola, which is also the place you can see the famous Lake Palace (picture above).

 

The life in Udaipur was easy to get used to, and we spent as long as a week doing hindicourses, practicing yoga on a rooftop, making tailormade shirts and suits and walked along the beutiful promenade by the Lake. 
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The first six days were spent at an extremely cheap guesthouse (“Jag Niwas” at 100Rupees/10NOK) pp a night. Towards the end our stay, we decided to pamper ourself with good meals and a hotelroom nicer that any of us had previously stayed in. It seemed like the market for accomodation and restaurants was pretty good here. Also the city is full of culture and historical buildings such as the City Palace and the many temples hidden away in the narrow streets. Udaipur is a beautiful city and the perfect place for harnessing chi. It is a destination we could recommend all fellow travelers to stay longer in, when visiting India.
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Above is a picture of the room we rented at a pound a night, quite cheap even for India