Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bikaner

Bikaner at first was just a stop through destination, but we found it to be surprisingly more. At first you notice that Bikaner is not a touristic destination, and most hotels are upper class so we opted for a Lonely Planet recommendation, the place boasted great food, friendly service,cooking classes and a pool! We arrived to find once again the place suffering from LPS (Lonely Planet Syndrome). This is where an establishment gets a place in the traveller's bible and then think they have arrived and give up on keeping the place at the standard that it got in the book for in the first place. 
Our squat slash western toilet
We arrived hot, hungry and craving a swim only to find that the pool had been drained. The rooms were very basic, aspestos roofing and twice the price. So we decided to go for the cheapest option to share a 4 bed room with a swedish couple we had met for 450rp ($9AUD) for the night. Then after waiting an hour for food after we had ordered, we were told the cook was not coming so food was "not possible". This was at 9 o'clock a night and the guesthouse was 15 mins from town (and therefore any restaurant) in a rickshaw, needless to say we were not happy.
Squishy Rickshaw Ride

The most bizzare temple I have been too is in Deshnok (which was a painful 1 hour rickshaw ride at 30kmph). The place is named the temple of rats or the karni mata temple.  Story has it, Karni mata, a 14th century incarnation of Durga, asked the god of death, Yama, to reincarnate the son of a grieving story teller. When Yama refused, Karni Mata reincarnated all dead storytellers as rats, depriving the god of death of souls.

Karni Mata Temple







Its an amazing place and the most fun i have had in a temple,instead of walking around looking at carvings and architecture you walk around and see the sights of hundreds of rats climbing over each other, fighting and squeezing as many of them as possible into the holes in the wall. We spent about an hour walking and avoiding squishing the vermine. The rats are not shy either if you crouch with your camera the rats will become curious and come right up to your lense. I even had one try and nibble my toe, rabies here we come. Watching Hannah jump and scream when a rat ran across her feet was definately  a highlight.





After our ride back to the hostel we went to get an amazing all you can eat thali for 50rp ($1AUD) then hopped on a night bus and headed for Amritsar, home of the most holy sikh temple.


And so we leave Rajasthan and all its amazing and diverse sights, the towering forts, camel safaris, deafening roads, vibrant culture and touristy attractions. Udaipur’s beautiful Venice-like lake and rooftop restaurants. Jodhpur’s amazing palaces and huge fort. Pushkar’s busy and colourful festival. Jaisalmer’s clean and quiet deserts. Bikaner’s swarm of rats. And all of Rajasthan’s 60 million people.

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