Monday, 30 April 2012

Bikaner and The Rat Temple

By Sanne

India has tons of temples but on of the more bizarre ones you find just outside Bikaner in Rajasthan. The Karni Mata temple aka The Rat Temple is as the name suggests a temple full of rats! They are considered holy here and people flock here to sit down and have a bite to eat with a rat friend. Before visiting we were a little concerned as to what we would find - would there be thousands of big sewer rats running around nibbling at your toes??? The reality wasn't so bad. Yes, there are thousands of rats and yes, you do have to watch where you walk so you don't step on one as they scatter across the floor, but they are not too big, more like the size of a pet rat. You'll find them crashed out in the corner sleeping with their friends or gathered around a big bowl of coconut milk. It is considered good luck if you spot a white rat of which supposedly there are 4 or 5 but unfortunately we did not spot one :( It is also considered good luck to share some food with the rats and people queue up to sit down and eat some sweets with them. We were happy to just observe this ritual!

On the way to Bikaner next to some basic desert dwellings

A working camel

And a hardworking donkey/pony!

The Rat Temple

Dinner time!


Doesn't look very comfortable does it?!

Sleepy time...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Faces of Rajasthan

By Sanne

As we mentioned we loved Rajasthan. The people we met there were so incredibly friendly. On our way to Jaisalmer, about 60 km's out, we stopped for a cold drink at a little roadside store. As usual we were greeted by immense curiosity by the locals - one thing in particular that always seems to fascinate them is my Camelbak (the rucksack I drink water from). As I bring it up to my mouth to take a sip people move closer to see what this weird device is. Believe it or not, more than a few people have asked me if it is oxygen!
Anyway, the people at this little shop asked us to come see them on our way back from Jaisalmer, so when we left the city a few days later we stopped in again to see them. Next thing we knew we were sitting inside a small dark room having (naturally) tea. They didn't know more than a few words of English and our Hindi vocabulary is pretty much non-existent but it didn't really matter. Lots of smiles and good vibes all around. One thing I have learned about Indians is that they LOVE having their photo taken! These people were handing me my camera to get me to take photos of them! They are incredibly photogenic too which makes for great photos. After taking each photo I would show it to them on the camera screen and their faces would just light up. Seeing their reaction I felt bad that I was sort of taking these beautifully captured moments with me, so I promised them that I would get some prints made of the photos and send them to them. Hopefully they'll enjoy them like I have.

Monday, 23 April 2012


By Sanne

We were welcomed into Jaisalmer by a sandstorm. The last 50 km's we were battered by winds that threatened to sweep us across the road and into the dessert. Riding in a sandstorm - guess we can tick that one off the list! Apart from the sandstorm the road to Jaisalmer was really quiet and we were actually able to take in some of the scenery - a rarity in India where just a second's glance off the road can land you in serious trouble.
I think it's fairly safe to say that we love Jaisalmer. A small city in the middle of the dessert it has some of the nicest people we have met on this trip. Everyone here were incredibly friendly and the town has a real laid back, peaceful feel to it, or very "shanti shanti" as they say here. It was quieter than usual as not many tourists hang around this time of year because of the heat but the few days we were here the temperature dropped a bit so it was quite pleasant. Jaisalmer is probably best known for its Golden Fort which is very beautiful. It was built back in 1156 and it looks like it rises out of the dessert around it. Inside the fort is a little city in itself with Jain temples and Havelis (private mansions) with the most beautiful, intricate carvings. It is possible to stay at a guesthouse inside the fort but authorities advise people not to as pressure on the fort infrastructure is contributing to subsidence.
While here we met and became friends with the most lovely family. We were admiring a custom built Royal Enfield at a local mechanic and next thing we knew we were having tea at the family's house. The family consisted of Gurmail, Gurvinder, Hardev and Manpreet and their gorgeous kids Simarjot, Ranjyot and Ekaagar. They are actually two sisters who have married two brothers. They cooked us dinner and Gurmail and Hardev even serviced and washed our bikes for us! Amazing people which we hope to stay in contact with. They restore old Enfields in their workshop and Mark and I were drooling over one they had just finished. If somehow we could have bought it and shipped it back to Australia we would have. But we hope to come back one day and then buy two Enfields from them.
We could have stayed in Jaisalmer for another week but the vicious heat returned and chased us on our way!

Resting in the little shade we can find

Lots of these guys around

Jaisalmer with the Golden Fort in the background

Inside the fort

Little kids playing cricket - a common sight in India

Cute, isn't he?

The classic Enfield

Gurmail and Gurvinder with their little one 

Ekaagar - so cute!

Double trouble - Simarjot and Ranjyot

Gurmail and Hardev

The poet of Jaisalmer - and Mark

The famous Lassi Shop where they sell "special" lassis...

Friday, 20 April 2012


By Mark

From Jaipur we made our way west to Pushkar and made the mistake of leaving late therefore riding into the heat of the day. It was by far the hottest day on the bike so far but at least we only had a short ride ahead of us, once we managed to navigate our way out of town. Pushkar is meant to be a laid back town with a small population but we didn't not find any reason to hang around long enough to really find out so we decided to push onto Jodhpur the following day. We left early this time after our previous day's mistake and hit our next destination not too long after lunch. Navigating into town was not too bad and we found ourselves a nice little guesthouse. We got straight back onto the bikes after unloading and set off for the main fort to have a look around. On the way we managed to get lost, the fort was only 2km's from our guesthouse and took us about 5km's until we got to it. The most frustrating part of it all was that we could always see the fort since it sits on top of a hill. Signage in India is severely lacking in places and relying on the locals, directions can sometimes be better of ignored. A map can also look easy until you are thrown into the mix of everything else that goes on in a big Indian city. Once we finally arrived we decided against paying the fee (always much higher for a foreigner) to enter the fort and instead just checked it out from outside the forts walls. The fort is impressive in size and you notice this once you reach the fort entrance. After we had a quick look around we moved onto Jaswant Thada, a milky white marble Memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The views back over the fort and city from here are beautiful but with the afternoon heat bearing down on us and having another long day in the saddle we made our way back to the guesthouse for an early night as we decided we should push on early the following day to hopefully avoid the main heat of the day if at all possible.


Meherangarh Fort