Following Amritsar we headed to Rajasthan, home to many of the most famous (and popular with tourists) cities in India. Our first stop was not one of the most famous ones. I had read a blog about Bikaner a couple of years ago and it was firmly planted on my list when I heard about the camel research centre and the rat temple!
Camel research centre:
The camel research centre was small but interesting enough for a hour. I was happy that the camel milk shop was closed, despite the many health benefits that the centre claimed I still wasn’t feeling great and camel milk was not an appetising thought. After the centre we went to a temple around sunset and then back to the hostel for a night of very salty food.
Pinion in the temple:
The next day was rat day, we caught a bus to Deshok a small town about 1 hour away from Bikaner and we quickly found the temple. The Karni Mata temple is super gross, I am sure if I was an ardent Hindu I would be able to appreciate it more but I am not and so it was simply gross. There were hundreds of rats (they were small, maybe they are mice?) running all around the place, drinking milk and scurrying over your feet. There was so much rat poo everywhere and you’re not allowed to wear your shoes. The Spanish couple we visited with promptly binned their socks after the visit, we scrubbed ours cause we are clearly on a tighter budget! We did manage to spot the not so elusive white rat, which is supposed to be lucky. It was ginger, so I accepted that is probably was lucky!
Rats at the Karni Mata temple in Deshok:
After the excitement of the rat temple we headed back to our hostel. We didn’t get a good feeling from the place the night before and when they said they had no room for that night we were happy enough to leave. Something we experience quite often in India is that everyone always has opinion on what you should do, no one seemed happy that we wanted to take a bus that afternoon and instead they insisted that we go on a city tour and take a later bus or a train. We agreed to go on the city tour only after checking whether there were any tickets left for the afternoon bus to Jaisalmer. I am yet to see a bus that an Indian bus driver considers to be full. If you are not squashed up against your bag and at least 2 people then it is not full. Needless to say after a charade with the tuk tuk driver taking us to a ‘ticket shop’ where the guy spoke no English and pretended there were no tickets for that afternoon. We got back in the tuk tuk not trusting the driver but thinking that we we would be taking the city tour, until the driver made the mistake of driving past the row of about 10 travel agents where I made him stop and we got out and got tickets for that afternoon’s bus. Clearly he forgot the Indian motto ‘everything is possible’.
And so we were off to Jaisalmer in search of more camels!