photos of jodhpur

here are my photos of jodhpur, the blue city.

also, on the way to jaisalmer yesterday, we found out what happens when the indian buses are completely full. when absolutely every inch of space on the bus is full, and the aisles are completely jam packed, and everyone is squished to the extreme… they start putting people on the roof. yup, people
were riding on the roof for the *5* hour bus journey over bumpy roads today!


through the villages

our last day in jodhpur, we took a “village safari”. i was definitely a bit apprehensive about it since these things tend to either a) be just a fake show just for tourists and you dont really get to see actual village life, or b) you do go to an actual village and there are so many other tourists that you are actually damaging the villager’s way of life. luckily, this tour ended up being neither of those… instead it was incredibly interesting and we really did get to witness how pople lived outside of cities in india.

actually, one of the best things about the tour was our guide. he knew absolutely everything we might want to know, actually lived his whole life in a tiny village so he knew what he was talking about, and made the tour so much fun. if anyone out there is in jodhpur and wants to go on a village safari, you should definitely contact Gazu from Marwar Eco Cultural tours (across from haveli guest house).

as we started our tour, our guide said a little prayer before he started the car… i really hoped that this was just standard protocol and not a reflection on his driving skills. as we drove along, Gazu pointed out wildlife along the road such as antelope and peacocks while he taught us stuff about india. he taught us about the 4 different kinds of cows that you find in rajasthan, and also answerd the questions i had about the caste system.

so it turns out that the caste system is actually still widely used here. besides the 4 main categories of caste that i mentioned before, there are hundreds of other castes and they usually represent your job. i.e.: potter, weaver, etc. or, to be more precise, they represent your father’s job. if your father is of the weaver caste, then you are of the weaver caste… even if you get a job as an engineer or whatever, your caste is still weaver. this may not affect people as much in the big cities, but in the villages especially, 9 times out of ten your job will be whatever your caste is. and then, you can only marry someone who is either in your own caste or in your mother’s caste. you can not marry outside your caste!!

anyways, i’m getting a bit off-topic here. we were off to see some Bishnoi villages. the bishnoi are people who have to abide by 29 strict rules, some of which dont allow them to kill any animals, chop down any trees, and others. our guide showed us this spot where the people had dug a huge crater, but left two small islands so as not to damage the two trees growing here.

our progress was slowed a bit when a huge heard of water buffalo wouldn’t get out of the road, and we had to drive slowly behind them. eventually, we got to the first village… if you could call it that. a lot of people who live out here have a plot of land, and so the houses of each family are actually very far apart. we walked around this family’s house and learned some crazy stuff: they make their own flour so each day someone has to spend 2 whole hours grinding millet (we tried it for 1 minute, and it was tiring!), they have to walk many many kilometers to get any water, their marriages are all arranged (as are most marriages in india).. actually, our guide had gotten married at 15!! we saw where they stored their food, how they slept, and tended their livestock.

in the next village, after a woman served us some really delicious chai (w/ goat’s milk just squeezed minutes before), we saw a little girl playing w/ a baby lamb. this thing was really small and the girl hung it from her arms like a limp ragdoll. caryn even got to pick up and hold a baby goat!!

in the next village, we got a demonstration on how to tie a turban, and i took a dorky photo wearing it! we also, randomly enough, learned about opium. out here in the villages, opium is used by lots of people for its medicinal qualities. it’s used to treat headaches, stomache ache, keep people awake on long drives etc etc. they dont use the opium to get high, and it’s actually illegal to buy it or sell it, but it’ just a part of people’s lives. also, opium is often used to show people hospitality, and guests are offered a drink of water that has some diluted opium in it. we got to see the process for this and in the end, all of us on the tour got to try a handful of this opium water. caryn said that my eyes looked a bit glassy afterwards, but other than that, we didnt feel any other affects.

the opium was followed by a *delicious* home cooked meal. the food was sooo good, and we felt priveledged to try some authentic home-cooking. oh yeah, i just remembered… we were sitting there at one point and the guide asked us how old we thought this old lady was who was sitting in the shade. no one could guess. turns out, the lady’s oldest son is *80* years old… and she’s… 103!!! unbelievable!!

afterwards, there were two more stops on the tour. one stop at a village where people make rugs, and then another stop at a potter’s village. after checking out some examples of his work, we got to see how he made these pots. it was so crazy. he had a huge potters wheel… but it’s powered completely by hand! he just cranks this thing w/ a stick, till it’s spinning fast, and then he starts sculpting. this guy was sooooo good at it!! he made it look ridiculously easy, and was only half paying attention to what he was doing when he cranked out 3 pots!! they then asked for volunteers… and we all got to watch caryn make a pot! dude, she is a total natural at it!! her pot was maybe a tiny bit crooked, but excellent anyways!

hrm… that’s all i can remember (as i type this as fast as i can before the net place closes), but there was sooo much more that we learned on the trip!!


jodhpur, the blue city

we’ve spent the last several days in jodhpur, the blue city of rajasthan. in the olden days, painting your house blue was a sign that you were of the brahmin caste (priest caste), but nowadays a bunch of other people in jodhpur have painted their houses blue as well. we came here expecting almost every single house we saw to be blue, but it turns out that this really isnt the case. in fact, our first evening here, we only saw a handful of blue houses. but that was just the section of the city that we were in. some sections have just a few blue houses, while others have tons and tons of them. it looks especially impressive when you look down on it from above and see this bright blue patchwork of squares and rectangles. damn cool!

the fort

the fort in jodhpur towering over the city

other than just wandering around the blue streets, the main thing to see in jodhpur is the fort. it’s absolutely immense, and looks really formidable on top of this huge cliff overlooking town. this fort has a long history and has been able to withstand countless attacks. there are places where you can actually see dents that canon balls made in its walls. after hiking up to the top of the mountain, we took an audioguide tour of the fort and learned a lot about it, and about how life was back then for the maharaja who lived there. from the fort, you can see incredible views of the blue city below, but unfortunately, almost all my photos looking down turned out blurry. damn. the people who worked at the fort were all dressed in uniform, most of them wore turbans, and i’m pretty sure that every single one of them had a twirly moustache. twirly moustaches are extremely popular here in rajasthan (and elsewhere in india too). so many of the men have them, and although i would never sport one myself, i really think it looks damn cool. it really seems to give people this slightly mystical, and friendly air!

the omelette man

in town, the main landmark is an old clocktower and under the tower is the omelette man. he has this tiny little stall called the Omelette Shop, with just one frying pan, a few benches for people to sit on, and hundreds of cartons of eggs stacked everywhere in towers 7 feet high. all day long, he serves up *delicious* spicy omelettes to hungry travelers and locals. according to him, he goes through about 1,000 eggs per day!! this guy is a jodhpur institution, and everyone in town knows about the omelette man. he showed us the dozens and dozens of postcards he’s received from travelers, all of them addressed to: Omelette Shop, under clocktower, Jodhpur India. that’s all there is to address! no street name, nothin’.

i think there’s something really cool about a place that only serves one thing but does it well. i just like that it’s so specialized. also, i think it’s really cool that despite having such a *tiny* little place (one burner!!), everybody knows him and his business rocks! but, people are encroaching on his business. now there’s a second guy who opened an omelette stand under the clocktower. since india has no copyright laws that i know of, he named his shop, very originally… “Omelette Shop”. so now, there are two places called Omelette Shop competing against each other in the exact same spot.

Makhani Lassi

i really think it’s all the little things that make places special. sure, the fort of jodhpur is the main toursit attraction here, and is undeniably huge and impressive… but it’s the little things like blue buildings or the omelette man that make this town special. another little thing this town has going for it are Makhani Lassis. if you dont know, a lassi is a blended thick creamy yogurt drink. i couldnt stand them at first, but i was quickly converted and now i absolutely love them. especially either mango lassis or banana lassis. so GOOD!! in jodhpur though, they make this special lassi called a makhani lassi and it’s flavored w/ saffron. there’s this small little hole in the wall place that is especially famous here, and people crowd in to drink the excellent lassis. although the menu states that they do serve some other stuff, the 2 times we’ve gone, mostly what we’ve seen is a roomful of people sitting w/ glasses of lassi. the lassi here is ultra thick, fairly sweet, but also has a bit of tartness to it. once we tasted it, it was obvious why so many people come to this place…

Jaswanat Thada

up on the mountain, a little ways off from the fort is Jaswanat Thada, where royalty was cremated. the place is shaped kind of like a temple and is beautiful in its gleaming white tranquility. since it’s quite high up, and (at least when we went) not too many people are there, it’s a really nice quiet place to see.

right before we got to jaswanat thada, there were these two very young girls, maybe 5 years old, who were singing and dancing to get money while their father (or someone) played a musical instrument. although they were wearing traditional indian attire, these girls obviously knew nothing about traditional dance cause they were too young and just kind of hopped around and twirled about while kind of half singing. it was so hilarious! what was supposed to be a cultural display, was obviously just two kids being silly. later, when their father went for a break, the kids picked up the instrument and played it for onlookers… but they had no clue what they were doing… so all you could hear was this *horrible* screeching sound along w/ their chipmunk-like singing and whacky twirlings. too funny!

most of the rest of our time here was just spent wandering about the lively town. it’s weird, despite the fact that there is a decent amount of tourists here, we still keep getting a lot of attention and people, especially kids, keep wanting to interact w/ us. although some of the “hello, what’s your Name!!!” are quickly followed by a cheery “gimme rupees!!” or “gimme money!!”, a lot of them are genuine and people just wanna chat. bizarrely, the other day, as we were getting mobbed by a bunch of kids, an old man came up to me and asked me to “autograph” his hand!!! whoa. i was shocked. what to do? it takes an unbelievably arrogant jackass to go around autographing people’s hands. but, on the flip side, if this guy really wanted an autograph, wouldnt it be more rude to say no?? so i sheepishly signed it.

one thing that i’ve found really odd about india, is that people keep asking for pens. everybody wants pens. once you tell a child that you wont give them money, 8 times out of 10 they’ll then ask you if you have a pen. what is the deal w/ pens?? why are they valued?? actually, in the 2 weeks we’ve been in india, we’ve had 3 different people that we’ve talked to, give us pens to remember them by. and not some crazy weird fancy pen, just a regular bic-type pen. of course, it’s a really sweet gesture and we *totally* have appreciated that they gave them to us.. but why pens? i just dont get it.


one evening when we were just aimlessly walking around town checking out blue buildings, we randomly found this temple in the middle of town. some people gestured that we should go inside to have a look so we walked up in there. we walked around checking out the little altars etc. when we were about to walk out, we somehow got caught up in some kind of religious ceremony. a bunch of people were gathered around this altar and a (priest?) was next to it ringing a bell and waving around a burning candle. we got motioned to stand w/ everyone, and being curious, and also not wanting to be rude, we went over there. soon the candles were being passed around so everyone could be blessed w/ the smoke, and then next thing we know the priest was flinging water at everyone in the crowd including us. unfortunately, we know virtually nothing about hinduism yet (or actually, if this was even a hindu temple for that matter), so we really dont know what is was all about… but it was definitely interesting to have been there and checked it out. it’s cool what kind of things you’ll find if you jst wander about!

blue buildings

blue buildings


india strikes back…


if you do the crime, you gotta be ready to do the time. in this case, the crime is eating pretty much anything in india, and the time refers to endless hours spent in the bathroom. i knew that eventually it had to happen. i dont think it’s possible for *anyone* to come to india and not get at least a little bit sick from the food. pretty much, it’s not a question of *if* you get sick, it’s a question of *when*. liv recommended that i dont eat the food at all here… but i couldnt do that. i *love* indian food!! and one of the main reasons i was looking forward to being here so much was to be able to eat all the indian food i could handle.

well, so the day after our wonderful cooking lesson, i got completely ill. i’m not sure if the illness was from the food at the lesson, seeing as caryn ate the same thing there and was fine. i spent most of the day laying around in bed in pain, and the rest of it was spent in the bathroom either vomiting or… other things. well eventually the pain went away, and by evening time i was feeling more or less better. half a day of suffereing for being able to eat incredibly good food? not a bad trade off… or so i thought…

that night was the night that the tv show we took part in was supposed to air. we were so excited to finally get to see ourselves on tv. we had been waiting impatiently for the last 2 weeks, and the day had finally arrived. well, the episode started, and in the beginnig they were showing the recap of last weeks episode…. and they showed the wedding scene. the wedding scene that we were in!!! in *last* weeks episode!!!

we couldnt believe it. we were completely in shock. we missed the damn show.. it was on last week!!!! arrrggghhh. our one chance to actually be on tv and we ended up missing it. so frustrating. hrm… well, maybe there’s someway that we could download the episode off the interent??

for dinner that night, i just got some fried rice. i didnt want to eat anything too crazy since my stomach was hurting for most of the day. rice couldnt be so bad, right??

wrong. apparently what i should have eaten that night was absolutely nothing. within a few hours, my stomache started aching and the next day i spent all day in bed once again. sheez. what a life! i guess that definitely taught me a valuable lesson. if you’re even slightly sick.. dont eat until you’re 100% better….




after spending most of yesterday resting from the train journey, we went out to day to explore the city. the main thing to see here is the city palace. they call it the “city within a city”, and it really is like it’s own mini city. inside the palace walls, there is a huge courtyard, actually many different courtyards, and there is a bunch of restaurants, museums, etc. the palace museum was really interesting. More than just being a museum showing different objects, the museum was interesting for the fancy rooms that it was housed in. the palace had all sorts of carved doorways, marble columns, and carved windows with different colored glass in the carved parts.

near the palace, there is this famous temple called the jagdish temple. it’s not that big of a temple, but it was still pretty cool to walk around inside it. i took a few photos of it and these monks that i saw walking around.

india is pretty famous for it’s tea, and although most of the tea drank here is chai aka masala tea, they’re also famous for their regular black teas, especially the ones from darjeeling. seeing as we were still near the palace, we decided to have afternoon tea at one of its fancy restaurants. we had to walk through an uber-fancy dining room complete with gigantic sparkly chandeliers to get there and got a seat on comfy chairs next to a window overlooking the non-existant lake. neither the tea nor the scones etc that came with it were as good as the stuff we had back in england when we went for afternoon tea in brighton, but it was still decent. outside the restaurant, important guests would show up to the hotel, and each time someone drove up, their would be a bagpipe band playing to them and a man would rush out w/ a parasol so that the guests wouldnt have any sun on their heads. man, i wonder what you have to pay to get service like that?!

one of the things that caryn and i wanted to do here in india was to take a cooking lesson. i’ve tried several times back home to cook indian food, but it’s always turned out completely wrong somehow. now was my chance of finally learning the secrets of indian cooking. we had seen a small sign advertising cooking lessons, so we went there and enquired about them. it turned out that this guy’s brother was the one who would give the lessons. 13$ each for a few hours worth of lessons.

we were a bit skeptical at first. how good would these lessons be? did this guy really know what he was doing? since this lesson was at this guy’s home, would we really get a chance to participate in the cooking? or would we just watch as he cooked (kinda pointless)? should we maybe just wait and try to do this somewhere else in a place that was reputable and had nice facilities? well, in the end we agreed to do it, and that night we went over to the guy’s house for the lessons.

despite our concerns, the lesson was actually really good. he taught us all sorts of stuff: how to make a good curry sauce, how to make indian bread out of chickpea flour, how to make daal (lentils), and how to make vegetable pakora (vegetables with a spiced batter around them that is deep fried). everything that we made was utterly delicious, and we ended up really learning a lot. it was kind of trippy that the lesson was just in this guy’s home. we just cooked on this tiny two burner stove that was hooked up to a huge propane tank. the guy’s wife, mother, and children would come in from time to time bringing ingredients. everyone was extremely nice. the only problem was that seeing as the stove was so small, there really was only room for one person to cook at a time, so caryn and i had to trade off on who got to cook and who watched, but other than that we had a really good time. we tried to frantically scribble down notes as to what ingredients he was using and how to make stuff, but unfortunately, i think we didnt get most of it down. oh well though…. even if we dont know the recipes, at least we learned some basics. it’s definitely a start!


udaipur – land of (no) lakes


after gujarat, we headed northward to the state of rajasthan. we were really excited about this since we had heard that this just might be the most interesting and colorful state in india. in rajasthan, there is a blue city, a pink city, and a golden city! together w/ those, the other most famous city in this state is Udaipur. it’s famous for being a nice pretty town next to a beautiful lake that has several islands.

but when we got there, there was no lake. during the last few years the monsoons that come throug this area and fill up the lake have been rather weak. since the lake is so shallow, it eventually dried up, and now there is hardly any water to be seen. the “islands” that used to be incredibly impressive since they have shimmering hotels that reflect off the lake’s waters, are no longer islands. you used to have to take a boat to get to the island hotels… now cars just drive across the dry lake bed.

nevertheless, despite the unusual absence of a lake in a town known for its lake, udaipur has still been a really nice town to see. it’s a town full of small winding streets that run up and down the towns many hills. the streets are so narrow, that there is barely room for two cars to pass each other and rickshaws have to maneuver very carefully to get past other cars, cows, and people. most of the buildings here have a white color and it adds an interesting uniformity to the town. the atmosphere is quite relaxed, but at the same time, it’s definitely a very touristy town. every building is either a hotel (with a restaurant on it’s top floor), an interent shop (w/ a bookshop and photo lab inside), antique shop, souvenir shop, etc etc. somehow, despite all the toursity stuff, udaipur still maintains a nice charm.

we’re staying at a nice (well, nicer) hotel that’s so much cleaner and better than the other places we’ve stayed at. our room has a little nook next to colored glass windows, a tv, an actual hot shower, and a big bed. all this for just 9 bucks. a real step up from the last place we were at!!

the first evening that we stayed here, i heard all this noise outside. loud music, firecrackers, people chanting. i went outside to investigate, and there was a wedding procession walking by our hotel. it was rally really cool to see. everyone was dancing around and having a blast to the music as they walked. the groom was seated on a decorated white horse and he towered above the walking crowd. but, i wondered where the bride was in all this? wherever she was, she definitely wasn’t nearly as prominent as the groom!


photos and more on gujarat

a few random notes on Gujarat:

mini temple

i was in a town called bovnagar near palitana and, while i was waiting for a bus, all of a sudden i heard this really loud drumming and also a bunch of bells chiming. it sounded like there was a parade going on or something, and it was *so* loud. i looked around, but couldnt see anything. eventually, i noticed this tiny building and it seemed like the sound was eminating from there. it turned out that this small building (maybe 5 feet by 7 feet) was actually a temple, with a small altar, swirls of incense smoke, and this mechanical machine that, when you plugged it in, plays this drum and clangs bells at the same time. this guy told me that they plug in the machine every night aroud 6:30 and it drums and clangs away for half an hour.

the local restaurant

palitana is a small little town, and other than street vendors, there was pretty much only one restuarant near our hotel. this place was constantly packed, and only sold a few different items. there was something really appealing to me about just how bare bones this place was. you sit down, they have no menus, and the guy brings out your food in a metal tray. and the food was so cheap!! caryn and i ate there with drinks for a dollar!

under the watchful stares of locals, we’ve been trying to perfect our skills at eating indian food. for the most part, people around here eat w/ their hands. they just grab handfulls of rice and curry with their fingertips and eat like that. i’ve been a bit reluctant to go that far, so i usually just break off pieces of bread and then try to scoop the food into my mouth using the bread. the trick, is that you’re only supposed to use one hand. it’s considered very rude to touch food w/ your left hand since people use the left hand for bathroom purposes. in fact, we actually heard a story about this girl who had a waiter come out and say “i’m sorry, but you’ve embarassed yourself and us. please leave” when she ate w/ her left hand. and so, with each meal, we get better and better at eating. try tearing off a piece of bread using only one hand…. it’s tougher than it looks!


i’ve had many great conversations w/ peope around here. i’m trying to learn as much as possible about india, but it’s so hard… especially since each state we go to is different from the last. i was talking to one old lady on the bus who asked me the usual questions i get: “what is your name? where are you from? what city do you live in?” and then she asked me the question i haven’t yet been asked: “what is your caste?”. this one caught me totally offguard. i do know that in some parts of india, they still use the caste system. each person is born into a caste, and that caste pretty much determines their social status and what they can do in their life. if you have the bad luck to be of a lower caste, you’re basically doomed to live a rather poor life. i still havent yet found out just how prevalant this system still is here. it’s something i’m definitely curious about. the thought that people’s lives would be detremined just by the caste of their parents is so crazy to me.

boarding the bus

when we left palitana, we had to take a bus to the capital of gujarat, ahmedabad. we didnt notice, but i guess a lot of people were waiting for this bus, and as soon as the bus pulled up, it was mobbed by a huge unruly crowd. it was utter madness. everyone was shoving and pushing everyone else. some people had run up to the windows of the bus and were trying to pass their babies in through the window to reserve a seat. grown men were elbowing little old ladies out of the way. women would be shoving their way through while trying not to lose their two children, not to mention the naked baby they were holding. this in particular was really scary… if you carry around a naked a baby on a bus, when the baby has to go to the bathroom… i assume it just pisses on everyone near it, right? EW!! but yeah, the chaos was just so crazy.

fancy dining

our last night in gujarat, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. we went to this fancy hotel that served a set thali menu. the atmospehre was realy nice up there… fountains, candles, rose petals, etc. and the food…. soooo good!! we actually finally got to try the “gujarati thali” that we kept hearing about where you eat sweets along w/ your meal instead of after it. the presentation of the meal was excellent, and we had waiters hovering around us, serving food onto our plates, and refilling anything we wanted more of. such a good dinner!! and for only 7$ each!


here are all of my photos from gujarat


be careful what you wish for…

when you travel to another country, if you want to see the famous sites, you’ll end up spending a lot of time in very touristy places. pretty much every place you go, you’re just one of many others who have come to visit. the town will be filled with tons of little tourist shops, hotels, tours, touts, taxis etc. although, it is helpful to have all these services around, after a while, you definitely feel that you’re not getting the most authentic experience. you dont want to be seeing how *tourists* live… you want to see how the *locals* do it. you want to see real life, unadulterated by tourism. it’s for this reason that people often seek out small towns and villages. these places are often still unspoiled, and you can see real life.

it was for this reason that we decided to visit the state of gujarat. it’s one of the least tourity states here in india, and we were very eager to see what it was like. i couldnt wait to check out the small towns of rural india. well, it turns out that traveling out in the untouristed places was much harder than i might have thought.

the main problem was that since peoiple around there hadn’t seen many tourists, everyone was extremely interested in us. we were basically instantly famous. i dont wanna use the word “famous” becaus that would mean that we had actually done something worthwile to get all this attention, but honestly, this is what it felt like. we literally couldnt walk 5 steps down the street without having people shout out to us. now, the shouting wasn’t really a problem… in fact, it was kind of cool that people would yell “helloooo! what’s you rname?” to us from every direction. the problem mainly was the staring.

everywhere we were, people would stare at us. and they werent discreet about it. its not like they would take a quick glance at us, or try looking at us when we werent looking. they would just walk up to us and stare. and keep staring. this happened everywhere we went. i would be standing at a bus stop, and 5 seconds later, there would be about 10 people crowding around me, standing as little as 2 feet away, just staring at me. they’d be reading over my shoulder as well. when i was at the internet cafe, people would crowd around behind me reading every word i typed. when we went to restaurants, everyone in the room would just stare at us. it ended up being very unnerving.

of course, the attention wasn’t all bad. beacuse of this attention, i ended up having a bunch of very interesting conversations w/ locals. people came up and talked to me on buses, in stores, by temples, everywhere. i ended up learning a lot about gujarat and india in general. i ended up meeting a lot of cool people. and almost all of the people i met were very very nice. plus, the other advantage to being in a place that isnt very touristy, is that people there aren’t really geared towards tourism… in other words, most people you meet on the street aren’t there just to sell you a t-shirt/cab ride/whatever… instead, they just wanna chat.

plus, i got to take a bunch of photos of people, which is something i dont always get to do. in fact, people were practically begging me to take their photo. it was almost too much sometimes. a guard near these temples literally refused to get out of my shots and kept putting himself in front of my camera. i couldnt get a photo w/out him!! this actually happened other times too, when i just wanted a photo of something, but people kept getting in the way on purpose. other times, people wouldnt even let me pass until i photographed them.

being one of the only tourists around, eneded up being a mixed blessing. on one hand, it was fun, and helped us meet people. on the other hand, there are times when you dont necessarily want attention. you just want to fade into the background. you’ve had a long day and you want to just eat a meal instead of being on stage. you dont want a group of 10 people excitedly chattering to each other about the fact that you bought a roll of toilet paper. you want some quiet time to read.

who knows. i guess it’s just tough to find a balance. by the time we left gujarat, i was ready for a little less attention. i was glad that we wouldnt be the only foreigners on display… but, as soon as we came back into the tourist world… and started wandering betwen internet cafes, cd shops, sopuvenirs stands, i ended up looking back wistfully to gujarat….


3300 steps


the climb to the top of the hill in palitana has over 3,300 steps leading you to the temples. it wouldn’t be all that difficult of a hike, except that you are forced to leave your shoes at the bottom of the hill, and thus trudge up thousands of hard rocky steps in your socks. two days later, the balls of my feet are still aching. not everyone choses to endure the hike on foot. if you are extremely lazy, or just rich and want to show off, you can do the hike while sitting in a chair hauled by two guys. i dont know, but that just seemed way over the top. i just couldnt imagine having someone carry me up a hill.

the hike winds up the mountain and seems like it would be beautiful and scenic, except that we both ended up spending most of it staring down at our feet. this was because the steps had animal shit all over them, and you had to be careful where you stepped. as we walked upwards panting and being very thirsty (you aren’t allowed to bring water on the hike), i noticed that some of the crap was huge… the kind of crap that could only come from a large animal like a cow. i thought that i must be mistaken, cows can’t walk up stairs, right? and even if a cow could walk up stairs, who would bring cows up on a 2 hour hike? well, it turns out that cows not only *can* climb stairs, but they *do*. i saw a group of 5 or 6 of them briskly walking down the steps…. moving much faster than the slow and tired humans.

we had started the hike quite late in the day, against our better judgement since the hill temples close at 6pm. we had only gotten to the hill at 3pm, so we were a bit worried about whether we would even make it to the top on time. at the bottom of the hill, after passing a large procession of excited pilgrims, we got to see a few small temples as a taste of what was yet to come. the temples were brightly colored, with large courtyards, lots of altars and offerings to the gods in the form of rice and flowers.

as we started going higher and higher, pilgrims coming down the steps kept trying to warn us that we were going very late and that we wouldnt make it to the top in time, but by then it was too late to turn back. every several hundred steps, there would be a small sign telling us how far we’ve gone… 1000 steps, 1500 steps, 2200 steps etc. to make the hike even longer, there were huge sections of straight parts w/ no steps… these sections were not counted in the number of steps.

finally, at about 5:30, we got to the top. the guard let us in after a bit of grumbling and told us that we better hurry as we must be done by 6pm. once we got inside, we realized that the 3,300 step climb had been totally worth it. honestly, i probably would have climbed any number of steps to see what we saw. the top of the hill is covered by *hundreds* of intricate jain temples… 863 in fact. each temple is incredibly beautiful and complete covered in extremely intricate carvings of tiny statues, and other designs. each temple had hundreds of little dips, ridges, spires, and angles. it was just amazing how much work must have gone into building just one of these, and to see 800 or so of them all next to each other was quite a sight. the temples up there werer probably one of the coolest things i’ve ever seen!

unfortunately, a very short time later, we had to leave. i really wanted to come back and see the temples again the following day, but honestly, my feet were hurting so bad on the way down, that there was no way i’d be able to do the climb again in the near future. such a shame!!