Sun Gate

Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
1
14
25
Trip End Sep 01, 2011


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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This morning my host was busy with a group of European travellers but his nice and helpful wife was able to arrange a rickshaw tour of the city with several stops all around, about 3 hours for 250 rupees. The first stop was actually my favourite of the whole day: the exquisite Bandhasar Jain Temple. 


 The quality and the complexity of the frescoes was just wonderful, such bright colours, and of course let's not forget the bright man inside too- there's always a local devote very willing to show you around and encourage you to take pictures (he'll take pictures of you too), everything for just a free donation. I was so happy that I left 100 rupees, hope to receive some protection and happiness for my future destinations from the divine.



 The rules of Jainism were quickly explained to me: complete non-violence and respect of every living being, to the point of avoiding foods that may hurt anything. Some go as far as carrying a broom to push away any bug from the floor so that they're not killed, and wear a tissue on the face to avoid inhaling them. The building indeed seemed to be some sort of animal sanctuary, where little birds, pigeons and a few dogs laid peacefully and without a worry.
The visit to Bikaner continued to a local miniature artist specialized on religious, natural and historical themes. He explained in detail the different natural products he uses to create his masterpieces: saffron, leaf powder, several stones and minerals, arabic gum as a binding agent and a few leaves of gold for the final touch on the sheet that can be either paper, camel bone, camel leather or silk. Yes mom, I know you're reading and you'll have to wait until I come back to see what I bought you.


 My last stop before heading back to the local family hosting me was the Junagarh, the city's landmark. One walked past its Sun Gate the atmosphere is just overwhelming for the senses, and what a peace inside! Nothing to do with the most popular destinations in the other parts of the country. Opulence and the glory of lost times is pretty much the theme of the entire Old Town and this is its main symbol. The haveli are so elaborate that they could be sold for a fortune if properly refurbished. If you're around the area be sure to spend a couple of hours here, it's definitely worth it. 

 
It was still quite early so I decided to walk around the city and explore. Exploring usually means getting lost and jumping on the first rickshaw out of desperation, but not here. The people left me truly baffled for once: everybody in Bikaner is far more polite than anywhere I've seen in India. All the kids that spotted me said "hello!" which, unlike in places like Delhi truly meant it. I got smiled and waved at by dozens of kids and even a few adults, all of them truly happy to see a foreigner. In a place where happy doesn't mean screaming for money. 


 I was so relieved of finding such good people that I could have cried of joy. It's so difficult to explain in words what a difference a smile can do, and the ability to walk around by yourself without being CONSTANTLY on the guard for thieves, touts, beggars and the eternal car noise was just...unreal. It was a relaxing day and the four western tourists that I've spotted on the road were of the same boat too. No longer exchanging mutual tired and stressed stares, this time they were two middle-aged British women and as soon as we spotted each other we simply smiled and...guess what we said to each other?

 
"Hello!"
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