From the Rat Temple to Humayun's Tomb

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
Trip End Jul 18, 2004

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Bikaner, our jump off and return point from my and Sarah's camel trek was nice to get back to for no other reason than the fact that riding camels makes for sore aching parts for those not used to it. Relaxing that evening and stretching out a bit didn't quite prepare us for our little adventure the following day.

About a hour bus ride south of Bikaner in the dusty town of Deshnoke where the self proclaimed "Eigth Wonder of the World" can be found: the "Rat Temple" of Deshnoke. I would not consider this place a wonder other than in the phrase "I wonder why anyone would recommend this place as worth a visit." Really, compared to many other places, this temple was not exactly impressive, and touts seem to surround it (Sarah had the most expensive pee of the trip there). Luckily, we were just visiting and could head back to Bikaner as soon as the next bus arrived. Still, we were there so it seemed silly not to take a look inside.

As you can guess, inside the temple were rats. Lots of rats. Little cartoon-like holes were designed into the temple when it was made so the rats could scurry through. And they were fed as well: water, milk, and grain. A metal screen canopied the open air courtyard so birds of prey could not have an easy feast. Needless to say, these rats were considered sacred and, apparently, seeing a white one was considered good luck. Not being rat fans and also seriously questioning the judgement of our guidebooks authors we took the second bus we saw back to Bikaner (the first one was quite full and we would have had to ride on top).

From Bikaner we headed to Delhi an thankfully had quite the opposite experience at Humayun's Tomb in eastern New Delhi. Delhi has quite alot to offer as a city but so far this has been the highlight for Sarah and I. Humayun's Tomb is of the style of the Taj Mahal only it was contructed about 100 years earlier. Actually there were several other buildings (tombs or mosques) surrounding Humayun's but all were in worse shape, one almost in complete ruins. This was great fun to explore. Starting with Humayun's Tomb we definitely got the feel for what the Taj Mahal might look like. It had the same basic shape but was more of a reddish color. The gardens surrounding it were incredibly serene to the point that it was hard to believe we were in Delhi. Tiny water canals branched out from the tomb and squared off to surround it. The canals connected up with pools in the garden, some with sitting areas and trees for shade. If it sounds peaceful, it was. Compared to what the Taj Mahal was boud to be like, there was hardly anyone else there. The other structures in the Humayun's Tomb area,as I said, ranged from nearly perfect to ruinous all great fun to explore with pleasant garden areas. (Did I mention there was hardly anyone else there?) Still Humayuin's Tomb was the highlight of that day.
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