The Serenity
of Ranakpur...
Gorgeous landscape.
A simple, beautiful moment.
The carvings of the Jian temple.

August 18, 2006

I might come across as ignorant when I say that I never knew that India had such a magnificent natural landscape until today.

While Ranakpur is a town that boasts not much more than natural scenery and a temple (an incredible one, at that), it would
stand out as a truly enjoyable memory while being out there.

This town was en route from Jodhpur to Udaipur and that is how I ended up there. When we arrived yesterday, I had a nice-
sized smile on my face when I saw my digs for the evening. When entering the hotel (actually ‘palace’), they greeted me with a
lei and a dot to the middle of my forehead. After getting Hindi-fied, they served me a glass of rose juice when I began checking
in. And then they showed me to my room. Correction: ‘suite’. Feroz did a nice job when booking me at this hotel. I felt like a
pampered little princess in this room. Actually, there were about four rooms in this ‘room’. I know that I am spending much
more money in India than I originally planned…but there is
no way I could stay in rooms like this in hotels like this in most
other places in the world. So the expenses have been justified in my mind.

Kumar picked me up a bit later to drive me to the temple. Was I oozing with anticipation and excitement? I will have to say
not. I mean it was a
temple…how excited can somebody get?  

I think it is safe to say that the things that are least anticipated turn out most of the time to be some of the best (I think you
know where I am going with this).

This was the first temple I went into so far in India. It was incredibly different from other religious establishments I have seen
before. There were over 1400 uniquely carved marble pillars. Not one was the same as any other. The carvings throughout
the temple were all so intricate. Just incredible. There were also halls of the temple that were outdoors while most were
indoors. I watched families pray (which included the woman singing and then the family started clapping and tapping their
feet. After they were done, they each rang a bell. Very cool to watch.

There was another fun Indian encounter that took place here. There was a group of kids and they had quite the fascination
with foreigners. They ran up and all wanted to shake my hand. Then they wanted me to take a picture of them. Then they ran
up to me so that they could see the picture. Now that I think of it, maybe the fascination is more with digital cameras than with
the actual foreigners…

This morning I started the day off with a walk. There are not too many places in India where you can take a peaceful stroll so I
decided to take advantage of my surroundings. It was literally me, the cows and some Indians in the midst of their daily
routines. It was beautiful and peaceful. But how could it not be considering the mountains in front of me, the lush green
scenery all around me and the sound of water gushing through the rocks right next to me?

Sadly, my little Indian retreat would have to come to an end. Not-so-sadly, I would go on a breath-taking drive that would
take me from this town and out to Udaipur. It is next to impossible to describe the drive into the fog-capped mountains. I
could not take my eyes off of them for even a few seconds. Before being in this area, I never knew India had this to offer. A bit
more into the drive I would see the local women dressed in their bright colors (which stood out more than you could believe
against the greenery all around them). As we drove even further, the landscape went from mountainous to tropical. We are
talking palm trees and lush vegetation everywhere I turned.

Once again, all I could think was ‘
Is this really India???
Back to India.