I will never regret the choice to leave from home and immerse myself in the abundance of traditions, spirituality, secrets and beauty of one of the most incredible region I have ever visited: Rajastan, in the north of India. I think about this experience very often and I truly hope I will be able to come back again one day.
This is the itinerary I followed:
Unfortunately I wasn’t keeping a detailed track of my journey at that time (in 2009!) and I was an embarrassing photographer but I recall a lot of unforgettable experiences that in my opinion should not be missed!
Bikaner: Karni Mata Rats Temple
This a visit for brave people, I don’t know how I found the courage to enter (shoes are not allowed in the temple!) but in the end this is a place I will never forget.
Karni Mata was an incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. At some point the son of one of her storytellers died. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him..When Yama refused to help, Karni Mata promised that all male storytellers, members of her caste, would be reincarnated as rats in her temple. When they die as rats, they are once more reincarnated as members of the Depavats family, as Karni Mata’s descendants are known.
In Hinduism, death marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one on the path to a soul’s eventual oneness with the universe. This cycle of transmigration is known as samsara and this is the reason why Karni Mata’s rats are treated like royalty.
Among the rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy because they are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and sighting them is a blessing!
Jodhpur: the Blue city
Sometimes when I am awake or when I dream this view from the Mehrangarh Fort still came to my mind and I can see the vivid blue-painted houses of this city.
The Brahmins, members of the priestly class, used to color their houses with various shades of blue to signify their domicile and to set them apart from the rest of the people. Soon, however, also the rest of the population followed this custom and now it is a stable tradition.
Jaipur: Galta Ji temple
Galta Ji hindu temple, also known as the Monkey temple (Galwar Bagh), is a complex centered around a natural spring that has been channeled to fill seven large pools (kunds).
Hundreds of Rhesus Macaque live in this area spending the days hidden along the cliff or swimming in the holy waters. The monkeys are completely unafraid of tourist and they can be aggressive, be careful! Even though their presence the temple is dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant god, and not Hanuman the monkey god.
According to a legend the largest, deepest and holiest kund, the Galta Kund, has never ran dry: during important festivals pilgrims jump from the surrounding cliffs into the pool to bath away their sins.
Varanasi: sailing on Ganga river
The first day in Varanasi I wake in the middle of the night (around 4 o’clock) and I reached the Ghat where the boats were waiting in the dark. Sailing slowly and quietly we contemplated a panoramic view of the Ghats, the steps filled with people bathing in the river, men washing clothes on stones on the river bank and pilgrims meditating or performing their ritual ablutions.
Soon after the sunrise we released the diyaas (flower bowls with lit candles) overboard along with our good wishes: this moment was very evocative!
To devout Hindus, bathing in the Ganges remits their sins, but dying in Varanasi’s waters grants them moksha, or an end to the cycle of rebirth.
Ganga is life