9 Nov 2013
Sleep in today! But we are woken several times by loud explosions – they turn out to be firecrackers being set off at the temple. Breakfast was anytime until 10.00am. We have 2 day rooms so we store our bags and meet Naveen to head back into town. He takes us to Sunset point where we have a lovely view of the lake and ghats. A young lad shows us his magic tricks and he is very good (so we all tip him). But then everyone else starts coming to try to extract money from us, so Naveen says ‘you’d better start your walking’ and leaves us to go and do some paperwork.
There is a bridge across the lake and we must remove our shoes to walk on it and anywhere within 30m of the holy lake. We are warned of people trying to make money from us. We walk around the ghats and eventually meet the market street leading to the Brahma temple. We hear that this is the only (or one of very few) Brahma temples in India. There is total chaos outside and a phalanx of uniformed female cadets queuing to go inside. We opt not to even try and head back to the fairground to see if we can get some better photos from ground level (rather than on a jerkily moving camel).
After a few false starts we find the entrance and walk in via stalls selling all sorts of camel decorations and any other camel paraphernalia that you could desire. A nice young man starts talking to us and showing us things – we decide that we will go with him and pay him. But very soon a couple of policemen grab him by the front of the shirt and shout at him. Then they tell us that we must be careful of people coming up to us. We thank them and carry on. Our man is waiting around the corner and we resume our tour – he tells us we can do a circuit and come back to the entrance. We take lots of photos – particularly of camels dressed in their finery, shaved/decorated camels, racing camels, a young camel learning to pull a cart (& clearly not enjoying the experience). At the end the young man didn’t ask for money but asked if we would come to his family craft tent – we were happy to do so and B&E bought some sandstone carvings as gifts. By this stage we are getting hungry and decide to head back to the hotel at Sunset Point for lunch.
The market has got really busy so we decide to work our way around the ghats instead. This involves working our way down to the water (removing our shoes of course). We met a white gowned man who said he was (and probably was) a Brahmin priest who tried to get us to take part in a blessing at the holy lake, but we couldn’t trust anyone so we thanked him and moved on. As we stepped our way up, down and around, another man approached us and said we could have a blessing and that we could make a donation. He thrust flowers at us and made us come down to the water’s edge and said various words including ‘you pay $5’. At that point we left and he got quite nasty. Sebastian had paid and the man said he could keep his bracelet because it was a photo pass. Sebastian ripped off the bracelet and told the man in no uncertain terms how much of a fraud he was!! We were then left in peace.
Lunch at the hotel Sunset was great with a lovely view of the lake – but unfortunately they were renovating and it was very noisy). Still we stayed for 2 mango lassis and a choco-banana pancake (on my part at least) – many of the others chose pizza.
We walk back to our hotel with a few stops along the way. We watch as a van load of police get out and chase some old women who are selling grass/greens to feed the cows. They throw the grass down and over the cows. We are a bit puzzled because everyone is grinning and it is a bit like a game. Apparently it is to stop them making money ‘begging’ from the tourists as the cows don’t need feeding.
Back at the hotel we take it in turns to freshen up in the day rooms and some of us sit with a cup of tea outside in a straw gazebo while we wait for our 5.30 meeting and departure.
We have dinner with a local family up on their rooftop (which is a bit chilly). It is a delicious vegetarian meal – with lots of different breads, potato, cauliflower, lentil soup, chickpea pokara with chutney, a sweet tomato dish, rice – and finished with rice pudding. Unfortunately it is a case of eat and run as we must reboard our bus and wind our way back over the mountains to catch the night train from Ajmer back to Delhi. The road through the mountain is narrow and winding with sharp blind corners and everyone is trying to pass each other whether they can see ahead or not at a harrowing speed. We are glad that our driver is a little bit more cautious than others and we do arrive safely at the train station.
It is very sad that our trip is coming to an end. Most of the group are apprehensive because they haven’t experienced a sleeper train before. E&B, S&M and I are old hands by now but there is chaos as the newbies try to save seats and bring the whole carriage to a lockjam. I quickly realise that 2 of our allocated seats/beds are on the edge and quickly put my bag and myself in there to get out of the way. Brian can’t easily climb onto the bunks so I offer him the bottom bunk claim the top one myself. 4 have to share with others who are already in bed which makes it more difficult to get themselves organised. Naveen has a bed at the other end of the carriage. The rest provide entertainment trying to get themselves sorted out but I climb into bed, draw the curtain across & put in my earplugs. It is 9.30 and I have a surprisingly good sleep.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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