Thursday, March 3, 2011
We all wanted to go to Amritsar, but due to some lack of confidence in the availability of transportation from Bikaner on the way, the group chose to transit through Delhi. As you can guess; I broke away from the group and took a night train to Bikaner.
It wasn't a particularly special city, but it broke up the trip a bit. A local told me to skip the fort; it is much like Jodpur's only not as nice. The man who stored my bag and organized my direct ticket to Amritsar touted me to an art gallery featuring a special local school of micro-painting. This surprisingly was a great stop. The teacher of the school held the record for the world's smallest painting, an intricate post card sized nature scene that had so much detail, a magnifying glass was essential. He painted a small bird paining on my thumb nail. It's nice to carry art with you.
The gallery was near a pleasant yet unremarkable palace. A large draw of the town is the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok nearby. Simply known as the rat temple, it is believed to have the souls of all dead storytellers, brought back from the dead as rats to punish Yama, god of death for not restoring the life of a storyteller's son. Worshiped here, the rats are given offerings of milk and sweets. It wasn't like walking through a sea of rats like I expected. They would just be clustered around, picking off the pilgrim's offerings, some individual rats looking like tiny tailed footballs from their fortunate diet. I wasn't squeamish though, standing barefoot in the presence of thousands of rodents. I quite like rats myself. The plague just happened to give these intelligent, social creatures a bad name.