As I said in my last post, it’s hard to know what to cover when several days have gone by. Obviously, Holi had to have top billing but we have seen many amazing things during our two days in Siana, one day in Ranakpur, and our drive yesterday to Udaipur. I can barely remember ten percent of it and I won’t mine my memory in order to share with you; some highlights will have to do.
During the Holi festivities, people let loose of all their inhibitions and drive the demons from their bodies. To help with that, a beverage called bhang is consumed during the day; it is some sort of cannabis infusion along with tea and spices. The day before playing Holi, the village elders in Siana congregated under a large tree in the headman’s yard to partake of an opium ceremony. When we arrived, they invited us to join in.
We saw several gers, which are dances in which the men move in a very large circle smacking sticks to the beat of drums. It can continue for hours. We went to see a ger in a village one evening but it was over by the time we got there. Instead, several of us ladies did an impromptu hokey-pokey for the villagers who gathered around us in the dark.
After Holi, we went for an evening leopard spotting drive. We didn’t spot any leopards but we did see a magnificent sunset.
We finally saw a dog that was someone’s pet: Bruno, our Siana host’s Great Dane, was huge and a huge hit.
At our last (?) Jain temple, we met a young man who is the 18th generation of his family to be a priest at the temple. The Jains don’t have priests of their own, so, Hindu priests are the ones who take care of the temples. Hashmat told us that if he could see only one temple in India, this would be the one. He didn’t oversell it. It has almost 1,500 columns that are intricately carved with different designs and it has many exquisitely carved marble friezes and sculptures. Maybe when I look over our itinerary, I will even remember its name.
At our one night in Ranakpur in a jungle-like garden hotel, we dined out of splendid copper chafing dishes that were kept warm by coal fires. On our way from Ranakpur to Udaipur, we stopped to watch a Persion wheel pull water up from a very deep catchment basin and I even got to ride on the mechanism that the bulls pull relentlessly in circles to cause the whole thing to work.
We also stopped to see a magnificent fort built by the king of Udaipur way back in the day. The kings of Udaipur have the distinction of being the only kings not called maharajas (great king). Instead, they are called maharanas, which means great warrior. The reason for this difference is that the king of Udaipur, back when the Moguls were running around creating mayhem and defeating Indian kings all over the place, never formed an alliance with the Moguls or the other Indian kings who were allied with the Moguls. He fought on independently and although he was defeated, his strength and fortitude earned him tremendous respect.
Enough for now.