We arrived at the Ranakpur Jain temple complex late in the afternoon, just before it closed for the day.
It was very hot this day, but once inside the breezes flowing through the cool marble interior made it very pleasant. The stunning beauty of the temple completely distracted me and removed any feelings of physical discomfort.
There was something so peaceful and calming about being in the midst of this place. As at all temples, we removed our shoes before entering. Walking around in bare feet on the cool marble floors felt great.
There wasn’t enough time to explore every nook and cranny and photograph it all. I sat down on some nearby stairs. “I need a moment of quiet contemplation,” I said to Prem. I put down my camera, took a deep breath and meditated for a bit. I could have stayed here an entire day.
Prem sat down close by and watched me awhile as I sat and observed the incredible beauty all around me.
“You do honor to this place,” he said.
I'll never know what this sign by the roadside is about.
The next day we left Jodhpur and headed for Ranakpur, a mountain village where there was a Jain temple we were going to visit. We would stay at Ranakpur overnight.
Just before we pulled into the resort hotel, a camel in its best duds crossed our path.
No matter how many pictures I took, there was always something I missed. I didn’t take enough of Hotel Roopam, the paradise of a garden resort where we stayed.
The two story dining area.
We had to pass through the lovely dining hall to get to my room.
The room was spacious, and the wet room* was huge. We stayed only long enough for Prem to be satisfied that I was happy with the place, then we headed for the Ranakpur temple.
*A wet room is a bathroom with no tub. The shower area is not separated from the toilet and wash basin by a wall, shower curtain or enclosure of any kind. It’s completely open. They are common in tropical climates.
Hotel Roopam had a designated bird feeding area where clusters of ringneck and plumhead parakeets gathered.
We drove out of Salawas on a very bad, deeply rutted road. Prem’s driving skills kept the car in one piece. We soon were in an area where there were very few houses very far apart.
We came to a house where an old man lived. Roop spoke to the man briefly in Hindi. The man invited us to sit down then began relating his life story. His wife died of cancer before she was thirty. He never remarried. His son was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. His daughter is married and lives nearby, but the old man lives alone.
The old man had cataracts in both eyes. I wondered how he managed to take care of himself, since he was virtually blind. He told us his daughter comes by often to help him.
He explained that the object in front of him was a little shrine. He uses it to prepare the opium that he makes an infusion with and drinks every day as part of a religious ceremony.
On the wall above his head I noticed some paintings. I asked who did them. His daughter did all of the painting at his home.
I was given permission to photograph his home, so I got up and looked around.
A desert bed, just like the ones we slept on at the Krishna Desert Camp.
The way to the kitchen.
This was one of the nicest village homes I had seen. And the paintings were lovely.
For not being a professional guide, Roop had nevertheless done a really good job of finding and showing me some interesting local culture.
We thanked the blind man for his time and drove back to the main highway to drop off Roop. Although Roop had said he would not charge for guiding us around, I had secretly discussed with Prem how much to give him when he was wrapping up my purchases earlier. Prem gave me an idea of what a one-day guiding fee would be. It wasn’t much, so I doubled it. Roop was surprised and happy to accept. And Prem seemed proud of me!
On the internet I had read that Salawas is a crafts village known to have lots of weavers. I was curious and wanted to see it, so Roop showed Prem how to get there.
Salawas is small and not especially photogenic, but it was animated. There were people everywhere, walking, shopping and visiting. I didn’t see any signs offering dhurries for sale, so I was glad I had bought everything I wanted from Roop.
Roop had been speaking to Prem in Hindi, so I was surprised when we parked in front of a potter’s establishment. It looked like a great place to take pictures.
Roop introduced us to the potter, who prepared to give me a demonstration of his skills.
In addition to pots, he made hundreds of different decorative items as well as smaller things like incense holders, oil lamps, ash trays and candle holders. His daughter and one of his sons painted them.
Roop watched the potter while I wondered what curio I could get home without it getting broken. I settled on a small holy cow head.
The potter’s two oldest sons were also learning the trade.
Unknown to me, Roop had spoken to the potter in Hindi and had gotten directions to the place he would show us next.