Dear friends and family,

Excited to be going to Ranakpur. It is known as one of the very finest Jain temples. 

This little girl's father is operating a mill which is extracting mustard seed oil, which is used so predominantly in North Indian cooking.

It's almost New Year; Raj buys his wife two saris.

This man was disappointed we didn't try his kachoris.

Truck wreck and bags of rice spilled into the ditch. I'm surprised we don't see more wrecks. We've seen only one minor collision between 2 motorcycles; no apparent injuries. We are often threading the needle between huge trucks, small tuk-tuks, cows, cars. Thank God or the gods that our driver is really skilled at his job. He used to drive a bus through the Himalayas at night.

Another sweet family we met at a truck stop who insisted on sharing their home-cooked snacks with us. They were on their way to Mount Abu, our next destination after Ranakpur.


You can see for yourself, exquisite and hard to fathom, incomprehensible, really.

Warning from the guard: Don't you dare take a photograph of the statue in the inner sanctum.

This temple is in active use.

One of the amazing Ranakpur ceilings.

Entertaining photographers

Worshipping in their own manner.

Life coexists with the Jain temple. The Jains are the ones who won't eat any type of meat or animal products, not even root vegetables. I guess the soil animals are disturbed when the roots are pulled out. They are known for wearing a mask so that they don't breathe in insects and sweeping the ground ahead of them so they won't step on bugs. I haven't personally seen this behavior. Perhaps this, not unlike many tales we hear of India, is simply not true or no longer true.

These photos were taken separately and then pieced together. You can hardly take a bad photo here.

The head priest of the temple approached Don; he said he was attracted by his beard which he felt was similar to his own. A very nice man, he proceeded to give us a blessing, which was lovely. An Indian family came up to us and said they felt something and were drawn to the blessing. We felt it, too, and left on a high.

After the spiritual high, we went to our next hotel in Ranakpur for New Year's Eve. Very modern looking and rather unattractive, so no photos. The New Year's celebration was very strange, kind of like a Bollywood game show with very loud music, not to our taste. We put in earplugs. Decibels were off the charts. The whole event was outdoors with a small stage for the DJ. We were told the crowd mostly consisted of Gujaratis, as the state of Gujarat is a dry state (no alcohol), so they like to vacation in Rajasthan. Also the party food was nothing to write home about. We have had pretty consistently excellent food in India. 

Oddly, and perhaps as a result of the blessing, we won the Grand Prize that evening, although being party poopers we were asleep and didn't find out until the next morning, New Year's Day.


Era and Don