After getting persuaded to pay for a car and a driver in Delhi (read about this here) we found ourselves heading to Mandawa – a small village about 270km from Delhi.
I was really shocked at how bad the road surfaces were even just a small drive out of Delhi. I’m not sure if this is because we visited just after the monsoon season, or whether they are bad all year round.
As we arrived late we actually stayed in the town Jhunjhunu which is about an hour from Mandawa. I feel that Lonely Planet made Jhunjhunu out to be a big town filled with concrete buildings, but I disagree as I felt it was more of a small dusty town in the country.
The next morning we spent about an hour in Mandawa and just wandered around the main centre. Mandawa is famous for its haveli’s – old private mansions which often have intricate architectural detail. Mandawa was quite small so you probably wouldn’t need to spend longer than a day there, if that. In addition, there are haveli’s throughout India, you don’t need to go to Mandawa to see them.
That afternoon we drove to Bikaner which is a town on the edge of the Thar desert. It took us 3 hours by car due to the condition of the roads even though it was just 200km.
We stayed in a lovely home stay in Bikaner called Vino Paying Guesthouse. That evening we ate Thali at the guesthouse and used the WiFi to organise a train to Jodhpur (we decided to sack off our scam overpriced tour guide that we booked in Delhi – read my post about this here).
The next morning we went for a walk around the old city of Bikaner which consisted of lots of narrow lanes with motorbikes speeding up and down and tooting away. Unfortunately there was a strike on due to both the price of fuel and also the threat of large supermarket chains entering India’s retail sector, so all the shops and restaurants in Bikaner were closed.
Karni Mata, Rat Temple
That afternoon we decided to take a rickshaw, for 400 rupees to the Karni Mata rat temple. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the rat temple. At the temple we collected little canvas shoes (to protect our feet from the rat droppings!) and approached the temple. I just could not believe the amount of rats at the temple, they are everywhere and they seem oblivious to all the people around them. There was milk put out for them and they were all gathered round drinking the milk.
I wouldn’t say that I was scared of rats, but the amount in that temple certainly gave me the creeps! I would definitely have screamed if one had ran over my foot!
It is meant to be good luck if a rat runs over your feet or if you see a white rat – and I saw a white rat!!
The rat temple is free but you have to pay 20 rupees for a camera.