After waving goodbye to Bheemjeev we set off to Ranakpur, about 30km away, to see a magnificent Jain temple dedicated to the Jainism religion. Years ago I did an event which had some Jains attending- they were strictly vegetarian but also didn’t eat anything grown underground as they believe it causes violence to the plant when it is uprooted. All a bit odd so I was was quite intrigued to hear more about it.
It was a bit of a shock to be amongst other tourists after the solitude of the previous couple of days but we duly took off our shoes and queued to climb the entrance steps. We had an audio guide to explain everything to us – apparently this hugely intricate building had come to its founder in a dream and he then spent years and unbelievably vast sums of money getting it built. Personally, I didn’t think it looked that special from the outside but inside it was incredibly beautiful. 1444 carved pillars and no two carvings are the same. The audio guide did tell us more but the voice was so soporific that you found yourself zoning out.
It was quite funny when a school teacher stopped us and asked for a selfie with me and Jacquie. He wasn’t interested in Jackie as he thought she was Indian. Didn’t matter how many times she told people she was from the Seychelles- they didn’t know where it was and clearly didn’t believe her.
An hour or so of temple reflection was more than enough. Our stomachs were rumbling so off we set to Godwad Leopard Camp, in the foothills of the Aravalis hills, where lunch was waiting.
This was one of my most eagerly anticipated places to stay and it didn’t disappoint in a single way. It was a mile or so from the nearest small village, down a single track which then opened out to a dried up river bed where the camp was situated. In monsoon season the whole camp has to be packed up and completely removed before it is washed away by a dangerous, swollen river. Then they’ll put it all back in October for the next season. For now though, it was an isolated oasis – just 12 African style tents set up around a large open area. As we drew up, we were welcomed with a namaste from the loveliest, smiliest man we encountered anywhere on our travels. Whenever we left or arrived at camp he was there beaming at us as if we were the people he most wanted to see in the world.
After freshening up a bit – it had been a pretty long day already, what with the morning trek and visit to the Jains – we went over to the covered area for a delicious lunch. It turned out that there was just one other couple staying – Shelley and Linda – Americans who were retired and spent 6 months of the year travelling. My idea of the perfect retirement.
After lunch, our first leopard safari…..