March 6

I can’t believe that in one week today I will be headed to the airport on the way home! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been in India for three weeks already!
We got up and battled the porters to take out own things down to the lobby and out to the van (as per the normal routine!) this morning for our 8:30 start. It was a long drive today because we were headed back up to Luni – almost Jodhpur, but not quite. The drive was long…but there were many interesting things to see along the way, so it wasn’t actually all that bad. There was a definite change of terrain as we headed more into desert territory after leaving the city of the lakes in Udaipur. We passed a couple of mountains, with crazy hills and switchbacks, some road construction, and finally into more desert-areas complete with wind and blowing sand!
Our first stop was in Ranakpur. It was a very hilly descent into the valley to see this Jain temple, but totally worth it! The main temple is called Chaumukha Mandir, which means four-faced temple and is dedicated to Adinath (I don’t know anything about that god at all). It is carved out of marble and has a total of 1444 pillars – and no two are alike! It was absolutely stunning!! I find that, typically, these historical monuments (castles, forts, mosques, temples, etc) are more beautiful from the outside than they are from the inside. This was an exception, however, as the temple was so finely carved and designed that it was breathtaking from every angle. In the centre, there was the statue of the god and no pictures were allowed of it, or in its direction! There were carved elephants among the pillars and above the four entrance ways. There were several ‘levels’ and many stairs and hallway-like areas…it would have been the perfect site for a game of hide-and-go-seek!
I made a slight fuss (as unnecessary as it was…) before getting in the temple, however! Rajish told us that we had to change out of our skirts to cover our legs, so both mom and I put wrap skirts on top of what we were wearing in order to cover down to our feet. However, that was deemed inappropriate by the guy at the ticket-wicket and we had to go back to the bus and change! I was irritated, and in the mood to argue, apparently…not because I had a problem with going to change, but rather because I wanted to know WHY! I get that covering up is a thing here, however, no wrap skirts was a first…and I wanted some history or basis as to why wrap skirts were inappropriate. Anyway, I still don’t really know why wrap skirts were a no-no, and that irritates me…
We drove for many more hours and arrived at a carpet place located only 10Km outside of Luni around 5pm. We wanted to stop there because mom noticed the flat, cotton carpets for sale near Ranakpur and thought it would be nice to see them!! Anyway, they know how to do sales here, so we were shown the loom where the family makes these carpets, and then out the carpets came, by the dozen! It was nice to be shown a product by the people that actually make it, instead of in some shop, for a change…in any case, mom bought one for AZ and I got one (that I am not 100% convinced that I want…although it would be a nice change from that awful flowered thing that I have in my front hall at the moment) and Caroline got one. The patterns are definitely bright and loud…very Arizona like!
The hotel in Luni, Fort Chanwa (sp?!) is absolutely amazing! Between the six of us, we have taken over an entire tower in the fort!! Mom and dad have this room up in a tower (about 3 flights of stairs to reach their room), and in it, there is a loft!! Then, another door opens up onto a HUGE balcony, which also has stairs leading to an upper balcony! It is fabulous! Scott and Caroline have the exactly the same room, only on the opposite side of the courtyard – so they share the outside balconies. Allison and I have a wonderful room as well…no stairs to climb, however. It is located kitty corner to mom and dad’s room, in the bottom courtyard. It is one of our biggest rooms yet, with windows everywhere. It is clean and has AC, a fridge, a desk, and a sitting area! It is pretty cool…and then there is a middle courtyard with grass and a marble stage. There is a pool and apparently there is croquet as well!!
After dropping our bags, we went for a walk around Luni! It is awesome! It is so small that even the Lonely Planet doesn’t have it listed in their book, but that is the charm! It is such a nice change from the bigger cities where people are perpetually trying to sell things, and you have to avoid the cow dung and speedy motorcycles. Here, there is pretty much one street. The kids are very excited to see us, and ask us for things – a change from selling us stuff! The people are interested in seeing us, and all of them say “hello”, but no one tries to get us to take their rickshaw or get us in their store. The entire town watched us walk up and down the street, but it was as entertaining for us as it was for them.
The photo opportunities are excellent as well, because no one asks for money or gets upset when you take pictures! Well…not entirely true…but in comparison to some of the larger cities – where all of the more interesting pictures are the people looking for money for their picture – there is a difference. One guy asked for money after I took his picture, but when I said I had none, he just continued on his way. It was a refreshing change!
Dinner at the hotel was confusing!!! They really, really, really wanted us to eat at their buffet – and none of us did! The prices were so good from the menu, that we all did that. However, Allison is still not feeling well, so we tried to get them to make a box for us to take to the room for her pasta, and in stead her pasta vanished. Then, I was the only one really interested in having dessert, but when they told me it would be half an hour, I said no…and then I was told they were making it for me. Then, the bills didn’t come, so we tried to leave, but then our bills came. And later on, my apple crisp came to my room – where I put it in the fridge for lunch tomorrow! It all worked out in the end, I suppose!

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