Ranakpur is a small villlage in the Aravalli Hills (one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world) near a beautiful Jain Temple built mid-15th century. Leaving the cities and heading to the smaller villages and country sides was a welcome change from the hustle and crowds of the city. The country side is rocky with small shrubs and trees, similar to what I’ve seen out west. There are villages every few kilometeres along the road as well as lush green terraced fields for farming. Unlike road trips back at home where I’m familiar with the countryside and often more excited to reach the destination than simply take in the sights from the drive, looking out the window for hours was relaxing and engaging as there were many new sights to be seen as well as just taking in the beauty. Particularly striking to me is the contrast between the colorful saris and turbans and the neutral toned desert landscape. Of course with Ravi and I being animal lovers we often are drawn to the multiple animals ambling along the road like goats, sheep, pigs, water buffalo, camels, monkeys, and dogs.
Before arriving at our hotel we stopped at the Jain Temple (Chaumukha Mandir and other complexes) known for it’s marble carvings and over 1,000 pillars each of which is uniquely carved.
Both the hotel we stayed at in Ranakpur and the Temple border the Kumbhalgarh Wilderness area that is protected by the government. We asked if we could take a hike through the park but they don’t allow people to hike in it as you would be able to do in the states-or so we were told. We did see signs for “safari tours” in the area so it is likely they do offer some hikes through the valley. After looking up Ranakpur on the web indeed it said that it is possible to walk, jeep, or horseback through the wildlife sanctuary, perhaps next time.
We stayed at a small resort built about 10-15 years ago called Aranyawas Hotel. Our rooms were were spacious, simple, and clean bungalos overlooking the forest. Had it been a bit warmer we could have sat on the balcony and enjoyed the view, but the balcony was shaded so we opted for a common area out in the sun. We closed the evening with a good drink of classic Indian rum, Old Monk, and pepsi chatting with our guide and some locals on the porch followedby a group dinner, and finally hot chai by the bonfire. The others in our group have traveled extensively so we enjoyed hearing their stories from all over the world.
The next morning the owner of the resort took us on a walk through a nearby village pointing out the flora and fauna along the way as well as explaining how the locals farm the land, gather water, cook, and live. After the walk we packed up our belongings and headed to Udaipur, the city of lakes and palaces. On the way to Udaipur we stopped at the Kumbhalgarh Fort.
Photos: Jain Temple, Aranyawanas Resort, Village Walk, Kumbhalgarh Fort.