Temples and Tents – Camp Thar part one.

“Chillum, Chapati, Bang Lassi, let’s all go to Varanasi!” ~ Or Camp Thar in Osian instead!

Saturday got off to a bit of a frantic start. Will was fast asleep, air con blasting and completely oblivious to the many knocks on his door. We had twenty minutes until we had to meet the driver who was taking us to Osian, and we had to try and grab some lunch in the meantime (despite the gastronomic delights of the night before cruelly coming back to haunt us in the way that only truly Indian food can), plus pick up laundry from the local washerman (Will has named him Norman), and somehow get packed and washed. Not that I could blame him for oversleeping – getting up at 5.30am for Yoga is great, but doesn’t half make you look forward to the weekend lie-in. Luckily, his purchase of a chinese phone locally that has the most horrendous russian rave-esque dance music means that there is now a new addition to the morning artillery. Like myself, turns out Will had been up half the night rueing his culinary decisions as well, and so once he was awake we split up so I could grab a spoonful of plain rice and a roti and he could get ready before we met at the office ready for our mini-adventure into the desert.

As it often is in being somewhere new, the car journey out to Osian was fascinating. Rural Jodhpur is very different in character to its urban counterpart, people sitting on the back of huge trucks as they transport their load, women carrying all sorts of things on their heads and cows doing their own thing every where you look. Actually wait, it’s pretty similar – except less noisy! I have fallen in love with Indian trucks too – always so pretty or if not carrying a hilarious amount of cargo in an unusual and precarious fashion. I will try and get a picture at some point. Our first stop was Osian Temple. The road up to the temple was blocked, a clever business move by the tourist shops no less, but we hopped out and made our way up to the temple on our own. Goats meandered up the gently sliding slope, whilst either side was lined with fruit shops, cd stalls and the general tourist fare. Many little stalls had bits of fabric and bracelets that you could buy and give as offerings within the temple, or just wear as a memento. As always, there was the usual hollers of ‘Hello! How are you! Sir! Madam! Your country? You buy?’ but apart half way up the slope it became clear we had company. The locals are often tipped off when tourists arrive you see, and ad-hoc guides are ready and waiting! Not that I minded particularly, as our magically appearing guide had lots to tell us about the temple, was very good at answering our questions and most importantly, was very good at deflecting any other unwanted attention.

Osian temple clearly has plenty of visitors throughout the year, I’d say its pretty big as temples go! The stairs are divided into walkways to keep the flow of traffic going in one direction, whilst the temple itself is divided into many smaller shrines so that people can worship the gods of their choice. People burn coconuts as offerings or give sweets or money, make their prayers and ring the various bells. My favourite sight however has to be the bracelets tied to the railings – for some reason I can’t help but think of the bridge in Paris that is covered in padlocks when I see them… There is something very comforting about being able to leave something behind like this to commemorate life. Beautiful!

These bracelets were tied to the railings as offerings or after a marriage for good luck.

The craftmanship of the temple was amazing also. Considering how old the place was – our guide claimed the oldest part was over a thousand years old although I have my doubts about this – everything was very well preserved. Karma Sutra positions were carved into the stone alongside images of the Gods, can you imagine that in a catholic church! 😀

A dancer carved into the stone at Osian Temple.

Once we set off to Camp Thar again we got held up at a railway crossing for a while. Further down the tracks, kids were jumping over the line in what I can only assume was a game of railway hopscotch but the Indian controller didn’t look too fussed. Right on cue, two children appeared at the window and started waving at me. The girl had the biggest cheeky grin I’d seen in a while so I decided to spend ten minutes trying to chat to them in Hindi and gave them a couple of rupees each. Plenty of children have absolutely no qualms in asking you for money here (if you were this cute you could get away with it too) but I made sure I got a photo in exchange. Cutiepies!

The little kids I gave some rupees to whilst we waited for the train to pass…they were too cute!

The best thing about arriving at the Camp? Getting out of the car and realising that for the first time in weeks, there was complete silence. No motorbikes revving, cows mooing or cark horns honking, no shouting in Hindi or cats hissing as they stalk their neighbouring feline. Bliss! I love Jodhpur, but I’d almost forgotten what quiet felt like…! We were practically the only people in the resort too, so I made the most of it by putting my feet up straight away. It was absolutely perfect, plus the so called ‘tent’ was more like a large room with ensuite and some pretty awesome wall tapestry. And there I was thinking deserts were meant to be barren….

Chillin’ in the Desert…

To be continued.

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