On our way to Sardargarh we stopped to visit Ranakpur Jain Temple. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that teaches the way to a life of liberation and bliss is by harmlessness and renunciation. The goal of Jainism is liberation of the soul. The temple was magnificent. It was built in 1447 and is made of white marble. There are 1,444 marble pillars inside the temple and no two are the same.
Since being in the desert, Megan has been careful to check the toilet for snakes or other reptiles that sometimes curl up in those cooler spots. It was all clear so she sat down. A moment later she felt something crawl up her back side and onto her hip… it was two lizards! One of them is about 4 inches long and it was on her bare hip! Megan screamed and jumped up. The lizards flew into the air. Then there was a stare-off between the three, lizards looking displeased for being disturbed and Megan looking alarmed. Megan liked lizards quite a bit but learned she ONLY likes them when she isn’t using the bathroom.
We continued onto Sardargarh Fort for our second night in luxury. The fort sits on top of a hill and is majestic as we drove up. It was built from 1738 to 1743 and sits above a small village, Lawa. The fort has five courtyards with trees and flowers, and two dining areas. The place is beautiful and we couldn’t believe we were able to spend the night, but as the evening went on we realized: we were the only guest at the fort! Due to it being out of season to travel here, we were the sole guests which made the evening magical. We ate a beautiful dinner by candle light on the top of the fort with live Indian folk music. It felt like a dream.
We explored the fort, walking the walls of protection. We overlooked the village and spiraling land below us. We also enjoyed walking through the old hallways imaging what they were first used for.
We went on a jeep safari to see the village, Lawa. We learned about village rituals for marriage and how they settle disagreements. The villagers select five people to sit under the Banyon tree to hear both sides. The five people then decide what should be done. The tree was full of fruit bats.
We also visited a local man who offered to smoke with us although we declined. It was a highlight to visit with the locals and feel welcomed into their homes.
We also were taken to the nearby lake with a small building. We climbed to the top and were provided drinks while we watched the birds (mostly swifts which nest under the building) and some locals fishing. There was a view of the castle. Meg didn’t enjoy the stairs!