Vihigaon – a gem

Mumbai monsoon always reminds me of an impromptu road trip we had taken a few years back. It was raining all day and we friends decided that next day we’ll go on a road trip ..where? Nobody had an idea. We just took off in the car early morning at 7 to enjoy the rains. We took the Nashik highway , and on reaching Kasara ghat took a detour to Jawhar. Nobody knew where this place was or how long will it take to reach there. We just saw a signboard which showed left for Jawhar and off we went. We did reach Jawhar an undiscovered hill station close to Mumbai but not before discovering the hidden gem Vihigaon.
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The roads were so good that we dint want to stop. The rains had painted the whole place green. It was so beautiful and calm that we wished time just stops here. After driving for long on those beautiful winding roads we reached khodala road. We could hear the sound of waterfall somewhere but couldn’t locate it. We kept looking outside the windows but couldn’t see anything , we could only hear the sound of gushing water. A few kms ahead, we came across this little boy who was walking towards his house. We stopped the car and approached him, asked him is there a waterfall closely. This little boy only spoke Marathi , he dint know Hindi. Luckily for us, everyone in my group knew Marathi ,they started talking to him but they couldn’t find a word for waterfall in Marathi and kept repeating waterfall. This boy was clueless as to what the hell is waterfall. He kept saying there is a dhabdhaba here…and we kept arguing that we wanted to know about the waterfall. After arguing for 15mins we finally realized dhabdhaba is the Marathi word for a waterfall. Dumb people that we were. Err
As seen from Khodala road..after walking for a few kms.

As seen from Khodala road..after walking a few kms.

So the boy agreed to take us to this Dhabdhaba which was close to his house. He asked us to park the car near his house and follow him. We walked for half an hour and finally reached the waterfall. Till then nobody of us knew that there was a village called Vihigaon or that there was a vihigaon waterfall. The boy took us to the top of the waterfall from where we could just sit and enjoy the place. When we looked down, we could see loads of tourists enjoying in the water, there was also an adventure group trying their hands at Rapelling.  It was such a beautiful sight. We were glad that we were the only ones here while the crowd was below us, as this gave us all the privacy we needed.
A closer view of the Vihigaon falls

A closer view of the Vihigaon falls

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Our new friends showing us some stunts.

Our new friends showing us some stunts.

The boy along with his friend showed us some stunts in the water. Told us a lot so stories about his family, school, his village etc. the falls itself was so beautiful that we could stay here forever and the drizzling rains added to the fun. Both the sides were covered with lush green trees. It was a perfect place for camping. After spending some time here at vihigaon and saying goodbye to our new friend we then moved on to Jawhar. We passed the Old British bridge on our way to Jawhar. We stopped here for some photo ops , bridge was such a beautiful sight to see…with the river flowing below… And greenery on both sides , the bridge looked picture perfect.
Taken from the Old British Bridge.

Taken from the Old British Bridge.

The river flowing below the British Bridge

The river flowing below the British Bridge

We continued our journey to Jawhar. With no hotels or restaurants in sight it was getting difficult as we were damn hungry. As soon as we reached Jawhar, the first thing we did was hog like a dog. And then we set out to explore the place. Somebody told us there was a famous waterfall called Dhabhosa a few kms ahead which is known for adventure activities like rappelling, river crossing etc.   On our bid to explore Dhabhosa , we came across this neglected little lake which  looked like it was almost covered with trees when seen from the road. We stopped our car and walked a bit to this lake. The locals were moving around with their goats there. The whole place was so green as if someone had just painted it. The most serene place we came across in this whole trip.
The most beautiful place we came across.

The most beautiful place we came across.

After about half an hour, we reached Dhabhosa. The place was crowded. And there was some kind of construction going on. Because of which the whole water was brown or muddy. We stood at the viewing point and wondered if not for all the construction this place would have been perfect. We could see people doing Rapelling, river crossing etc. There were a lot of adventure groups there. We realised that we dint know about all these places even if we stayed so close to them. It was just a four drive from Mumbai yet nobody knew about them. But the whole fact that this place is not popular among tourists added to its beauty as it is not yet commercialized. There are just a handful of hotels /restaurants and more of natural beauty. That’s what I liked about this trip. It was all about discovering these little hidden gems in your own backyard.
Dhabhosa Waterfall. We could not click a lot of pictures as it started raining.

Dhabhosa Waterfall. We could not click a lot of pictures as it started raining.

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The clean almost new and perfect roads, greenery on either side, waterfall everywhere,  the British bridge , the little boys that we met, the drizling rains which painted the place green, wild flowers and the wild turmeric on the edges of the road , everything was picturesque and made our trip a memorable one.

The sleepy coastal town of Mangalore

Mangalore in the western coast of Karnataka, is known to be a port city. It’s a very laid back town where people are never in a hurry. Being a mangalorean, i have spent most of my summer vacations here although, Mangalorean summer is harsh and is not the best time to visit the place.

Netravati river. Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Netravati river.
Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Mangalore Port. pic courtesy : Punik shetty

Mangalore Port.
pic courtesy : Punik shetty

The city gets it’s name from the goddess Mangladevi. Mangalore is known for its culture, traditions, food , temples and beaches. Locally, Mangalore is known as Kudla. Tulu and Kannada languages are widely spoken here. You will find that various communities namely, Tulu, kannadigas, konkanis, Christians, Muslims, malayali’s all live in harmony. Mangalore has now become a melting pot of culture , thanks to the number of students coming here from different parts of the world for education. The city is known for its medical and engineering institutions.

Mangla devi idol. pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Mangla devi idol.
pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Mangalore lies on the backwaters of Netravati and Gurupura rivers. It was once declared as the eight cleanest city in India. Lying between Arabian Sea and Western Ghats , Mangalore still remains as an important port of India. Its also one of the main pilgrimage centres with many important temples , church and mosques situated here. Some major ones being Mangladevi temple , Kadri Manjunatha Temple, Gokarnatha Temple and many more.

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Kateel Shree Durga Parmeshwari  :-This temple is the most important pilgrimage centre of Hindus and attracts thousands of visitors from everywhere. It is situated on the banks of Nandini river and is 30kms from Mangalore. It is believed that Goddess Durga came on earth to save the people from the cluthes of the devil Arunasara. It is at this place that she took birth as the daughter of river Nandini after killing the devil, hence, this place is worshipped as the Temple of the Goddess Durga Parmeshwari. The deity here is very powerful and I strongly believe in her. I personally make it a point to visit the temple everytime I am in the city.

Kudroli temple :- Kudre in Tulu language means horses and the land where this temple was built is where horses were used to graze during Tipu Sultans time , hence the name Kudroli. The Chola style architecture of Kudroli temple is something to marvel about. It’s one of the most popular and beautiful temple of Mangalore. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva , and is situated in the main centre of the city. It was built by an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva called H.Koraggappa in 1912 and was renovated by his son in 1990. The temple looks beautiful in the evening when it is lit up. The gold plated walls and ceilings come alive once the sun sets and the temple lights are on. Kudroli temple has a Gopuram of 60 feet high which is carved out beautifully. It also has a temple dedicated to Lord hanuman and the idol is something to look for. The place is popular with locals and visitors , who throng the place in the evenings.

Milagres church pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Milagres church
pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Rosary Chruch Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Rosary Chruch
Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

St. Alloysius church :- This beautiful chapel built in 1899-1900 is known as an architectural gem. The paintings of Italian artist Antony Moshaini adorn the walls of this church. The church is compared to Sistine chapel in rome and the painting cover a major portion of its ceilings and walls. If in Mangalore, don’t miss an opportunity to visit this church.

Ullal Durgah :- Ullal Durgah or Ullal mosque built in 1958 is the main mosque in the region. The Ullal fair or Ullal uroos , celebrated once in every 5 years is grand affair here. Thousand of visitors throng this place to be a part of this fair.

Kukke Subramanya temple :- The people of Dakshin Kannada or South Canara worship snakes or Nagaradhane as known in Tulu. Snake worship along with Bhoota Kola ritual practised in Tulu Nadu are quite unique. Kukke Subramanyam Temple just 100kms from Mangalore is dedicated to Lord Subramanyam who is associated with snakes. This beautifully designed temples is surrounded by lush green vegetation, hills and river. The temple situated in Subhramanya village of Sullia taluk is also one of the most popular religious destination.

Subramanyam Temple.

Subramanyam Temple.

Udupi Lord Krishna temple :- One of the most well known temples in India, Lord Krishna Temple at Udupi dates back to 13th century. The temple has a very interesting history. It is said that Kanakadasa a ardent devotee and worshipper of Lord Krishna wanted to see the idol and seek blessings of the Lord but was not let in. He stayed in a makeshift hermitage in front of the temple. One day there was a earthquake and the outer wall of the temple cracked in such a way that Kanakadasa could see the Lord. Even today, devotees worship the Lord from this very window. It is one of most popular temples and a visit here is a must when in Mangalore.

Town Hall of Mangalore Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Town Hall of Mangalore
Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Pic courtesy : Punik shetty

Pic courtesy : Punik shetty

Mangalore is also known for its culture and dance forms. Pilivesha (tiger dance),  Yakshagana are all unique dance forms performed during dassera or Janmashtami. Buta Kola and Nagaradhana are popular forms of worship usually performed by the Tuluva community. Monti fest , Mangalorean Catholics unique festival is a grand affair.

Kambala Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

Kambala
Pic courtesy : Punik Shetty

KoriKatta (cockfight) although legally banned is a popular sport here in Mangalore along with Kamabala (Buffalo Race). Buffalo Race usually held in paddy fields filled with water is a major event here. Its an annual event held between November to March.I have fond memories of this race as a child. Earlier, the prize money was coconuts but silver and gold coins have replaced them.  I dont know if these are held frequently now but i have seen lots of them when i was kid. It was a means of entertainment for the local people.

Although the old Mangalore tiled houses has made way for high rises and malls, the city still retains the old world charm. Mangalore is slowly but surely making its presence felt among tourists . It has everything for everyone,backwaters, city life, forts, cultures, religious sites, for a food lover its a foodies paradise and for a beach lover it has beaches that are unexplored and untouched.

Phuket

 

IT was our first anniversary and we wanted to relive our honeymoon days. With beaches, local food, culture, crazy shopping and amazing nightlife “Thailand” was an ideal choice was us. Our first tsop in Thailand was the beautiful Phuket. Thailand being a popular tourist destination is so full of tourists. Phuket as compared to Pattaya was less crowded.DSC_1366

We stayed at a beautiful resort called Duangjit Resort and spa , close to Patong Beach.Patong is famous for its beaches and nightlife. Just outside the resort we had hordes of restaurants and bar, the Patong Night market and a few kms away the famous Bangla road. Bangla road is famous for its night activities, bars, pubs etc and is thronged by tourists and local’s pressurising you to watch the “Ping pong show” errr. It was a bit overwhelming in the beginning but then we got used to it later. Bangla road is the most happening place is Patong. You will find lady boys asking you if u want to take a picture with them , ofcourse for a price. But this place comes alive only at night, if you go there in the day time you will see a quiet place with locals doing their day to day activities.

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We visited a beautiful Thai temple on the second day. I forgot the name (my bad) , its been 3 years.  But the temple was the most beautiful thing i have ever seen. The gold colored buddha statues, unique Thai architecture and extremely peaceful interiors. I coudnt stop admiring it.DSC_1176Patong beach was just a few minutes away from our resort. Fine white sand and lots of water activites was the highlight of this beach. Patong is famous for its beaches, freedom beach, Kalim beach and Patong beach. Patong is a foodie’s paradise. Its the best place to binge on local food. You have pubs, restaurants, roadside stalls , beach stalls and international food chains like Starbucks, KFC etc , You will be spoilt for choice. Once your done with binging , dancing and walking , you can head straight to one of the Thai massage parlours for a Foot Spa. The place is full of massage parlours. Phuket is also famous for shopping, you will have an amazing time shopping for clothes, shoes, souvenirs etc.

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DSC_1134DSC_1142Next day we took a tour to Karon view point . Karon view point is the most frequented point by tourists. Its from here you can see  three beaches of Phuket ; Kata Yai, Kata Noi and Karon beaches. The view is spectacular and breathtaking. Its called the “Three Beaches Hill” or Khao Saam Haad.The viewpoint is about 10 min drive from Kata beach. We were then taken to an activity centre just a few kms from Karon View point. We tried our hands at shooting. It was the most thrilling experience ever.

Posing without a gun.

Posing without a gun.

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Third day we wanted to go to Phi phi and so we opted for a day cruise. The cruise passed through beautiful islands, mountains and we were constantly surrounded by picture perfect landscapes on either sides. Finally we were at Phi Phi islands , it was mindbogglingly beautiful. But the place is so full of tourists that you cant get a single picture without somebody photo-bombing. Phi Phi islands is full of souvenir shops where you can go crazy shopping. After a relaxing day at Phi Phi we were back to Patong.

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Embraced by lush green hills , sparkling blue ocean and white sandy beaches Phuket is like a tropical dream. Its a place to let go. Its a place to go with your BFF’s and have the time of your life.

 

Wah Taj !!

20 Years…20,000 workers thats what it took to built this massive symbol of love. Taj Mahal, A Unesco World Heritage Site that has always been on my list of places to visit. A detour to Agra from Rajasthan was just made so that I could see this beautiful Mughal Architecture.

The DarwaZa- or the main entrance to Taj Mahal.

The DarwaZa- or the main entrance to Taj Mahal.

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Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor, ShahJahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal when she passed away while giving birth to his 14th child. Maharaj Jai Singhji was provided with a huge palace in the centre of Agra in exchange of the land in which the Taj Mahal now stands. The construction of Taj Mahal started in the year 1632 and went for 20 years. After the completion of this magnificient structure, ShahJahan was put under house arrest by his son Aurangzeb at Agra Fort. It is from here, ShahJahan used to look at Taj Mahal from his bedroom window and remember his wife. Upon his death, Aurangzeb laid his fathers tomb next to Mumtaz Mahal’s.

The Symbol of love !

The Symbol of love !

Special Makrana Marble was bought in from Rajasthan especially for the construction of Taj Mahal. You can also see Red Stone being extensively used .The structure has influences of Persian, Islamic, Indian and Turkish Art. Various materials were bought in from different places to built this massive structure. Precious Gems , Jade, Jasper, sapphire, turquoise was bought from Punjab, China, Tibet, Srilanka and other countries. 1000 elephants, 20,000 workers and the amount of hard work gone into making this masterpiece is commendable. Delicate inlay works, the symmetry, the colors, the architecture, efforts and craftsmanship is salute worthy.

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The evening colors...when the sun sets.

The evening colors…when the sun sets.

The main garden has a water tank in the middle with fountains and gardens on each side. Taj Mahal stands exactly in the middle. Everything is symmetrically made except for the 4 minarets (40 mtrs tall) that lean slightly outwards. This was purposefully done so that if theres an earthquake or any kind of natural calamity, the minarets dont directly fall on the structure causing minimal damage. Throughout the complex , passages from the Quran have been carved beautifully all over. The complex houses a mosque, big gate or Darwaza , Char bagh’s or gardens, tombs, attendant accommodations etc. Inside the Taj Mahal you can see the tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and ShahJahan next to each other with visitors paying their respects. The beautiful artwork on the walls, the paintings, the lattice work  and the inlay work makes you stop and take notice of the craftsmanship.

With Yamuna river flowing in the background , the Taj Mahal stands tall as a promise of Love. Its a universally recognised architecture and also one of the wonders of the world.

Change of color to pink.

Change of color to pink.

The colors change as the evening sun sets in and you just cant  stop staring at this jewel of love in awe.

 

Blue me Away !!

Theres something magical about the water in Maldives. It had a very soothing feeling to it. Every person is sure to fall in love with this place. Like i mentioned in my earlier posts , i had never seen so many shades of blue ever and i clicked so many pictures but still couldnt capture the beauty of Maldives.

I would love to share some more pictures of the place just so that you are tempted to go there ;)

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I like this shade of blue.. it has such a calming effect !!

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Taken from the boat..on our way to the fishing village.

DSC_4925On our way we could see so many resorts pass by…Can u see the change of color to ink blue ….

My favourite picture of the lot

My favourite picture of the lot

DSC_4908I loved how every few minutes the color changes… its like god was constantly painting the town Blue ;)

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We stopped at Bandos Island resorts at Kaafu Atoll. Another amazing place to be. The reef at Bandos is one of the best in North Male atoll we were told. It was very different from the resort we stayed at. They had Jacuzzi Beach villa’s, garden villa’s and deluxe rooms. Even without a water villa, the resort was really good.

At Kaafu Atoll

At Kaafu Atoll

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I just loved this @ the Bandos

I just loved this @ the Bandos

And then we moved on to our resort, soaking in the beauty of the island. Seeing the ever changing color of water , the lush green vegetation and lots and lots of corals.

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I had fallen in love with this place.

The gentle breeze, the gushing waters, the pearl white beaches, the turquoise colored lagoon, the different aquatic creatures (some which i had seen for the first time)  and the beautiful landscape all making me believe that this is what people mean by Heaven. Maldives will always be my favourite destination because this is where i fell in love…with him.

Liebster Award Nomination!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award and it surely feels good. Just a few months into blogging and here i am with this nomination. Thank you Andrew from the World Journey Discover for the Nomination, its really special. I appreciate it and cant thank you enough. Sorry for taking so long to reply..

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Here are my answers :

1. What’s the country you most want to visit that you haven’t visited yet?

#  Has to be Iceland without a doubt.

2. Why (do you want to visit it)?

#  Read a lot about Iceland and yet its a mystery to me. The ever changing landscapes, waterfalls, glaciers etc all seem to be so inviting. Would definitely want to go on a road trip here.

3. What is the most awkward situation you’ve found yourself in when travelling?

# Nothing as of now. And i hope i dont get into such situations.

4. What’s the one thing in your pack you never go travelling without, and why?

# Ofcourse my Camera. I cant think of traveling without a camera, it lets me capture the memories of the place forever.

5. How has your blog changed since you began it?

# Its just been a few months since i started this blog. It was just to write about the places i visited ; my travel diary . And nothing has changed since then its still my travel dairy more like a travelogue that i share with my online friends.

6. What’s the most satisfying thing about blogging?

# It helps you connect with fellow travel bloggers. Helps you make friends with people you never met. Makes you share your experiences with them.

7. What camera do you use and why would/why wouldn’t you recommend it?

# I use my Nikon D3000 and am super happy with it. Its something that’s always there with me when i travel.

8. What’s the most relaxing place you’ve visited?

# Maldives. Its , like i  have told a hundred times , heaven on earth….where you love doing Nothing.!!!

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9. What’s the most dangerous situation you’ve been in whilst travelling?

# The crazy driving in Rajasthan had put me in an accident-like-situation but luckily i survived. The thought of it still scares me.

10.  What’s your biggest travelling regret?

# That i dont get to travel as much as i would love to.

 

And now my nominations. Here’s the list :-

1. Travel tales of life

2. Urge to wander

3. Wandering Souls wander travels

4. Bruised Passports

5. Maverick Bird

6. World is a Book

7.  Another day 2 paradise

8. Life is a Vacation

9. Booted Tales

10. Me & my Random Thoughts

My Questions :

1. Which is one place you would want to go back to again?

2. Do you have a favorite souvenir from any place?

3. The 3 things in your backpack that you dont travel without?

4. Do you plan your trip well in advance, like a fixed itinerary before you set out  or believe in just booking the tickets and hotels and go with the flow?

5. Do you like the beaches more or the hills more?

6. Which is the one place you would highly recommend to your fellow travellers?

7. Which is the one place you would not like to go again and Why?

8.  List any 5  destinations and tell us why its your favourite?

9. One thing that is on top of your bucket list?

10. Who or What is you inspiration to travel?

The rules :

1. Thank the person that nominated you (and link back to their blog).

2. Answer 10 of their questions.

3. Nominate 10 blogs.

4. Ask 10 of your own questions

5. Let your nominees know they have been nominated!

Rat temple !

Although i am not scared of Rats but these little creatures make me feel eww. Despite of this feeling I still wanted to visit Karni Mata Temple famously known as the Rat Temple whenever i visited Rajasthan. Being so close to Bikaner i could not miss this chance.

The entrance of the temple.

The entrance of the temple.

The Temple is situated at a place called Deshnok 30 kms from Bikaner and houses the official deity of the royal families of Bikaner and Jodhpur. Although i had expected what i would see here, still the whole feeling of being inside a temple with Rats running here and there made me a little uncomfortable. But everything just disappeared once I was inside. The Entrance of the temple was beautiful with typical Rajasthani architecture, carvings and marble walls.The doors had carvings of Shiva and other gods alongwith carving of tiny rats .  The Marble carvings at the entrance were just brilliant.

The brilliant marble carvings.

The brilliant marble carvings.

Once inside the complex you see Rats everywhere. Thousands of Rats either sleeping or running or feeding on food given to them by visitors. There were large bowls of milk kept here and there, and the rats were busy drinking from it in a very systematic way. Although the smell was replusive, yet the place had a spiritual feeling. These Rats are considered sacred and are taken care by the priests and the devotees. It seemed as if these tiny creatures were not bothered by the number of people visiting. They were happy in their own world. They dont bother you , so you dont bother them.

Rats just at the entrance.

Rats just at the entrance.

Busy eating oblivious of the curious eyes..

Busy eating oblivious of the curious eyes..

You can see the powerful idol of Karni Mata inside the temple and Rats all over the idol,  it seemed like home to them and the goddess their mother. Goddess Karni Mata, is said to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and hence a lot of people visit the place to seek her blessings. I could see the rats feeding on the Prasad, but it looked like an every day affair.

Feeding on the Prasad.

Feeding on the Prasad.

The story goes as such, that a devotee of Karni Mata came to her with her dead child and she promised to help, by bringing the child back to life. However, she failed because Yama, the god of death, had already taken away his soul and incarnated him in a human form. Disappointed as she was, Karni Mata announced that her clan/tribe would die and be reborn as rats and then as humans but would not fall into Yama’s hands. And thus, the Rats inside the temple are considered to be Mata’s devotees.

in every corner ...

in every corner …

on the steps, in the verandah, in the passage...

on the steps, in the verandah, in the passage…

Some say, if your bitten by them its good luck, while some say its auspicious even if they just run over your feet . Our driver told us that there are 1-2 white Rats in the temple complex which are not so easily spotted. But if you happen to see them then that means with whatever wish you have come here , that wish will be fulfilled. I was hoping and praying that i see atleast one those white Rats but hard luck :(

Peacefully sleeping

Peacefully sleeping

Here i was trying to avoid stepping on one of the rats and there i saw this little boy playing so peacefully with them. He cuddled them, petted them till they fell asleep. Strange, but I found it cute .

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While some might find this whole thing bizarre, for me and some others this connection between the Lord and the rats is a spiritual experience which is beyond words. The place is an experience in itself . And I would recommend it ro anyone visiting Bikaner just to see the uniqueness of this Temple, where thousands of tourists come to worship these long tailed rodents.