One of the benefits of having a driver was being able to visit Ranakpur. It was off the track and we wouldn't of been able to see or even hear about it without our man Singh. It was one hostel in the middle of nowhere, a Jain temple 3 miles down, and a lake…. full of crocodiles! I wasn't looking forward to it mainly because there were no markets to buy fresh fruit and the only place to eat was at our hostel, which was completely overpriced, but of course, we ended up loving it there too. We had a lot of down time to read, hike and spend quality time together.
Our first full day there we started our walk down to the temple and 5 minutes in, three men on a tractor pulled over to give us a ride. They didn't speak English but were very friendly, so we quickly hopped on and squeezed in on the side riding on each wheel. Ranakpur was much more rural and different from the rest of India and was a new excitement for us.
As we got to the temple they had Thali, buffet style, for only 60¢ or 30 Rupees. We were the only foreigners there, which for us made it even more real, and the food was one of the best we had. There was a group of volunteers in the room beside us all sitting on the floor preparing and cooking our food, and as we sat down, men with huge metal buckets came around and ladled the food on our metal tray. I had read and heard from others that not eating all your food was very disrespectful and not well-accepted so as they ladled on the spicy food, we kept shoveling it in and in.
After we were done eating we went over to the intricate Jain temple which had 1,444 hand-carved marble pillars where no 2 pillars were the same. It was one of the most amazing things that Landon and I had both seen.
Another thing about Ranakpur was the village people that lived all around us in the mountains nearby. Our last day there we were able to share our fruit and candy with the children there. They showed us all the crocodiles and shared their fun personalities with us. Even though we couldn't understand each other we were able to enjoy each others company.