The Busiest Sunday You Ever Did See

Since I have arrived, Sundays have been set aside for sightseeing. The first week I was here, we took a short trip to neighboring state Gujarat to see two Hindu temples. The first temple we visited was called Ambaji.

 Two other women also accompanied us: Sonia, a teacher and Anju, who works in administration. Father Simon dropped us off a block (if you could call it such a thing) down from the temple while he went to go park. It was here I discovered the less glamorous side to being a ‘celebrity’ or ‘popstar’ or just being different. Everyone stared. I watched heads turn to follow us as we walked down the narrow walkway through the impromptu market. We had to turn our shoes in before we could go into the temple and then when we tried to go in, the security personnel (see: men and women in army uniforms = frightening) made us go back and turn in our purses. We shoved all of our phones into one bag because I was allowed to keep my small shoulder bag. Our tags that marked the cubby where I stuff was were placed hastily into my purse as the press of the crowd shoved us towards the temple. 

There was a rush because the temple was closing in a mere twenty minutes. Father Simon had gotten a worker to show us around and make sure we got to see everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he used me as an excuse for special treatment. Finally the bags were all checked, my purse was looked through by the security guard and the metal detector had examined us as we passed underneath it. Little did we know when we stepped out from under the covered walkway that the marble ground would burn our feet so fiercely! It was helpful in the end because it made us cross the temple grounds much faster in an attempt to get to the shade on the opposite side of the temple with the greatest speed possible. 
The guard took us right into the temple itself instead of through the metal guardrails that were designated for the rest of the temple visitors. We went right up to the statue (altar?) and received tilaka (the red dot some Indian women wear) and oil. It was very beautiful and I admire all of the detailing that went into constructing the marble temple.
After Ambaji, we went to the temple at Pavagadh which we had to ride in a lift to get to. Think an enclosed ski lift, or better yet, one of the ferris wheel cars on the ropeway that takes you to the top of the mountain. We took several pictures; the girls and Father were very amused at my insistence on not looking down and they enjoyed immortalizing  my distaste on camera. I’ll snag those pictures soon and get them up here in some form or another. We didn’t actually go into the temple at Pavagadh, merely rode up the lift. It was a much smaller temple and consisted of one open air room with the focal point in a niche on one side. 
Our last stop that first Sunday was a marble quarry. I deemed it ‘Marble Canyon.’  The pictures don’t quite grasp the vastness of the quarry. The first picture is about 500 feet above the base of the quarry. The second picture shows a much shallower part of the quarry.

More coming soon on Mount Abu and the trip to Jaipur!

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