This Is No Plain Jain

After a wild twenty-four hours, today we are taking a more spiritual path. A 90 km (55 mile) short, but incredibly winding ride drops us at yet another architectural jewel. Ranakpur is one of the most important Jain temples in India. The Jain religious is as fascinating as it is bizarre. Jains believe every soul is divine and has the potential to achieve God-consciousness. Jains are acutely aware of their environment and will go to extreme lengths not kill any living creature including insects. Spending some time with this gentle religion makes one feel like a bull in a china shop world. We definitely overlook the trees in the forest of life. The temple is a marvel of exquisite detail including over 1444 marble pillars all differently carved with no two alike. The Jains continue to worship in the temple making it both awe-inspiring yet somewhat eerie.
This place oozes with a spirituality that, upon departing, leaves one with a sense of inner peace and serenity.

After contemplating our lot in life, we embarked on the journey back home. The back roads through the mountain range have more hairpin turns than the Pacific Coast highway. We finally convinced our driver to stop at the side of a wonderful ravine to queasily partake in the scenery while allowing our esophagus to return to its rightful place a little closer to the stomach. Closing my eyes trying to quell the continued seesaw motion of my brain, I felt my husband take my hand and gently stoke my wrist. His hand felt sweaty and hairy – and small? I opened my eyes in surprise to find the cutest monkey stroking my hand, mischievously grinning with that look of “what cha got for me?” The driver handed me a candy, which the monkey promptly took out of my hand, unwrapped and popped into his mouth. Intrigued by my newfound friend, I offered him another, only to have it snatched from my hand by another monkey. Soon the entire car was surrounded by first a family, then what appeared to be the entire village of monkeys. I felt like the monkey queen, doling out treats to all my loyal half-pint subjects. This was fun. Then I ran out of candy. These little buggers don’t play nice, and they have a grill that would make a rapper proud. Suddenly I was surrounded by an unhappy midget soccer team, the driver yelled, threw his last handful of candies, and all of us piled headlong in the car. The monkeys, after sizing up the car and us, the occupants, admitted defeat and dispersed to the jungle. At least we weren’t nauseated anymore.

We spent our last evening in Udaipur sipping wine on the terrace, gazing over the lake, the full moon still hanging above the palace, swatting an occasional fly in very un-Jain-like fashion.

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