Day 37: Jodhpur to Osian: 55km and 200m of climbing (i.e. flat as a pancake territory)

Today was a day when the work returned for the first time this trip. I cannot say who I was advising or what it was about, but it would not wait until my return so half a day was spent sitting in a hotel room with dodgy internet, writing an Advice. I suppose it will pay for a few days (or more than a few days) travelling but it brought me back to reality with a bump. I remain of the view that work is way overrated as a pastime.

An evocative face – at our tea shop

However, we started the day at about 9am – late by our standards. We ambled out of Jodhpur, up and down a few narrow streets and managed to avoid being hit by motor bikes or hitting any cows – but it was a close run thing on both at times.

The outskirts went on for a long time, then turned into a series of quarries so it was not that great, but we were soon out in the open countryside. Cycling in the flat scrub desert can sometimes feel like one is on an exercise-cycle in the gym. It can be fairly monotonous, then something of interest comes along.

We stopped for a tea break at one point and became the centre of attention. There was no doubt that the most weird thing about us was not that we arrived on bicycles, or even that we came all the way from England. We were really marked out as mega-strange because we asked for black tea with no sugar.   The locals warmed to us, exchanged views about cycling and tutted about our strange choice of beverage.

One side of the road with no irrigation
The other side of the road with irrigation

After 55km we arrived in Oisin, well before lunch. It is a desert town that has seen better days, but used to have over 40 Hindu and Jain temples because it was a crossroads for the caravans coming from the west. Most temples are now discarded and in various stages of decay, but a few have survived. We visited one after lunch that was clearly set up for mass pilgrims, with lots and lots of places for people to file along before doing their devotions. It had some good carvings but overall did not impress me.

A beautiful and peaceful place

I then had my period of work, and just before 6 we went out to try to find another temple. It took some finding around the backstreets but once we got there it was well worth the hunt. This was a C8th Jain temple and was exquisite in all respects. It was peaceful, the carvings were beautiful and the whole atmosphere was amazing. We were the only visitors and ambled around for about half an hour taking in the feel of the place. Then, as the light was fading, we returned to the hotel and had an excellent (vegetarian) meal in the next door café.

One of many statutes of dancing women – temples seem to embrace this side of life.

Tomorrow is a proper cycling day so this is a short blog!

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