India is a linguist’s paradise. Hundreds, if not thousands, of languages, thrive and co-exist here. The country has 22 official languages, including Hindi and English. Unofficially, the number of other languages is at least 121, and a thousand other dialects. Sounds chaotic, but here’s the thing about this amazing country – the only way to understand India is to acknowledge that there are multiple Indias.
Visitors discover different versions of India every hundred kilometers – from the language people speak and the food they eat to where they live. Diversity is a part of India’s ethos. Despite the dizzying differences, Indians are united by national pride. It’s what makes the country one of the most fascinating and welcoming places in the world.
A Temple Devoted to Rats
The state of Rajasthan is everything one imagines India to be – expansive deserts, camel safaris, forts, and palaces. The state also contains decidedly more offbeat and strange attractions, such as the Karni Mata Temple. This temple in Bikaner is devoted to rats! Over a thousand rats call the temple home, which is surprisingly clean and well-maintained despite it.
Pilgrims visit the temple in droves to pay their respects. The story? Goddess Karni Mata of the Charan clan was revered in her community. She lived till she was 150 years old, never aging visibly, and after she died, she came back as a rat. Her followers believe they, too, will become rats when they die, and similarly, every time a rat dies, it comes back as a human in the next life.
The Skeleton Lake
The Roopkund Lake is a glacial lake in the Himalayas, popular among trekkers for its beautiful trails. It is also infamous as the “Skeleton Lake.” An Indian official discovered hundreds of human skeletons scattered around the lake in 1942. Who were these people? And how did 800 people meet their end at the lake? No definite answers still.
Some historians believe these may have been soldiers or traders traveling on the Silk Road, but the more established theory is that a group of pilgrims encountered a terrible hailstorm and lost their lives there. You won’t find any skeletons at the lake today. Trekkers and story chasers still visit this hauntingly beautiful lake, regardless.
A Village Where People Keep Doors Unlocked, Literally And Figuratively
Shani Shingnapur is a village like no other. People here truly keep an open house, both literally and figuratively – their houses have no doors or locks. This unique practice stems from their faith in the god Shani who represents justice, and the villagers believe he will always protect the village. Their faith in him is so steadfast that even the village bank and post office have no security!
They must be doing something right because there hasn’t been a single theft since the village was established 400 years ago. It just goes to show how pockets of utopia can exist even today. Shani Shingnapur demonstrates what humans can achieve through trust, ownership, and the power of community.
A Meteor Created this Lake
Lonar Lake in Maharashtra is not ordinary as it contains fresh water and saltwater. What’s more, the lake stands inside a crater. J.E. Alexander discovered this natural wonder over 200 years ago. Since then, scientists have conducted reams of research and study to conclude that a massive meteor collision was responsible for forming the crater.
Water slowly filled the crater over time to form the stunning lake India knows and loves. Lonar Lake is today a Geo-heritage monument and the pride of Maharashtra, and it is home to a thriving ecosystem of lush forests, plants, and wildlife. It’s the perfect location for those with a passion for nature, history, and geology.