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4000 km Solo Journey 12 Nights Across North to South India (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2: Salasar Balaji

Feeling Dizzy and Hopeless

After an unsuccessful attempt to get darshan of Khatu Shyam Ji, I found myself feeling dizzy and lost. Uncertain about my next move, I turned to the people around me for suggestions. They recommended visiting Salasar Balaji, a nearby place accessible by buses running from Khatu Shyam Ji to various destinations. Despite not being part of my original plan, I decided to explore Salasar Balaji.

Boarding the Bus to Salasar Balaji

In order to reach Salasar Balaji, I made my way to the chowk at the entrance of Khatu Town and boarded a bus. Before departing, I contacted my father to inform him of my destination. He advised me to be cautious and warned against accepting anything from anyone in Salasar Balaji. I took his advice seriously and made a mental note not to consume any food offered to me there.

The Journey to Salasar Balaji

Purchasing a ticket for the bus journey, which cost 120 rupees, I settled into my seat. The bus embarked on its route, and the initial part of the journey took us through picturesque villages. After approximately half an hour, we reached the highway, and the bus driver made a stop in Sikar. Everyone was instructed to disembark and board another bus. Following the driver's instructions, I transferred to the new bus, which was already full.

Immersing in the Local Culture

As the journey continued deeper into Rajasthan, I began to hear locals conversing in their native language. Being fascinated by languages, I made an effort to understand their conversations. I also took the opportunity to learn a few phrases and engage with the locals in their own language, appreciating the cultural immersion.

Arrival at Salasar Bus Stand

After a three-hour journey, I finally arrived at Salasar Bus Stand, which appeared larger than the one in Khatu Shyam Ji. To my surprise, there were only a few people waiting at the bus stand for entry into the Salasar Balaji temple, also known as the Hanumanji Temple. Eager to seek darshan of Hanuman ji, I joined the small queue and made my way into the temple premises. The temple management had efficiently organized the lines, ensuring that everyone had an opportunity to easily view the idol of Hanuman ji.

Exploring the Market Surrounding the Temple

Upon exiting the temple, I found myself in a bustling market. Vendors lined the streets, selling various items such as toys, food, clothing, and souvenirs. Despite feeling hungry, I recalled my father's cautionary words and refrained from accepting any food from the vendors. Instead, I reached into my bag and found some snacks that my mother and wife had packed for me. Satisfied with the homemade treats, I satiated my hunger.

Continuing the Journey to Ratangarh

With a desire to reach Bikaner, I boarded a bus bound for Ratangarh, as recommended by locals. While I hadn't eaten anything in Salasar Balaji, my craving for food persisted. Searching through my bag, I discovered some biscuits and namkeen packed by my mother and wife. Succumbing to temptation, I indulged in the savory snacks, alleviating my hunger.

Observing the Villages and Wildlife

During the bus ride, I gazed out the window, observing the picturesque villages passing by. Each house seemed to have its own water well, a common sight in this region. Additionally, I was delighted to spot numerous peacocks and peahens, admiring their vibrant beauty. Curiosity sparked within me, and I struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger to learn more about the differences between a peacock and a peahen. He enlightened me, explaining that peacocks are larger in size and boast blue and green feathers, while peahens are smaller and adorned with brown feathers. Furthermore, he shared that peacocks possess long, majestic tails, whereas peahens have shorter, more subdued tails.

Arrival at the Bikaner Highway

As the journey progressed, the bus eventually dropped me off on the Bikaner highway around 5:00 pm. The distance covered from Salasar Balaji to Bikaner amounted to approximately 40 kilometers and took about an hour. Finding myself in the vicinity of restaurants, my appetite resurfaced. I decided to indulge in some kachori, a local delicacy that satisfied my cravings.

Searching for Accommodation in Bikaner

With the evening setting in, I embarked on the task of finding an affordable and comfortable place to stay in Bikaner. Seeking guidance, I approached locals who recommended Bishnoi Dharamshala. However, upon reaching there, I discovered it was fully occupied due to a Rajasthan state government exam scheduled for the following day. Not to be deterred, the auto driver kindly suggested I try Sidh Dharamshala instead.

Settling into Sidh Dharamshala

Following the driver's advice, I made my way to Sidh Dharamshala and secured a room for 300 rupees. Although it did not boast the luxuries of a hotel, the room proved adequate for my needs. Nearby, several hotels were also available, providing convenient options for future reference. Eager to satiate my hunger once more, I opted for a full power pack thali at a nearby establishment, costing me 70 rupees. The thali consisted of 5 chapatis, arhar dal (split pigeon peas), aloo gazar sabji (potato and carrot curry), achar (pickles), rice, and salad.

Preparing for the Next Day

With the day's adventures coming to a close, I returned to my room and took the opportunity to charge my electronic devices. Sitting down, I began crafting an itinerary for the following day, eager to explore the sights and experiences that awaited me in Bikaner.

To be continued in the next chapter...


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