Sometimes, we just don’t know how and why we end up visiting certain places. Recently, I was supposed to travel from Jaipur to Bikaner via a local flight. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, the flight was cancelled and I ended up taking a taxi from Jaipur to Bikaner in Rajasthan, India. I had built in some cushion (as far as time was concerned) into my schedule, so this was not a big deal. What was unexpected however, was that I would get an opportunity to explore parts of interior Rajasthan that I had not visited before.
I was picked up at the Jaipur airport around 9 am. The morning rush hour traffic was just beginning within Jaipur city, so we quickly exited the city and decided to stop for breakfast along the way outside the city. This turned out to be a good decision as we ended up saving an hour in the journey not being stuck in city traffic.
When you follow the most popular driving route from Jaipur to Bikaner, the estimated travel time is about 5 1/2 hours.
Painted Havelis or Salasar Balaji Temple?
One of the opportunities you get while taking this route is to visit the Shekhawati Havelis that have on display incredible painted havelis. This detour adds about 1 hour to the journey time … not including the time spent exploring the area. I understand that the best areas to visit these havelis lie between Nawalgarh, Mandawa and Fatehpur.
Another opportunity on this driving route is to take a detour towards the south and visit the Salasar Balaji Temple. This temple is very well known among locals and is of great importance to the devotees of the Hindu God Lord Hanuman. This detour also adds about 1 hour to the journey time.
While I did have some time to spare, I did not have enough to check out both places on the way to Bikaner… so I had to pick. I ended up choosing the Salasar Balaji Temple mainly because my taxi driver was better acquainted with the route to the temple than the havelis!
Salasar Balaji Temple
One of the interesting things about a lot of temples in Rajasthan is that they are nondescript on the outside. The Salasar Balaji Temple is no different. A small bazaar leads to the main entrance. Once we went inside, it was a different world altogether. On one side (left of the entrance), the main temple dedicated to Salasar Balaji is located. It is a stunning temple built with white marble, gold and silver. When you head towards the other side, you first encounter a havan kund. As you walk deeper into the complex, you get an opportunity to visit various important sites dedicated to the beliefs of local followers. It also appears there are simple accommodations available to devotees who want to spend some time there.
After spending about 45 minutes exploring the complex, we left Salasar and continued our journey towards Bikaner.
Unexpected detours often present interesting opportunities. I have enjoyed visiting several places in India dedicated to Lord Hanuman – Anjanadri hill in Hampi which is believed to be the place where Lord Hanuman was born, Manki or Monkey Point in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh where it is believed Lord Hanuman stepped before leaping with the mountain with Sanjeevini herb and now Salasar – where people believe he resides and answers everyone’s prayers! Amazed and grateful!!