Dated: 25-dec-2014

I had sought shelter in the ekal mandir temple for the night and i was getting ready to get into my bed. Sleep was beckoning to me like an old friend and i wanted to fall into it’s warm embrace. As my heavy eyelids closed, there was a loud bang on the door and I woke up startled. I saw someone standing outside the door. He said the swamiji of the temple had asked him to share the room with me tonight.

Without any choice I let him in. He quickly set up his bed on the floor using the spare mattresses, and after finishing his business in the toilet, he changed his clothes and was about to sleep. I offered to switch so he could sleep on the bed but he refused. He politely asked if I would let him keep the light on for a few more minutes because he wanted to read some verses before sleeping. I said of course and, shut my eyes desperate to get sleep. I woke up a few minutes later knowing that my sleep was ruined and hence pulled out my kindle. I was hoping to get in a few pages of “Astronaut’s guide to life on earth” before i went back to sleep.

The traveler seeing that i was awake asked me where I was from. After hearing my story (the cycling trip included), he told me about him. Born to a rajput family in rajasthan, he had businesses across the state of rajasthan.

So, why the special mention for this gentleman? Because he had recently been to pakistan!! I was shocked when he told me that!! At first i asked him if he crossed over the border but he laughed and said he had obtained a visa to to go to pakistan.

The interesting thing is, there is a “mata ka mandir” in Balochistan and you need to go through pakistan to reach the temple. There is a sect of the rajputs in rajasthan to whom, this temple is very significant and each year, they are given special visa permits to visit the temple. He explained vividly about the security arrangements pakistan government had organized for their pilgrim group and how they traveled by road to balochistan.

We had a long chat about the kind of foods available there and the culture of the peoples of pakistan. He also said that he made it a point to come to ekal mandir after the trip to balochistan in order to pay respects to the swamiji of the ekal maata temple. He said he spent over Rs 100,000 for the trip to balochistan.

I was utterly delighted to stumble upon this lesser known fact about hindu pilgrims going to pakistan!!!