Inside the cave
In the morning I said a very happy goodbye to my hotel and we began the trek across town. We stopped at a different German bakery where I had a delicious Nutella crepe with mango, papaya, banana, and pomegranate. Then we caught an autorickshaw and after some confusion got on the bus for Dehra dun. I checked in at my hotel which was very nice and huge with these large marble-floored hallways. But I was pretty much the only person staying there which explains why it was so cheap.
We then took a rickshaw up to Tapkeshwar Temple. Kuni had never been there before but I thought it sounded interesting and wanted to go. I'm really glad we did. When you arrive you walk down all these steps to the river. By the river was a guy dressed as Hanuman- the monkey god- in red face paint and a tail.
Inside the cave
He made monkey noises as we went by (I think maybe wanting a donation). Walking along the river there were several small shrines at the bases of trees or built into the rocks. Then there is this small entrance to a cave. I went in, but as I did the electricity went out in the whole place. I had to come back out since it was pitch black, but I could have walked (more crawled actually) through a short tunnel to where there was a statue of a goddess at the end. Instead we just crossed over to the end to see the statue and get tika (the red paint for the third eye) and puffed rice.
Crossing back over the river was a much larger cave. This one had many rooms and sanctuaries and most of the rock was painted a pretty sky blue color.
They had built marble floors into the cave and several holy men actually lived inside. I watched some people completing some ritual involving pouring water over a snake statue and giving it flowers which was interesting, but I can't say I really understood everything.
After the cave, I had some Indian Chinese food (some noodle dish) which was pretty good. Then it was off to the hotel to change. We were in Dehra Dun
because Kuni's friend was getting married that night. So I wore the sari picked out for me earlier in the trip which was quite a feat dressing on my own. The wedding invitation (which was addressed to me as well) is written in Sanskrit so neither of us could really read a word.
(I have it so I can show people later). Kuni thought the wedding was at 5 so that's when we arrived, but we couldn't get a straight answer as to when it would actually start. People didn't start arriving until 8 and it was held outside so everyone huddled around the firepits. There was a live band who started out playing very bad covers of American love songs, before switching to upbeat Indian music. Ushers came around with appetizers and in one area they made three different Indian snacks for people (I don't know the names, sorry). It was very much like an American wedding, except everything was vegetarian, there was no alcohol, oh and no bride or groom.
At nine, fireworks starting going off and everyone walked under the canopy of flowers to the front of the hotel.
Parade for groom
There was a band pushing along a decorated cart with speakers and a huge parade of wedding guests (I believe family members). Then came the groom wearing a lrage white turban with beads down the front that he kept shoving out of his face so he could see, riding a white painted horse. When he reached the hotel restaurant, all these men began dancing to the band music very raucously for fifteen minutes (it was cold so I timed it). Then they pulled the groom off the horse and carried him to the entrance where they adorned him with flowers and the men kept dancing and singing. Finally they carried him to a large throne like seat on a stage in front of all the seats. For the next hour, people took turns taking photos with the groom and Kuni and I were introduced to him.
At a certain point, with no fanfare, the bride walked in silently with maybe ten people (the groom had hundreds). Few people even turned there heads since they were still focused on taking pics of the groom. She was walked to the front and stood next to the groom where they exchanged flowers. Then photos were taken of them for the next hour with everyone. They even shoved me up there for a photo (Kuni had left by this point since he had to work in Delhi
the next day) which I wasn't expecting so I didn't get a shot on my camera, but maybe I'll get a copy later somehow.
I then decided to sneak off since most people had left. This was actually just the engagement ceremony.
The bride arrives
The wedding had to wait until the auspicious time that had been pre-determined by an astrologer. Someone told me this moment wasn't until after 2am. It was nearly midnight and I had to catch a bus early the next day, so I missed it. But they told me what would have happened is that they would have walked around the sacred fire seven times after which they are married, then seven more times as a couple. I was told that given the time and cold, only a few people who are very close to the couple would stay for the ceremony. Since I didn't really know anyone, I felt like I was crashing the wedding anyway, so I tried to find a rickshaw.
The only rickshaw I found was seriously driven by a boy about 12 years old! I think they're the only ones willing to drive at night. He got very lost looking for my hotel, but luckily I was able to figure out the way and I got there eventually.