Postcard from... Jaisalmer


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The Independent Online

Jaisalmer, the "Golden city" of Rajasthan, is one of the most popular destinations in India.

For years, tourists have come here for the sandstone fort and the camel ride in the desert. Sometimes, they would stop by Gadsisar lake, which is very pretty, with its temples and shrines. But now, the lake is turning into a travel must itself.

In recent years, Gadsisar Lake has become a popular attraction, all thanks to disgusting, obese catfish.

It's not clear how the species was introduced in the lake some eight years ago, but what's sure is that catfish feel at home here. The population has increased dramatically, seemingly without anyone worrying about it.

This is because the species is believed to be a reincarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, and therefore can't be fished and eaten. Because they're holy fish, worshippers visiting the temples on the lake's bank started feeding them for good luck, making them obscenely big and swelling the population to frightening proportions. Tourists arriving at the lake can now buy a bag of bread from entrepreneurial children selling them for a few rupees. Feeding the fish might bring luck but I suspect most do it for entertainment, as seeing a seething mass of fat, slimy repulsive catfish fighting, surreally forcing themselves out of the water, climbing on top of each other with their moustachioed, gaping, sucking maws endlessly begging for more bread is disgustingly fascinating. And if you go there and no one is yet feeding the holy beasts, you'll probably end up buying bread yourself to see it. And then you'll have nightmares. But it's worth it.