Asia, India

Snake Charming in Jaipur

Asia India

I went to India by myself to dive into new experiences outside my comfort zone. During the first stop in the city of Jaipur, I found myself leaping into an adventure by touching a REAL snake! Jaipur is known as “The Pink City” because of its pink stone architecture that is lined throughout the entire city. Many tourists come to Jaipur to get a peek into India’s royal past by visiting the famous forts, palaces, and temples where the royal clans used to reside. While I toured all the enchanting landmarks, the most memorable moment was when I did something I thought I’d never do; I touched a cobra!

There’s a lot of talk about snake charmers and their authenticity, especially at tourist locations like the Amer Fort. To set it straight, the art of snake charming is just a street performance. Snake charmers pretend to “charm” the snake or bring it out of the basket by playing music on an instrument called a pungi.  Snakes, however, lack the ability to hear music, so the charming through music is fake. What actually gets the snake to rise up from the basket is the movement of the pungi. When snakes feel threatened, they rise up in a defensive pose. Therefore just the instrument being waved around is enough to get the snake to pop his little head out.

The cobra!

While real snake charming was technically banned awhile ago, this performance and tradition still takes place all over India. Although sometimes the snakes are fake. Fakes snakes! Often times, they are real! I can tell you with 100% certainty that the one that crawled up my arm was real! When it slithered its body onto mine, I saw its slimy tongue and it’s beady eyes pop out at me! Of course I was terrified when it was crawling on me, but I was filled with this new rush of terror and excitement. I decided just to live in the moment. I got in character with my turban on and pungi in hand, and I went for it!  I let that cobra crawl all over me!

Will I do it again? Absolutely! Because I’ve never felt more alive, more challenged, and more courageous outside my comfort zone! Those moments are what life is all about! If you’re in India, make it a point to visit Jaipur. When you are exploring the Amer Fort, stop and watch the snake charmers. See if the snakes are real. If they are, why not live a little and join in?