Ain’t no city like the blue city.
Ain’t no fort like the Mehrangarh Fort.
Ain’t nobody like the people of Jodhpur.
We barged into Jodhpur post-sunset and had to rely on Mr.Google to lead us to our hotel. Surely enough, Google does not make a mistake in giving directions but… The route led us through tiny roads and more tiny roads. Deep inside the city, we were responsible for a roadblock. The vehicle was as big as the road. At intersections, more than one, the vehicle’s mighty presence was enough to command the incoming vehicles to hit the reverse gear/ push backward. Funnily enough, our driver was fuming at Google and not us as he believed that the maps led him to the smaller roads. We came to an abrupt halt next to a small lake. One of the locals told us that it would take an hour at the minimum to reach our hotels because of the traffic on the neighboring roads.
While some of the guys in the traveling crew took the rickshaws, the rest decided to walk instead. While walking to our hotel, we stopped by at a sweet stall. Sweets authentic to the place made us salivate; The retail sweet store was duly converted into a wholesale one.
We stayed in a Haveli. Magnificent on the inside, embellished with subtle architecture on the outside, I could hardly believe that such Havelis could serve as a place of stay for the tourists. The place lived up to the billing and the guys at the hotel took care of us in the most gentle way possible. A good sleep was important as we would be heading to the famous Mehrangarh fort the next morning.
The Mehrangarh Fort.
This fort will be at the forefront of my memories when it comes to the Rajasthan trip. Mom, being physically challenged cannot climb in many a fort. This fort is rather unique as it provides an elevator for people with disabilities to go all the way to the top and enjoy the view of the city. Seizing the opportunity to bypass everyone who was standing in the queue for the elevator, we rushed to the top. Refreshing to see Mom go to every single point on top of the fort either to click pictures or register the view from every vantage point. Heartwarming to see her savor each moment. One for the album titled Memories.
Just beside the terrace, there is an exit point which leads to the exhibits. From harmless cradles to pernicious swords, the exhibits are very well maintained; clean as a whistle. When we were strolling up and down the alleys within the fort, we heard drumbeats embracing the local music lore. The drumbeats pointed to a celebration. The drumbeats and the dancing symbolized happiness. Our trip was summed up in a few beats. While my mother sat on one of the benches near the terrace, I decided to check out the other parts of the fort. While coming down, I stumbled upon three temples housed inside a large open area protected by doors that I could barely move.
An interesting part about the forts are the souvenir shops and buzz circulating the same. Tourists from both near and far flock to these shops either to ask the pricing of the souvenirs or just buy at first sight. Although I did want to buy from these shops, we were running out of time to see the other places of interest. I ditched the idea altogether.
I remember calling up a friend of mine who is from Jodhpur to get some information about the to-do list. The list was comprehensive and we set about completing what was left, right after coming out. Post the fort, we sped towards the Umaid Bhavan.
The Umaid Bhavan.
Let me tell you about the Umaid Bhavan. It is lavish. Trophy laden sections coupled with adventures of the kings of yesteryear make it a must visit place in the heart of Jodhpur. By looking at the trophies and the history, I could only infer that polo was and even today is an integral part of the royal life. The advent of polo in the mini palace is tied to the competitions which used take place in the United Kingdom.
More so, the presence of Vintage cars makes a compelling addition to an already rich exhibit. A couple of pictures here, a couple of pictures there. By the time we were out of the mini palace, our stomachs had already dialed the restaurant and reserved a seat.
Shopping followed for a brief period of time. Handloom, Bangles and loads of other things whose names I remember not, took center stage. “Bhaiya ye dikhao, bhaiya wo dikhao” (“brother, show me this, show me that”) was heard in a chorus. For all the ruckus, the shopkeepers handle the crowd very well.
The road that divided the marketplace was so crowded, the way anyone could find space was if they walked to the store. Rickshaws wouldn’t stall a particular place for more than a couple of minutes.
We parked our vehicle about a mile away on the northern side of the market. Hence we had to take a rickshaw to the place where the vehicle was parked and bring our van to a place on the southern side of the market where parking was available. Our driver got caught by the local traffic police for not wearing a seat belt. That bit into our time. While the driver was busy handling the traffic police, we decided to do some train counting by standing on a bridge whereby, turning our heads on the right-hand side, we could see the Jodhpur railway station and on the left side, trains fading into the scenic distance.
The driver came back post the fiasco and we were on our way to the Lake City of Udaipur.