Google maps is a life saver. It helps lost souls find their way. But on a bad day it can easily go the other way. We left from Jaisalmer just as the sun had started going down. It had thus far been a great day. Good places, good people and great food of Jaisalmer had left us wanting. But as plans go, we had to move on. Next stop Jodhpur – the Blue city. We were eager to get to Jodhpur, and in our eagerness made the one mistake that made subjected us to one of the hardest commutes we’d seen so far. We turned on google maps destined to Jodhpur while still in Jaisalmer city limits.
The main route taken to reach Jodhpur is the one that goes via Chandan, Pokhran and Dechu. This is a 4 lane highway and has tolls on the way. I’m not sure what google thought of us but she showed us a non-toll route that went through the countryside and maybe even through a forest. It was a single road – just two lanes with no clear onward and return sides. Over that we have a bizarre incidence where saw the carcass of a cow or some big animal like a deer or a camel right in the middle of the road. We slowed down, there was no one on the road, no vehicles, no homes, no people, just that carcass. Maybe it was a trap laid to get us? We didn’t stop, didn’t click photos, just escaped.
As on the previous day, we reached Jodhpur in the middle of the night. Our hotel had a wonderful view of the Mehrangarh fort, but sadly that meant the hotel was 125 feet below the fort and right in the center of the town – a town of narrow streets and open drains. It was frustrating enough that the hotel wasn’t perfectly pinned on google, but the midnight traffic was what got us really riled up. At 1 AM in the mid night people are riding around in their bikes at top speed! It was insane, insanity that we endured and finally found the hotel. It was a residential building modified into a hotel, and the promised parking was on the road – which our expert drivers struggled to mitigate.
Our day started with a visit to the central clock tower. Natives called it the Ghanta Ghar. It’s a tall tower in trade mark Jodhpuri architecture. The tower is surrounded by markets on 3 sides, including street markets that sold cloths, leather articles, plastic and wooden toys and a lot of things that looked like souvenirs for tourists. There isn’t much to talk or appreciate about the clock tower except that its a popular local land mark and though its right in the middle of the street, it makes for some decent photos.
Next on the list, the Mehrangarh fort. The fort itself is an awe inspiring site. The lofty towers, the thick walls and the shade of age on them makes it as imposing as it can get. There is another monument called Jaswant Thada close to it. It’s practically in the same premises as fort but very tranquil and serene in comparison to the fort. Given the fact that the monument is basically a place built to offer homage to the kings gone by, it is practically a tomb, just that there are no dead bodies in the place – perhaps because they were all hindu kings. There inner hall of the monument has photos and biographies of the kings, and is surrounded by a quite garden with bougainvillea trees and a serene lake on the outside. We saw a couple are artists trying to sketch the monument, so we stood for a while to catch them in action. It is said the Thada continues to serve as the cremation ground for the royal family. One of the interesting and humorous things about the place was the numerous No Selfie Zone signs.
The Mehrangarh fort has huge entryways and huge double doors which would’ve made for beautiful photos if not for the never ending hoards of people. There were also school trips and pilgrims among the crowd. Like most forts and palaces, this is also a huge museum. The exhibits can be categories as pictures of royalty, models depicting battles and other history, armoury of the royal army, and a special section of the museum dedicated just to the turbans! The fort has long corridors lined with photos, and a lot of rooms showcasing all the different remnants of the royal family and their lifestyle. There were numerous gift shops and other pop up shops in the fort. Rajasthani poppets, cotton cloths, turbans, exhotic metal utensis among other things.
The fort also housed a temple of ma chamunda devi. It is said that one of the kings of the province was a devotee of the goddess and had made the temple in the fort premises. The temple is in the compound of the fort, but is to be approached via the roof. The roof in itself is a showcase. It houses numerous canons of different time periods and makes for good photos. The view of the city from the roof top reminds us why this is called the Blue city.
Jodhour is known for its sweets. Jalebis, Ghewars, barfis and laddoos of a million kind. Unfortunately we had no time hunting down authentic places to eat as the fort had taken up nearly 3 hours and it was almost 2 PM. Sticking to our ambitions plan meant we would have to leave the city in less than 2 hours if we were to reach Jaipur before nightfall. We did find a Haldirams and ordered some delicious Raj Kachori to end our day in Jodhpur on a sweet note.
PS: We missed the Umaid Bhavan palace. Though the palace is visible from Jaswant Thada, its not like actually visiting the place, is it?