India Trip 2018 - Day 7, Friday August 10, Jodhpur

Cloudy clearing, hot & humid, 35°

50R = NZ$1

So I will start this blog off with a quick description of Jodhpur.  Jodhpur is a city of about 1 million people with it's main physical feature being the massive Mehrangarh Fort, which sits atop a mountain of sandstone in the north of the city, and in fact the Fort itself is made from the sandstone quarried from the mountain it sits on.  Unlike Jaisalmer Fort the Fort at Jodhpur is purely a Palace, and does not have any people living in it ( in fact the Jodhpur Royal Family lives in a completely different Palace now ( Umaid Bhawan Palace )).

To the west of the Fort, in a valley, is where the old city of Jodphur sits.  This area is what gives Jodhpur another of it's distinctive features: blue buildings.  Jodhpur is know as the "Blue City" ( Jaisalmer is the 'Golden City', Jaipur is the 'Pink City' and Udaipur is the 'White City' because of the colour of their buildings ) due to the number of buildings painted with blue paint.  Historically we were told this was to identify the houses of the religious order "Brahmins", but now it seems that buildings are coloured blue to fit the name of the city rather than for any other reason, but it certainly gives the city a different look.

To the south of the Fort is the area where most of the 'mid range' hotels and guest houses were located, and where we were staying, climbing up the base of the fort's mountain.  To the south of this area is the 3rd most identifiable feature of Jodhpur: the Clock Tower market.  This seems to be the hub of the old part of Jodhpur and during our visit it was always busy and bustling with people buying everything from shoes, to fruit and vege's, to chickens ( live and dead ).

The last thing to note about Jodhpur is it's other nickname: "Sun City".  In the hot season ( Apr-June ) the temperature in Jodhpur averages 40°C +, and has been known to top 50°C. .

So on with our visit to Jodhpur.

I got up early at 6am and wandered just to the east of the Clock Tower Market to a 'lake' ( Gulab Sagar ) that we had seen from the restaurant last night, to shoot the sunrise.  Nothing very exciting happened photographically wise but again it was nice to wander around early when it was a bit cooler and quieter ( both in terms of numbers of people and lack of noise ).

I got back to the Hotel at 7am and we headed upstairs to get some breakfast at 8:30am.  We had to wait for the guy running the 'restaurant' to finish setting up before we could eat.  By restaurant I mean it was an area of about 20m² on the roof of the hotel building with tables and chairs, and  a tiny kitchen to one side ( this is also where my Rabies vaccines were being stored ).  After breakfast we got organised and left the hotel at 9:45am.  After evading our auto rickshaw ( AR ) driver from yesterday, who seemed to think we owed him a job for the day, grabbed some water from the market and got an AR up to the Fort.

We went in through the security at about 10:30am and then walked up into the Fort itself, bought tickets to the Museum ( the Fort itself is free to enter but if you want to go into the Palace buildings themselves then you needed a ticket ) and an audio guide, and had to pay a camera fee as well; which came to 700R each.

We then climbed the roadway up to the main Fort level, through various gates and walls.  We followed the audioguide into and through the museum within the Palace, with displays of items from the Royal family and rooms that used to be used in the Palace.  We went up the 5 floors of Palace and onto the roof for a view out over Jodhpur, and then back down and out of the Museum, through the gift shop ( I bought a t-shirt ( 900R ) and Liz bought some bangles ( 5 for 400R )), and then we grabbed some lunch at the cafe under the Museum ( a couple of curries for 800R ) at 12pm.

Again this is an amazingly detailed set of buildings with stunning stone carvings and attention to detail.  And again like the Haveli in Jaisalmer it was designed with the rules of purdah in mind, so there are secret balconies and areas where woman can remain hidden but still follow the events happening in court, and also like the Jaisalmer Palace there is a whole separate section of the palace for the use of the Queen and woman of the court.

We wandered back down through the fort again and out the entrance we had come in and caught an AR for the 1km trip across to Jaswant Thada which sits in the same ridge as the fort.  Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph built in 1899 by the Royal family of Jodhpur, and it also serves as the cremation grounds for the Royal family.  We bought our tickets ( 150R ea ) and walked through the gardens and then into the building itself.  The interior is essentially one big room with a raised area in the middle, and the whole building is built from white marble.  After looking around a bit more we stopped for a drink in the shade and a sit down for a bit.

It was starting to get real hot now so we jumped in an AR at 1:30pm and headed back to the hotel and rested.

We headed out again at 4:30pm and walked through to the market and found an ATM to draw some more money, and the found a cafe to grab a drink and watch the world go by,  I tried a 'butter milk' drink, which is essentially using the left over liquid from when cream is churned into butter, and then cardamon is added for flavour.  It was not to my taste at all.  We headed back through the chaos of the market and some of the side streets to the hotel at 5:30pm.  One of the things we saw here and in other places was stores selling brand new, wrapped in plastic, treadle sewing machines.  I guess the technology still works....

Back out at 7:15pm and grabbed an AR up the hill to Jaswant Thada.  There is a statue on the hill at Jaswant Thada that is lit up at night and looks out over the city below.  When we arrived we told the AR driver what we were doing and to wait for us for about an hour, and then he could give us a ride back down the hill, and we agreed a price for him to do this. So we walked through the gate at Jaswant Thad and after a couple of hundred metres we were met by security who said it was closed and we had to leave.  So we did, only to find that our AR driver had left. Presumably he had gone back down to town and was planning to come back up to get us, despite us confirming that he would stay were we left him.  We hadn't paid him yet so it didn't really bother us if he didn't do what we asked.  So we walked a little way down the road and took some photos of the sunset, and then grabbed another AR back down to Indique for tea again at 8pm, and walked back to the hotel at 9pm.

The hotel owner said that our AR driver had come looking for us ( I have no idea how he knew where we were staying as we caught him about 200m from our hotel and never mentioned where we were staying; I guess the jungle drums work well in these tourist areas ), and was a bit miffed that we weren't there when he went back.  I explained what happened and left 100R with owner to give to the AR driver for the ride up the hill; I didn't want him to run us over if he saw us in the streets and we hadn't paid his bill!