Jodphur is my favourite stop so far! This is the ‘Blue City’ and unlike Jaipur with it’s disappointing ‘Pink City’ status – this place really is as romantic as it sounds!
The blues are breathtaking, the sight of the fort standing tall and watching over the city, is astounding. As soon as I stood on top of our hotel’s rooftop restaurant I just fell in love with it all.
Arriving into the city was great, we were in 3 Tier AC class on the train, which meant much more space, curtains for privacy and a lovely family to share the journey with and who also shared food with us. Also, our instant suspicions of the tuk-tuk drivers waiting for us on arrival, soon disappeared once one told us the price from the station to our hotel (near the touristy Clock Tower). It was so cheap (30R) we would have gone anywhere with him!
It made quite the change from our experiences within the Golden Triangle (we weren’t bombarded, we were just pleasantly encouraged to join him). The tuk-tuks were also bigger, more comfortable and individually and colourfully personalised – I instantly preferred Jodhpur. It just confirmed our suspicions, that as soon as you leave the touristy triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – it’s (maybe) not half as crazy.
We stayed at Heaven Guesthouse, which is a homely stay with friendly staff and good food (the chef was a lovely guy from Nepal). We opted for one of the cheapest, basic rooms and as a result it was a bit noisy with being on the front of the building with the main road outside. Also interestingly, there was an en-suite within the room but it did not have a roof to it (so make of that what you will), a tad odd but you get used to these little odd things pretty quickly.
It’s very well decorated though and there are some pretty romantic rooms if you don’t mind paying that bit extra. I’ve gotta admit the other rooms seemed MUCH nicer than ours (so maybe don’t go for room 2). It also has amazing views of the fort from it’s rooftop restaurant.
Also when you walked past shops or market stalls you weren’t grabbed or shouted at – this was very refreshing indeed. It’s not to say it didn’t happen at all but it was much much less than previously experienced. We also picked up on a vibe that the people we encountered were definitely that little bit friendlier here 🙂
I must say though there were beggars (with nasty injuries akin to that seen in Slumdog Millionaire and women using their babies as bait) but just as the guidebooks advise, don’t give them anything but food. By giving money you encourage begging to continue and the beggar mafia bosses to make more money, so just don’t do it.
We arrived during Gangaur festival, which meant there was lots of celebrating going on. It is a festival where women pray for the well-being of their husbands. So there was lots of dancing in the streets, carnival floats, people dressed up, live bands – it meant we didn’t get a quiet nights sleep every night but we’ve soon got used to that staying in India for this long. It was very fun, on our last night a huge carnival started at 12pm and managed to make it’s way past our window at 2am (trumpets and horns were blowing, people laughing and shouting – I kinda dozed right through it but the boy got up to see it from our balcony and said it was pretty impressive.
The fort is really worth seeing here (you will remember we held back from visiting the other forts elsewhere due to cost). Here, Mehrangarh fort is so impressive you cannot miss it!
It’s 300R (including an interesting audio guide – just remember your photo ID if you want one, as its used as a deposit). It is an extra 100R to take your camera in (which I personally believe you may be able to sneak in without paying – it’s just one of those risks you have to be willing to take but honestly, no-one seemed to check ours). There’s also a beautiful garden inside the fort, but guess what? It costs extra! Only 30R but we didn’t see it advertised at the entrance so when we tried to go inside, we were stopped by a guard asking where our ticket was? Hmmm…
The interior of the fort is amazing, so magnificently decorated – you will instantly find yourself transported back to the majestic time of maharajas.
Inside you will see collections of intricate royal cradles, elephant seats, artwork, tapestries and costumes.
One thing I’ve realised I absolutely love about architecture in India, are those magnificent curved arches you see everywhere and the incredible stained glass windows. If I can figure out a way to replicate these looks in my own house, I’m going to do it, I swear.
I was very lucky to meet two wonderful new friends in Shira and Kat at our guesthouse in Jodhpur. And as a result, we went on an incredible village safari together (you can book these through your hotel or on this site). The boy was ill so it was just us girls that went and it really was an incredible experience!
It’s a shame he had to miss out because it was a real highlight of Jodhpur for me. That’s where it really helps to have an understanding travel companion and it’s really good to get some time apart (even if your thick as thieves, you will need a break and it means you’ll have some new stuff to talk about – definitely a good thing).
The safari took us out of Jodhpur (and past my first sighting of a beautiful elephant) eeeeeek!
And onto a desert trail, where we entered a vast landscape leading to a succession of rural villages. It was spectacular.
It was great being in a Jeep, feeling the wind in your face (and of course lots of thrills and spills as we were tossed and thrown around the vehicle thanks to the uneven roads) – fun though!
The first village we went to was everything I imagined it to be and of course, way more. It was the home of the rural Bishnoi tribe who have an interesting history as India’s 18th Century tree-huggers. They tied themselves to their sacred Khejri trees when the ruler, at the time, ordered for them to be all cut down, in way for a new road. 363 Boshnoi women died protecting the trees, before the Jodhpur king intervened – shocking isn’t it? I felt very drawn to this place after reading that, not because I’m a tree-higher myself hehe, but because of their faith and bravery.
In the village you could see huts made from clay with thatched cone-shaped roofs, self-made fire-stoves, traditional opium tea being made, women grinding millet seeds in an old fashioned stone grinder, bread making and men & women in wonderful traditional costumes. And of course you know me by now, when I spotted the costumes, I had to try one on didn’t I?!
It was a very humbling experience to have the outfit put on me by this lady.
She didn’t mind pulling me around a bit to get the clothes on but neither did I, it was all part of the experience. Firstly a bra top with short sleeves is put on, then a waistcoat that covers your stomach, then that incredible red skirt, followed by the sari. I was then adorned with traditional jewellery (necklace, headpiece and huge silver bangles on my ankles). I loved it! I felt like a Indian princess.
In fact, later on when we went to a nearby fabric shop, we had the traditional Bishnoi red skirt re-made for each of us as we loved it so much. Honestly I adored the whole costume, I would have bought it all if I could have. But in a way it’s better to leave it sacred to the tribe rather than making it into a mere fashion-item. But I am very grateful for the piece I have and I will always think of the Bishnoi people and my experience everytime I wear it.
We then went on to see lots of wildlife, there really are peacocks everywhere in India! We also saw deer, antelopes, water buffalos, parakeets…it was awesome.
We then went to another fabric stall where we bought hand-loomed, hand printed throws and then on to a traditional pottery. It was fascinating seeing how everything was made from scratch. The methods may have not changed much over the years but that is because they work so well, after all.
It was incredibly interesting to find out the fabric printers use clay on top of one print design to stop colour-change when dying the rest of the garment. It is then washed off and no trace of it can be found. It was also intriguing to see how the pottery was made using a stone wheel that is rotated quickly by a wooden stick, which is then removed when the wheel has got enough momentum.
We later had a fantastic lunch at another traditional home to end the safari which consisted of Dal (lentils), millet bread, this fantastic bean mixed with garlic and small plant storks and it all had to be eaten traditionally using your right hand. Why the right hand you ask?! Well because traditionally you should use your left hand for doing something else (something you REALLY wouldn’t want to mix with your food).
After the safari, when the boy was well again, was to the Mandore Gardens. Another serious highlight of Jodhpur – it is magical!
And it’s FREE!!! (oh my God right?!). Yup the tourists are allowed in somewhere for free and boy is this place worth it! The architectural style reminded me of Ankor Wat in Cambodia.
Seriously like something from the Jungle Book right?
So darlings, if there is one place you must visit in India, it is Jodhpur! We admittedly have missed out, on this trip, from going to sacred Varanasi, Pushkar, Udaipur and Kashmir (everyone we have met, especially the lovely Indian train passengers we have had, have asked us if we are going to these places as they are so beautiful), so I’m sure they are amazing too.
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Love and sweet lassi’s Em xoxo