Magical Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

7 Apr

On the morning of our departure from Pushkar to Jodhpur our luck improved. Waiting downstairs half an hour early was Ganesh, brother of Rakesh, with his immaculate white Toyota sedan. 

Ganesh was to drive and guide us for the rest of the trip until he dropped us at Udaipur airport five days later. With good English, careful driving (it was his own car) and unbounded tolerance Ganesh proved to be worth twice what we paid him. He stayed at driver guesthouses and collected us at pre-arranged times or whenever we rang three times (we didn’t have an Indian sim). 

Pushkar to Jodhpur was mostly toll highway but there were plenty of up close and personal encounters with animals, tractors and villagers as described in Stuart’s previous post.

   As you drive into Jodhpur it becomes clear this is a Rajasthani city with a difference. Although Jaipur is the state capital Jodhpur hosts the army and police bases and, along with a city council that clearly has an actual waste management policy, manages to keep the streets mostly clear of litter and well maintained.  

 Our guesthouse, Rudnareel Villa, was located on Residency Road, a wide tree lined street with paved footpaths (a rarity) that is home to many of the judiciary and right next door to the Police Commissioner. The large villa is the hereditary family home of Durgesh and his family. With six rooms for guests on the upper floor they usually only let a maximum of four. Our room was large and luxe and along with the covered and open-air terrace with ceiling fans we had plenty of space to spread out and relax.  

    
  Durgesh invited us to dinner with the family, a feast prepared by his wife. Over dinner we got to know their three bright children. Durgesh also joined us for breakfasts which gave us an opportunity to learn more about contemporary Indian politics and society.

 The breakfast spread.

Our full day in Jodhpur was devoted to Mehrangarh Fort, Sardar Market and Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel and Museum. 

 the 1459 AD Mehrangarh Fort with its many internal palaces is administered brilliantly by a trust set up in 1972 by the 36th Custodian of Marwar- Jodhpur, H. H. Maharaja Gaj Singhji.  

    
    
    
 The architecture and displays are animated by interactive activities such as turban tieing. Handsome chaps wot?!

    
    
   Sadly I didn’t have the chance to try a palanquin. 

 But we were able to listen to some soothing meditation and chakra aligning music by Nawab Khan. Sublime. 

    
    
I could happily have spent the day just photographing the staff. 

    
    
 The richness of the decoration of the palace rooms is overwhelming. 

    
 Gilded cradles fit for tiny princes and princesses. 
    
 So much fun posing with this beautiful family. We’d been going around the fort at the same time so when they asked for a photo together I grabbed one too. It became the theme for the day. 

   The turban gallery is fascinating, every colour, pattern and style tells a story.

    
Dad played, Mum sang and baby daughter smiled. But then she had just peed herself and probably found that funny.

    
  The royal family’s mausoleum.  
 Sardar Market – if you can’t find it here you can’t find it anywhere. 
    
    
    I stocked up on silver anklets, toe rings and an arm band that caught Stu’s eye.

   Then it was time for lunch, which turned into high tea. We talked our way into the 347 room Umaid Bhawan Palace (without a reservation). It was constructed as an economic stimulus and employment project by Maharaja Umaid Singh over a fifteen year period and completed in 1943. This is another five star Taj property, a tad over the top for our taste, but worth experiencing.

    
    Our waiter got a bit carried away and popped a bottle of Indian ‘champagne’ followed by the hotel’s signature martini cocktail, its not so secret ingredient a large red chilli. We had to go straight home to sleep it off. It was macabre eating and drinking amongst the stuffed corpses and bones of wild animals but I reminded myself that some of the maharajahs actually forced the ban on hunting tigers and gave their former hunting grounds for tiger reserves.

 

  
    
He’s holding our leftover food. Durgesh’ kids enjoyed the petit four and Indian sweets.

  

Another friendly, photogenic Indian family I swapped snaps with.  The Vivanta Taj hotel was just down the road so we took ourselves off there for dinner. Against my better judgement we got sucked into watching a magic show by the pool. We two were the sole audience members. My scepticism vanished like the coins and balls the magician caused to appear and disappear at will. By the time he produced three white doves silently from thin air I was speechless and shaking my head. As good as any Vegas act.

   Two nights in Jodhpur were insufficient. I’d love to return for the Jodhpur Famenco and Gypsy Festival staged annually at Merangarh Fort http://jfgfestival.com

2 Responses to “Magical Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India”

  1. trevor willis April 7, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    Is the picture of the royal family’s mausoleum the one at the top or bottom of the description?
    you are going to have a problem picking out the best photos of your trip as they are all great. keep enjoying

    • Sharon Tickle April 8, 2016 at 5:07 am #

      Very good. When are you next travels Trev? You and Marg must have itchy feet by now. Sxx

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