Fourteen hours of irked stumbles and roaring engines, through fresh highways and famished roads, we finally made it to Jodhpur, in the downpour of early November. In drenched coats and umbrellas our first trip was cancelled, post five hours. Trying hard not to exhibit, the battered spirits, some of us decided to hit the restaurant located nearby.
And our first respite was the delectable cuisine that the place offered. The assortment of kachoris alone was enough to satiate our dismay. The dal baati choorma, Mirchibada (A preparation made with potato, onion, chilly and gram flour) and the several other lassis were accompanied by the traditional folk music, the only place to have a sarangi player, folk singer and dancer at every nook and corner in and around.
The next morning, in light drizzles, we headed to Mehrangarh Fort, situated on a 150m high hill. Rao Jodha, the then chief of Rathore clan, constructed it in 1459. The six century old fort is one of the largest forts in India made extensively of sandstone. Housing numerous mahals Moti Mahal, the Pearl Palace, which has the Sringar Chowki, the royal throne of Jodhpur, among others makes for a fascinating visit. Another palace Umaid Vilaas displays the spellbinding Rajput miniature paintings, and nearby Ajit Vilaas houses musical instruments and royal costumes. Phool Mahal or the Flower Palace contains the Jodhpur Coat of Arms and Maan Villas displays weapons and arms of Rathore. The place also displays exceptional handicraftsmen by commoners and artefacts solely for tourists at overpriced rates. Shopping as previously informed by my friends to be done in Nai Sarak and in the Clock Tower, they bargain handsomely.
Set at the edge of Thar Desert, Jodhpur echoes of archaism in desolation of the desert. Above the plains, the city is encompassed by a high wall -10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions. The grandeurs fetch further to the royal cenotaph of the 20th century Umaid bhavan, now converted into hotel and a museum. For other major sites to visit, the Mandore gardens and Giridkot are a must.
The city also has a certain range of excursion trips to offer, and Novembers are congenial for them. Though no extremes of adventure sporting, light treks and brisk walks to the shrines located in Naguar City, Sojat City, Guda Bishnoi can be a little tiring yet fun. The much anticipated trip to the Machia Safari Park, in soaked mud and clear sky, was scheduled for the third day. Located about 1 km from Kalyana Lake, it lies on the way to Jaisalmer. It provides shelter to thousands of reptiles, wild boar, porcupine, hare, blue bull, monkeys, fox and host of rare species of animals and birds. It has a fascinating diversity of flora and fauna.
The bus takes 14 hours to reach, and is definitely not a viable option if you cannot stand long hours on the staggering roads, railways are a better option, the Palace on Wheels, if you prefer to travel in style. Regular trains take about 8-10 hours. Jodhpur on its own does not have an airport, hence the nearest will be Udaipur’s, rest to be travelled by bus or cars.
The city has quite exciting opportunities to explore, for all age groups. An adjourned family trip or a few days with closed ones, Jodhpur will serve you at its best.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/micbaun/1216608114/]