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Irene's Adventures

India - Jodhpur

INDIA | Thursday, 23 February 2012 | Views [713]

Jodhpur was about 5 hours by train. It is the second largest city in Ragisthan and is known as “the Blue City”. Most of the buildings are painted blue. The reason being that blue supposedly does not attract bugs.

When we arrived at the Blue House Guest House we went up to the rooftop restaurant and were taken aback at how massive the Mehrangarh Fort that towers over the city is. Even in the semi-darkness it absolutely dominated the skyline. The next morning it looked even bigger. The fort is 122 meters above the city and enclosed by imposing thick walls that were chiseled right out of the rock on which it stands, the structure merges with its base. It is run by the Jodhpur royal family and is one of the most magnificent forts in India, if not the world, and houses one of the most well stocked museums in Rajasthan. The royal family actually lived in it up until 30 years ago, so when they decided to turn it into a tourist attraction and museum their biggest initial obstacle was to remove the bat droppings, which they sold to farmers and thus began funding the restoration. There was not a lot to restore, as most everything was left just as it was.

Interestingly, the current maharaja was only 4 years old when he took the throne. His father was killed in a plane crash and in the audio tour he speaks of not realizing his father was dead, but being impressed upon that he must now be Maharaja.

The huge gates have long metal spikes protruding out to prevent the elephants from knocking the gates down. Just inside these gates are the original small gilded hand prints dating back to 1843 left by the wives of the maharaja before they immolated themselves on his funeral pyre, known as sati marks.

  

The various palaces within the fort now house an armoury display, a palanquin display, a cradle display, art collection, turban display and various personal items, such as a lady's cosmetic box. There is one room where official business and court was conducted. There are 5 little alcoves leading onto hidden balconies where, it is believed, the royal ladies could listen in on the proceedings without being seen. The ramparts have several old and beautiful cannons and offer an excellent view of the city. There was so much to see that the day flew by. Although we had taken a tuktuk up the hill, we found that there as a very short foot path that we ended up taking back down, which lead directly to the Clock Tower Market.

The market at the Clock Tower is jammed packed with every conceivable item one can imagine. It was here that we purchased our daily fresh vegetables to be sliced and diced in our guest house room and made into salad.

 

The snap on Irene's day pack didn't snap anymore. Realizing that this is India and ANYTHING can be fixed, we went to the market and asked one vendor if he could fix it. He hollers to some guy further down, who motions for us to follow him. We go down an alley, around the garbage heap, around the corner and voila, a sewing machine! He promptly took some plyers and popped the old snap off, dug around in a bag and pulled out a new snap. He put the new snap on and wanted only 5 rupees (10 cents) we gave him 10 rupees.

As we were leaving the snap fix-it guy, we walked past a couple of fellows who fixed shoes. One fellow stops me and says my sandal is ready to fall apart but he can fix it. My sandals are nearly 7 years old and in rough shape, and I hesitated to have him fool around with them for fear of them falling apart completely. However, in the end he hand stitched the failing straps and I am quite certain the old shoes now have a couple more years left in them. He also put new insoles in Ed's trainers. He charged us 250 rupees ($5) for the whole thing. India is truly amazing!

Just outside the Clock Tower walls was the Spice Paradise which we had read about in Trip Advisor. We searched them out not for the spices, but because they offer cooking classes. Rekha spoke excellent English and taught us how to make some basic Indian dishes: Dal, Nann, saffron lassi (absolutely delicious), Chai, paneer, and raita. She was an excellent instructor. She would do it once while explaining, then she had us do it ourselves. Of course we got to feast on everything we made!

Our guest house recommended a Desert Safari one day. We were taken by jeep out into the desert to visit some really, really remote villages. The first village specialized in making pottery. They have no electricity so therefore they have to get the heavy stone potters wheel rotating by placing a large stick into the notched hole in the wheel and make it go round and round. He has to be quick to make the 3 perfectly shaped pots and vases from the one lump of clay before having to re-wind the wheel. Those large water pots with the small opening that you see almost everywhere are pounded out by hand. The guy has a convex curved wooden block on the inside and a similar concave curved mallet for the outside, and he pounds and pounds until he has a pot, with an opening only big enough for his hand and wooden block. They mix sawdust into the clay for winter pots and ash for summer pots, as these additions will keep the water warmer or cooler, respectively.

Our next stop was a Bishnois village. They worship nature and these peaceful people will protect to their death animals and trees – kind of the Indian Green Peace to the extreme. About 200 years ago the Maharaja of Jodhpur required wood for his palace. So he sent his soldiers to cut trees. The Bishnois villagers hugged the branches while the soldiers chopped them down with the trees. They are the only Hindus who do not cremate their dead – that would mean using a tree. The only trees they use are the ones which die a natural death.

It was at this simple little village that we were shown the opium cermony. The gent brought out an elaborate apparatus that had cloth cones afixed to it and a wooden bowl beneath each cone. He then showed us some opium, which looked a bit like chewing tobacco. He pinched some off, ground it up in one of the wooden bowls, added some water, then poured it into the cloth cone having it drain into another wooden bowl. He then had a very small sip of the water. He claims it gives him much energy. Now while he was showing us the opium and grinding it up, etc a little mouse popped out of its hole in the wall and was quite unafraid of any of the humans sitting on the floor. It was running back and forth and we all could not help but notice it. As soon as the guy put the opium water down from his sip, the little mouse went running up to the bowl and proceeded to have his own drink. The mouse was addicted to opium!! Alas, the tour ended with a pathetic plea to help the man as opium is very expensive.

We then went to a weaving village where they showed us how they hand weave rugs, mostly prayer rugs for the Muslims. The husband and wife worked in unison to create some very elaborate patterns. Our last stop was a place where they took old saris and cut them up to make patchwork cushion covers, bedspreads and table runners. This last stop was almost a factory in the production they had.

We had run out of time in India and so we took the train back to Jaipur then flew to Delhi to catch our return flight to Munich where Hermann picked us up. We spent the night at his house before heading back to Canada.

 

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