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Our world Travel On 10th May 2007 I fled the UK on a journey around the world with a long list of places to go. Got as far as the Philippines where I met my wife. We got married on 11th May 2010 and are now sharing the experiences of travelling the world together

Udaipur to Jodhpur

INDIA | Thursday, 30 September 2010 | Views [1624]

Tuesday 28th September - I have to say that Udaipur is one of the most romantic and wonderful places you are likely to visit in India. Easy to fall in love with, and hard to leave. We have been lucky to be in Udaipur when the water level is high, and the colours dramatic and vibrant.  One of our favourite spots by the lake is a wonderful place to watch life in all its glory. Beautifully dressed ladies performing their daily rouine of washing their clothes on the ghats. A rainbow in action. Boys taking advantage of the high water and swimming for hours. Diving off one of the bridges or the ghat railings. A lady crosses the bridge carrying a bale of grass on her head. Red and gold sari billowing in the gentle breeze. A small herd of donkeys cross. The white city with an occasional sprinkling of delicate colours. It has been a great place to begin our tour of Rajasthan. Even the staff at the Mewar Haveli have been so gracious towards us.... handle the owner with care though!. Full marks to them. 

No matter how much you like a place though, there is a time to move on. We have been here for a week, and today move on the Jodhpur... Affectionately called the Blue city, due to its old buildings in the walled city area. There is no direct train to Jodhpur from here, so we are taking a state bus leaving at 1:30pm.

We actually left at 1pm, so it was good that we got to the pick-up point early. Once out of the honking congestion of outer Udaipur, we hit the open road and for almost 2 hours we passed through marble territory. Every colour and shade seemed to be available. This section was very dry and dusty but interesting. It isn't obvious from the road where the marble is actually mined, but it must be nearby. Convoys of trucks streamed through the area carrying enormous blocks on their way to the slicing mills, or to the vendors. Some turn the blocks into carvings and some of them were located along the road.

Donkeys are used for light loads. Camels and Oxen are used to haul ornate carts full of heavier loads of marble blocks.

Many interesting sights as we passed through small villages. Old guys smoking pipes, which I guess are drugs. Lady shepherdesses marshalling their cows or goats through the streets.

We went through one area that seemed more tribal than some others. The ladies were definitely different and had bone bangles up their arms and legs. Their saris were a little different too. For most of the second half of the journey the road was flat and fairly featureless, but dry and dusty. 

We had been told that the journey should take around 5 1/2 hours, so expected to arrive around 6:30pm. We actually got there at 9:30pm. Somebody was lying. I suspect that we weren't put on the right bus. Even the guide book agreed with the earlier time. Anyway, from the drop off point it seemed like 3km by rickshaw to get to the old town where we wanted to stay. First choice was the Hotel Haveli, and luckily enough they had a room for Rs600 that was good enough. It had been a long day and we hadn't had a meal since lunch. The Haveli is famed for having the best rooftop restaurant in town, the Jharokha. Every night they put on a cultural dance and music show, so we quickly showered and headed for the roof.

The rooftop has the most awesome view of Jodhpur's famed Mehrangarh fort, which hangs as an austere guardian above the town. In other directions other landmarks are clearly visible, like the central clock tower and the palace. We opted for their 'Rajasthani full meal', which is a Thali dinner for Rs160, which was good quality.

We managed to catch about an hour of the show. Two ladies and a young girl accompanied by three musicians performed a typical style of evocative dance. A nice way to end a long and tiring day.


Wednesday 29th September - A sightseeing day today. But first, breakfast on the rooftop of the Haveli. The morning view of Mehrangarh fort is awesome, and a great way to start the day.

The fort was about 20 minutes amble through the old town. Quite steep in parts, and with the temperature rising, hard work. Pretty in a rough and random way, and plenty to see as old folk go about their daily routines.

The last time I visited the fort, about 3 years ago, I was on an organised tour with a local guide. This time we took the free audio guide tour that comes with the entrance tickets. 300 rupees each and just have to leave a credit card for security deposit for the guide. It was a great way to do it. Lots of information and able to do it at our own pace, and take breaks when we wanted. It is a beautiful fort, with plenty of intricate detailed jali panels, and ornate rooms. It reminds you of the era when the Maharaja's life was that of a real ruler. Elaborate, romantic and powerful. A formidable place, defended from its ramparts by some formidable canons. The reason that Jodpurh is called the Blue city cannot be more evident than from the fort. A wonderful calming sea of blue, chosen for its soothing and mosquito ridding effects. It has that wow factor, that disguises the noise and mayhem that happens on the streets below.

Less than 15 minutes walk from the fort is the Jaswant Thada memorial. A beautiful white marble construction surrounded by tranquil gardens, where we relaxed for a while under the shade of the trees.

On the way out, a film company were shooting something with a group singing to music on a cart being pulled by a camel. The producer was going nuts as every passerby was walking through the scene taking photos, including us. It was cool though, as they were dressed in bright native clothing.

A late lunch in the old town before heading to the clock tower and Sadar market. It is easy to fall under the spell of Jodhpur. It is noisy, it is crazy, but it is lovable. The Sadar market is frequented by many tribal folk who add colour and diversity to an already remarkable market. Just about anything you want at local prices, as long as you are tough with the bargaining. Spices, clothing, excellent quality fruit and vegetables, are all available. You can have your teeth fixed at the roadside dentist. Find some treasures at the salvage yard. Shop for antiques, although the advice is to not buy them, as they are stripping the heritage from the state. Realistic reproduction 'fake antiques' are available, and this is the place to buy. Cows meander through, intermeshed with the weaving motorbikes and rikshaws. It is easy to get knocked over here, so you have to keep your wits about you.

The heat was going out of the day and we decided to take a rikshaw to the Umaid Bhawan palace (Rs60). It was amusing on the access road...the security guard asked for our passports. I told him we didn't have them. That's ok....in you go. So why bother asking for them? It closes at 5pm and we arrived at 5:15pm. From the outside it is a magnificent sandstone building which is divided into a museum, a high class hotel and also the residence of the present maharaja. There isn't much to see in the museum, so we where in and out in about 20 minutes and our driver was waiting to whisk us back to the haveli. We got out near to it as there was a nice camel by the bamboo area that was just asking to be photographed. I was gagging for a cold beer...ahhhh...went down a treat.

One thing we have learnt recently, and this is how the locals, restaurant staff, dancers, musicians and almost anyone else you come into contact with, treat us. All smiles and where are you from, etc etc...and then some small talk...and then the phrase you have been waiting for... Either something like....'I am collecting euros, pounds, dollars' etc or the hand goes out and 'Bakshish'...or 'donation'. If nothing comes forth, the smile quickly disappears. The music stops. The look can change to almost a sneer. We have been snubbed many times and almost ignored by restaurant staff who didn't get a tip. They even return the folder the bill is in as if we have forgotten something. It has annoyed us a lot recently, and made it unpleasant at times. I no longer tell anyone I am from the UK. Afraid to admit my nationailty. I invent a country they cannot have heard of, so they cannot make a connection about the exchange rate. My white skin and language gives it away obviously, but it is a game. Udaipur was amusing though. They are cunning in their approach, making it a pleasant game. They will find something to complement you on. Trying to lure you to their shop or to befriend you. They will still finish with a smiling 'Namaste' as you walk past. So easy to deal with and you have to smile. They will have another attempt the next time they see you pass. No hostility or bad attitude. I really liked Udaipur for that. Jodhpur seems a completely different attitude.

Shiera is a little homesick. Not surprising as this is the longest she has ever been away from home. It happens around 3 months onwards to most people. We have been on the road for 4 1/2 months now, leaving on May 15th from the Philippines. A lot has happened since then and a lot more travelling to come yet.

More from the road another day...bye for now...


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