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Old 27th November 2012, 15:18   #1
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Default Jodhpur: A must visit for a South Indian family

Dussera vacation now seems to have taken on a new meaning- explore your world. So for my kid's vacations beginning Oct '12, we (Me, wife & kid) decided to start with a two- day tour of Jodhpur, known for the great Mehrangarh fort. We started from Bangalore early morning of 13th Oct 2012 (a Saturday), taking the Air India flight to Jodhpur. There is a changeover at Mumbai with some 90 min time to kill as well. We finally landed at Jodhpur after a brief 30 min stopover at Jaipur.

It was blazing hot at Jodhpur, something I was expecting anyway, having landed at 1330 hrs. Jodhpur airport is controlled by the Air Force and there are very minimal facilities there, like book stores and restaurants. Anyway we had planned to have our lunch at our hotel, Basant Inn, in a place called Rai- Ka- Bagh. So I walked upto what looked like the airport taxi stand, and sought some good car. They looked me up, and instantly knew I was from some place far off from there, and quoted a sky high price of INR 400/- for the 12 km drive. That was when an auto guy approached me and offered to take us. Used to large limos here in Bangalore like Easy Cabs, I had nearly turned him off when my wife stopped me and pointed to the auto: it resembled some giant vehicle species of autos that has mutated according to Darwin's principle- survival of the smartest! Believe it or not, a total of 7 pieces of luggage including 2 large soft kit bags, and 1 hard suitcase were all easily loaded into the auto's rear leaving us comfortable room to sit. The auto charged us INR 300/-, something I had little choice over.

After lunch at the hotel, we started by another auto (or Tuk- Tuk as it is better known) to see Umaid Bhawan palace, some 5 km from there. Umaid Bhawan is still occupied by the present prince heir, Maharaj Gaj Singh, although what visitors can relish is the great museum showing plenty of things from their lineage. The palace is just amazing- by the way, don't forget to carry at least one official ID card (PAN/ Passport/ DL, etc) as you will have to show it at the security gate some 1/2 km before the palace.

On the way up the palace, as you can see in the photo here, there are large outcrops of sandstone such as that used in building Umaid Bhawan (as well as Mehrangarh).

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We paid INR 60/- per adult for the entrance. Umaid Bhawan is just beautiful and impeccably clean (perhaps on account of the countless foreigners who visit the place). Here is one view from the walk up to the place.

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We discovered pigeons are loved by all in Jodhpur and flying around by the hundreds. Here are some atop the entablature of the museum's entrance.

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The Maharajas of Jodhpur appear to have had great passions for sports, especially Polo, as well as for flying. The present Maharaja has a superb collection of vintage cars, seen faintly in the cells at the far end of the photo here. I couldn't get good close- up snaps though as all these were behind large glass windows that were reflecting the evening sun into my camera.

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Anyway, here's one Rolls- Royce that looks great.

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Next morning we set off for Mehrangarh fort, which was at the epicentre of many historic wars of the Rathod dynasty. The fort is accessed by a good but exceedingly narrow road at a couple of places- watch out, those who are planning to drive there for the first time! I picked up an audio guide (and I strongly suggest anyone who seriously wants to know the place, also does so) for INR 150/-, and we also took a lift for INR 20/- per person that saves you some energy and time in getting to the main fort/ palace courtyard level. But note that you would miss about 6 audio descriptions in taking the lift, as I discovered on the way back, and start from point 7.

The fort (like most forts do) has a battery of cannons all laid around the high wall, as seen below. All along, my audio guide gave me one of the most beautiful narrations of the fort's evolution.

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The stone architecture is really amazing, as you can see in the photos below.

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Inside the fort's museum, there are lots of collections of souvenirs such as the vintage clock seen here.

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Also around were lots of the royal Howdahs (elephant seats) that the fort's rulers used in the past. Here is one silver lion Howdah.

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A lot of gold and silver was liberally used in Mehrangarh's palace rooms inside the fort. Here is a view of Sheesh Mahal (literally means hall of mirrors), that was also the Puja room of the Maharani, and another beautiful gold- painted interior of a room. The third one is the Maharaja's bedroom.

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Another set of collections was royal cradles, also liberally done with silver and gold. Here's one meant for the new arrival (prince or princess). The audio guide mentioned the elaborate building of the newborn's horoscope by the palace astrologer, something that was obviously of great importance at that time.

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I just couldn't help feeling moved at how those times were, on hearing this narration related to the painting below: - King Durgadas Rathore and his prince son are seen here during one battle in which they retreated to the jungle, only to get back with renewed energy and win the war against the enemy. The painting shows Durgadas stoking a fire for their evening meal (believe me, the fire was from a funeral of another warrior!!) while the young prince is practising with his sword amidst all this.

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Mehrangarh fort needs about 5 to 6 hrs to see at a comfortable pace. There is a small, well maintained but pricey restaurant within the fort, called Mehran Cafe, where you can have snacks and juices to pep yourself up as you are ending the tour.

Just down the way back from Mehrangarh is Jaswant Thada, a beautiful white monument in well kept gardens, dedicated to the brave kings of Marwar. A small but lovely lake is also part of the monument.

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Similar large monuments exist also at Mandore gardens, some 15 km away where we went next. Mandore gardens is not that well maintained though, and we could see many idlers playing cards or lying asleep on the garden's benches, something the police authorities need to take care of.

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Mandore gardens is a large place, with lots of monkeys and parakeets, as seen here.

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I believe Jodhpur certainly deserves a two to three day visit for families of a South Indian background. Be sure to spend two days there for your kid to understand his/ her history lessons better, and of course to add to your own knowledge of Marwar history as well!
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Old 1st December 2012, 03:42   #2
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Default Re: Jodhpur: A must visit for a South Indian family

Very good pics with apt description, thanks a lot for sharing.
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