Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 1st December 2009, 09:32   #1
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default Desert Triangle Travelogue (Road trip in Rajasthan)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover !

These words, spoken by Mark Twain a long time back, have been the motivator of many a journeys in the annals of time and this trip of mine is one of them. Sometime in August me and my wife were discussing about how little we have seen the diversity that is spread across our own country – India. As I pondered upon where to start from with a dear friend of mine stationed in Jaipur currently, he said – Why not Rajasthan ? Fantastic ! - I thought and kicked in planning for a Rajasthan trip as part of my wedding anniversary celebration coming up in November. The occasion was right and the time couldn’t have been better since I was looking at a trip from Nov. 13 to Nov. 22. This would be just before the Thanksgiving week but after the Pushkar fair which means less tourists would be around. At this time, the days are pleasant and nights are freezing. A perfect combination to experience the desert!



Itinerary: We planned to fly in and out of Jaipur and cover Rajasthan by road in a car with four of us – my friend and I along with our spouses.
The route we had planned for the next 7 days was (refer the map):
  1. (A) Jaipur – Starting Point
  2. (B) Bikaner (Break)
  3. (C) Jaisalmer (Halt)
  4. (D) Sam Sand Dunes (Halt)
  5. (E) Jodhpur (Halt)
  6. (F) Udaipur (Halt)
  7. (G) Ajmer & Pushkar (Break)
  8. (H) Jaipur – Completion Point
Our planned driving distance was 1700 kms. spread over a period of 6 days but we ended up doing 2000 kms. door-to-door from Jaipur.

As we prepared to leave Jaipur for our long journey across the sand kingdom of Rajasthan in the early hours of a clear November day, I felt an excitement I had not experienced in a long time. The air had a refreshing chill about it and the dawn seemed to hint of adventures ahead.


On the road: Gold has been the source of many expeditions in the history of mankind and it is no wonder that we chose Jaisalmer – the Golden City – as our first destination in this long journey.
We planned the longest single-day drive of our journey on Day 1 itself - 700 km. from Jaipur to Jaisalmer via Bikaner. All other lags of our journey were about 4-5 hours each while this one would turn out to be 14 hours long.
The roads in Rajasthan are very drivable, generally speaking. No surprise potholes or sudden diversions. The fact that traffic is almost negligible as you move deeper west into the heart of The Great Thar Desert is also something that help you speed up more as you get settled in your highway drive mode. The land around you is not completely sand, but rather full of scrubs and bushes with lot of Babool (Acacia) trees holding the sand in place.



Within no time, you break the 100 kmph barrier and find yourself gliding smoothly on mostly straight, 2 lane roads.

Sikar: We left at 5.30 AM from my friends house in Jaipur and were out of the city limits without much delay.
One thing that glares most prominently as you drive deeper into the countryside is the fact that the sight of humans becomes rarer. Contrary to the sparse flora and fauna, there was ample wildlife that I witnessed on the way throughout our journey in the desert land of Rajasthan. There are deer, foxes, hyenas, camels and a lot of wild asses (yeah !).
We stopped for tea at a place called Rashidpura
(Tip: Bad choice, so better stop at Sikar) about 90 kms. on our way. Sikar is about 115 kms. from Jaipur and is a small, confusing town. I say confusing because we got lost finding our way to NH11 and spend a good 45 minutes in the interiors of the town being directed from one person to another in opposite directions. It was our luck that we finally spotted the Sikar railway station, with NH11 alongside and were back on track !



Bread and Butter (2 pieces) – Rs. 50: We continued forward and took a tea break near Rajaldesar (around 100 kms. from Sikar) in a dhaba level eatery called Midway Kurja. I am mentioning it because this was my first experience of a tourist trap as I had only heard of them so far. This place had a huge gated parking space which was filling up with tourist buses as we parked at the dhaba. It was an old, stripped down building with primarily 3 sections – inside dining area, open dining area and shopping area. Guess which one was the largest of them all ? Shopping, of course !
Each and every handicraft item in that shopping area was marked up 5 to 10 times and even my wife was reeling with disbelief on the price tags. As expected, no waiter was interested in us and we had to scramble around to get to a menu. Bread and Butter (2 pieces) – Rs. 50 : this is how the first item was listed on that menu and the rates grew exponentially with the items as we scrolled down on the menu card. I asked the waiter if this menu was meant for the foreigners. He smiled and answered: “Sir, that menu is kept separately. This is desi (Indian)menu specially for our Indian guests.” I wondered how much bread butter would be priced in that menu and closed it with a cold sigh…
However, the mother of all extortions was going on in front of the rest room and is worth a mention. There was one guy standing with a pack of napkins outside the door of the rest rooms. Sounds hospitable ? Well, except for the fact that he was charging 10 rupees for the napkin, it was really a nice gesture. Let us also not consider that napkins were not available in the rest rooms, not sure of toilet paper though.
After witnessing all this, we made haste in order to reach Bikaner in time for lunch. However, after driving 25 kms. I realized that I had dropped my cell-phone at the midway tourist trap and we drove back all the way to the dhaba. New buses, new prey and my cell phone was found in the sands of parking.

We reached Bikaner around 1.30 PM and decided to drop our plans of going through the city. Originally I had planned to eat in the heart of the city but had a backup in mind, just in case, you know. So we drove directly to Vasant Vihar Palace, a heritage hotel near the famous Lalgarh Palace in Bikaner. It was highly recommend by a colleague who was from Bikaner and this is where I first tasted 2 of the most authentic Rajasthani dishes – Ker Sangri and Govind Gatte ki Sabji. I must say, I didn’t find another preparation for these 2 vegetarian dishes anywhere in Rajasthan that could rival what I had in Bikaner.
(Tip: This place is very tastefully restored and has some nice antique furniture inside. It also functions as a hotel and I can confidently recommend it for stay if you are stopping at Bikaner.)



By 3 PM we were back on the road to Jaisalmer after having some great food.

From Bikaner NH15 starts that takes you directly to Jaisalmer. We moved on to our destination and took 2 more tea-breaks at some decent highway eateries. Good tea is common across Rajasthan highways, I must tell you that ! However, the price can vary from Rs. 5 to Rs. 25 depending on the distance of the next stop from where you have stopped. We also had an encounter of the wild kind with a deer. We saw this beauty beside the highway and braked to take a snap. However, this creature was in a playful mood and seemed to know our intentions. So, this fellow kept hiding behind the bushes when I got closer and would return back when I would start walking back in dejection. Finally I was able to capture this deer (in my camera) and we were again on the run to reach Jaisalmer in time.



It was almost 7 PM by the time we reached Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is where I firsthand experienced distinct culture and people of Royal Rajasthan.
Note: If I had taken a stopover at Bikaner, following is what I would have definitely done during my stay in addition to the usual stuff. This information is the result of a lot of research so I felt like sharing it for those who may be visiting Bikaner:
  • Visit Bhikaram Chandmal for all your Bhujia (famous Bikaner snacks) needs. Buy packed Rasgulla, Gond Ka Halwa and Moong Ki Dal Ka Halwa (only in winter) from there as well.
  • Infront of Bhikaram Chandmal is a sweet shop. Get some Khatta Chooran for your better half from there.
  • Beside Bhikaram, there is a beetle shop called Moolsa Foolsa Panshop. Try his Meetha Pan and thank me as you go through cloud 9.
  • A couple of shops away from Bhikaram is Bishanlal Babulal. Go there if you are interested in tasting/buying some Lehsun Bhujia.
  • Chotu Motu Joshi Mithai Shop is a famous landmark in Bikaner for samosas, kachoris and rasmalai. However, it’s not up to the mark these days and can be avoided. Same for Chhappan Bhog near Station Road. However, I hear that their Rajkachori is still worth killing for.
  • Also ask the locals about the location of Sankhla kulfi which promises to sell the best Kesar kulfi in Bikaner.
  • For shopping I would limit my recommendation to bhujias, papad and bari in Bikaner.
  • Try to stop at Gajner Palace as you move towards Jaisalmer from Bikaner. Inside information is that they will let you have a private tour inside the palace on request (It’s a private hotel property now and no public tours are available).
I will write about the Jaisalmer adventures in my next post shortly.
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 10:01   #2
Senior - BHPian
 
shishir_bn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,192
Thanked: 104 Times
Default

Nice start. So put up PART-2 and your car pic also. This is very important in any travelouges
shishir_bn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 11:45   #3
BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kottayam
Posts: 588
Thanked: 2 Times
Default

Wow, this is nice start! fantastic narration and beautiful pictures looking forward to more from you.
Majic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 12:09   #4
BHPian
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Kottayam
Posts: 588
Thanked: 2 Times
Default

Hey Umar, this is your first travelogue and you write like an expert, oh i am really surprised at the cost of bread and butter!! I just can imagine the rest of the menu! Looking forward to the rest of the travelogue and also good photos, which i believe you would going through the first few teasers!
Majic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 15:00   #5
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default

So here is the icing on the cake - We drove all the way in my friend's Wagon R ! Not a single issue with the car in the whole trip...not even a flat tyre. That has got me thinking about ways to use my Safari in better ways
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 15:23   #6
Senior - BHPian
 
gd1418's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 3,578
Thanked: 655 Times
Default

Umar,

I wish you had done this trip right from Hyderabad in your Safari. It would have given the truck some much required exercise...
gd1418 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st December 2009, 15:43   #7
Senior - BHPian
 
shishir_bn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,192
Thanked: 104 Times
Default

Almost a day is getting over and still no sign of 2nd part or the place pics. Post some ASAP so that we are glued to this thread
shishir_bn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd December 2009, 00:13   #8
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default Desert Triangle Travelogue (Rajasthan) – Part 2 (Jaisalmer, Akal and Sam)

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." – Miriam Beard

March to The Golden City - Jaisalmer

As we reached closer to the city of Jaisalmer, it was already dark. From all that I had read about the Jaisalmer Fort, also known as the Sonar Quila (Golden Fort), I expected to see the fort looming large upon the skyline many kilometers away from the city. I was surprised that there were no signs of the fort even when we had entered the city limits. It was only 2-3 kilometers away from the fort that it came into sight and yes, it was a sight to behold.



Later I realized that the visibility of the fort the way I experienced was actually intentional. The fort is made of yellow sandstone which turns golden as the sun sets, blending the fort as part of the yellow desert surrounding it. This fort was built in 12th century by Rawal Jaisal (hence the name Jaisal + mer) who was a Rajput king from the Bhati clan.

This fort also has the distinction of being the world's only “living fort”, which means that it is still inhabited by people (about 2000 of them).

Falling Fort: However, this unique distinction is also the bane of this magnificent fort. The fort originally had 99 bastions protecting it and I believe 9 have already collapsed due to water sewerage issues inside the fort. The fort sewerage was originally designed for a smaller number of people and water scarcity didn’t warrant high outflow as a design consideration. However, with the increased commercialization of the fort, the current sewerage system is unable to bear the load of water waste from the fort and water seepage is damaging the foundation of the fort. In fact, I saw water seepages creeping up on the sandstone walls inside the fort as well. It is indeed painful to imagine that such a great example of our cultural heritage would be gone in the near future if proper action is not taken.



Stay Experience: We had originally planned to stay at Jaisal Castle which is a heritage hotel inside the fort walls. However, after going the internet about the condition of the fort, I decided to stay outside the fort. And I couldn’t have taken a better decision when I selected [COLOR=#b32302]Pleasant Haveli[/COLOR] on a friend’s recommendation. It’s a decent hotel with clean, big rooms and very hospitable owners who run the facility personally. It is not located in a very clean area, but then you realize that its’ the same for most of the hotels near the fort area. It is located within walking distance of the fort, market and all other major attractions that I had on my itinerary. We paid about Rs. 1800 per room for 1 night. There is sufficient space to park your vehicle in front of the property and the owners ensure it is cleaned every day. I found the hotel a “pleasant” place to stay and value for money.
We checked in at 7.30 PM on Saturday at Pleasant Haveli and the owner guided us from the city entry to his hotel on his motorcycle. I liked his personal attention to us and I was informed that it is the same with all other customers. After settling in and having a quick cup of hot tea, we left the hotel to have a quick orientation walk of the fort since it was very close to the hotel. We walked through the main market called Bhatia Bazaar. It is a nice touristy place where even an Indian would feel like a foreign tourist. The shops are mostly filled up with souvenirs, antiques, handicrafts, leather works, etc. To ensure a good night sleep, we bought some leather chappals and bags.



Dinner at Trio: I had read a lot about a sweet shop called Dhanraj Ranmal in Bhatia Bazaar. Let me confirm that it was nowhere close to my expectation in terms of quality and taste of their snacks. I had planned our dinner at a restaurant called Trio. It was close by from where we were staying and was highly recommended. It lived up to its expectations, I must say. Food was fresh and tasty. Ambience was phenomenal. It was filled up with foreigners as expected, but the menu prices were hardly a pinch. We had a great dinner costing us 800 bucks for 4 people (however, we strictly maintained a vegetarian diet with no alcohol). Ask for one of the seats on the terrace with a view of the fort. It also overlooks a heritage hotel converted from an old haveli which is a delight to watch at nighttime. After a great dinner, we crashed out for the night in anticipation of the day ahead.



Jaisalmer Fort: The day started at 9 AM for us and the hotel provided us with complimentary breakfast and tea, We moved on to the magnificent Jaisalmer Fort, after looking around the markets, at 10 AM (it opens from 10 AM to 4.30 PM). Entry fees was Rs. 30 per person and Rs. 50 for camera. We took an audio guide for an additional Rs. 150. ([COLOR=#004000]Tip: [/COLOR]Audio guides are a common and great way to explore forts in Rajasthan. However, you should try it out only if you are alone since other people get bored. Also, a valid personal id is required as a deposit while taking the equipment). Most of the history we heard was very interesting and here are some photos to give you a glimpse of what we saw.



JALI WORK INSIDE THE FORT



SILVER THRONE OF THE BHATI RAJPUTS



PORTRAIT OF THE RULERS

Trivia: Guess why the pose changed from portrait 2 to 3. PM me if you know



VIEW OF THE CITY AT THE BASE OF THE FORT HILL

The Havelis: There are 7 Jain temples inside the fort, however, only 2 are open for non-Jains. Although we were not interested in visiting them, they are open from 7 AM to 12 PM every day with an entry fee of Rs. 10 (in case you are interested). We were done with the fort by 12 Noon and decided to visit the other havelis in the vicinity that are popular for their architecture. Although we saw pretty much all of them, I would say that if you have seen Patwon ki haveli, you have seen them all. It is the most lavishly decorated haveli and other havelis are no match for it. All havelis have entry fees ranging from Rs. 15 to 20 and are open between 10 AM and 5 PM generally. You will find all foreigners moving in an single direction once you come out of the fort. They are all doing the walking tour which takes them to all havelis. Just follow them and you will see everything that is there to see outside the fort. The narrow lanes of Jaisalmer are an interesting mixture of filth on the road and beautiful building by the road sides. I wish the authorities focused more on the cleanliness of these heritage lanes.



SINGLE STONE ELEPHANT OUTSIDE SALIM SINGHJI'S HAVELI

Lunch at Saffron: The reason I wrote about Trio was that it’s a place you can’t afford to miss and the reason I am writing about Saffron is that it definitely needs to be missed. This restaurant is beside Trio and set inside a heritage haveli. The setting is beautiful with lot of antique stuff spread around. It is the food and service where this place lacks heavily. Bad tasting food which I am surprised that even foreigners are able to digest. Service is poor to say the least. To top this all, manager is not ready to listen to what we have to say. One horrible lunch experience that is better forgotten.
[COLOR=#004000]Tip: [/COLOR]Jaisalmer is not a place to shop anything specific for Indian tourists. You can buy whatever catches your fancy and is priced within your range. There are better shopping options in Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur.
Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. — Lawrence Block
Akal Calling: During our discussions with the locals we heard about a wonderful place, called Akal, which I had somehow missed in my readings about Jaisalmer. Akal has a [COLOR=#b32302]Wood Fossil Park[/COLOR] that contains fossilized wood dating back 180 million years. We couldn’t control our excitement of seeing this place and wrapped up Jaisalmer by 2 PM to drive to Akal which is just 17 kms. from Jaisalmer. We were there in 20 minutes flat and were amazed at the location. It was pure pleasure seeing the volcanic putrefied rocks and as we spend time roaming around the place, we found numerous wood fossils lying at our feet. Truly an enriching experience and a must-do in any Jaisalmer visit.






STANDING ON TOP OF 180 MILLION YEARS OF HISTORY


Sam Sand Dunes: However, we had to keep our excitement in check and we started from Akal towards Sam around 3.30 PM – our camping site near sand dunes about 40 kms. from Jaisalmer. We chose [COLOR=#b32302]Oasis India[/COLOR] as our camp site and paid Rs. 3500 for one tent. The tents are clean and comfortable with attached bathrooms but nothing special to write home about. Since most of the camp sites I saw around had the same kind of Swiss tents, I feel that the only factor that would give Oasis India a little advantage would be its location – bang opposite some nice sand dunes that have a great sunset view point from the top. Oasis India provides camel rides to the dunes for seeing the sunset which is part of their package which also includes cultural programs held at the camp and food. Alcohol is available on additional charges. We rode on camel back to reach the sand dunes and sat down to view the wonderful sunset in Sam.



The cultural program started around 6.30 PM with local Rajasthani artists who team up to create an amazing atmosphere of folk music and dance. There is a constant supply of tea , and pakodas while you sit on comfortable floor mattresses around a camp fire. I had read that the performers only focus on foreigners since they expect good monetary tips from them, however, I found that it was not true. We were cheering and clapping on the performances and the artists responded by giving us a lot of focus in their acts. I believe its your interest which attracts them first, followed by money of course.



We had our dinner at 9 PM which was pretty bland. The camp cook had placed a hot chutney for Indian campers to mix in their dals to get some flavor. Nothing tasted good except for their gatte ki sabji. However, we were thankful for the food in the middle of nowhere and ate with gratitude. After some night photography of the clear starry sky, we went to our tents and slept. It was damn cold even within those tents and I had to use two blankets to keep myself warm. Next day we woke early to watch the sunrise and climbed the sand dunes on foot. We came back to our camp by 7 AM and started getting ready for our trip to Jodhpur. However, the closeness to Pakistan border was a very strong temptation for us to see. So, we all got ready, had breakfast and instead of going back to Jaisalmer for our journey to Jodhpur, started moving westwards towards the border. However, our excitement was quickly put off as the car got stuck in sand not more than 10 kms. away from the camp. (This is where I really missed my Safari !) We had to get help from a group of villagers passing us by to push the car out of the sand and then we decided that it was an omen not to be ignored. So, I filled up a bottle of Sam sand as a reminder of our exploits and started for Jodhpur at about 10 AM, much later than our initial plan but content with these eventful 2 days.




Next post: Jodhpur and its food
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd December 2009, 00:16   #9
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Umar,

I wish you had done this trip right from Hyderabad in your Safari. It would have given the truck some much required exercise...
I wish the same GD but you know how the cruel boss never gives enough days for you to do things the right way :(

Nevertheless, something is coming up for my Nautilus and will be posting about it late December.

- Umar
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd December 2009, 12:02   #10
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by shishir_bn View Post
Almost a day is getting over and still no sign of 2nd part or the place pics. Post some ASAP so that we are glued to this thread
Your post made me work overtime to get the Part 2 on the rollers
I hope you like Part 2...
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd December 2009, 12:21   #11
Senior - BHPian
 
shishir_bn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,192
Thanked: 104 Times
Default

hahahaha so now you know how demanding people in BHP forum are?. the series has to be coming continously or else people will lose intrest in the thread. Pic of places/cars etc have to be coming in to keep BHPians happy along with good narration of the story with all the technical details
shishir_bn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd December 2009, 01:24   #12
Newbie
 
Umar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 16
Thanked: 0 Times
Default Desert Triangle Travelogue (Rajasthan) – Part 3 (Wonders of Jodhpur)

  1. "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home." - James Michener

    As you would have guessed from my previous post, we were bound for a late arrival to Jodhpur given the fact that we were leaving Jaisalmer around 10.30 AM as we returned back from Sam. However, the roads were very helpful and we found our confidence returning as the roads opened up in front of us. The color of soil once again started to change as we started our journey eastwards. We reached back to the Pokhran junction from where we had arrived from Bikaner the other day. After a quick tea break, we were again flying to our destination. Stray camels are a common sight around Rajasthan and I particularly found a cute camel whom I couldn’t help shooting (from my camera). We also saw a fox who was really quick in crossing the road in front of our car but didn’t give us the opportunity to take a photograph of her graceful self.



    City Traffic: All in all, an uneventful journey that lead us into Jodhpur by 2 PM. Given the time we started, we were thankful for reaching even at this time after driving for over 330 kms. As we entered the city, suddenly the traffic exploded around us like in any big city and we were caught unaware with the size of the city. After travelling through so much of desert and seeing living history, the blares of horns and fully loaded modern shops came as a slight surprise to me. The city does not have the feel of a tourist city like Jaisalmer and it is easy to see why it is the second largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. We started wondering about the location of our lodging and became tense thinking about staying in the middle of all this hustle and bustle. However, ours fears were evaporated soon as we realized that we were crossing Jodhpur from the west towards the eastern side of the city which is much quieter and houses most of the hotels.
    Stay Option: We had booked our rooms in a guest house this time called Newton’s Manor. I had no expectations from the place but I was pleasantly surprised with the place. This guest house is run by the Newton family who live in part of the house and have converted 6 of their home rooms into guest rooms. There is a separate living area, dining area and porch for the guests. Food is made in the house and served based on your instructions. (Tip: Although I recommend this place as a great staying option under Rs. 2000, please remember that the owners are [COLOR=#b32302]taxidermist[/COLOR] and there are all kinds of stuffed animals spread around the house.) [COLOR=#b32302]Newton’s Manor[/COLOR] is a great budget option for staying in Jodhpur and is conveniently located away from the hum drum of the city. Food preparation is very good and this is where I got my first hint of the culinary prowess of Jodhpur patrons. After a quick munch, we moved for the Mehrangarh Fort at around 3.30 PM and were there within minutes after asking the route from a couple of people.



    Mehrangarh Fort: The fort is visible from a distance, but the access to the fort is not very clear for a direct drive. However, we drove up the fort hill and were standing outside the fort around 4 PM. Now this is what I call a fort ! No other fort was able to instill the same feeling in me that Mehrangarh Fort did. I don’t know how to explain that, but even after seeing all the forts in this Rajasthan trip, Mehrangarh fort stands out as a real fort where I would have liked to live if the purpose was to have wars. The towering, steep walls have a very masculine feel about them and seem like looking down on the city of Jodhpur in a protective manner. The whole of Jodhpur is visible from the fort and its truly a sight to behold. This is a place to fight from and to fight for.
    What Bhati Rajputs are to Jaisalmer, Rathore Rajputs are to Jodhpur. Jodhpur was established by a Rathore Rajput king in 15th century after more than 1000 years of rule from Mandore, a town 7 kms. outside the city of Jodhpur. The new capital required a new fort and that is how Mehrangarh fort came into being.



    I have to mention the name of Rajiya Bhambi (a skinner by caste) here because the foundations of this great fort are literally laid on him. This guy sacrificed himself by offering to be bricked alive in the foundation of the fort to protect it as a spirit since the location of the fort was said to be cursed. There’s a small memorial slab at Rao Jodha’s Phalsa, which marks the spot where he was bricked.
    In case you are interested, Jodhpur was the capital of Marwar (means region of death, literally) from where the famous Marwari people originated. Marwari businessmen are spread across the length and breadth of India (and beyond) today running some great businesses.



    Although I didn’t read it in my travel books, I found lot of female hand prints at one of the gates called Loha Pol. These prints seemed to be revered by the locals and later I found that these are the handprints of the queens of the maharaja who committed sati (the practice of self immolation performed by a wife on the funeral pyre of her dead husband) when he died in 1843. I am somehow unable to forget those marks, reminder of a painful past and a tradition which has been abolished for good.



    All this rich history gets over you as you move around the fort and start seeing the wonders hidden inside it. There is a lift installed inside the fort to take you directly to the top of the fort roof instead of climbing up the tedious slopes of the fort. Here are some photos of the great architectural work we saw inside. The views from the fort are phenomenal and the museum inside is one of the bests I have seen.



















    After seeing the fort and surroundings, we decided it was time to discover the shopping and food haunts in Jodhpur. The best place to shop is Nai Sadak (New Road, literally), near the clock tower. Nai Sadak has a lot of shops carrying handlooms, chappals, clothes, etc. After a lot of hunting we zeroed in on a small Jodhpuri chappal shop tucked in a corner in the road beside National Handloom. They had the best quality of Jodhpuri chappals and I believe we bought over 8 pairs from there ! We saw a lot of other shops for some clothing, but couldn’t find anything that got our attention. We walked over to Clock Tower and had the famous Makhaniya Lassi at Shri Mishrilal just inside the arch of Sadar Bazaar. It sure is different but very heavy on stomach. I had a tough time digesting it to make place for the goodies planned for our dinner. By the time we finished our market hunting, it was over 9 PM so we cancelled our program of having dinner at Mehran Terrace inside Meherangarh Fort. Although we didn’t go there, it is highly recommended since the ambience is magically created by a candlelit dining experience with an exquisite view of the city. Reservations are required for dinner.



    We walked down the Nai Sadak and reached Pokhar Sweets – the epitome of Jodhpur food. I had read so much about this place that I had very high expectations from them. Although ambience is just like any run of the mill restaurant, Pokhar lived up to its reputation in food. My friend talked to the manager there and told them (in broken Marwari) how important this visit to Pokhar was for us to understand the Jodhpuri cuisine. The manager got into the groove and really made our dinner a delightful experience. We were served Govind Gatta, Gulab Jamun ki Sabji, Haldi ki Sabji, Kabuli and few other regular curries. Every dish was amazing, to say the least. In fact, I had to get up and walk out to settle down my stomach after finishing lunch. The manager brought me a Pepsi to digest the food and insisted on tasting some Gond ka Halwa. True Rajasthani hospitality
    We all came back to Newton’s Manor around 11 PM, tired and happy. Next day started with a soft knock on the door by room service at 7 AM asking us to have bed tea. After getting ready and having breakfast in the fine bone china crockery of the guest house, we were on our way to Udaipur by 9 AM. Although Udaipur is about 250 kms. from Jodhpur, we reached there around 4 PM. Why ? Well, that’s a story for the next part of this travelogue.
    Note: We didn’t see many interesting things in and around Jodhpur due to shortage of time. However, if you have time, Jaswant Thada and Umaid Bhawan Palace are a must visit. Also plan to visit Mandore (the predecessor of Jodhpur) and Bishnoi village.
Umar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd December 2009, 10:19   #13
Senior - BHPian
 
shishir_bn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,192
Thanked: 104 Times
Default

Nice exotic pic. Keep them coming if you have more. Wish you could have done this on your BEAST
shishir_bn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th December 2009, 19:42   #14
BHPian
 
sami316's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 469
Thanked: 33 Times
Default

Hi Umar,

Really looking forward to this Travelogue of yours. Please update it at the earliest as it is more than 10 days now. Please try and add some snaps of the Jodhpur market, like the chappal and Mishrilal Lassi store etc. Thanks a lot.
sami316 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 14th December 2009, 22:16   #15
Senior - BHPian
 
gd1418's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Gurgaon
Posts: 3,578
Thanked: 655 Times
Default

Umar,

You should've gone to Guda Bishnoiyan, Kailana Lake etc. Should've tasted Daal, Bati 7 Choorma at Pushpa Dal Bati shop near Jalori Gate.

And please complete the travelogue at the earliest..
gd1418 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
3 Friends & The Desert Triangle in Rajasthan Ashir Travelogues 5 5th October 2015 18:38
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan nix1976in Travelogues 85 15th November 2013 09:18
SICTT - South India Coastal Triangle Trip, 2150+ kms, 5 to 7 days!! maheshramaling Route / Travel Queries 17 25th November 2011 12:49


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 18:58.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks