Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jodhpur - the blue city

Breakfast was a lovely way to start the day, in the breezy pavilion overlooking the pool, and good to have Sophie join us again. We do like this hotel!  I could tell it was going to be another hot humid day by the way my camera was fogging up every time I went to use it.

We met with the lovely Raghu (Raghunath Singh Ragu_Rathore2003@yahoo.com  +91 9414319556, +91 9784354049) at 9.00am for a morning of sight seeing. First stop was the cool green lake and park like setting of the Jaswant Thada, the white marble Hindu memorial built in memory of the Maharaja Jaswant Singh in 1899 – 1906 by his adoring wife (Sardar). The Jaswant Thada is also the traditional cremation ground of the rulers of Jodhpur.

From this vantage point we had wonderful views of the south face of the Mehrangarh Fort and the sprawling city beneath us – with the gorgeous Raas Jodhpur in the foreground and the iconic City Palace on the horizon (site of Liz Hurley’s Indian wedding in the mid 2000s).

With the heat building (it would have reached 37-38oC today!) we were driven to the dusty car park below the entry gate to the Mehrangarh Fort and we made our way through the “high quality tourist” entrance.

The foundations of this fort, one of the largest in India, were laid in the mid fourteen hundreds by the ruler Rao Jodha, but most of what we see today was built during the sixteen hundreds. The red sandstone walls of the fort protect some of the best preserved palaces in all of Rajasthan. The current Maharajah of Jodhpur (a highly educated and cultured man) negotiated a deal with the government in the seventies that this fort could be preserved and managed as a not for profit trust – (with him and other members of his family on the board of trustees). Unlike other government requisitioned properties we’ve seen the fort and its amazing collections of costumes, paintings, palanquins and elephant howdahs is beautifully maintained and stylishly presented and none of the touts and tacky tourist trade that plagues other tourist sites we’ve seen in India!

We got our best views of the blue city from this vantage point too. The houses were originally painted blue (80% indigo and 20% white wash) to pay homage to the Brahmans (priests) who lived at the base of the fort in the earliest days of its construction – and the practice has continued to this day. No wonder Jodhpur appeals to artists and photographers!

And another turban tying lesson...

We felt like we were melting in the heat by this stage so we picked up some wonderful Jodhpur sweets on the way home from Parihar Sweets on Mandore Road (near Mahamandir Cirle) and then chilled out at our cool and luxurious hotel for a few hours. All us girls had a spoil session in the hotel spa - a massage for Jennie and me, body scrub for Judy and foot and leg massage for Sophie.

Feeling much more refreshed we met up with Raghu again at 5.00pm and he led us on another walk to the The Jain brothers Maharani Textiles & Handicrafts, Circut House Road Jodhpur, an eight floor Aladdin’s cave of textile delights – including traditional Rajasthani textile work as well as end of runs the company does for Hermes, Valentino, Mui Mui, Kenzo, Donna Karan, Etru and other designers from all over the world. Rob tells me we spent TWO and a half hours here – and we spent up big, like other luminaries including Richard Gere and Sting!! over the last few years, mainly on the bargain priced designer pieces made of the most beautiful cashmere wool and other rare sheep breeds.


With only a short while left before shops closing time Raghu bundled us into tuk tuks so we could make to the Gem & Art Plaza with enough time to spend some money there – which we all did (just like Brad and Angelina did a few years back!).

It was well after 9.00 before we got back to the hotel – shopped out, tired and sweaty. AND HUNGRY. We all enjoyed a light meal at the hotel restaurant together, time to reflect more on “incredible India” and what an amazing trip it has been so far.

No comments: