Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Feeling blue in Jodhpur

Another transfer day..... and you guessed it.....another train delay. Not so much stress this time, perhaps we're getting used to India's transport system. Like our previous journey, we ditched the train, opting instead for the bus again. The journey took seven hours and was full of fascinating scenery. From lush green countryside to crowded market villages and animals (mainly cows) everywhere.

The Blue City

Our first impression of Jodhpur was that it was smaller and less affluent than Jaipur. Our tuk tuk ploughed it's way down impossibly narrow roads lined with shops and abodes alike. We're surprised we've not seen an accident yet, the near misses are frequent. Having said that, traffic, pedestrians and animals all go about their business with minimal fuss and no road rage, just the loud tooting to let you know they are coming.

Our terrace view of Mehrangarh Fort
Any feeling of claustrophobia passed as soon as we were invited onto the roof terrace of our hotel. Up high above the busy world below, we had an incredible view of the Mehrangarh Fort, which almost looks like it's been carved into the hillside. Here too we could get a glimpse of the number of blue buildings which Jodhpur is synonymous for. Our hotel, with six rooms, is essentially a family's house which they share with their guests. As you navigate to your room or the roof terrace, you have to walk through their private space. Surprisingly it is not uncomfortable at all, in fact it made the experience all more enriching as we got to interact with the family all the time, especially their two year old daughter, who was as cute as can be especially when she blew us kisses!!

The perfect city for a Chelsea fan!

On our first full day, we decided to visit the fort we'd been admiring over breakfast. It looked in touching distance from the terrace, but as we found, there was the small matter of the labyrinth to get through followed by a steep incline. With the most basic map in the world, we made it to the fort feeling slightly unfit!! Mehrangarh Fort turned out to be our favourite fort so far, and believe me we've seen a lot. In addition to it's incredible dominating existence from afar, the inside was equally stunning. It had clearly been maintained much better than the others. The top of the fort housed numerous cannons over looking the blue city. The Maharaja's quarters were decorated with gold, silver, jewels and beautifully coloured rugs and other textiles. Examples of clothing worn over the generations and the different types of elephant carriages were included in the excellent museum. The fort also provided incredible views of the city, highlighting the pale indigo-washed buildings which apparently are not only pretty but cooling and the natural colorant helps to ward off mosquitos. We also visited the adjacent Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph built for the late Maharajas. It was very peaceful with well kept green gardens and a lake also overlooking the city.

In the evening, we took an Indian cookery lesson. Run by a lovely family in their modest home behind the front of their spice shop, we were guided through the process making of Saffron Lassi, Biriani rice, dal, Masala Chai, Paneer Masala curry, naan bread and chapati.

Anyone want naan at our next dinner party?
It was a real hands-on course, where we ate all we cooked.

Saffron lassi was full of calories, so the extra blob of butter on top of the cream and nuts made no difference!
Definitely our best food yet and made all the more interesting to hear the health benefits of each spice that we used. The course lasted over five hours and Rekka told us her story of the business with great pride. It was humbling to be in an Indian home as they are beyond basic, with open sewers, mice and an open ceiling and were glad our money went to such a family.

Silver-topped veg Biriani, nice.
On our second day, we decided to simply explore the local markets and back streets and just take it all in. It has a real local feel to it, with small shops selling just about anything you could think of, sharing the road space with cows, goats and dogs sunbathing and the school children in smart uniform chattering away and saying hello to us. There is very little hassling from people here and it makes the experience of exploring so much more pleasurable.

No road rage from this elephant.
I think it's next left and then right at the mangy goat on the corner.


  1. Wow, your trip sounds fantastic so far and to think you've still got so much more to experience. Looking forward to your next entry. Enjoy the rest of your journey and stay safe. Love Helen T xx

  2. Hi Rob and Sonja, what an amazing time you are having. The blog and photos capture it all so well. India is such a great place for an adventure and the way you have planned it seems to be working brilliantly. Where is it next? Udaipur or Jaisalmer and a horse trek? We are enjoying reading every bit. All is well here. I am just back from the Maldives, where I ran five teacher workshops with close to 200 teachers and, yes, visited a paradise tourist island for a couple of days at the end. What a beautiful part of the world, but plagued with plastic rubbish just like India. The teachers are really worried that their beautiful islands will one day be under water! Back to school and snow on my return. It's snowing as I type so there is a chance we may not be open tomorrow!?! Keep well and thanks for sharing your fantastic experiences and reflections with us :) Richard, Charlotte, Sebastian, Natasha, Caitlin and Saskia xxxxxx