Next day after having had a hearty breakfast we headed for Mandore town located approximately 9 km north of Jodhpur. It’s an ancient town with remnants of a ruined fort, which once must have been a fine piece of architecture. We could see a ruined temple in the fort. It must be pretty huge sometime down the history and on the outer walls of the temple we could still see the finely carved images of birds, animals and planets. We had a good walk in the Mandore gardens. There are some old and beautiful temples in this garden, but I wish the place was maintained better. Though looking at the cenotaphs was very interesting and the museum was also good but with so many monkeys around we couldn’t hang there for much time.
Later we were taken to the Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum. This palace is huge, elegant and well preserved. The major portion of the palace is used by the Maharaj Gajsingh and is not open to the public and a significant part of the palace is a luxury hotel. A part of the palace houses a museum with a fairly good collection on display. The Maharaj’s vintage car collection was awesome. After having spent around two hours in the palace we had tea and snacks and left for Osian another ancient town. Though it was around one and half hour drive away but as we had heard a lot about it from the locals we decided to go and have a quick look. Anybody who is interested in archaeology would love to come here. The place is surrounded by golden sand dunes and small hamlets. There were in all sixteen brilliantly carved and planned temples. I liked Sun Temple the most. The guide told us that it was constructed somewhere in the 10th century. There were many sculptures inside the temple and a statue of sun God. Such old heritage must be preserved well, but one could see the damages due to sheer neglect. We also had a fun camel ride.
Instead of having dinner in the hotel we had a stop at a local restaurant and there we enjoyed the Jodhpur cuisine. We had ‘kachori’, ‘ladoos’ and ‘buttermilk’. It’s like a tradition out here to have something sweet first followed by the main course. Must say it was great fun. We had a long day, as we were to go to Udaipur next day; we headed back to the hotel. Whichever place I visit, it just gets under my skin and leaving it makes me sad. But anyways, Udaipur wait for me….HERE I COME!
Once the lunch was over our guide asked us “how about some zips around the walls of the fort and some extra fun?” When asked what he was talking about, he told us that there is a zip line tour ‘Flying Fox Jodhpur’ inside the property of Mehrangarh fort. The tour comprises of 6 separate ziplines which fly you around the fort providing extraordinary and unique views. Along with the expert guides one can zip over battlements, lakes and valleys.
It was a most amazing, spectacular and thrilling experience for us. It was windy and I could feel myself soaring over the ‘blue city’. All the zips were fantastic but the last zip was the longest and the best. The zip line is not exactly in the fort premises but is outside the fort walls and the fort gives an excellent backdrop to the zipping experience. The thrill of zipping over water bodies was great. We had so much fun, something I shall always remember.
On our way back we had a stop in Jaswant Thada, the final resting place of Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Next to a lake in a picturesque location this white marble memorial is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. The lake was full of birds and with the setting sun we got some excellent pictures. Though our stop in this place was brief, but I must say that the serenity and calmness of the place had a peaceful effect on me.
En route to the hotel we went to Clock Tower. It’s in the old city of Jodhpur with a big shopping area. The place was swarming with vendors and buyers. While walking down the street and checking the local stuff the strap of my sandel broke. It was difficult to walk with a broken strap and I asked the first likely looking vendor, if he could fix it. He nodded in several affirmatives and asked me to follow him little bit down the street where he handed over my sandal to another man, who within few minutes took out a new strap from his bag and fixed it. Also gave a good brushing to my sandals and here they were as good as new. In twenty five rupees everything was done. Back home I could not imagine such quick service.
After buying few gifts for friends and families and having a good time roaming we made our way back to the hotel.
After having a wonderful time in Ahmedabad, I and my friends headed for the city of Jodhpur. We were told that this city is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Rajasthan. And rightly so located on the foothill of a sandstone hillock, the city of Jodhpur looks like an oasis in the vast desert.
The flight from Ahmedabad to Jodhpur was quite comfortable and as we had already booked our tour there was staff from the hotel waiting for us on the airport to assist and guide us to their hotel Ajit Bhawan Palace which apparently is India’s first heritage hotel as told to us by the staff. Set in a peaceful and calm environment this palace turned hotel was once a home to the members of the Jodhpur royal family. The ambience was so good that the moment we stepped in there we felt like a guest of Maharaj’s family. Our rooms had a beautiful garden view. After keeping our luggage in the respective rooms we just sat in the balcony to unwind and relax. Most of the staff in the hotel was dressed in the traditional attire. I was mighty pleased to see the tall turbaned man who brought us tea and sandwich. The excitement had started to seep in, this I could feel and I was eager to take what Jodhpur has to offer to us.
Our first destination was Mehrangarh Fort. Perched high on a cliff and four hundred feet above the skyline of Jodhpur, it’s a magnificent fort. The view of it imposing over the city is simply incredible. Here I must say that the audio guided tour was very helpful. I found it very interesting that seven gates have to be crossed to reach the fort and just to be a witness to the marks of the cannon balls by the attacking armies on the gates was like getting transported to the bygone era! The gates had different names and most of them were constructed to commemorate victories over enemies. Inside the fort there were many palaces and each had their own sprawling courtyards. One of the palaces still has the royal throne of Jodhpur. Apart from the palaces it has many galleries and temples. The museum is fantastic; it is one of the well-stocked museums in Rajasthan they say. Many movies have been filmed in this fort. One could easily spend a day here. The landscape, the architecture, the artistry, the scale, the details…everything is magnificent. There is a lift which takes you to the roof of the fort from where you can enjoy bird’s eye view of the entire city and can also have a look at the cannons on display.
It was crowded with so many locals holidaying and having fun with the families. One little boy wanted to get photographed with me but was little shy to approach. And when I said “how about a photograph with me”, he was all smiles. It was good to see women in beautiful saries walking around the old courtyards looking at their old heritage.
We spent the whole afternoon walking and appreciating the interiors and were famished now. The lunch was already organized by the hotel for us so we decided to have it before getting further on.