Friday, April 17, 2009


Day 402
At 5:30 in the morning I heard people screaming Jodhpur, Jodhpur. I figured they were letting people know that that was where the bus was headed. Then they knocked on my door and told me to get off. I was so tired that I didn't even bother to bargain and took the first price that the tuk-tuk driver offered me. I didn't mind paying the bit extra either when he parked and walked me up the big hill to my hotel of choice. After checking in I went right to sleep.

When I woke up I got my act together and quickly headed out for breakfast. In my hurry I had forgotten to bring my bottle of water and nothing seemed open yet. I kept thinking that if I could just find the main square I would find both water and breakfast. Somehow I got lost and ended up at a scenic outlook. After a few pictures I headed back down the hill and slipped. There were about six locals who saw and they all looked like they were going to come and help me up but they were too far and I was up quickly. As I walked towards them I had to pass a cow. One of the women began to ask if I was ok but stopped mid sentence, they all had expressions of horror on their faces and took a few quick steps towards me. Thats when I felt something on my back, it was the cow, I screamed and ran forward a few steps. They shooed the cow away. I'm just happy that it didn't bite me!

After the cow incident I continued my quest for breakfast but somehow ended up half way to the Mehorangarh fort. I knew that there was a place to eat up there so I just kept going. I passed loads of kids in school uniforms who asked me for pens, chocolate and then money. The little girls would grab my arm with the henna on it and then compare their arm to mine while making comments about how pale I was. Can't people see that I'm more tan now than I have ever been in my life?!?!?

When I finally made it to the top I found the restaurant quickly and ordered water before I even sat down. I also had a yummy lime soda, a new favorite of mine. The food wasn't too bad either. When I had finished eating I headed back down the hill to buy a ticket. The Meherangarh fort is meant to be one of the best in India and the only one with a well down audio guide that comes free with the tourist price ticket.

Jodhpur is in part of India that is known as the Marwar Kingdom. Marwar means the land of death, spooky. Construction began in 1514, but first a hermit had to be thrown off of the land. The hermit cursed the area to always be short of water. To counteract this a volunteer was sacrificed to the gods. There is a plaque to commemorate his sacrifice.

One of the gates had several small hand prints on it. It used to be custom for widows of dead maharajahs to throw themselves onto his funeral pyre. The last time this happened was here in 1843. The hand prints are in memory of those women.

From the fort you can get an amazing view of the city. Most of the buildings are painted blue to keep them cool and to ward off bugs. Rudard Kipling said that Jodhpur was "the work of angels and giants."

Inside the fort different rooms had different types of displays. One room was full of elephant riding seats. Anther full of the kind of seats that get carried by people. I don't know what these are called. In 1924 an Indian queen visited London for the first time and brought her hand carriage with her. It was set up for purdah, to protect her from the gaze of men. After being here for a bit I can understand why some women would want this! The English press did everything they could to get a picture of her but only ever managed to see her ankles. The Indian ministry was so angry about this that they bought every copy of the paper so that it wouldn't reach India.

Upstairs there were several beautifully decorated rooms. The lattice work of the windows was amazing. Several of the rooms were off limits to go in, but the audio guide would point out something small in a far corner, this was a bit annoying. One really interesting thing was the the current maharajah, his children, mother and wife all took part in presenting the rooms. The maharajah even talked about when he was crowned at age 3.

When I was done with the fort I went looking for the clock tower. After some time and lots of asking directions I found it. It wasn't all too impressive. I did stop at a place that had amazing lassis though, this is a yogurt drink. The place was kinda like a 1950's diner and they just brought out handfuls of cups every few minutes, not even bothering to ask what people wanted.

After some negotiation I got a tuk tuk to Jaswant Thada, a memorial to a maharajah of the same name. The white marble was amazing, but you had to take off your shoes and it was very hot on my feet. I'm lucky I didn't slip I was moving so fast. There as a really good view of the fort from here as well. When I came out the tuk tuk driver I had tried to way over charge me to go back to my hotel. To show him I decided to cut off my nose to spite my face and walked all the way down the sunny hill without a sidewalk. I ended up in a residential area with people looking at me funny. Eventually I found a guy who seemed to know where I wanted to go. He then took me to the wrong hotel and told me that it was the right one. Like I wouldn't know where all of my things were. I told him that I wouldn't pay him unless he took me to the right place. He wanted to charge me double and I got out. He then conceded and took me where I wanted to go.

Back at the hotel I bought some water and took a shower. It was really hot and I wanted to cool down. Eventually I fell asleep for a bit. After dinner at the hotel I packed up and headed to the train station. I was a bit nervous, the guy I had bought the ticket from was meant to have emailed my seat assignment to me but hadn't. I wasn't sure if I would be more irritated about the money or the lost time. Luckily, when I got there I went to the inquires desk and they had my seat for me. After settling on the train I quickly fell asleep.

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