We left Delhi on Thursday, 3rd of March at 9:30 pm aboard the Mandore Express from the Delhi Cantonment Railway station. Because of all the indecisiveness regarding the destination, we booked tickets at the last possible moment. So we had the luxury of going on a non-AC, 3-tier coach. But, like all the other realizations I had on this trip, I also got to know that non-ac, 3-tier coaches aren’t so bad after all. Especially when you’re anyway not allowed to sleep till 2:30 am, the whole this-is-such-an-uncomfortable-mode-of-transport idea goes flying right out of the window (literally), and you start having a blast. So, after talking about everything under the sun, complaining and plotting to kill some teachers, gossiping about ”that weird girl” and ”what was she wearing!‘‘ topics (I am in a girls college after all), being scolded by the TC for singing the stupidest songs at the loudest volume possible and waking everyone else in the coach, we at long last went to sleep (which was also not too uneventful, as we woke up every hour, checking the time on our watches and chatting with anyone else who was awake before trying to enter dreamland again). In the morning, around a dozen alarms starting ringing within minutes of each other, and we all woke up. Saw an absolutely beautiful desert sunrise too…
Slightly groggy, with aching backs and extremely high levels of excitement, we reached Jodhpur at around 8:00 am. We were rushed onto a bus, rushed to our hotel and told to come back to the lobby within an hour. All that done, we got on the bus again and went forth to explore the Blue City :)
We first of all went to Jaswant Thada, built in memory of King Jaswant Singh II.
Our guide explained to us that pregnant women came here to worship and pray for a son. He explained, “In Rajasthan, everyone wants a son! And if you are born a daughter…” he showed a thumbs down and grinned like an idiot. Believe me when I say that this guy escaped murder by 36 hardcore feminist, sociology girls only by a hair’s breadth. Oh well. He hastily added that nowadays though, girls were just as much wanted as boys and that they were also educated just as well. The place itself was beautiful. Its called the Taj Mahal of Marwar (the erstwhile name of Jodhpur) and has a small lake right next to its premises. It’s gardens also give a fabulous view of the Mehrangarh Fort, which is where we went on next.
|Mehrangarh Fort (view from Jaswant Thada)|
The Mehrangarh Fort I thought defined royalty as it was. The fort is a massive structure, with menacingly tall parapets. But however much we all complained about having to move up the extremely long, winding path up to the very top, it was worth it. Every aching muscle and every drop of sweat was worth the whole experience. True, the stuff at the souvenir shop was madly over-priced and the guide tried to flirt with everyone, but in the end a lot of us were happy that we’d completed the whole walk and hadn’t given up in the middle like a few others. The view of the city from its topmost balconies…leave you speechless
|The Blue City|
|Umaid Bhawan Palace|
Next came the Umaid Bhawan Palace. Here we were shown pictures of the current King of Jodhpur and his family, some exhibits showing what their living rooms and dining spaces look like, how many cars the Maharaja has, his collection of time pieces, liquor containers etc. etc. etc. We were basically reminded of the fact that we were ignorant subjects, here to admire the riches of our benevolent king. Whatever.
After all this sight-seeing was what I believe the most fun part of our day. We went shopping, but that was not why it was fun. You see, there sits a palmist in Mehrangarh Fort. Who was successful in luring a few of my classmates in for a palm reading. Hearing this, two of our professors accompanying us who initially showed displeasure at the wastage of time in doing something which could very well be done in Delhi too, later decided to go to this same palmist to be able to foresee their futures. This left only one harassed young professor with the students who came back to the hotel and who wanted to go shopping before it got dark. After waiting quite a while for our seers, our other professor called them to get to know that they’d gotten lost on the way back and would take more time in getting back. This was when we all decided to move on without them. It was already dusk. The bus had gone. So we all caught hold of around 10 auto-rickshaws and piled in, took the numbers of our drivers who agreed to wait for us to shop after which they’d drop us back. After going to a market which did not fulfill our shopping requirements, we moved on to another place, which turned out to be a ‘Jodhpur Mall’. Don’t ask me who suggested this one. Oh well…after that we were at last taken to a place where we all bought some nice stuff. After that, at 10 pm we came back exhausted to the hotel, ate dinner and went up to our rooms with headaches. Tomorrow was to be another long day…but we didn’t mind :)