It ain't called the blue city for nothin'

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, December 15, 2007

As we are wont to do, we arrived in Jodhpur at 4 in the morning.  It's never fun to arrive in a new city this early, but I suppose it has some advantages.  Usually the autorickshaw drivers will take us where we want to go (not to a commission-paying hotel), and just overcharge us a little.  We ended up picking the Cosy Guesthouse.  This involved a five minute walk up narrow twisting lanes to the front door.  The rickshaw driver started unceremoniously banging on the metal grate, and in a couple minutes a sleepy Mr. Joshi came to open the door.  He told us that we could stay in a room until check-out the next morning and then switch if we so desired.  He didn't charge us for the early morning arrival (a lot of places would charge an extra night).  Our stay in Cosy Guesthouse was going to be a pretty good time.

As is usual after a bad overnight bus journey, we slept away most of the morning.  Then we went upstairs to have breakfast in the atmospheric rooftop restaurant.  Any restaurant where you can sit on cushions is a favorite of mine.  We also had a great view of the fort from here.

Eventually we decided to head out for the fort.  This was not quite as easy as it looked.  I mean, the fort towers over the city and was maybe a kilometer away.  How hard can it really be? After getting lost and wandering through some very blue back alleys, we finally stumbled upon stairs leading up to the base of the fort.  This wasn't an entrance, but we did find a trail here that led around the bottom of the walls.  It was a pretty cool hike: below stretched a sea of brilliant blue houses, while above towered the enormous bastions of the fort. 

The fort at Jodhpur is known for its audio tour, surprisingly included in the price of admission. This is the first time we've taken an audio tour on this trip, but sure enough it turned out to be a great tour.  We were welcomed into the fort by the deep, rich voice of the current Maharaja of Jodhpur.  We climbed up through the massive gates (with a right angle turn to prevent charging elephants from gaining momentum) with tons of interesting information literally being pumped into our ears.  At the gateway are the handprints of several women who, by tradition, threw themselves onto their husband's pyre.  Here we were overtaken by an army of school kids that were rushed through the exhibits.  At one point there was a discussion about hookah and the audio recording suggested that we take a smoke with the local expert by the gate.  Sure enough there was a wonderfully dressed old man with a big hookah pipe just waiting for people to say hi.  He gave us a little info and let us take pictures.  I  was pretty impressed that he didn't ask for money.  Very little is free, or even included, in India.  Apparently he is just part of the tour.  We pass through a couple more museums with various exhibits.  My favorite was the giant cosmetics box, which our narrator went to great lengths to describe, finishing with "...and now she is ready....for love" in a deep dramatic voice.

We saw various decorated rooms for pleasure and business, an art gallery, and some beautiful stonework.  It was quite a pleasure to stroll through all the history.  After the tour we climbed up on the ramparts for a lot of old cannons and some great views of the city and clock tower.  On the way down the hill we stopped at another marble monument which serves as the royal crematorium.  It was pretty and had some nice views of the fort. 

From here we struck out for Yogi's Guesthouse, reputed to have a good rooftop view of the fort.  The map showed a straight street leading down from the fort that ran straight into the guesthouse.  This turned out to be pretty far away from the truth.  But we found lots of curious kids (hello HELLO HEELLLLOOOOO) who pointed the way.  They were quite excited with the foreigners in their midst. 

At the restaurant Emily and I tried a vegetarian burger.  It was probably around a foot high, and about 5 inches of it was bun.  The bottom on mine turned out to be sweet bread (with the fruit pieces in it).  It was weird and nowhere near burger-tasting, but it was alright I suppose.  We got our great view of the fort, then wandered down into the center of the old city as the sun was setting. 

It was quite an exciting place.  We bought a bunch of spices from a fancy spice shop that sold everything in giant bags.  He explained that since we weren't associated with a guesthouse to which he was required to pay commission, we would get a good price.  I guess "what hotel are you staying at?", which we get all the time, isn't always an innocent question.

We wandered through the market stalls and the girls went nuts while I tried not to look too bored.  It was quite an interesting market, especially the parts we saw as we took an autorickshaw back to our hotel.  All kinds of spices, vegetables, lots of sweet shops, etc.  Quite an eventful place.

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the rooftop at Cosy.  We also booked a village safari for the next morning.

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