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  • Day12

    Jodhpur and the Jets

    February 26, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    From Jaisalmer to Jodhpur was an easy drive - if there is such a thing as an easy Indian drive - and a surprising transition.

    Jaisalmer has the atmosphere of a desert outpost - smaller, dusty and with its admittedly astounding fort built on top of a big pile of dirt.

    Jodhpur is a much bigger place and it too has a fort - the Mehrangarh Fort - which is extensive and built on a solid stone outcrop. It is called the “blue” city for the colours of the houses of the Brahmin caste, although blue houses weren’t all that numerous really.

    Outside the gate to the fort is a memorial to the soldiers lost when Jaisalmer and Jodhpur fought over the affections of the Princess of Udaipur. This would indeed seem to be a high price to pay to get a girlfriend.

    In the company of yet another knowledgeable and passionate guide we toured the Palace - also called the “Citadel of the Sun” - which towers over a hundred and twenty metres over the streets of the city. We saw depictions of the daily life of the Maharajas, depictions of battles, including elephants with swords and - just to confuse things - horses with fake elephant trunks attached to their heads.

    Jaswant Thada, the mausoleum of the Maharajas of Marwar, is close by the fort and another magnificent work of carved marble. We are trying so hard not to get blasé about these sights, any one of which is alone worth the effort of the trip.

    On another level again was the Clocktower, Ghanta Ghar, in the middle of one of the noisiest, most chaotic markets we have seen. The was clothing or fabric on sale in one location that had the frenzied locals climbing over themselves to get hold of some.

    We stayed at the poshly-named Balsamand Lake Palace Hotel, and it was quite special.

    The hotel rooms are cleverly built into the arches under an aqueduct that formerly led water from Balsamand Lake. The grounds are perfectly manicured and are home to peacocks, monkeys and other wildlife. The dam that holds back the lake, dating from 1159, is an architectural monument in its own right, although the aforementioned monkeys seemed to regard it as their private domain and weren’t exactly welcoming toward us.

    We had drinks in the grounds, in the peace of the late afternoon and accompanied by the odd peacock, then a delicious and fun dinner on the lawn, warmed by braziers of burning timber and eating under flickering candlelight.

    That night however, some were awakened by the roar of fighter jets overhead. India and Pakistan, not exactly best buddies, were having a tit for tat shooting match after the murder of some Indian soldiers in Kashmir by Pakistani terrorists. We were only 250 kilometres from Pakistan.

    It is a privilege to see all these beautiful and exciting places, but occasionally there is a reminder that the troubles of the world may also be closer than we would want.

    The following morning, though, normal transmission resumed. We were served breakfast each morning by the oldest group of waiters we have ever come across, all handlebar moustaches and ramrod straight posture, for whom nothing was too much trouble and all seemed normal in the world once again.

    Next stop Udaipur; the adventure continues.
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