Jodhpur: A Perfect Holiday
Holidays are like hobbies – to each their own! While some like to float in luxury on their vacation, others wear the explorer’s hat. Some control freaks like me want to pack all of it in one go and try to make it ‘ideal’ in every way.
I went to Jodhpur recently, surprisingly without any major expectations or a plan. You know, I just went! I took an Air India Airlines flight from Mumbai and it landed me in Jodhpur in just about 2 hours. I had only 48 hours in the city and a lot to eat, see and even float in a little bit of luxury!
Don’t ask me why, but even though I was in Jodhpur for just 2 days and 2 nights, I had booked two different hotels to stay – one for each night. And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way, as I was about to find out!
Day 1: I took a pre-paid cab from the airport (it’s a small, old school airport) and landed at hotel # 1, Welcome Heritage Bal Samand Lake Palace. If I had to describe this hotel, I would say “It’s a heritage hotel which looks like a palace and it has a lake inside the premises.”
I had booked a cab for two days to take me around the city. Having a local drive was great because he took me to his favorite joint for daal-baati. I am a sucker for daal-baati.
1. Jaswant Thada
A beautiful mausoleum made with marble. Serene yet flocked with foreigners. You may have a hard time finding an English speaking or Hindi speaking guide. French speaking guide? No problem. German speaking guide? Absolutely no problem.
2. Mehrangarh Fort
Love, love, loved it! Get one of those audio guides and simply get lost in this fort! It is full of stories and cultural stuff keeps happening inside. For example, in the main open space inside the fort, you can see how the traditional Rajasthani pagadi is tied. You can even taste some opium inside. Or even come in close contact with spirituality in a small room with someone playing music meant to align your chakras (I hope I got that part right).
3. Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum
It was like other Indian museums for royal families. A part of this palace is where the royal family still resides. I was very fascinated by the family though – wondering how it must be to be born into a royal home and live like a royalty. I remember spending at least 10 minutes looking into a picture of Raja Gaj Singh – when he was a little boy in his mother’s arms; alongside a present day picture of him and his family – wife, kids and mother.
That was pretty much what I covered on Day 1. Add to that a heavy daal-baati lunch followed by a heavier dinner at Bal Samand’s open air restaurant.
The staff of the restaurant went OUT OF THEIR WAY to feed me. I simply asked, “Are you serving fish today?” and they informed me they were not. I didn’t think about it again but soon enough, the manager came along with the person serving my table and said, “Ma’am we got some fish kababs made for you!”
I was totally floored. And as if that was not enough, they literally co-erced me to have their gajar halwa. Now I was full, really really full. So I kept refusing. Then I overheard the manager telling in a low-tone the person serving my table, “She doesn’t want the halwa right now. So please send it to her room after 15-20 minutes.” It was almost like they were conspiring for me to eat the dessert! It was really sweet of them and by then I did not have the heart to say no. So I took a loooong walk in the beautiful path outside my room and then had the halwa too!
4. Lake at Bal Samand
I had a hearty breakfast and took a walk towards the lake inside the hotel. It is so quiet and serene. A great place to spot colorful birds and a lone langur that ran past me like he was on a mission and scared me to bits!
The lake inside Bal Samand Lake Palace Hotel
4. Blue Houses (near Clock Tower)
It’s an iconic clock that was installed many decades ago. You can go right to the top and see how it works! The area around the clock tower is a crowded market, best explored on foot. Keep going inside and you will see the iconic blue houses of Jodhpur.
5. Osian – Temple and Oasis
Osian is around 60 kms from the city. It is famous for its temples and desert oasis where you can take a camel ride.
This was end of day 2 and I checked into my second hotel: Mandore Guest House. It was quite dark by the time I reached there hence could not click too many pictures. I absolutely loved spending my evening at this quaint place which has so much greenery – flora and fauna. Each room is like a hut with ethnic artifacts and decor. The staff and owners of the place were extremely helpful and took great care of every thing. I wish I had another day to spare to simply relax at this green haven!
Needless to say, I loved BOTH the hotels very very much! Bal Samand was literally a palace with peacocks as pet friends, and Mandore Guest House was the kind of place I would usually like to stay in – only because of the personal touch and regional flavour. It’s more like a home stay, or at least that’s how comfortable I felt there.
So that was my two day yatra to Jodhpur!