Our hit and run visit to the Blue City of Jodhpur

The views over the Blue City from Mehrangarh Fort The views over the Blue City from Mehrangarh Fort

We got up after a small sleep-in following our late arrival the previous night and got ready for our sole day in the Blue City of Jodhpur. Jack and I smashed a bowl of cornflakes each while Sarah had a couple of slices of dried toast and a pot of black tea delivered to the room. She’s still trying to get over her Delhi belly (which she actually brought with her from Thailand) so it’s yet another boring meal for her.

Once again the guys running our guesthouse were first class with their service. They offered us a room for the day at no charge to store our belongings, give Jack his midday sleep, and us a place to get out of the heat if need be as we wait for our overnight train to Delhi. It’s the quiet season at the moment so there’s space for them to offer this to us, but it’s still nice and we were very appreciative.

By the time we left our guesthouse we had about nine hours to kill before we had to make our way to the railway station for the final leg of our Indian adventure. Here’s what we got up to during our stay in Jodhpur:

Mehrangarh Fort

The main internal road at Mehrangarh Fort

The main internal road at Mehrangarh Fort

Our hotel is situated right at the base of Jodhpur’s huge fort, so we took off on foot through the tiny, winding back alleys towards the main entrance. We had Jack in his pram because we were sure he’d fall asleep at some stage. The climb to the fort was very steep and the road was too bumpy to push Jack, so I had the unenviable task of once again carrying both Jack and the pram up the hill. It was hot and at least a few hundred metres, so as you can imagine I arrived at the entrance absolutely drenched in sweat. Still, I’d been in India for two weeks by this stage so I was used to it.

We didn’t realise you don’t have to actually pay to enter the fort, but as we entered we were pointed towards the ticket window by an official looking guy. We paid 1000 rupees ($AU20) which is quite expensive for sites in India, but that got us both into the museum and palaces, and allowed us to use our camera and video. It’s customary at a lot of Indian sites to be charged for permission to use still and video cameras, which I think is asking a lot. We pay more for an Indian visa than almost every other country on Earth, plus expenses such as flights, accommodation, food, transport and any souvenirs you may buy, bringing billions of tourist dollars into the country. Then when you get to a site, if you want to take a photo you have to pay extra for the privilege! To rub salt into the wounds, in many sites there’s people performing or playing traditional music which you’re expected to pay for if you take a photo or shoot some vision. So after you’ve paid for the right to take a photo, when you do you’re obliged to make a donation to the performer. Talk about trying to get your money out of your wallet at every opportunity.

The elaborate detail inside the palaces at Mehrangarh Fort

The elaborate detail inside the palaces at Mehrangarh Fort

As we were to discover we didn’t actually have to pay to enter the fort, just if we wanted to go into the museum. As it turns out the museum allows access to a huge section of the fort, including palaces, artefact rooms and internal courtyards, and it’s very impressive what you see and find out. If you only want to take a look inside the walls of the fort and not pay, you’ll be able to walk around a couple of the internal roads and make your way to the edge of the fort where the cannons are situated, offering incredible views of the Blue City below. As part of your entrance fee you get a complimentary audio guide which really added to the experience. On the flipside, if you’re in a wheelchair or have a child in a pram and want to use the elevator, you have to pay! Another example of charging at every opportunity.

We spent a couple of hours in the fort before we made our way back to the guesthouse for Jack’s midday sleep. Incredibly Jack had stayed awake during our entire visit to the fort, but I still had to carry him and the pram down the stone paved walkways and stairs to the guesthouse. Needless to say I was exhausted and was happy to have a rest while Jack slept.

Sardar Market and the Clocktower

The prominent clock tower at Sandar Market

The prominent clock tower at Sandar Market

After we’d eaten our delicious lunch at the hotel, done some work and Jack had woken up, we headed for another popular Jodhpur destination which is also within walking distance of our hotel. While it took a while to get to the Kesar Heritage Guesthouse the night before thanks to our dodgy tuk tuk driver, it is in the perfect position to see Jodhpur’s best sites all within walking distance.

We stepped through one of the main gates leading into Sardar Market and were confronted with a battering of our senses from all the noise, colour and movement crashing into us all at once. It was busy, chaotic, and looked to be completely out of control, much like most other markets we’d come across in India. But somehow it worked and we started to explore the different stores in the area.

We wanted to buy Caitlin, Sarah’s friend who is looking after us in Abu Dhabi while we find our feet, something authentically Indian, so we headed into a tea and spice shop who’s owner seemed like a nice guy. He sat us down and we begun to smell the spices and teas from the containers he was opening for us. He also served us probably the most delicious cup of tea I’ve ever drunk. It was a combination of saffron, cinnamon and cardamon, and I’m definitely going to try and make it myself next time we settle down somewhere. We really didn’t have many rupees left until we flew out from Delhi Airport the following day, and he only sold large bags of teas and spices. So we said our thanks and made our way back into the market to find a selection of smaller bags that we could take with us. Luckily we came across another store that sold what we were looking for, so we bought spices for potato masala, Indian masala and chicken tikka masala, as well as bags of Darjeeling and masala tea, all for the princely sum of 250 rupees ($AU5). He even wrapped them up in a nice printed cotton carry bag which saved us the cost of finding a nice bag to wrap them in.

One of the main entrance gates to Sandar Market

One of the main entrance gates to Sandar Market

As has been the case at most other markets or shopping districts we’ve visited on our travels, we had many people approach offering ‘assistance’ to find the places with the cheapest prices. It always starts the same, ‘where are you from’, ‘lovely country’, ‘I have friends there’, blah, blah, blah. These guys work on commissions and almost always claim they are sending us to a government run outlet which is cheaper than the privately owned outlets. Then when they point these places out they look nothing like government owned shops, but just like all of the others in the marketplace. After our initial experiences in Delhi we’re well aware of these lies, so just laugh to ourselves, say thanks and keep looking around for ourselves. We understand these guys have to make a living, particular given the hardships faced by many Indians on a daily basis, but we don’t like being lied to.

After a few hours wandering around Sandar Market we made our way back to the guesthouse to rest up for an hour before making our way to the railway station to catch our overnight train back to Delhi, then to the International Airport to catch our flight to Dubai.

There’s plenty of other places to visit in the Blue City of Jodhpur, including Umaid Bhawan Palace and Jaswant Thada (cenotaph on the edge of a lake), but we didn’t have enough time, although we feel another 24 hours would have been enough time spent in Jodphur.

The hotel organised a tuk tuk to take us back to the Railway Station, as well as the fare which was half what we paid on the night we arrived, and we were on our way back to Delhi to leave India for our next adventure in the Middle East.

Click through the photo gallery below to see some great shots of our stay in the Blue City of Jodhpur…

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