Sun City: Jodhpur
A hot cup of coffee is my utmost requirement when I am tired and post my shopping adventure I sure was tired, famished and in no state to go searching for a coffee cafe near the “Clock tower” of Jodhpur though it has many eateries catering quick bites. The market place near the clock tower is the much sought after shopping area for handicrafts and ethnic clothes.
Someone told me to head for “Shri Mishrilal Hotel” which isn’t a hotel really but a small room in the extended arms of the Sardar Kot Gate known for its thick ‘lassi’ or sweetened and very thick buttermilk. This little joint exists since 1927 and is recommended by the Lonely Planet Guidebooks. It lived up to its fame because after one glass full of the lassi and a plate of Jodhpur’s famous ‘mirchi vada‘ (stuffed and fried large chilli) I was myself stuffed enough to skip dinner.
The much written about and much visited Jodhpur is famous for its forts, palaces, lakes, Rajasthani meal thali and furniture much of which is exported. Besides shopping, the love for architecture, history and visiting new places becomes an added reason for my weekend trips to Jodhpur from Barmer, my current place of residence.
Jodhpur is known as the sun city may be because the rulers of the Marwar were sun worshippers and also because the city enjoys bright sun all through the year. It is also called blue city because of the blue painted houses which can be seen from the fort ramparts. Probably the blue colored houses were meant for the upper caste brahmins during earlier days.
In a recent two day trip to Jodhpur, I squeezed in some time to visit the well known Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan besides my shopping spree.
MEHRANGARH FORT :
This magnificent 500 year old largest fort of India still stands tall with thick sturdy walls on a hill 400 ft above the city spreading to a massive 5 km expanse. The original name was “Mihir-Garh” (Mihir=Sun + Garh= fort) but due to mispronunciation and local slang it acquired the current name.
The existing fort was made during the reign of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, in 1638. There are about five stories to the fort added by successive rulers. The fort museum houses large collection of paintings,armory, palanquins, head gears and turbans, musical instruments etc.
The fort has seven colossal gates one of which still bears the cannonball marks that hit the gate during the attack. Following the attack the fort walls were raised and another gate, the Loha Gate which was the seventh and last gate, was added to the fort.
The fort also houses grand palaces like Sheesh Mahal or the mirror palace, Phool Mahal or flower palace which are decorated with Belgium glass, intricate gold work, hand woven huge rich carpets etc..
Every year Mehrangarh fort host the Rajasthan International Folk Festival in October. Local musicians, dancers and famed artists participate in the festival. The current maharaja is the chief patron of the festival. Considered to be one of the best 25 international festivals, it is also supported by UNESCO.
I haven’t had the chance yet to see the festival but I did listen to the street artists who attract tourists by playing their instruments within the fort complex.
A major part of the palace is converted to a hotel managed by the Taj Hotels and was out of bounds for visitors. Out of the 347 rooms that the palace has only 10 rooms are accessible to tourists.
The king employed thousands of villagers for construction of the palace to provide them employment at the time of famine.
The palace boasts of a collection of vintage cars of the current owner of the palace Maharaja Gaj Singh.
There are many places within Jodhpur which I still haven’t visited and there is loads of shopping yet to be done. I must plan for a longer stay in Jodhpur, I guess….