The streets of Jodhpur, India, aren't exactly crawling with tourists. While talking with the staff at our hotel, the average time a tourist usually spends there is only two, possibly three days at most. It's a very real and very chaotic city, but stay there a bit longer and you'll find there are some stunning attractions any visitor exploring India ought to seek out.
While there is a new Jodhpur slowly emerging beyond the old walls of the city that surround the majestic fort, one walk through these ancient streets and you'll find yourself instantly a part of this colorful world. As a westerner traveling outside of the country, it's always wise to be on guard for scams and pick pockets, but overall, you'll find the people of Jodhpur to be quite engaging and genuinely friendly. Navigating the uneven and dusty roads can be difficult, but the terrain isn't the only challenge. It's impossible not to stop at every inch allowing yourself to get lost in brightly painted buildings, chasing shadows down narrow alleys or admiring signature Indian architecture of scalloped arches, ornate columns and hand carved wooden doors. And then there's the people.
The bold hues of silk sarees appear even more vibrant amongst the desert's reflection.
Rainbows of pink, green and gold seem to radiate off of the many homes painted Jodhpur blue.
Street vendors are ubiquitous, selling everything from homemade sodas, to spices, produce and textiles.
While the old city is a sight worth spending hours wandering aimlessly, the largest and perhaps most well known symbol of Jodhpur is Mehrangarh Fort.
Built in the 1400's, this imposing structure made of red desert sandstone, sits high above the city. We jumped in a tuk tuk (Indian taxi) for 130 rupiah; it's a steal at $2.50 and a much better option than attempting to hike up. The ride is an exciting one. Darting through the traffic of mopeds, massive cows, women carrying water barrels overhead and stray dogs that dart out to attack moving vehicles, it's a slightly terrifying high. And the honking horns never cease. I'm not sure I've ever come closer to feeling as though I was actually in a video game. Everyday I'd imagine an Indian video game, in which you were the tuk tuk driver on a mission to thwart a crime at a crowded bazaar or maybe you were trying to stop thieves who stole a cargo's worth of spices on a packed train headed to Delhi. In my opinion, a game involving traffic, life and a bit of fiction in India would be far more interesting than any version of Grand Theft Auto ever could be. I cringed a few times thinking we might side swipe another tuk tuk or worse yet, veer off the side of a very thin road devoid of guard rails. But fate was in the hands of our skilled tuk tuk driver wearing a yellow Ferrari polo shirt. He was a pro and we made it safely to the top.
Once inside, although some areas are off limits, there's so much to see. You need about two hours to comfortably view the bulk of it. I particularly loved seeing the intricately detailed palanquins used as a means of transport for men and women with royal blood. We were led through opulent quarters, most still very much intact. You could almost hear the music and see the dancing that these regal pleasure rooms once hosted. I didn't just make that up by way, they were referred to as pleasure rooms. In one of the galleries, illustrations were hung along the walls depicting various orgies the Maharaja took part in throughout the property. I think he had a pretty charmed life.
The Mehrangarh Fort is a striking piece of history to lay eyes on. How anything like this was conceived of, let alone built on nothing but manpower all of those years ago, is deserving of the highest respect. I've heard there's a scene in the Dark Knight that features the fort in the distance. Guess that's an excuse to go back and watch the film again. Oh and for the friends that are questioning if I even went to India because I never appear in photos. Here I am trying to fit in but clearly looking like a mess. I was pretty taken by this street cow.
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