Friday, February 02, 2007

A bit blue in the blue city....

Arrived into the "blue" city of Jodhpur this morning - the final stop on our 11 day Rajasthan tour. After the calm of Pushkar, the friendlyness of Udaipur and the wild beauty of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur seem almost mundane but for the imposing fort that overlooks the city. Very tired and beary eyed we stumbled towards the hotel we had pre booked only to find that they were NOT prepared for us and the washrooms were in a deplorable condition. Feeling quite miserable, we dumped our bags and headed out to find breakfast, but it was too early for any decent joint to be open. Since Charlene had to catch a 1 pm flight out to Delhi, we decided to head right to the fort and get that off our list of "things we have done!"

The fort was absolutely spectacular and our guide was the funniest old man who kept distributing toffee to all the workers in the fort! Unlike Jaisalmer fort where my camera decided to die on me, I was able to take (literally) hundreds of pics at Jodhpur and they can be seen here and here and here and many more online!

In the brighter light of day, our accomodations didn't seem half as bad and after Charlene had freshned up, we parted ways and our company was reduced to two. Feeling rather triste Charmaine and I spent the rest of the day wandering aimlessly around Jodhpur and in an affort to cheer up called our respective homes and had a quick word with our families. Later we chanced upon this little internet cafe and have been surfing away for the past hour or so now.

Although our holiday has been wonderful and we've seen and done more than we'd imagined, I think Rajasthan and its "wildness" is gnawing on us just a wee bit and we're both longing for our own beds and more so our own SHOWERS again! Seriously, I would give anything for a shower with even semi warm water and any sort of pressure other than a drizzle right now!

Taking up from my last narrative, I can now say without doubt that my fav place in Rajasthan was Udaipur. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the place where we stayed the longest, hence we were the least "hassled" there. We had ample time to take in the sights and sounds of the city at our own pace and there was time enough to just relax instead of being in "tourist" mode 24/7. The City Palace (incidently one of the largest palace complexes in the world) - the first of many that we saw - took my breath away with its intricate carvings and ornate windows and minutely decorated pillars.

Of course, when in Udaipur one MUST attend one of the nightly screenings of the 007 movie Octopussy which has the distinction of being set in the city and filmed on site at many of the famous havelis and palaces around. Bond movies are always rediculous in my (humble) opinion and this one is the pinnacle of unrealistic storylines! Heaps fun all the same!

After 3 glorious days in the "white" city, we moved on westward deep into the Thar desert to the border town of Jaisalmer. On the way we stopped for early morning chai in Pokhran a tiny little blurb on the map unknown until 1997 when India used this blurb to conduct nuclear testing. Call me finicky, but I refused to drink the tea there!

I found Jaisalmer to be a curiously timewarped place. Inspite of the thousand of tourists that flok there each year, the city still manages to shroud itself in a veil of mystique and at times is totally oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world just ushered in 2007.

We spent one night camping out in the desert and did a camel "safari" early the next morning. Watching the sun rise over the distant dunes definitely ranks in my top 10 "most awesome life moments"! I also loved the very unique feel to Jaisalmer Fort which unlike Jodhpur was a "living fort" with over 2500 individuals who till today live and work within the ancient walls that yet encircle the marvel of architecture that majestically rises out of the desert sands. Built entirely out of the yellow sandstone commonly found in the region, from a distance the fort seems to be almost a flicker of the imagination as it shimmers in the heat of the midday sun. I could almost imagine the fort's architects using this trick of the sun as a defense against potential invaders. And it worked too, as according to the historical references it all its existance, only once did the fort fall into enemy hands - and even then, very briefly.

And that brings me back to the present. We have one more day in Jodhpur tomorrow and then we take the overnight train to Jaipur where we'll catch our flight back to Bombay.

My adventures will cease - for now - but the memories will be forever.

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