Jaisalmer and Jodhpur – discovering Rajasthan
Blue City – Jodhpur
A friend once told me “if you want to see the real Rajasthan, you must visit Jodhpur.” These words somehow stayed with me always and on a recent trip to Jodhpur, the second largest city of Rajasthan, I knew exactly what my friend had indicated. True to its moniker, everything in the old city is swathed in hues of blue that lends the city a unique character. I start my journey at the majestic Mehrangarh Fort that stands tall 400 feet above the city and is full of tales of valour and victory of the Rathore kings of Marwar. This is one of the largest forts in the country and you also have access by way of a lift. The Chowkelao garden at the foot of the fort is over 200 years old and is a riot of colour courtesy the stunning floral cover. The Mehrangarh museum has several galleries that display a fine collection of arms, textiles, headgears, palanquins, manuscripts and decorative art. The Phool Mahal here has gold filigree and mirror ceiling and the walls are painted with moods depicting Indian classical ragas, royal portraits and incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Durga. The Moti Mahal and Sheesh Mahal are also particularly spectacular courtesy their opulent design. While you are here stop by at Umaid Bhawan Palace that has a whopping 347 rooms and a part still serves as the residence of the royal family. Apart from a hotel, the museum here has a special exhibition on Maharaja Umaid Singh and the making of the palace. The lifestyle gallery is an ode to the palace in the 40s and 50s and has art deco furniture, dining and writing sets as well as a sporting section. There is also a collection of antique clocks here. Another monument is the beautiful Jaswant Wada a beautiful white structure dedicated to Jaswant Singh, who ruled Jodhpur. And while you shop in the busy Sadar Bazaar, stop by to admire the beautiful Ghanta Ghar, the clock tower.
Did you know? There are six zip lines over the battlements and lakes of Mehrangarh Fort that give you a bird’s eye view of the majestic locale.
Jaisalmer – the land of Gold
At the heart of the Thar Desert the beautiful town of Jaisalmer has a mystical charm that instantly draws you towards it. Perhaps it is the desert, the fort or its amazing natural sights – this is a potpourri of all things quintessential Rajasthan. Being a rather small town on the border, Jaisalmer’s primary attraction is the Jaisalmer fort that happens to be a living fort with thousands of people live within its lofty ramparts. Named after the Bhati ruler Maharawal Jaisal this is called the golden fort as the fort and residential buildings are made of yellow sand stone. The 5 km fortification wall has 99 bastions. Walking through the fort and seeing the sights I felt a sensory overload of colour in the form of the little street side shops that sell local handicrafts and clothes. The old homes here take you back to the past and the beautiful Jain temple here has stunningly intricate carvings. Walking through the lanes I stop at the Patwa ki Haveli that has been preserved carefully and is a perfect ode to life in the past. I also recommend you check out the Kothari’s Patwa Haveli Museum that has a real time display of the erstwhile Patwa’s gracious lifestyle. I also loved the Nathmal ki Haveli that was the residence of the prime minister of Jaisalmer that has a painting made with real gold. While you are here take a morning drive to the Gadisar Lake an artificial reservoir whose banks are dotted with small temples and shrines. Take a boat ride in the lake and feed the catfish or simply soak in the serenity while you observe the many birds that flock here. Your trip to Jaisalmer is not complete without a desert safari and there are two kinds – a camel safari that will take you on a bit of a bumpy ride of the sand dunes and reward you will stunning sunset visuals. The bone rattling jeep safari is another must have experience. Usually this is a package that is teamed with a cultural program and local food, so make sure you have this on your to do itinerary.
Did you know? Jaisalmer is the only place in Rajasthan where you will see a Ganesha painted with some dates outside a home indicating when the last wedding has taken place.
This was part of the Cover Story of Spicejet’s Spice Route Magazine Feb 2018 here: Cover Story Feb 2018