Never underestimate the traffic of Delhi- Yes, I learnt this when we were on our way to catch the Mandor express to Jodhpur. My husband, being in the Army, has a misconception about Army wives being as well trained in running as the soldiers. The traffic of Delhi never crossed his mind. While the distance of the Delhi Cantt station was only ten minutes from where we staying, the traffic in the Sardar market wasn’t moving. So we got down from the car and started running on the streets of Delhi, along with our rucksacks! To top it all- we did not know the way to the station. People roaming around saw two jokers running and kept helping us by telling us short cuts and the remaining distance; as if we were from a reality show on AXN! As soon as the signal turned green again, we waited, and jumped back into my brother-in-law’s car. Somehow, stricken with panic and frustrated at my husband, we did make it to the station, ran towards the platform where we saw the train just entering. We ran again as the AC coaches were far behind. The train stops here for just 2 minutes but it seemed like only 30 seconds! As soon as we got into our coach, the train left the platform. An adventurous start to our much awaited, much needed trip of this year!
We reached Jodhpur bang on time at 7:50 a.m. Hired a cab to our hotel- The Gateway Hotel by Taj. Hiring a cab from the station itself is easier and one can bargain with the drivers. Our cab driver offered us a package of INR 4,500/- for 2 entire days in which the cab will be at our disposal, pick up and drop at the station included, and we can take him anywhere we want, at any time. It suited us and so we decided to go for it.
Once at our hotel, we were greeted by a cheerful staff that showed us to our room, the beautiful and comfortable deluxe bedroom, overlooking the huge garden and pool.
Relaxed evening @ the pool
We freshened up, had a lovely brunch and were off to our first destination in Jodhpur- the Umaid Bhawan Palace. The beautiful, picturesque palace was made by Maharaja Umaid Singh who was the grandfather of Maharaja Gaj Singh, the present owner and king of Jodhpur. A part of the palace has been given to Taj Hotel group. Whereas a part of it has been turned into a beautiful museum. Similar to other buildings in Jodhpur, the palace is also made up of yellow sandstone and has around 26 acres of garden area.
The Umaid Bhavan Palace
The museum holds pictures of how the palace was built, the various ancestries, the intricate paintings and detailed carvings, the collection of antique glasses from wine to champagne to kettles, art décor furniture, plus a collection of vintage cars. The palace has 347 rooms making it one of the largest private residences in the world. One of the best and outstanding feature of the palace is the Ramayana Paintings, which have been so beautifully painted by a Polish artist.
Decor from inside
The Ramayana paintings by a Polish artist
After we had a photography stint at the palace we left for other site seeing trips around Jodhpur which included the Bishnoi village and the Kaylana lake. These can be avoided as there is nothing much to see here. The Bishnoi village is still a work in progress by the government of Rajasthan where they are planning to start a resort as well.
Thus we returned to our hotel for a nice relaxed evening, where we saw an entertaining magic show by the local artists and later had a nice lavish dinner.
Day 2, we geared up for the most adventurous part of the trip- Zip Lining at the Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India.
The Zip Lining tour is a one and a half hour tour conducted by the Flying Fox organization. We had booked the tour for two people for 11:30 and were supposed to be there by 11. The charges for us were INR 1600/- per person (worth it!). Once we were geared up there was a practice session of 5 minutes where the trainers showed us how to zip line. Excited we went to our first zip from one end of the fort to another. The adrenaline rush, wind banging on our face, look down and you see the blue city of Jodhpur, it is an experience you cannot explain! There are 6 zips and each is longer and higher than the first. They take you in groups of twelve and the trainers are friendly and really helpful! If you are young, love adventure and are not afraid of heights- go for it!
The Blue City...
Zip Lining @ Mehrangarh fort
After the zip line we were super energetic and we went ahead to explore the rest of the fort from inside. The amazing fort walls hold the beautiful rooms of the palace inside. There are seven doors to the fort, each with a different name and significance. There are four period rooms of which the Seesha Mahal and Takhat Villa give the nostalgic feeling of life during the princely periods. The fort has a display of armory, clothes, elephant seats, paintings and the various treasures of the Rathore rulers of Jodhpur. The fort also holds a Chamunda Mataji temple.
The Local musicians
The 'Well' where 'The Dark Knight Rises' was shot
The Sheesha Mahal