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5 December 2008

We left Ranakpur on the morning of the 5th and arrived at our guest house in Jodhpur at 14h00.  Upon approaching the city, I noticed that it was surrounded by a high wall.  We drove through what seemed like a huge gateway and later learned that it was to protect the old city since it was strategically located for trade, linking Delhi to Gujarat.  I think our luck with getting good hotels had run out by then because the room was dark, old and musty with lots of lace… everywhere.  Even to the entrance to the bathroom.  The guest house itself was decorated in somewhat of an odd way with an actual stuffed tiger in the living room and yet more lace.  I was keen to get out as soon as we checked in so we promptly hailed a tuk-tuk and set off for Sadar market.

A cheap and cheerful place to have lunch at is the Fort View Restaurant – and yes, you can see the fort from the rooftop.  Later, we walked up and down the many alleys of the market, rubbing shoulders and shuffling through a sea of people doing their afternoon shopping.  One thing I did notice were the shoe shops.  The market was filled with the smell of camel leather and rubber.  It was here where we tried out our negotiation and bartering skills yet again.  Apparently still I needed to work on my skills since I was told I could’ve gotten my the camel leather slippers at a much lower price than what I had paid for.  We eventually went back to our guest house where we tried to book hotels for Goa and there, we experienced what must be the slowest internet connection in the entire world.

6 December 2008

The next morning we set out to visit Mehrangarh Fort.  Even though we were both “forted” out by then, this was by far one of the largest ones I had seen in Rajasthan.  It sits atop a hill overlooking the blue painted houses of the city – also the reason behind why Jodhpur is called the Blue City.  The fort was built in 1459 by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur.  Inside the fort are numerous rooms, all intricately and uniquely decorated.  There were rooms (the Phool Mahal in particular) where the Maharajahs would smoke on sheesha pipes filled with opium whilst watching the dancing girls entertain them.  Mehrangarh Fort clearly epitomises the opulence and the indulgence of the Rathores.

Little or well known facts on Jodhpur:

In September 2008, just 3 months before we got there, there was a stampede at Mehrangarh Fort during the festival of Navratri when a bomb threat was made.

The game of Polo was played more than 2500 years ago throughout Persia and Central Asia.  It came down into India along with various Islamic invasions and when the British took over, a cultural exchange took place and the game of Polo was taken up in England in 1871.  In 1890 Maharajah Sir Pratap Singh of Jodhpur started wearing riding breeches tailored for the game and was later adopted by the British and called “Jodhpurs.”

The houses are painted blue to repel the mosquitoes and keep it cool.