Today we are up at the crack of Dawn! Yawn….. We bid a very fond farewell to the peaceful and beautiful Lake District of Udaipur. It was a really spectacular 3 nights and 4 days . Today we are on our way to the Blue City Kingdom of Jodhpur. En-route we will visit the most amazing Jain Temple of Ranakpur, The walled fort of Kumbhalgarh, and many many villages along the way.
Our driver Manoj was waiting for us promptly, loaded our bags, and we were off. He told us that today will be a lot of driving. Oh boy 😦 Being that Kelly and I are both sensitive to car rides, ESPECIALLY IN INDIA, we were a little hesitant for this long all day drive.
We’ve been on the road for about 2 hours now, with lots of detours through tiny villages where the people are just so enthralled with their day to day lives, that they couldn’t be bothered with us. It is also Wedding season in India, and everywhere we went we saw beautiful Fuchsia Pinks, Yellow, Green, and orange saris everywhere. These bejeweled and brightly dressed ladies were like a gorgeous splash of paint on a rather arid landscape. I did notice that every village sorta had their own themed colored saris. Two families would parade in opposite directions ( which also added to our lag time with driving, but oh what a treat ) The groom on his horse followed by a band and his family, and the bride, brightly lighting her backdrop with an entourage collaidascope colors on the opposite end enroute to the middle , like life, where two halves meet in the middle to form one union. So beautiful and so fortunate to be able to experience this all.
Our first stop is to the Walled Fort of Kumbhalgarh. Deep in the western part of the Aravalli hills, this 15th century Great Wall of India stands proudly on its peaks ever so guarding against enemies and with a hawk eye’s view, ever so welcoming to guests. Built by the Maharaja’s of the Mewar dynasty with its first monarch of said name, Kumbah, it set on a vantage point to block out invaders, and as a resting place for the invaded maharajas of nearby Mawar. Now just a shell of a once splendid Fort, the visit was still extraordinary. One thing is for certain, you will get your exercise here. We stopped by the magnificent gates, and walked our way up to the top. Winding cobble stoned pathways which led up and up, we knew it was time for a bathroom break. haha…. Fortunately between the two of us, we could open up our own sanitary business. Armed with Toilet seat covers, toilet paper, disinfectant, mosquito spray, Wet one wipes, and a very positive attitude we braved the restrooms… Thank god we brought what we brought… Enough said.
Back to the climbing and climbing and climbing the pathways up into the fort and to the tip top of it all for a birds eye view of the surrounding dried valleys. What a view… I must mention, that we were being followed by some young idiots who I assume recognized Kelly, because even if she was wearing just a paper sack she would still look absolutely fabulous. They were calling and screaming out to us, and my blood ( hawaiian blood mind you) was boiling. They know not who we are, or what danger they could be in ….. HAHAHAHAHA… A quick yell ” WHAAAAAT” and they left us alone.
The view was breathtaking, and we were happy to see what we saw and stretch our legs, but were ready to move on.
Another hour and a half drive, through winding streets and villages, and we finally made it to Ranakpur. Within the city of Ranakpur is the most famous Jain Temple in Rajasthan called , you guessed it , Ranakpur Temple. The temple is dedicated to Jain Tirthankar (enlightened human) of our time cycle, Adinath (aka Lord Rishabha). To enter the temple, women must adhere to the strict rules of dress and conduct. Basically make sure you are covered from head to toe. No bare skin, especially your legs, I think you can show a bit of the arm, but since I was covered like a mummy constantly I never had to worry really. Also Leather is prohibited, as are shoes. Most indian temples require you to remove your shoes, even though its super filthy in there. So a word of advice, wear socks, as the floors can be filthy and boiling hot Visitors are allowed to visit only in the afternoons, as the mornings are set aside for prayer services only.
When you pull up to the temple complex, it is just so amazing, you really can feel the energy of the place. It is solid white marble with beautiful towers jutting out and up in to the sky. There is a grand stair case to which you climb and then get insulted by the workers ( who are not Jain) about your age and look. Basically calling me a grandma lol Bastards. I must admit though I looked very grandma. In fact, I think I bought and brought with me all the ugliest clothing I could find to India, thinking of the worse.. Next time, I will be my normal glammed self…. ugh…
To enter the temple, there is a kiosk booth selling tickets to visit. There you must also store your personal belongings if you want … We ended up carrying cotton bags for our visit. Clever aren’t we ? hahaha… You leave your shoes wherever you can find a place for it, to which I got a massive flashback to the Darjeeling Limited Movie where the kids stole their shoes the minute they visited the temple. lol Well it was there upon our return .. Tadah
The temple is very dream like, and as much as I was hoping to learn more about the Jains, there is just too much of everything to understand it completely. I do know this: True Jains are true vegans! They are supposed to hardly wear anything except for maybe a loin cloth to cover the privates. They sweep the ground before they walk, so as not to hurt or destroy any creature who could be a distant relative. They don’t eat root vegetables either because it hurts the earth to pull it out. Fairly peaceful, the one thing I did gather about the Jains is PEACE and a feeling of being COMPLETE. Our visit lasted a little over 2 hours and it was so beautiful and just ever so worth it. The carvings in marble are so exquisite. I could totally live there away from the world, and feel at peace.
The temple was really beautiful and we completely enjoyed our time there even though it was made slightly sour in the beginning with those dynamic idiots at the entrance. Ce La Vie. We were starving and couldn’t wait to eat something … I think we pulled over someplace to eat I can’t remember. But we did see more weddings and more village life everywhere we drove through on our way to Jodhpur. Especially the loving animals who like to stop dead center of the road. Sometimes taking more than a few minutes to move them … I love it….
Jodhpur!!!! Finally after 6 1/2 hours of driving, not including our stops, we have finally made it to the beautiful city of Jodhpur. Well I can’t tell how beautiful it is yet as we have only just arrived at our hotel. AJIT BHAWAN HOTEL We were welcomed by lovely a reception and was informed that the Umaid Bhawan Palace is requesting our presence for dinner and would be arriving to pick us up at our desired time. Well, agitated a bit , we were more interested in resting, however, we knew that to be invited by the palace was a big thing as we have experienced at the Lake Palace in Udaipur (Udaipur: Rajput Glamour) that we couldn’t miss this opportunity. We gave them 2 hours notice and we retired to our Pink Palace of a room for some R&R and to get glammed up so I won’t be mistaken for a grandma again 🙂
Our room and the property was so quaint and beautiful. Our room literally was PINK. Such a perfect girlie color for us. Even more lovely was the fact that we were upgraded from the standard room I booked , probably all due to the Taj Hotel group and Mr. Bickson of course. To enter the room you have to unlock a serious pad lock that looked like it belonged on some princesses chastity belt. Our room was above the decadent pool with beautiful sculptures and flowing water. We did all we could not to knock out. Finally we got ready, headed back to reception and was met by the most lovely representative from the Palace who was adorned by a beautiful sari and flowers, and her driver and emerald green Jaguar. To this point, I’m still thinking I’m dreaming because all this generosity is way beyond what I expected, and I was and continue to be so humbled and grateful by it.
The Ajit Bhawan Palace Hotel is a Heritage Hotel, of which was India’s first. It was built in the early 1900’s as a residence for the younger brother of Maharaja Umaid ( of whom we are going to visit his palace for dinner) and continues to be inhabited by the princely relations to the current Maharaja. Click to read my review Ajit Bhawan Palace Hotel
UMAID BHAWAN PALACE is an unbelievably beautiful palace built by Maharaja Umaid Singh In the Early 1900’s . When at first glance, one would swear that it is probably a few hundred years old, it boggled my mind to know that this style and type of architecture is only less than 100 years old. It’s current Maharaja, the grandson of the late Maharaja Umaid Singh still resides here. It was later turned into a lovely hotel by the help and restorative powers of the Taj Hotel Group.
We arrived at Dusk at the entrance to the hotel and for the next 3 minutes, we drove into the massive property arriving at the grand entrance. We were silently screaming as we saw how opulent the palace was from a distance. Once we arrived, we were given a welcome drink, a lei of garlands and beads, a bindi for our third eye, and so began our illustrious tour of this grand dam of structures in Jodhpur. We learned that prior to this palace being built, the royal family lived in Mehrangarh Fort. The building of this palace enabled it to become the new Jewel for the People of Jodhpur and to help shelter the family against the desert storms and heat.
Rich marble, stone cold stares from stuffed animals of prey, glittering floors, illuminating tear dropped chandeliers, and grand stair cases, greeted us as we walked into the foyer of the palace. We were shown the different rooms, all absolutely stunning, the basement spa which includes a pool as well as other spa amenities which you can access through a small elevator with a sitting bench incase you are too tired to stand, and finally were asked where we wanted to sit to enjoy our dinner. We decided to sit out doors even though it was roughly 89 degrees in the evening. We met with the head chef and told him of our likes and dislikes. AT this point whenever I was asked what I liked, I immediately said ” Satwik please” Satwik is how the royal families ate, and its the purest of the purest in vegetarian delights. So good and so healthy. We were treated then, to some lovely traditional rajasthani dancing and songs and just felt in awe of the whole moment. This was really such a special treat and I just am in awe of how things just keep getting better. Kelly and I laughed our dinner away talking about our day and then we realized it was time to retire to our own little palace for some much needed rest. Tomorrow we visit Jodhpur and the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort.
We woke up this morning just refreshed and ready to tackle the day. First and foremost, we need sustenance and that was provided thanks to our hotel and their cute little breakfast buffet pool side. I’m a bit upset with myself, because I can’t believe I only booked one night in Jodhpur. I mean I could seriously kick myself in the you know what…. This city thus far has been so beautiful. Packed, loaded, and ready for the day, as usual, our lovely driver Manoj was there waiting for us to whisk us away.. Except this time there was a second person…. An annoying guide. I know we could totally benefit from a guide, and they could totally use the money, but I always get the sense that we are being ripped off… I’ll have to really look at my notes to see if the “stories” he tells us are true or false. Oh well we gave in.
First stop The beautiful Memorial Royal Mausoleums of Jaswant Thada. It was built in the late 1800’s by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in honor of his Father. There are monuments of many Maharaja and their Maharani there. They are empty shells but a beautiful reminder of Life and Death as they are both inevitable. The property was really beautiful and it was filled with school children no doubt learning about their royal history. There are also commanding views of the Meharngarh Fort and of the base entry into the Thar Desert.
Meharangarh Fort was built in the middle of the 1400’s, 1429 to be exact, by Maharaja Jodhpur, and is one of the oldest forts in India. Sitting high above the city of Jodhpur it offers commanding views of the city, the Thar Desert , and home to the ruling Singh Maharajas for generations before there move in the early 1900’s to Umaid Bhawan Palace. Our driver Manoj took us as far up as he could go. We purchased our tickets, along with a audio guide ( I love audio guides btw) and we slowly climbed the steep steps and pathways up to the fort itself. As you’ll be able to tell from the pictures, it is quite gigantic. Really majestic looking. There are so many different rooms and palaces within the fort, with lots of antiquities on display. Such antiquities like royal sedans which were placed on elephants , beautiful Joulosy windows, stunning carved rooms and columns and wide open spaces. Without going into the full history and detail of the Fort ( of which you can read, courtesy of Wikipedia) I’d like to delve into the experience itself. I felt the awe and the power of the place. I also felt very secure , something the ruling family must’ve felt, being so very high up. Able to spot intruders miles away and also able to defend themselves from said intruders quickly and easily
After wondering around and taking a few pictures with fans, lol, ( Kelly is always so super gracious even in intense heat 🙂 something I truly admired ) we twisted and turned right into an open market. There people were selling flat shoes with a nice point made out of leather , and camel leather. What a treat. Ofcourse I bought a few. But some of the leather really stank , well, like leather. Most of the shoes could be worn on any foot which makes it somewhat uncomfortable as there are no shapes curving the left or right foot. But its cute 🙂 There are also other shops for souvenirs that you can shop for and although we looked a bit there really wasn’t much to be desired.
The views as previously mentioned, are astounding. One can see why Jodhpur is called the Blue City, because most of the homes have colored their roofs blue. Some say the colour is associated closely with the Brahmins, India’s priestly caste, and the blue houses of the old city belong to families of that caste. Consequently, you might well hear the properties referred to as the ‘Brahmin Houses’. Unfortunately because of our time crunch and my idiotic idea of just spending one day and night here, we won’t be able to see the city . Again I could kick myself ….
The sun was at high noon by this time, and we knew that it was getting close to that time where we needed to leave Jodhpur, for another excruciating 3.5 hour ride to Pushkar.
Stay tuned , Next The Spiritually waste of time city of Pushkar and all their Pushy Pot selling , hippie euros, and dirty dirty dirty , did I mention dirty ? streets. But it all adds to the experience and reminds me that maybe I’m not that liberal after all. Time to knock that right out of my system.