To be really honest, Jodhpur didn’t drive me crazy (ier?) when I’d visited it first. We’d travelled with a huge group and didn’t get to step off the beaten path too much (at all!). We did, although, stay at a beautiful property called the ‘Bal Samand Garden Resort’ and wow was it wow! The second time around though, I was really looking forward to it. Thanks to a minor disaster the previous day, we had to begin our vacation with Jodhpur instead of Jaisalmer. Now, trips that have been in the pipeline and have been planned threadbare for months have a way of setting off the excitement and come the day after Christmas, we were all up squeaking and squealing and couldn’t wait to start off already!
One of the first things to notice is the old world charm that Jodhpur has. Nearly all the buildings are made in the pale pink Jodhpur stone that lends a strong, stately look to the entire place. We stayed over a lovely little place called the Raghav Villas, which belongs to one of the cousins of the royal family. Blessed with a lovely little garden and a slightly confusing but mostly endearing architecture, the hotel housed us for two perfect days. Since we had missed Jaisalmer (boo!), the manager got us a cab to take us to Osian. A mini-Jaisalmer as they call it, Osian is pretty much the threshold to the massive Indian desert.
Since cars could only go upto a certain point, we had to choose to travel by camel or by jeep (which we did because my back had decided it was being neglected and was acting up and also because we are a little chicken). In retrospect, travelling on camel back would’ve been a better idea. The jeep was, at best, a rickety old machine that was hanging onto all its odds and ends with all that it was worth and at worst, a little rusty thing barreling its way into isolated wilderness carrying two very uncomfortable people on its back.
We bumped and grinded our way to a quaint Bishnoi village and were treated to some of their lovely warm hospitality. Right in the middle of the sandy loneliness were two little houses and we made our way to one of them. The little building was home to a lovely couple with some of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen. So much so that I nearly picked up their tiniest son because I just couldn’t bear to say goodbye to that face. I also nearly picked up a baby goat who was equally ridiculously cute. Clearly I am one of those people. Ugh! In fact, the appeal was not just in the eyes of these babies, but also in steaming hot food cooked on a wood fuelled stove and the joy with which it was served to us. Times like these make you wonder if happiness isn’t really in the little things like feeding complete strangers with love, taking joy in explaining your camel’s health stats to them and watching in pride as they go nuts over your lovely wife and children.
The next day we were taken to the super famous Umaid Bhawan and Mehrangarh fort. Grand and overwhelming, both these monuments have a way of transporting you back in time. When you can imagine yourself in whimsical and bright fabrics, flitting around under the garb of royalty. We happened to find some place at the Mehran Café on our way down from the Mehrangarh Fort and boy was it worth it! Thanks to all the foreign tourists, their kitchen offers scrumptious western as well as Indian food. Going by the sandwich I was served, oh good GOD yes..yes baby YES!
This time, I swear, I completely fell for Jodhpur. The vibes of royalty, the warmth of Rajput hospitality no matter how far you are from civilization and the amazing laid back feeling of vacation that the place exudes isn’t something to be trifled at.