Thursday, March 17, 2016

Royal Rajasthan - Jodhpur

Continuing on our Rajasthan tour, we next covered Jodhpur - the 'Blue city'.

Jodhpur panorama

Since we spent only a day or so in Jodhpur, this post is going to be short. Let me use this opportunity to may be describe a bit how we planned the trip.

MakeMyTrip Itinerary

We booked the trip via MakeMyTrip. We wanted to cover multiple cities, so it was best to have a driver for the whole trip. Otherwise, you will end up doing a lot of bargaining with taxi drivers, each time you reach a new city, and want to go to the next. So to avoid all this hassle, our goal was to book a 'Car with driver' for the whole trip.

This is by no means an endorsement of MakeMyTrip, but in general our experience has been positive with MakeMyTrip - esp. when you want to custom design your own trips.  So if you start by searching MakeMyTrip for Rajasthan packages, it will show you around 10 options. As you will notice, most tours either cover Jaisalmer or Udaipur, but not both. We wanted to cover both - so we basically went for a customized version of the 'Jewels of Rajasthan Explored'  (link) tour.

In the end, after customization, our itinerary looked something like this:

Jaipur (2 nights) - drive to Jodhpur via Pushkar (6-7 hours) - Jodhpur (1 night) - drive to Jaisalmer (5 hours) - Jaisalmer (2 nights, 1 night in a desert camp - Don't miss this!!) - long drive to Udaipur (9 hours) via Ranakpur Jain temple - Udaipur (2 nights)

MakeMyTrip packages also include flight and hotel bookings. Here, we would very much advice that at least for the hotels, do your own homework!! The hotels MakeMyTrip advertises as 4 stars are often very basic hotels. So do your research - refer to TripAdvisor,, etc. - but make your own selection. Also, be careful about additional charges that you will need to pay directly at the hotel. We usually travel in India during Christmas / New Year holidays, and during this time it seems that most hotels charge for MANDATORY Christmas and New Year Gala Dinners, which can easily run up to Rs. 5000 per person - so beware of these "additional" charges!!

Having said all this, we were very happy with the services provided by the local tour company, esp. our driver / guide (Mr. Ratan Kumar Verma). He was always punctual, smiling, friendly - we couldn't have asked for a better person. Finally, note that most such bookings come with the standard tagline "that the car / driver is available only for the advertised itinerary". In practice however (at least in our experience), once you rent such a car for a multi-day trip, they are usually available throughout the day; and will not hesitate to drive you around the city to places not explicitly advertised in the itinerary.

Mehrangarh Fort

If there is one thing that you MUST absolutely see in Jodhpur, it is the Mehrangarh fort. Having seen so many forts in different cities, the Mehrangarh fort does standout as one of the most impressive ones.

Mehrangarh fort

As you can judge from the picture above, it is an imposing sight to behold. The sheer size and grandeur, and also the fact that it is constructed at such a high altitude; only increases its appeal. A few more pics of majestic fort follow:

Mehrangarh fort view
Magnificent Mehrangarh fort
Mehrangarh fort panorama

Umaid Bhavan (below) is the other palace located in Jodhpur. You might have heard of it because part of it has now been converted to a Taj Luxury hotel. However, purely from a touristic perspective, if you have time to visit only one of them - choose the Mehrangarh Fort. Umaid Bhavan only has a small museum which you can visit - and it is not that impressive to say the least.

Jaswant Thada

Very close to the fort is a cenotaph called Jaswant Thada (below). While it is interesting in itself, it is also a good place to take panoramic pictures of the fort (e.g. the one at the top of the blog).

Jaswant Thada, Mehrangarh fort


Jodhpur is one of the bigger cities in Rajasthan, so might be a good place to do your souvenir shopping (esp. if you missed out on it in Jaipur). The main market is close to the clock tower (below), which you can easily make out from a distance. And, while you are in it, do not forget to taste the local delicacy 'Makhan (Butter) Lassi' - it is absolutely delicious :)

Pushkar Lake

Serene Pushkar Lake

Pushkar lake is a good stopover if you are driving from Jaipur to Jodhpur (or vice versa). This place has religious significance for Hindus as it is home to the only 'Brahma' temple in the world. Even if you are not religious, or not Hindu; the lake by itself is really beautiful and worth a visit - it emanates a very nice, peaceful, and serene feeling. However, note that there are no proper signs, and it might not be so easy to reach the lake on your own. If you are a foreigner, especially, try to have a local guide with you.