Jodhpur – the Blue City

Jodhpur-header

The train to Jodhpur

The train from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur took 5 hours arriving at about 22:45. With the poor sleep that I’ve been getting the motion of the train almost immediately made me sleepy. Luckily i had the company of an American girl and a Dutch boy. When they weren’t there i resorted to loud blues on the iPod to keep me awake.

Indian trains are pretty much on time. Which is good because there is little to announce at which station you’ve arrived. At Jodhpur I had to ask an Indian guy who asked a local. The reply was “next station”. Well the train seemed to be waiting an undue length of time so I put on Google’s location device and found that this station, which ever it was, was only about 1. 5km from Stops Hostel, where I’d booked a couple of nights. I hopped off and got a tuk-tuk.

One thing about tuk-tuk drivers that you can count on is that they will quadruple the fare. They appear determined to put their client in the hands of Uber and Ola. Nevertheless I got a tuk-tuk who did overcharge me a bit and then tried for 50/- more at the hostel. I explained that we’d agreed a price and that’s what he was getting. His comment was “I give you Indian price, ok”. “Indian price would have been half” I said as I left.

Stops Hostel in Jodhpur

Stops Hostel Jodhpur
Stops Hostel Jodhpur
Stops Hostel in Jodhpur is well worth a visit. If you are a good sleeper, which I’m not. In none the hostelworld, booking.com type sites do they mention the Imam. Granted, the description does say “Address: Stops Hostel Jodhpur, Plot No. 1, Fort Road, Paota, Opposite Irani Masjid, Next to Balaji Temple, Near Ship Building, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 342001”. It doesn’t say that Irani Masjid is a mosque. 05:00 the faithful are called to prayers. Not my favourite part. But the hostel is super clean. Hot water is nice to have. On multi levels with a roof terrace and an attached restaurant , Stops was a nice place to meet other travellers. If you can get a back dorm, away from the speakers attached to the mosque, it would be pretty much a perfect hostel. The restaurant was a tad overpriced but the food that I ate, was good.

Jaswant Thada cenotaph – Jodhpur

Jaswant Singh II, founder of Jaipur
Jaswant Singh II, founder of Jodhpur
On the net I couldn’t find that much to do in Jodhpur. There is the Mehrangarh fort of course, and the text online pushed the Clock Tower over which I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm. Location Google showed me the way. The fort was only a couple of kilometers away, I’d walk. It was a very simple walk with lots of views over the city and some photos to be taken. I passed a huge bronze statue of a Maharajah which needed inspection. This turned out to be man credited with founding Jodhpur, Maharaja Jaswant Singhji II. Tripadvisor comments say it’s difficult to get there but I get the impression that’s in a car. Walk, if you can, you’ll see more.

 Cenotaph to Jaswant Singh II, Jaswant Thada
Cenotaph to Jaswant Singh II, Jaswant Thada
By the side of the Maharaja is a cenotaph. A cenotaph to Jaswant Singh II, Jaswant Thada. It costs 30/- to enter and they charge 20/- for a camera. Pretty reasonable. It’s also worth seeing. A beautiful hand carved marble cenotaph and gardens. I spent a long time there in its relative quiet and away from horns. There are good views over the city, a huge wall that straddles the mountain ridge.

Mehrangarh Fort – Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort - Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort – Jodhpur
On leaving the cenotaph I carried on up the hill to a Y shaped junction and took the left towards the Mehrangarh fort. It’s a colossal fort perched on top of a hill. Almost red in colour, it’s hard to photograph without lens distortion making the lines curved. Again I decided not to go in and spend too long looking around. Maybe I’ll leave that for the next time. This time I just wanted to get photos of Mehrangarh fort and also get down into the blue city to take more.

The Blue City – Jodhpur

The Blue City of Jodhpur
The Blue City of Jodhpur
Along side the south side of the fort is a footpath. If you follow that it takes you down into the blue city. Suddenly there are blue houses, then shops. The blue is intense. Keeping to the more main roads, if you can really call them roads, they deserve a word of their own, you come down off the hill and into a bustling part of town. I found another another stepwell. Children were throwing themselves into the water from silly heights. Then there was a Ganesh festival with paint throwing. Loads of tractor drawn floats with decorated trailers and Ganesh in prominent view. Many equipped with huge sound systems. Then the schools came out and a Muslim funeral parade started and there was chaos. People everywhere. And then I was silly.

Street food Jodhpur
Shouldn’t have drunk the water
I stopped for food. A samoosa and something whose name I’ve yet to find out made with a chilli in batter with spuds. The stall holder was a nice fellow who spoke good english. He explained some of what was going on while I ate. On finishing and without thinking I asked for pani, water, and drank the contents of the metal mug. Wrong move, as I was to find out some time later.

I woke the next day knowing something was wrong! Not a pleasant trip to the bathroom. Followed a while later by the same. Time for anti-diahorrea pills before the Udaipur bus at 13:35. The morning followed in the bathroom – pill game until I left for the bus station some 50/- distant. Warned not to engage a tuk-tuk driver in front of the hostel because they charge more, I mooched off down the road a way. The first tuk-tuk out of the area wanted 1000/-! I just looked at him with my mouth open and said “you’re out of your mind” and walked off. The second guy charged me 50/-.

The bus station in Jodhpur was one of the more organised that I’ve been to. I’d been told that the Volvo buses park off to one side, and there indeed was one. I was quite early so I bought bananas and a fairly dry potato breakfast dish called Poha. Something fairly inert and maybe binding. Still worried, I ate the Poha and a couple of bananas and one more pill. I approached a man possibly my age and asked if he spoke english? He did indeed and extremely well. He wasn’t sure but he’d ask the driver when he passed by. Well it was about 12:15 and I had more than an hour, so we did “world’s problems ” “asian and western differences” a bit of “religion” and along came the bus driver who told us there was no bus to Udaipur at 13:35.

Volvo office immediately. Nice man made a phone call whilst finding me on the computer. Had a chat and said “come”. I went.

In a different part of the bus station administration, my man was in deep discussion with a new man who had also found me on the computer. I showed him my ticket and compared its contents with his monitor’s contents, fired off some hindi and I was instructed to “come” again. Out into the main bus gladiatorial area again. I was marched to stands 3 and 4. “Here or here at 16:30 – computer error. Thanks 🙁 I returned to the company of the elderly man where we philosophised, and fantasised until he had to go. And I waited for the bus to Udaipur and thanked my lucky pills I was still in normal mode.

I was seated next to a young army sergeant, or “holder” as they seem to be called here. Now I’m not sure if that is how you spell it, I suspect not, but that was how it sounded to my ears. His english was pretty good and we chatted for a while until both of us started to nod off. This bus wasn’t going to arrive in Udaipur until 21:30 – 22:00. About two thirds of the way we stopped. Probably near Rajsamand, where I was told by the army that I could get of, go for a pee and have a chai. I got out and stretched my legs. My stomach was going to remain bathroomless on this voyage. The bus honked, we boarded and we set off on the last leg. Macey Gray helped.


Red Fort and Chandi Chowk

Today Virender and I met up to go the Red Fort and Chandi Chowk. But before that to get my Mac fixed. It didn’t happen. We also tried to sort out the problem with my SIM card. That didn’t happen either. I haven’t mentioned before, but Virender is/was a hardware technician, so, with whom better to go?

Firstly we had breakfast together in Nehru Place. It was superb. He ordered two rice dishes one called Shahi Paneer the other Matar Paneer. It seems that paneer is a cheese and the other part is the way it’s prepared. I liked both but I’d go for the shahi paneer the next time as it had a sweetness to it which I’m guessing is because of the cinnamon. One plate and a pepsi 105/-INR (£1.25 or €1,40) and as usual it was huge. I’m only eating a large breakfast and a medium sized snack these days. And mangos 🙂

We then went to the Authorised Mac Repair which I wrote about in this post. And on to an Airtel dealership to try and resolve the SIM issue. I’ve ended up buying a new phone so at least I’m back in contact with whatsapp.

Chandi Chowk – Old Delhi

Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi
Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi
Chandi Chowk electricity supply
Chandi Chowk electricity supply
All the chores taken care of we headed for Chandi Chowk. Chowk means square or place. Chandi Chowk reminds me of some of the street scenes from the film Bladerunner, with Harrison Ford. It’s madness. It is a heaving mass of humanity and quite overwhelming at first. It also reminded me of a Pink Floyd concert in 1974 at Knebworth Park where there were about 250,000 people. The noise is horrendous, it never stops. And you want to see the electricity supply! Chandi Chowk is actually in an area of Old Delhi where the traders have their shops and emporia. The streets a predominantly divided into types of goods. That’s to say one street will sell plumbing goods and another shoes and so on. The variety is endless. Cameras, spices, bangles, surgical instruments, wedding clothes etc. etc. You name it, and there’s and area for it.

Haveli of Mizra Ghalib - Chandi Chwok
Haveli of Mizra Ghalib
man and goats in Chandi Chowk
Old man and goats in Chandi Chowk
This is a place where you keep a firm grasp on your wallet, backpack and anything else. Not that I had any problems but the possibilities are there and I had been warned by at least two people that opportunistic crime, pick-pocketing and the like are quite common. It is very easy to get lost and I’m really glad I came with someone that spoke hindi. The area is predominantly a Muslim area and we passed a number of mosques. It is also the home to the haveli of Mizra Ghalib (1797-1869) one of the most famous Persian and Urdu poets of all time. A Haveli is a traditional townhouse or mansion in India, usually one with historical and architectural significance. Outside the haveli was a Muslim man sitting on his motor bike with two goats. In the middle of a city of 27 million people?

The traders’ market in Chandi Chowk

Chandi Chowk spice and dried food market
Chandi Chowk spice and dried food market
Chandi Chowk bangle seller
Chandi Chowk bangle seller
We took a spin down the dried fruit and spice market road. The scents that assail your nostrils are quite incredible. Plenty of people were sneezing from the pepper and other spice dust in the air, including Virender. The centre of the street is lined with barrows with sack upon sack of different spices and the traders have their little shops on each side of the road. We didn’t stop there too long as there is an almost unpleasant feeling in the upper nose and back of the throat. I had a desire to see the street of the bangle sellers. I had read about it in a guide book and I’ve always liked the Indian bangles and beads. After a few enquiries we found it. It’s almost beyond imagination that a whole area is dedicated to selling bangles but the colours are wonderful to see. The old man in the photo was kind enough to pose for a photo by his stall. He thought it was very amusing as you can see from the wry grin on his face.

Chandi Chowk slide show

If you want to see these pics a bit bigger, press the show thumbnails link and go through the photos manually. Alternatively, for the much bigger, go to my space in FLICKR


The Red Fort

The Red Fort from a rickshaw
The Red Fort from a rickshaw
Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib
Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib
A rickshaw ride later, that was more stationary than moving, we reached the Red Fort. On the way we passed a couple of temples, one Jain temple called Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir which houses a bird hospital and one Sikh temple called Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib which marks the site where the ninth Sikh Guru was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on 11 November 1675 for refusing to convert to Islam. They are spectacular in their colours and architecture.

Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir
Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir
The Red Fort
The Red Fort
Now I have seen the Red Fort in pictures and documentaries but nothing compares to the “red” in real life. The place is immense and I only had a chance to get a quick glimpse as a) it was getting late, b) the light was going and the photo opportunities were disappearing and c) the noise and bustle of this area of Delhi were quite overwhelming me and I was getting tired and longing for a bit of quiet. I mentioned in the post about India Gate that there has been a new president installed. His first address to the public will be from this fort some time in August, so the whole place was being prepared for this event. A bit of a shame as the police and military presence was huge, crash barriers installed and there was a lot of building, repair and electrical work going on. I will revisit it when I return to Delhi to take in the parts I didn’t get to see.

There is a little video on the video page but you can get there by clicking here