Wednesday 09 November 2016 – Jodhpur, India – Part 2.
The last post left myself and three people I met in the guest house heading up to Mehrangarh Fort, which looms over our guest house and completely dominates the northern skyline of the city.
Construction of the fort started around 1460 by Mahrajah Rao Jodha, when he decided to relocate the town of Mandore to the top of the hill. It was initially completed almost 200 years later, though a second phase of construction took place in the 18th century. I am not sure which bit is what though. It is a monster of a fort, the stones that make up the walls are absolutely massive and it is an absolute marvel of construction. The current head of the Rathore clan Maharajah Gaj Singh II is still the custodian of the fort.
From the outside the entrance is impressive enough! I have not seen such high walls on a castle before, it is truly monstrous.
Regrettably I did not take an audio tour with me and make some notes as we walked around, we were a little pressed for time. I am struggling to find information to fill in some of the detail of the what I took photos of. I took a lot of photos…
I am assuming the works of art on either side of the entrance gate explain the retaking of Mandore from the Mewar by Rao Jodha.
Getting inside was an issue, as I mentioned in my last post the Indian government changed the currency overnight and the fort were not accepting 500 or 1000 rupee notes, which everyone had, not just us, a number of other visitors were also struggling to pay. Fortunately, unlike all the other places I visit on this trip, they took credit cards so Jorg paid for us all and we gave him (useless) 500 rupee notes; 500 rupees was the entrance fee. These notes are exchangeable in a bank, so they retain value, they just cannot spent in many places, even though they are valid currency until the end of the month.
Once inside I was wow…
And this was just getting inside the first level of walls. We arrived quite late in the day and a lot people were leaving, we intentionally arrived late as we wanted to be there for sunset.
There was not a huge amount of detail outside of the museum and palace section, little bits here and there, all sort of built into the design of the building.
There was some pretty cool doors and gates as well.
The museum was impressive, linking a variety of buildings and multiple levels, it was not full of marvels, but the walk around the buildings was really interesting.
There were some interesting knick knacks to see.
The view out of the windows on all sides over Jodhpur under a dropping sun was stunning.
I will visit the White Palace tomorrow.
I tried to sneak photos of the fort staff whenever I could, though they were quite accommodating and cheerful when I got busted.
As the sun started to really drop we headed off to the far western side of the fort to the Chamunda Devi temple for the sunset. There was limited viewing so I walked back up the hill a bit and got the temple in the very unspectacular sunset.
Amusingly, us westerners are the subject of some interest to the Indian tourists, even I have had my photo taken with individual and small groups of Indian men. However, unlike Christina, I am not a 6ft tall blonde woman, as we were heading out of the fort she became the focus of attention of a couple of groups and a melee of photo taking with Christina, Natalia and Jorg the centre of attention ensued.
I slunk off to one side as soon as the madness started, attention is not my thing 🙂
Though I did have my own fan. I think she was just avoiding the madness as well
It was after dark before we finally extracted ourselves from the adoring fans and the fort. There was time for a couple more final photos before heading back down to the guest house.
Natalie went off with some friends for dinner and I was invited by Jorg and Christina to join them for a meal in the Cafe Royale, a small cafe near the Clock Tower, which they discovered had really good coffee in earlier in the day. The food in the cafe was really good, but the best thing was the family that owned and ran the cafe, a really lovely couple and their two sons, who we spent the rest of the evening with.
After we had eaten and chatted for a while the parents asked us if we wanted to see the stepwell, I had no idea what one was, but they said it was very close by and we should come and see it. It is not in the guide book, and there is almost no information about it on the internet, so I cannot find out when this one was made. There are quite a few around India and Pakistan.
Basically a stepwell is a well with steps that go down to what was at the time of building, the lowest level the water drops to. Stepwells date back as far as 600ad, but the most prolific era of building was the 12th to 17th century, so this is pretty old. And also stunning. Probably the highlight of my stay in Jodhpur. The fort is amazing, but this is amazing and beautiful as well.
Toor Ji Ki Bawari stepwell, at night. I will definitely go back here tomorrow and see it in the day time.
On the recommendation of our new friends, Christina, Jorg and myself stopped at a nearby roof top bar for a couple of beers and the stunning view over the city; before heading back up to the guest house and sleep. Looking at a city from slightly higher than the street always introduces a whole new perspective – and a wealth of things that get missed at street level.
Another good day – considering the US election result and we the fact we are all uncertain as to what the heck is going to happen when the money runs out.