Thursday 10 November 2016 – Jodhpur, India.
A very frustrating and largely wasteful day. In the end I did visit all the locations I wanted to visit, but I did not spend as much time in each as I would have liked, though one of them was a waste of time and a tuk tuk ride. More on that later.
Today was the day the banks would re-open after being closed yesterday and all would become well with the world again, I hoped. As we all know, hope is a cruel mistress, and while the banks did open, my issues were not really resolved. Just moved around a bit.
If you have not read yesterday’s post then a wee recap of the situation is required. The Indian government announced on Tuesday night, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone, that the 500 and 1000 rupee notes would not be legal tender from the end of the month. New 500 rupee notes would be issued and the 1000 scrapped and replaced with a 2000 rupee. This is an attempt to disrupt the massive black and grey economy in India. It is massive. The ATM’s here only provide 500 and 1000 rupees notes. Though they are supposed to be legal tender for a while yet, basically no-one is accepting them, including my hotel. It is all I and all the other tourists have. To make matters worse the ATM machines are all closed Wednesday and Thursday and the banks were shut yesterday as well.
As I am leaving the Jodhpur first thing tomorrow morning I had to get cash today, my bill is going to be 5800 rupees. I have 5000 in bills that they will now no longer accept and they do not take credit cards. Hmmm…
After fare welling Christina and Jorg after breakfast, Natalie and I went to the bank just after it opened at 10. We passed a small pre-wedding on the way.
And this delightfully named, and closed hotel. I cannot imagine why it was not a booming success, maybe it was the location on the buy main road?
There was a massive queue as we expected, but as we had fairly straightforward transactions and are westerners, we were allowed to bypass the queue and go straight to see the manager He informed us we could only change 4000 each per day (the same as the locals) and that we needed a photocopy of our passports. He didn’t have a photocopier, so it was back out on to the streets to the photocopy shop, get copies and then back to the bank to get our money changed, 4 1000 rupee notes became 40 100 rupee notes.
We met some other tourists who told us of another bank that did not require a photocopy of our passport so we sneakily went there as well, supposed to be only one transaction a day, this one had an even bigger queue which we again we told to bypass. I changed my last 1000 rupees.
I now had money I could use, but this still left me short of what I needed to pay for my room, and no-way of getting any more – I may as well keep spending and do a couple of tourist things, like see some of the other key sites of Jodhpur.
This took me till after 1:00 to get sorted so I had lunch with Natalie and the group she was heading off with before finally getting out the door to do something. I grabbed a tuk tuk and made an agreement with the driver to take me to the Red Palace, the White Temple and then back to the guest house. I think we were both happy with the outcome.
Built on top of Chittar Hill, Umaid Bhawan Palace, or the Red Palace as it is known is one of the largest private residences in the world, and is truly massive. Construction was started in 1927 and it was finished in 1943. It was initially built to help local farmers with employment and the end of a long and severe drought.
I was very disappointed with the Red Palace. I knew that it was still the Maharajah’s home and that most of it had been converted into a luxury hotel, but I didn’t realise how much of it was. There is not a lot to see in there and I could not get a straight on, straight up the middle photo. It is a fabulous looking building…
There is a small collection of very dusty classic cars as well.
I was not there long and I think my tuk tuk driver knew I wouldn’t be as well, he was waiting at the gate when I exited and we took a slow and fumey ride across town to the White Temple.
Jaswant Thada, the White Temple, sits on the same ridge as the fort I visited yesterday, and is far more accessible than the palace; not being a private residence, but a cenotaph. It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, and serves as the cremation ground for the royal family.
The mausoleum is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble and is quite glorious.
I am not too sure who this dude is, point to the fort, I am assuming he is not leading an invasion, the statue looks quite new and I expect one day someone will put up a sign with some information.
I think you used to be able to get down to this small lake, and get a classic reflection photo, and also walk around the back of the temple, but it is all closed off now which is a shame, I would have liked to explored a bit more widely if I could have.
I had to wait to try and get photos without other people in them, luckily the place was relatively quiet or I would not have bothered. Lovely building.
The interior is bare, but glows almost as much as the exterior. The walls are lined with paintings of the family line, it goes back a long way.
In the grounds of the building are a number of smaller mausoleums.
After a relaxing explore in and around the temple I asked my tuk tuk driver to take me back down into the noisy, smelly and chaotic city below and drop me at the clock tower square.
I wanted to see nearby Gulab Sagar lake, the small lake I saw from the fort last night, it took 8 years to build and was started in 1788 to provide water to the community by the then Maharajah, Vijay Singh. It smelt so bad of rubbish and sewage that I took one photo and left, my plan to walk round it was swiftly discarded, even though the light was perfect for it.
I wanted to go back to the stepwell and see it in the daylight, it is a magnificent piece of construction, even better in daylight, and still pretty empty of both tourists and locals. The design is just so awesome, I loved the lines and angles, a huge amount of though must have gone into building something that was practical, functional and yet beautiful to look at.
I went back up to the roof top bar we went to last night as I wanted to grab a couple more photos of the fort and the white palace – obviously I had to sacrifice some more of my hard earned money to buy a beer!
And that was it, the end of my touring in Jodhpur, the sun was setting, and I am off tomorrow, there is still a lot more to see here, but I have so little time, and even less money!
In the end I was allowed to pay the remainder of my accommodation on my credit card at a local travel agent, it wasn’t ideal, but no-one had a choice. While I was there I also picked up some medicine at the local pharmacy, something to at least prevent my nose from streaming. I couldn’t, or didn’t want to get anything I didn’t recognise for my increasingly sore throat. Strepsils would have been perfect!
I never did see any Jodhpurs either…