March 10, 2009

We just said goodbye to Rajish and the helper guy (perhaps his name is Mono…we never really did get his name!), and it was kind of sad! We’ve had an excellent couple of weeks with them, and it was sad to say goodbye! I guess we were lucky to get such a nice driver who also managed to speak excellent English, have great restaurant and shopping recommendations, and who knew how to navigate the crazy roads here with superb skill!
The drive today was quite speedy. The roads through the desert were strait and easy. The most we had to do was stop because there was a (very cute) donkey standing in the middle of the road! And, we also stopped to take a few pictures of camels that were eating from the trees. I really do like camels! It is so cool too look over on the side of the road and see a few camels reaching to eat the bottom branches of the flat trees.
We stopped on the side of the road so that dad could get some more sand for mom and my collections. Then, Allison had the brilliant idea of climbing up the sand doons! It was awesome! I had to go and put on pants before attempting the climb, but it was totally worth it. It wasn’t too big of a sand doon, but totally exhausting climb because it was pretty much two steps forward, one step back! Running down the powder-soft sand was great. It was a nice little break.
We got to Jodhpur around 2pm and dealt with check in and all that good stuff before our tour started at 3pm. We had to have the tour this afternoon because the festival of Holi is tomorrow, so everything will be closed. Apparently it is going to be too ‘dangerous’ for us to go out in the streets, as well, so we are all going to mom and dad’s hotel for our own Holi celebration instead! It will be interesting!
Firstly, we headed up to the Jaswant Thada. It was a tomb built by Maharaja Jaswant Singh II in 1899 (although that info is conflicting from what I heard today during the tour…I heard that a wife built for her diseased husband – so perhaps, it was constructed for the Maharaja). Afterwards, it became the royal crematorium. It is beautiful and has a wonderful view of the city below.
The fort is the main sight of the city. It was absolutely breathtaking. The Meherangarh is still run by the Maharaja of Jodphur. Although this man has no power since India became independent, he is well respected in the city and lives in a beautiful, domed palace that can be seen from the fort. The fort is located on top of a 125m hill and is pretty much solid red and pink sandstone. The stone work in the upper levels of the fort is carved with such detail that it looks like it is wood. It is unbelievable that it is stone. The majority of the fort is now a museum, although some of the people working in the museum actually live on the premises. The fort had fantastic views of the city, as well…the city is called the blue city because in the old parts the houses of the Brahman class were painted blue. Still, today, there is a significant portion of homes that are blue.
The clock tower and market area was the last area that we visited. Everyone was pretty tired by this point and no one wanted to be guided around to wherever the guide wanted to take us. It is aggravating because we kind of wanted to spend more time there, but because of the festival of Holi the guide and Rajish didn’t want to leave us there. I’m sure in a group we would have been fine, but I’m guessing their boss wouldn’t have liked it if they left us there. It was unfortunate, because there could have been some interesting things to see down in the market! Although, I know that the six of us can’t shop together anyway…and no one really wants to shop anymore, anyway…so, it was probably all for the best!
Now, the three others have headed out to find dinner and I am going to bed. Bed triumphs over eating any day!

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