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Published: November 11th 2015
Perched on top of a hill and seemingly growing out of the red rocky terrain it was hard to tell where the red fort started and when the red sandstone mountain ended. The fort here was really remarkable. It stood out as a sign and reminder of power, royalty and the kingdom of Jodhpur to the people below.
Before the fort let’s take it back to our arrival. After booking and catching an overnight bus from Udaipur to Jodhpur (7hours) sleeping or trying to in some dark and not very comfortable cubicles we arrived in Jodhpur at 3:30am. Great. The negotiation with the rickshaw driver was luckily a quick one. It was night, we were tired and they must have been to. We happily paid a little more given the time of night, but did not accept their first price. Both parties were happy.
On the way to our guest house our driver asked whether our place was open at these hours. Remember it was 3:30 in the morning. With Chris doing the booking he recalled reading something about it being 24hrs.
Arriving near our guesthouse (as the rickshaw could not get close enough), Chris and
the driver got out to walk down some narrow alleys to check whether our place was indeed open.
Not wanting to waste her time P stayed back. Error number 1. However on her own with the rickshaw, P felt a little creeped out so decided to try to follow Chris and the driver shortly after. Error number 2. As soon as she got out the rickshaw, she was confronted by some skinny dog barking away. Shut up she thought. Tired and not sure which way Chris went she turned right (the wrong way) and was caught in her tracks as about a dozen dogs surrounded her barking viciously. Oh no!
They closed in.
Obviously P became terrified. What is it with these wild animals P loves? She was outnumbered by a group of dogs, who were closing in on her. They became rather angered by her attempts to try and throw something at them, resorting to shielding herself with her backpack as they growled and snapped aggressively at her. Snapping at her bag with their teeth. They did manage to cause some damage but luckily only her bag was damaged – its rain
cover anyway. Let’s say that the rain cover no longer serves it purpose with the tears.
P just remembers feeling like these were her last moments. One local came to his balcony after hearing the commotion, saw the situation was getting tense and tried throwing something at the dogs which managed to distract them if only for a second. P knew she had to get to safety. She saw another man just watching from his window. He probably saw it all unfold. Thanks a great deal she thought.
She backed up to his gate fumbled at it. He came out saying no no no like she was about to break his gate and then slowly climbed down his steps and let her in. Shaking, sobbing and trembling, P was a mess. Right then Chris and the rickshaw driver came around the corner to find the pack of dogs finally retreating and P inside someone's gated area.
At least P was unharmed. We vowed never to walk the streets after dark especially not on our own.
Chris and the driver had been unable to wake the sleeping receptionist at out hostel. We spent
the rest of the night sleeping at another hostel (the driver’s wives hostel we’re sure). We finally checked in at our now open hostel in the middle afternoon and went about our day. Although shaken up we were not deterred from exploring. We opted to visit the fort and take a tour around what we must say, was very interesting and informative. Included in the ticket price and rightly so at 400rupees (cheap as chips I know but expensive compared to the other forts we had visited outside of Delhi/Agra) we took advantage of the audio guide included. As we walked through a new gate several cannon marks were circled on the wall illustrating the many battles this fort had once fought. Interestingly not once has this fort ever been overthrown. Go Jodhpur.
One of the battles that caught our attention on the audio guide was fought because of lust and dishonour. The story goes that after a Maharana (can't remember which one) unexpectedly passed away, there were questions around who should have his beautiful fiancée (just telling it as it was told). Honour and custom suggests that this beautiful princess should go to maharaja’s successor. However the
father of the princess instead promised and gave this beautiful woman to the king of Jaipur. A big no no in giving her away to a different kingdom altogether.
The successor to the thrown of Jodhpur was angered by this disloyal act and ambushed the wedding in Jaipur. Afterwards the battle commenced between Jaipur and Jodhpur. Interesting story hey, despite for the fact it was real and this women had no choice whether she was going to marry Tom, Dick or Harry. Except only we doubt they would have had such British monikers.
Another interesting tale about this fort was one about a hermit. Before this fort was built, its hilltop location was occupied by a hermit who lived happily alone. After he was ushered away for the fort to be built, he put a curse on the fort so that the fort would be in a continual state of water shortage. Unfortunately for the maharana this curse became a reality and so in order to try to reverse the curse someone high up had to agree to be sacrificed. Not me we both thought.
There is now a plaque dedicated to the person
who was sacrificed. You can see this on your way up to the fort. We always find stories like that interesting. Sounds like it came straight out of a twisted fairy-tale.
One final interesting story we will share with you evolved around some hand prints left on the wall inside the gates as you enter or exit the fort. These are now cemented indents. The story goes that they were left by the maharana's wives when they left the fort for the final time (after the death of the maharana) to confront their fates. They would all enter a burning funeral pyre making not a word or a sound as they took their final breath. Some seriously hair raising stuff. Something we first heard of in Chittorgarh.
Overall as per usual we were blown away by the fort (most impressive for us however was in Agra and Chittorgarh). It was in a good state of repair and gave us a glimpse into the life of royalty here. The beautiful architectural designs of the forts were striking. The symmetries, the lavish use of marble, colourful window panes, the curved arches of the windows and doors that create
picture perfect views to the old city, lakes and the beautiful countryside.
As we both were feeling worse for wear with Chris more noticeably unwell we did not manage to do much exploring in Jodhpur. We did however make it to the bustling markets near the clock tower, with all the vegetable, tea and spice stalls. There were a lot of child beggars here and it was very difficult for us to turn them down seeing the level of poverty they were in. These children always tend touch you refusing to let go as they try to hold your hands and although we hate to say it, their hands were really dirty. We wanted to take them home wash and feed them. We would always see the parents looking on and encouraging such behaviour which was sad to see.
During our brief exploration we commented on how there were much less threatening cows here unlike the ones in Bundi or Udaipur. No rooftop monkeys too. Happy days. Just the wondering dogs that form dangerous packs at night!
Another thing we will remember from our stroll was one of the best lassi's we have ever
tasted. Located just inside the market area of the clock tower. P ordered a strawberry, Chris a banana (trying to play it safe) and they were the ‘yoghurtiest’ lassi's we'd ever had. Not too thick or not to sweet, a perfect blend of fruit of yoghurt. Yum.
In the evening after a couple of hours rest, and some extended toilet time we decided to relax on the balcony, update a blog or two and watch local life pass us by.
As we mentioned in the last blog it was really interesting to see. The families here have no outside space due to close proximity of buildings, and so many family members choose to use the rooftop terraces as outdoor/indoor living in the evening. This makes sense with the sun is lower in the sky so you don’t have to worry about burning. The wind up there is really refreshing too.
There were sounds of children playing, young people chattering with each other and neighbour to neighbour conversations happening all over the rooftops. We love the idea of the window to window chat or roof to roof chat. Back home you would hate to be
overlooked by your neighbours. Here it brings people together. Creates that real sense of community.
It’s all about space and privacy for many people in the UK including us. Because of this we only got to know our neighbours on one side back home and barely got talking to our neighbours on the side of the road other than “hello” and small chat. Why is it favourable for people to be so distant with each other?
Relaxing on the rooftop we happily got absorbed into other people’s lives. There were multiple displays of happiness, joy and love between families and neighbours. Maybe we should make a bigger effort with our neighbours a bit more. Problem is though we end up living next to some of the worst neighbours. Like who tells you have to remove you newly laid drive because they plumbed a toilet badly in the first place!
Anyway back to Jodhpur. One thing that stood out for us was the number of kites in the sky. We think nearly every building had someone flying a kite. This made P very happy as again for some reason this symbolised freedom, living your dreams
and happiness. Like the kite she saw in Singapore, remember?
At first we thought it was kids flying them but this was clearly a young to middle aged man thing with many remarks thrown to their competing neighbours over their rooftops. We did catch a few kids trying to steal a flight but the men always took over in a ‘I'll show you how to do it’ kind of way.
As it got darker we heard some calls to prayer and afterwards there was a ringing. Not sure what the ringing was about. For P this ringing symbolised an alarm sound, a countdown that the streets were getting quieter, the dogs were forming packs and the streets were getting dangerous. Not safe for a lone person especially not P.
As irony goes, not too long after the ringing, the echoes of dogs barking and other dogs yelping created an all too familiar theme tune to the evening. None of the locals appeared to bat an eyelid. That’s what we don’t get here. They love the animals here in India, to the point they are happy to live side by side next to them.
However when they fight barely anyone reacts.
Maybe we are too soft (reminded of our dog back home) as after all they are wild dogs and that’s just what wild dogs do. The only alternative is to do what we do back home, take strays off the streets try to give them a home and a family.
The following day we returned to the fort to get strapped up for the flying fox zip line. This was something we were really looking forward to. Flying through and over the most majestic setting of the fort walls.
After being given a safety lesson, we signed our lives away and were ready to go. Geared up, with just the 2 of us and our 2 guides we made our way across the fort to the first of 6 zip lines. Nervous and excited the instructors asked who wanted to go first. As Chris had the camera he quickly volunteered P. As you imagined P was delighted at this!
Strapped up to the line and caught off guard by the incredible views of the fort walls and the blue city to our right,
she shot into the sky when the instructor yelled go. Off P went, wind in her face, flying across the fort yelping as she went. Chris followed and then the 2nd guide. For us both this was an exhilarating experience, exciting and scary but amazing at the same time. Plus we had seen many forts on foot why not zip line over one.
One of our favourite lines was the over the beautiful queen’s lake and the last one back towards the fort. Whilst walking from one line to another we also walked past the area where they filmed Batman: A dark night. Incredible.
Just looking at the fort from a short distance away when we zip lined, we were able to access viewpoints we would not otherwise get to see. The fort was beautiful and impressive and the ride was magical.
Nice ending to a terrible start.
We were leaving to our next destination Jaisalmer the next day with an early start in the morning. We asked our hostel to book us a rickshaw driver for 4am. For most of the night P continually worked herself up about walking these narrow
alleyways in the dark with no human activity and the risk dangerous dog packs. She did this to the point she said would rather go home and in the end slept very little and when she did, she did so with some built up nervousness in the morning.
We won't create any false suspense. We were fine. One dog did bark alarmingly at Chris as he clutched a wooden stick, but the pack was nowhere to be seen and he was able to make the dog keep some distance. May or may not have been a good idea if this dog backed up with a pack.
Next - Desert: Round 2.
Accommodation: Kesar Heritage
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