We were in Jodhpur briefly on our way to Amritsar, and were intrigued by the narrow, twisty-turny alleyways. The whole place was painted a lovely periwinkle blue (which we didn’t realize until morning, as we arrived in the dark of night).
Despite the narrow and confusing alleys, Jodhpur is pretty tourist-friendly. Most of the popular guesthouses and restaurants paint signs on the buildings leading from the main streets to lead lost tourists to the proper location.
Our time in Jodhpur allowed for some reflection on our trip in India thus far. We’ve figured out we like smaller towns better: the people tend to be friendlier, and the atmosphere is more relaxed. We’re big fans of the cultural attractions that are tranquil. This is rather funny, as most people would wonder why we came to India for peace and tranquility. I guess when I think about it that way, we really like the combination and balance of the two. The cities are great for seeing popular attractions, but the street markets, food stalls, and bicycle rickshaws are quite similar in most of the places we’ve been. We do really enjoy observing the culture, and spend a fair amount of time reflecting on the differences between the cultural norms we are accustomed to and the norms we observe in India.
The type of food and tea has varied. In the south we were feasting on paratha (fried bread, similar to naan), fish and chicken fry, and drinking cardamom tea like it was water. We also ate a lot of Kerala rice, which was not our favourite… it was strangely puffy and watery, and had a strange flavour. Now in the north, we’ve sampled the more commonly known Indian dishes: butter chicken, tandoori, longer grain basmati rice, and naan. Unfortunately the quality of the tea has declined, as we drink mostly powdered chai or masala tea in the north, but that makes sense as tea is grown mostly in the south. One thing has remained the same: you can get a pretty great lime soda just about anywhere! (Lime soda is fresh squeezed lime juice and soda water, often sweetened a bit).
We’ve started to learn the meaning of some of the words too, mostly related to food! ‘Dhaba’ refers to a roadside restaurant, and ‘thali’ describes a meal popular in Rajasthan, usually consisting of dal, curry, raita, chappati/naan/paratha, and sliced onions or pickled vegetables.
We had one day in Jodphur, and after meeting Taylor and Julie for one last breakfast we visited the Umaid Bhawan Palace. The Palace was commissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1929, partially as a response to the famine caused by many seasons of drought. The construction created many jobs, and resulted in a beautiful structure.
The palace is currently divided into three sections: museum, luxury hotel, and home of the current Maharaja. The museum provided a glimpse of life in British India: there were many photographs of the Indian aristocracy playing polo, picnicking, and driving fancy cars. The Maharajas were educated at Oxford, and the collections of furniture, clothing, and ceramics could have come straight from Buckingham Palace. The grounds of the palace are beautiful and well-kept, and the last stop on your way out is a walk past the garage that displays the antique car collection (my Dad would have been a big fan of this part, unfortunately the information about the makes and models were entirely lost on me – and I couldn’t take pictures because they were behind glass and the glare was terrible – sorry Daddy!)
We also took a quick look at the clock tower and wandered the busy market surrounding it. I picked up a thicker, larger shawl in preparation for our trip north, as we were expecting colder temperatures (and we found them!)
While waiting for our train, we did what we do best, which is linger at a rooftop restaurant and enjoy the views!