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An Alien in Spain - Visits India (Jodhpur)

The drive from Jaisalmer to our next stop in Jodhpur was along reasonable roads and we played games in the car to pass the time. The comfort break taken at a roadside restaurant was made memorable by our June deciding she wanted to feed a cow in the car park which then tried to follow her into the restaurant to the consternation of the staff, luckily there was a step up the cow could not or did not wish to negotiate.

On leaving the Restaurant a young Indian lad stopped us by the car and after spreading his sack on the ground proceeded to amuse us with an excellent display of magic. What at talent and no more than 10 years old.

We arrived in Jodhpur at The Jee Ri Hotel and from the area we were all prepared to leave immediately but after examination of the hotel we found it to be clean and comfortable and the owners very hospitable with the rooftop Restaurant with an amazing view of the fort the clincher, we stayed and had a very good time.

After unpacking and a snack on the roof where we were watched over by a rare Black Kite which I took as a sign of good luck we ventured out to see what the city had in store for us.

Not far from the hotel but far enough to not be heard we came across Sardar Market - Girdikot which is set around a large square and was home to The cafe Royale I had been recommended that overlooked the clock tower in the centre.

After venturing out of the square on the other side we were confronted by a barrage of sounds and sights that abused the senses with roads streaming in all directions each one a market.

We even managed to find a shop that was selling English wine and Bear (not Beer)? June even got herself a bag at a bargain price

After a while we retreated into the safety of the market square for a well earned cup of delicious coffee and the girls were treated to a private audience with the material sellers outside who thought they had died and gone to heaven when Kay and Denise started their "bargain buying" whilst the rest of us took in the sights.

A nightcap on the roof terrace for my fellow travellers and a good nights sleep, with a final picture of the magnificent Fort we were to visit tomorrow.

Next morning our driver met us bright and early and off we went to the first port of call "Jaswant Thada" set high on the hill close to the fort is the Marble temple and cenotaph. Only 50 INR to enter and clean and peaceful - even No Smoking signs posted a real oasis in a sea of smog called India.

A short walk from the gates sits a statue with very little publicity of a man on a horse resplendent in bows, arrows, swords and other weapons who I thought merited a picture. It turned out to be Rao Jodhaji only the blooming founder of Jodhpur.

A hop skip and a jump ( but in a car) we came to The magnificent Mehrangarth Fort 400 ft above ground level walls 21 meters wide and 36 meters high started in 1458 entered through 7 gates each with an entry fee of 600 INR which came with audio guide and took us two and a half hours to walk round ( enjoyably) so well worth the money. Inside their are spacious courtyards and palaces ( Sikh Mahal) the pleasure palace and (Phool Mahal) The flower Palace and (Moti Mahal) The pearl palace. The museums are a wealth of history with collections of Elephant carriages, weapons, Maharajah Palanquins, canons and beautiful paintings.

From the fort we drove to Umais Bhagwan Palace which on arrival we found was now a hotel with a very small wing set aside as a museum which none of us were interested in paying another tourist rate for so we had a chai in the garden and listened to the roar of Airplanes passing overhead from the new airport Jodhpur has invested in. I say listen to as the smog is so thick we didn't see one airplane!!!!!!

We ended the day in a garden complex which I am ashamed to say I don't even remember the name of but it turned out to be quite an adventure. First we endured the gauntlet of begging children, we will never become accustomed to, and found ourselves in a Zen Temple complex which we were soon exploring..

After leaving we came across a funeral procession made up of all men carrying the corpse to an inside crematorium, out of respect we did not take pictures but interestingly only men in the procession ?

On our way back to the car we encountered two men on scooters who were distributing Bananas and flowers ( yes, flowers) to the monkeys to eat and the monkeys were coming from everywhere for the free meal - quite a sight.

A really interesting day topped off by a good meal back at the hotel and preparations made to meet up with Jon who was returning after his mothers funeral and would be meeting us in Mount Abu the following day.

Before I finish with Jodhpur I must recount an experience I had which will explain why I didn't enjoy the nightcap on the roof first night.

I had been troubled by an upset tummy for over two weeks which is not normal and we guessed a had a bug in the tummy and would need antibiotics and at the same time. I had just been getting an earache with my spoken words echoing in my ear. When I mentioned all this to the man in the hotel he offered to take me to a prominent and eminent doctor. On my return to the hotel that night I took him up on his offer. A 25 minute motorcycle ride later I arrived at a private clinic where there was a queue of people waiting to see this physician.. I was ushered through where my man explained in Urdu my problems. The doctor took me into his surgery and in perfect English asked me questions told me to stop taking antibiotics removed an excess of wax from my ear and prescribed what I should do to avoid the tummy problem. I thanked him and asked my hotel man who I should pay ? He spoke to the doctor who replied "This man is a guest in our country there will be no charge" This attitude was continued when the Hotel owner refused any payment for his time or the 1 hour round trip on his motor scooter. I did not get the picture of the doctor but the hotel owner and his father are in this picture.

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