We left Udaipur in the morning after a breakfast of stuffed paratha and curd. Most of the day was spent driving to Jodhpur with a stop at the Ranakpur temples and some lunch. We drove along lots of windy, hilly, bumpy roads, saw pigs, goats, cows, buffalo, camels, tortoise and a herd of wild deer. There were lots of men with turbans and woman with colourful saris and their faces covered...
There were three small temples on site that we saw the outside of and one huge temple that we went inside. The temples are all Jain temples. Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism is one of the major religions that came from ancient India. There was a list outside of all the things that were prohibited inside the temple (including any kind of food or water, shoes, any type of leather or tobacco and any menstruating woman!!) so we left all our belongings in a locker, removed our shoes and headed inside. The Ranakpur temple was impressive. All made of white marble, hundreds or detailed pillars and sculptures, it really was beautiful.
After a long day of driving we reached Jodhpur and our very colourful room at our guest house. Jodhpur is known as the blue city because of the many buildings painted in a shade of blue. It is in the Thar Desert in the northwest of Rajasthan, so is a bit hotter than Mumbai and Udaipur. There is a huge fort towering above the city which we had full view of from the rooftop of our guest house so we landed up just spending the afternoon and evening chilling and reading on the roof terrace. It was lovely as the sun went down the fort lit up and the sounds of the muslim calls to prayer and the drums and ringing bell for the Jain break time filled the air...
The next morning our guesthouse arranged for a tuk-tuk to pick us up for the day. We started at the Umaid Bhavan palace and museum (which was built in 1929 as part of a famine relief project), which to be honest was pretty dull, but very popular with Indian tourists. After that we went to Jaswant Thanda, a white pillared marble memorial to Jaswant Singh II. This was pretty, surrounded by water, gardens, birdlife and a view of the fort. Our last stop was the Meherangarh Fort which towered over the city. It was impressive... it used to be a palace and is now a museum with lots of galleries, artwork, weapons, outfits and howdah's (elephant seats) and amazing views of the blue city. They also had a huge area for artists and craftsmen to sell their goods. They are chosen and given a space for one month at a time and then they move out and another group move in. All of the goods were sold for fixed prices, so there is no bartering and they are exposed to all the tourists who visit the city. We landed up buying a toy tuk-tuk, notebooks, jewellery and a rug!
We ran out of time, but I read that there was a Bishoi village near Jodhpur. The Bishoi people are some of the worlds first tree huggers! 'Bish' stands for 20 and 'Noi' stands for 9 as they have 29 rules for living in harmony with nature and the environment. They are strict vegetarians and are forbidden to kill animals or fell live trees. In 1730 workers were sent to cut khejri trees to make limestone for a new palace. One lady hugged a tree and said they'd have to cut her head off if they wanted to cut the tree, which they did. Her 3 daughters and 359 other people gave their lives before the Maharajah granted them protection. Today a small temple and 363 khejri trees mark the area to commemorate the martyrs. I will definitely try and get there if I make it to Jodhpur again!
For lunch our driver took us to Gypsy, a Thali restaurant which was outside of the old town but ridiculously popular. We had to queue for a table. There were 32 dishes on the platter and again they kept coming round to top it all up and found it hilarious that we could barely manage what was in front of us!
In the evening we went to the Taj Hari Mahal Hotel, which was the poshest place we saw all holiday and the only place where Chris felt ill afterwards! We got to enjoy a quiet meal and some traditional music, but it felt quite weird, and was a world away from the India we'd seen so far. When we came out, our tuk-tuk driver was gone! I think he'd had an argument with the hotel staff and left as they didn't want him waiting outside the hotel... we felt so bad that we'd done that to him!