This was supposed to be the city that we wouldn’t like. Described by some other blog posts as pushy and polluted, we were not looking forward to heavy sell tactics. Thankfully, our experience was completely opposite from these accounts, except for some pollution, which we haven’t been able to avoid much in the stagnant air of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is known as the blue city, for housing an inordinate amount of buildings in this shade, which used to signify the home of a Brahmin (a person of the highest Indian caste of priests/scholars). Blue is also considered to be a color that acts as a natural mosquito repellant. Once again, we had booked an accommodation in a neighborhood (Navchokiya) that is unreachable by car. It is part of the old Medieval city that was built long before vehicles were invented and now has very narrow, windy, and sometimes steep roads that are best suited for scooters, motorcycles, and auto-rickshaws. I personally wish there were more bicycles and pedestrian-only lanes.
We stayed in a lovely renovated haveli (Singhvi’s), where we met our first fellow American family from the Northern California bay area, traveling with two girls the same age as Stella and Gabriel. Our kids would have been happy to just play in our guesthouse all day with their new friends, but our time together was limited to one evening.
What I really liked about our stay in Jodhpur were the following things:
1) Besides the comfort of Singhvi’s Haveli, it was also located in a fun-to-explore neighborhood, which felt less touristy. We were greeted by many locals, who stopped to ask questions, specifically directed to Stella and Gabriel. We never felt cheated when we made small purchases, and felt a genuine friendliness from the people on the streets.
2) We had obviously visited our share of forts by this time, but I can now look back and put our experience at Mehrangarh Fort, on the top. We did an audio-guided tour, which was incredibly informative, teaching us much about this particular fort as well as Rajasthan history, and the palace also a museum and live exhibitions, explaining opium use, henna, and a meditative musical performance featuring the santoor.
3) Here we visited our first Indian garden/nature preserve. Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park is a large area that is dedicated to the flora and fauna of the desert landscape. It is a clean oasis of little streams, desert foliage and birds, ensconced within the extended walls of the fort. We witnessed women maintaining the paths by cutting back overgrowth and no sights of rubbish anywhere.
4) When we did venture into the bazaar area near the Clock Tower monument, an area that probably illicited some of the negative feelings from other travelers, we had nothing but fun, witnessing the crazy buying-frenzy of the last days before Diwali. The Sardar Market was bright with tinsel, lights and peacock feathers, and the crowds and energy reminded me of going shopping for Christmas on December 23-24, X’s one hundred.
5) Our stay was peppered with other sights, including the Jaswant Thada, a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, and Umaid Bhawan Palace: