We had asked the hotel manager about the journey to Jodhpur, and looked on Rome2Rio. The general consensus was 4 hours on a good run, maybe five. And we have a visit to Pushkar planned on the way.
All I know about Pushkar is that there are a lot of temples and apparently a corresponding lot of hassle – the routine is that someone will put a flower in your hand and at that point you have somehow ‘agreed’ to be given a blessing.
So we said goodbye to Roopangargh, which to me, having spent two nights and originally perhaps noticing the defects, now felt quite a magical place to leave.
Shakti has developed a system of timekeeping where we discuss the time to leave, then add on half an hour for ‘Jack time’. So the agreed leaving time was 8.30am, with the understanding we’d leave at 9am, Jack time.
It took maybe an hour or an hour and a half to get to Pushkar. We were given three options of where Shakti might drop us – we chose the quietest option where he would drop us at the far side of the lake, and we could walk round to see the temple.. He primed us about the potential hassle from the flower guys (he says some may say ‘this is a karma place’ or similar), and off we went…
We could see the lake right away and wondered if to turn left had meant to walk down to the lake and left or just go left. We could see signs about ‘no shoes’ by the lake, so we just turned left and wandered past monkeys, around cows and associated dung, and round to a market. We also went via a temple this way where we had an attempt to give us a flower and the spiel which appeared to go ‘this is not a holy place, this is a karma place’.
Didn’t ring true to me – I’ve read the guide book, this is certainly seen as a holy place by many Hindus, a lot of whom were washing by the lake at that very moment to prove it. Anyway, we swerved him, which was enormously helped by our previous blessings and the fact we could show the bit of cotton around our wrists to ‘prove’ we were pre-blessed and didn’t need another one. Some men at the market helpfully pointed to the temple and we went along and had a look. There were many signs about ‘no photography’ and ‘no shoes or sleepers’. We figured this was ‘slippers’.
Plenty of people were taking photos, but we only took them where it seemed OK, and used our eyes instead…
It is a beautiful place. We could see and hear across the other side of the lake that it was really noisy and bustly and busy, but we chose to stay in the calmer area, and thus managed to get away with only a handful of offers of flowers, which we dodged with aplomb thanks to the previous blessings of the priest and the school. So maybe this was our promised bit of luck. For us Pushkar wasn’t anything like the hassle-fest the guide books say it can be.
So onward to Jodhpur, and as we leave Pushkar, Shakti tells us we still have another six hours to go. This doesn’t feel like the best of news to me. Perhaps the luck had run out already.
The journey isn’t so interesting today, although there are plenty of traffic violations to witness, not so much by way of scenery. Lots of trees. Rural areas, but with not so much close to the road to keep us entertained.
We stop for lunch at another roadside café, which Shakti deems friendly enough for us. We choose to eat outside, and the cooking is done outside too. The food is good, if a bit oily, and the bill is the best yet at 620 rupees, about £7 for four big meals.
Another lots of hours later we start to get to the outskirts of Jodphur. We go past the Umaid Bhaiwan, namesake of our Jaipur hotel. This one is a hotel too, and is set in an enormous palace. It says in the guidebook that if you’re not staying you’re not welcome to visit! At about £400 per night, we’re not staying. We’re actually headed for our cheapest hotel, the Jodphur Heritage Haveli. We’ve booked via AirBnb and the reviews are good, but at £16 per night it’s a bit of a worry! We have two rooms booked as he had run out of bigger rooms and nowhere in Jodphur had been able to offer us one room for four of us. We’d settled on this hotel because all of the others we’d communicated with had stopped communicating.
We were aware that because it is in the old town, Shakti’s car won’t be able to reach it. So he arranged with the hotel to meet us with two tuk tuks, and after a mild amount of chaos we were on our way.
We arrived at the hotel, and Jack was feeling pretty queazy. We were offered a chai tea on arrival, and, as was becoming a bit of a theme where we say ‘black chai please, no milk’, they say ‘black tea?’ we say ‘yes please’ and then some Brooke Bond or Tetley plain boring tea arrives. I have resolved to say ‘Masala tea, no milk’ and see where that gets me.
We were shown the rooms and one is OK, minus the balcony which had been discussed via AirBnb, (and in fact with no windows at all), and the other is right next to reception, with frosted glass doors, again no windows, small, a floor away from the kids room, and essentially a bit grim. We grumble a bit, and then decide to mention it to the (very friendly and helpful Mr Sashil Kumar, hotel guy). He says that he has sold his good room and pretty much it was my fault for requesting two rooms. I said I didn’t request two rooms, I requested one, but we have to agree it was a misunderstanding. He offers to show us another possible room, next to the other one, but with a shared bathroom. Or he can put two beds in the bigger room we already have. We opt for that, which perhaps doesn’t overly please the kids who were settling in nicely.
We head up and sit on the rooftop, which is lovely. Jodhpur isn’t nearly as blue as I’d imagined – only a handful of the houses we can see are blue, but apparently that’s how it is, and the impression of blue-ness is gained from certain vantage points. Also we’d seen Jodhpur on the Planet Earth programme, and they’d shown some monkey activity which made it seem like the rooftops would be covered in them. Can’t say I’m disappointed that they’re not, but they’re not.
We sit til it gets dark, and then choose some food to eat, although some of us are feeling a little poorly at this point. We can hear drums moving around the city which sound like a wedding…
Around midnight there’s a load more drumming which becomes increasingly close, until we realise it’s just outside the hotel. Steve goes to investigate and I have a look over into reception, and see quite a lot of assembled wedding-party in the reception area. Steve returns with a few pics on the phone and says the groom ‘is on a horse and looks terrified’ (and that the horse did too), and the entire street was taking it in turns to sit on the horse for a photo. Apparently they’d led him in for a short while (groom, not horse). Josie explains via whatsapp that it’s customary to go round visiting friends and family. And that often the band are just friends and family with hired in costumes and instruments. These ones are genuinely good though! The kids had been asleep so slightly less impressed. A few fireworks also go off at close quarters, and I hope that horse and groom remain intact.
We had read that the old town part of Jodhpur around the hotel could get a bit noisy, and the reviews weren’t wrong. I don’t know what dogs do in the night exactly, but there appear to be a lot of them. We have brought earplugs with us, but mine seem like they may be for decoration only.