Rajasthan Trip 2007 - Jodhpur

A trip was on the cards from the time I got the wedding invitation in February. A wedding of my schoolmate. Attending weddings is a good excuse for a trip. You get leave from your boss easily. You please the friend/relative as you are with them on their marriage. And of course you are happy being there and enjoying the baraat and the music and the feast and the chicks. A treat for your senses, eyes, ears and tongue.

So when I got this invitation, I phoned other friends to cajole them for a trip. Going alone to a marriage and that too when u r a friend of the bride, is very boring. A bunch of old brats is a better choice. After a few rounds of calls, I managed to get a gang of 5 (Amritanshu, Abhishek, Anshuman and Anoop) to join me at the venue of the marriage, Jodhpur.

Jodhpur is a nice little city in the south of Rajasthan. It is famous for forts and palaces as are all other tourist places in Rajasthan. After a bit of googling on various tourism promotion sites and numerous travelogues, I charted out the itinerary for a 4 day trip.

Day 1: Rendezvous of all the members at Jodhpur and local sight seeing. Attending marriage at night.
Day 2: Travel to Udaipur by bus, 260kms, 6hrs. Local sight seeing in the afternoon.
Day 3: Some more local visits/shopping at Udaipur. Travel to Mount Abu by bus, 250kms, 6hrs.
Day 4: Going around Mount Abu. Visit Guru Shikhar, Highest point of Aravali Ranges. Come down to Abu Road, 25kms from Mount Abu. Take a night train to Delhi.

What a perfect itinerary. Similar to what u will see on any tourism site (Well, I dint Ctrl-C Ctrl-V this from any site). But as all great travellers say "when is a perfect itinerary ever followed". And as you would guess, that was proved correct (or else why should I blog about my perfectly planned itinerary). Here is how it all went in the end.

At first, Amr misinterpreted the dates of the tour and booked railway tickets for a month in advance. Luckily that error came to my notice quickly and was rectified. Then Anoop was called upon by his phd supervisor for official duty. Anshuman coulnt come as his grandpa expired. (He lived in Udaipur and was supposed to be our tour manager. His absence was a huge blow) Then it was Abhishek's turn to ditch me. His project at Chicago got extended and his return to India got cancelled.

I was about to cancel the whole trip when Amr called me up and told, "Even if there are only two of us, we will go. I want a break."

Hence on June 23rd, I took a night train from Delhi to Jodhpur. A very comfortable journey with a reasonably cool climate. It is usually horrible to travel in Northern India at this time of the year. Amr had come from Nasik and was waiting for me at the railway station. Poor Thing. He dint have a local contact number and dint even know where to go. I had the wedding invitation card.. :-D

Reaching the venue was pretty easy. The autowallahs are decent in Jodhpur. I had read on some site that Jodhpur is the most tourist friendly city of Rajasthan and I assure the same after our first experience on the autorikshaw. The guy was cheerful and told us about the places to visit in the city and the best means of transport.

The day was warming up and we feared it to be a typical Rajasthan summer. Going from Delhi's heat, I dint find it much different, but Amr was sweating profusely and cursed me a lot for planning a trip in June. Frankly speaking, I had expected it to be cooler after the first monsoon showers.

We dumped our luggage at the marriage hall and got ready for our local outing after a sumptuous Marwari brunch. Our first destination was Mehrangarh Fort. It is situated on a hillock and has nice views of the city below. The fort is well maintained and has a nice museum showing the prominent rooms, palanquins, swords, artwork etc.

One thing that fascinated us in this fort was the 'Military Tanks' that were on the display. They were mounted on the top of the fort, keeping an eye on the intruders. There were lot of them, of different shapes and sizes, all made up of solid iron. This was unique. Not many forts in the country have the old tanks displayed to common public.

The city beyond the fort's walls is blue in colour. (I dont know why they painted all the houses blue, but it looks nice from the top). The fort being located on a highland gave a vast view of the landscape around. Everything looked parched and arid. In fact, the overhead sun made us believe that we were looking at a desert extending to the horizon from the outskirts of the city (Desert is what we expect to see in Rajasthan, right??? :-) )

From the Mehrangarh Fort, we trekked down the hillock and took an auto to our next stop, Umaid Bhawan Palace. The palace was constructed in this century and is now converted into a five star hotel. A small portion of the palace was made into a museum. Apart from the beautiful structure of the palace (seen from outside), we were disappointed by our venture. To be frank, it is a waste of time to go there unless you are going to stay in the hotel.

After the unappealing palace, we took off to the local market, Nai Sadak, for buying some local stuff. Bought a few souveniers for relatives from the National Handloom Emporium. Kurtas and Bandhani sarees are the local stuff.

Baked in the hot sun for a few hours, we reached back at the marriage hall sooner than expected. We refreshed our minds with usual gossip with all uncles around - there were few guys of our age and the gals were busy with the bride. :(

The baraat, marriage procession, was pompous and were late as usual. In North Indian marriages, how can a baraat be on time? There was a large crowd and the place was soon overflowing. We wriggled our way near the food counters. The number of admirable ladies was substantial but the absence of DJ meant that it was all pleasure for eyes rather that for our senses. The buffet was superb with a nice mix of north indian and marwari dishes.

The marriage, as in most marriages in the North, was a quiet affair with just the immediate family members sitting around the pandal, and many of them dozing off for short spells. Incidentally, there was no fun games and stuff, like stealing groom's shoes by the bride's sisters and later bargaining for getting it back. It was wholly an elderly affair, and we had nothing much to enjoy in it.

One of things happened according to our itinerary. We left to Udaipur by the early morning bus just after the vidayee ceremony of the married couple, which invariably is a sentimental parting of the bride. Looking back from the taxi, we could see the decorated car fading into darkness and our minds spoke

'Wish you a happy and successful married life'


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