Our journey to Jodhpur from Ajmer was quick and comfortable (short, sweet and sweaty). Having booked seats in sleeper class due to the short journey time (4hrs), we really lucked out as our coach was almost completely empty. We made ourselves at home in a berth to ourselves, picking up snacks in between visits from the kids a few berths down. It became apparent, the further we travelled, that the reason not many people were traveling west was probably because it was hotter than hell. It was as if with each mile further across the desert, a few more degrees were notched up on the thermostat. As our cold drinks quickly turned to bath water☀️🛁, it was reassuring to see that the other passengers also seemed to be feeling the heat.
The train pulled into Jodhpur station around 6pm as a crowd of waiting tuk tuk drivers became very excited to see us walking down the steps. 🤑
Usually this would play in our favour, negotiating with a few drivers at once and getting a fairer price but sadly this was not one of those occasions. After telling the first driver that rs.100 was too much for a 2km drive and that the maximum we would pay is half that, the others all stood strong in agreement that this was the normal price and laughed along as one driver suggested we walk in the heat instead. Well jokes on them as walk we did! A quick shoe lace express across the road from the station and we had a few new drivers to bargain with. We eventually agreed rs.70 with a guy who had tried to tell us it costs more because the road is too thin, despite being the same journey time and distance… 🤔 sigh! Unfortunately more nonsense was to follow as he stopped after 1km, saying that he couldn’t go any further because the streets were too thin and steep. We could easily see on our phones that he had deliberately gone down a different road to the main road that leads to our hostel. Despite explaining this to him and saying there was no way we’d pay full price for being driven half way and told to walk, he refused to accept this and began to have a little tantrum. Pretending he no longer spoke English, he was disappointed that these tourists were not as naive as he’d hoped. 🐥 Bless. Trying not to laugh too much, we gave him rs.50, said it was really nice to meet him, shook his hand and left.
We walked the last km, along the steep winding lanes that weave and climb between the maze of tightly packed blue houses, towards Mehrangarh Fort. Out of breath and slightly annoyed that a tuk tuk was sitting just outside (knew it!), we arrived at LG guest house and met Alan at the door. A breath of fresh air from the moment we arrived, the little guest house was made up of three levels of beautifully painted walls and mosaic tiled floors. Ran by Alan’s family, they had refurbished their home and opened the guest house in Jan 2017, after Alan’s father had passed away. Our private double room was large with amazing Ensuite showers. We dumped our bags and grabbed dinner at “Curries”, a local rooftop restaurant that serves an amazing Kaju (cashew) curry and cold drinks while you watch the sun set over the Fort. Most restaurants in Jodhpur have a rooftop level as building upwards is the only option in the densely packed maze. This basically means you can enjoy amazing views almost everywhere you eat.
📷 – Mehrangarh Fort
It was cold showers all round before bed but at 11pm the temperature was still 39 degrees with no sign of dropping. The fan was like having a hairdryer on the ceiling, blowing a hot blast of air around the room and even with the doors open, only helped dry the washing. We managed to drift off but kept waking every hour in the gasping heat. At 4am we were done. We sat outside in the now 32 degrees and googled nearby rooms with AC. We came to our senses a little when we saw the prices. Instead, we soaked sarongs and towels in cold water and used them as duvets, managing to get a few hours sleep before the temperature started to rise again.
Feeling a bit hot and bothered we had a slow start to the next day, mainly thinking how we were going to cope with the unbearable heat for 4 more nights. Walking into town, we grabbed some street food along the main bazaar and headed to the clock tower markets. The clock tower itself is a nice feature in the town centre and is actually really useful when trying to remember roughly where in the blue maze you were. The market stalls mostly sell various textiles and household items, which was perfect as we only wanted one thing in particular. At a stall that sold pots, pans and Tupperware, we picked up our little spray bottle that would turn our oven room into a tropical oasis. ☀️💦😎
That night, we relaxed out on the roof, eating street food and perfected our plan to tackle the heat. The spray bottle worked really well, cooling the room but only for a short time as the oven soon cooked everything again. It was a combination of wet towels, regular spray bottle, fan on full and leaving the doors open all night that made it bearable enough to get some sleep.
We woke the next morning to a knock at the door and found the answer to our problem. It was Alan telling us that some other guests had moved out and a room that was in a more shaded area was now free. Praise be to Alan! We moved our bags and noticed the cooler temperature straight away. To celebrate, we had pizza and ice cream (when in Rome) for lunch, at Shivam rooftop restaurant. Shivam turned out to be a regular haunt of ours during our stay. The food was great, really cheap and the only downside was the grandmother insisting on hand moping the floors with a rather pungent disinfectant, every time we arrived.
After one particularly enjoyable lunch (veggie burgers and shakes – stop it!), we walked along the road towards the stepwell cafe. The plan, check out the menu in the fancy restaurant and have a drink while we act posh. At that moment, a fine young gentlemen decided that this was his opportunity to approach Ella and tell her how lovely she looks. Obviously this young man has impeccable taste but taste alone doth butter no parsnips. I offered the usual response, stating that Ella was in fact my wife (people are much nicer when you’re not living in sin) but in reply, he dropped the bombshell that Ella was in fact his girlfriend. I won’t pretend I wasn’t furious. There were just so many questions. I didn’t know they even knew each other and how long had this been going on? A little embarrassed from his confession, he ran along the road to the cafe’s entrance, turned and waited for us to approach again. I could see he was psyching himself up for a last advance, so I buried my heartache and prepared to defend my ladies honour! As we got to the cafe he made his move, an excellent lunge with arm outstretched, hoping to find his princess, so that they may be reunited. Well not on this day young sir! A stunning combination of just stepping forward and saying, “F*** off” sent him scurrying back from whence he came. Chivalry is alive!We enjoyed some drinks at the fancy restaurant and while Ella could not help but swoon, I was just happy to be alive. I’ll always remember the great battle of Stepwell. Let’s be honest, it was basically Troy… Kind of.
Other than the stunning views of the blue city from the Fort, we really enjoyed exploring the maze of winding streets. These were usually filled with kids playing/trying to pinch your arms and puppies. With Ella there’s always a puppy. I’m starting to think she has a map of where they live. Every walk, in and out of town, no matter which way we went, had to factor in a quick, “hello” to the two or three golden bundles of paws that lived along the way.
📷 – overlooking the city
On our third day, we met a little pup, no more than two months old, limping towards us. It was quickly apparent that she’d been hit by a bike or scooter and had broken her paw. We made her comfy and asked around in case anyone owned her or knew where her mum was. We did learn the Hindi for broken arm (silver lining?) and managed to get an address for the gov veterinary clinic but as we were about to order a taxi, found out it was also closed over the weekend. We checked in on her the next day, bringing a few more treats this time, to find that she’d been reunited with a confused looking mum and seemed to be doing better. Unfortunately as our train was the next day, we had to leave hoping the locals would look after her. 😢
📷 – 😭
On our last night Alan’s wife cooked us a family meal consisting of a traditional Indian Thali, with a few Rajasthani delicacies thrown in. It was all you can eat and it was amazing. A real mix of sweet and spice and a really nice opportunity to learn a little more about their lives. Alan told us the quest house restaurant is not open as he can’t yet afford to pay for chefs but that he’s considering offering quests a domestic food option, cooked by the family. Happy to be Guinea pigs, we gave a big thumbs up and insisted that we cook them a meal if they ever come to the UK. We offered to wash up because they had cooked but they refused and all looked a little in shock. Alan’s response, “I would actually die” had us laughing too much to argue any further. It came as quite a surprise to find out later that this would be our most expensive meal in Jodhpur as an extra rs.400 was added to our room bill. India 101, always agree a price. Surprise or not, we didn’t mind so much as it was genuinely a really nice experience and now a great memory of Jodhpur.
Heading for Jaisalmer, our penultimate stop, we can’t help but think where the time has gone. The Indian journey is nearly over but there’s just enough time to get lost in the desert!