Jodhpur and Jaisalmer

The Mumbai to Jodhpur night train was an interesting first exposure to Indian trains.  I was in Sleeper Class, which meant no AC and six stacked beds per compartment.  It ended up being my most pleasant ride, though, due in large part to a group of 16 friends spread all around me who were travelling homewards up North for a holiday, and who plied me with delicious food, cheap whiskey, and Facebook friend requests.  On my part, I shared the candy I’d bought in Vietnam and settled in to enjoy the ride.

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Jodhpur really has only one attraction, but it’s a good one- Mehrangarh Fort.  It’s so good that it even factored into the last Christopher Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.  Unlike the film, it was an extremely windy and rainy day when I arrived, and the utter lack of left luggage services anywhere in town apparently saddled me with my backpack the whole time I explored it.  Even with all of that, though, the spectacular setting and formidable grandeur of the place made it clear why Nolan and Rudyard Kipling and Aldous Huxley before him were so enamored of the place.  

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Rajas still own the place, and it’s full of opulent decor, weapons, miniature paintings, and all of the trappings of royalty it has accumulated through the centuries.  

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The views from the top, even in the rain, were quite good as well, especially of the mostly blue-painted city below.

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The night bus to Jaisalmer was quite interesting.  It had normal seats below, but a second level of small, closed “sleeper boxes” that somebody my size would never fit in above.  As long the bus kept moving and the air kept flowing it was okay, but Peru still reins supreme for night buses.

Jaisalmer is a ‘desert’ town, but the environment is more Pakistani/Afghani scrubland than a true desert.  There were some small sand dunes with tourist-ready camels that I visited in the morning in time to catch the sunrise, which was as underwhelming as sunrises usually are (I’m a sunset man through and through).  Overall, this portion of the trip was a disappointment.

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However, Jaisalmer Fort, a yellow sandstone affair that rates as the only “living” fort in the country, still occupied by families and tourist shops and hotels, was impressive.  

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It was full of winding alleys and lookout points well worth exploring, as well as several ornate compounds of rich merchants, called havelis.  I’m not sure if Jaisalmer is worth a trip if you’re not already in the area, but I got some good pictures out of it at least.

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About zijerem

I spent two years neglecting my Peace Corps blog in Peru (zachinperu.blogspot.com) and now I've relocated to Korea (teaching English) and promise to get off my ass and write something every once in awhile...
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