Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Rajasthan Diaries - Day 2, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

 After a restful sleep I woke up early enough at 6. Luckily for me Vasu is an early riser and is up by 5-530 so no need for alarms. He gets up freshens up and then wakes me in time. Our strategy was to hit the fort early - but they said it would not open till 9 am. One plan was to walk up from the steps on the side which is supposed to give us a good view of the city. But then the boy at the reception said - you have not eaten Shahi samosa yet? What's the point of coming to Jodhpur and not eating Shahi samosa?

Disappointment at Shahi Samosa

Waiting outside the Mehrangarh fort

So we woke up early, planned to get out by 7, go to the Shahi samosa guy near the market we had gone to, eat samosas and then head to the fort by 8-830. That way we can get in early. At 730 we stepped out and hired an auto to the Shahi samosa place. Unfortunately those guys were just about setting up shop and said it would take another hour. So we decided to take a rickshaw and head straight up to the fort and take our chances.

A huge group of tourists - Abhinay taking their group pic

Us and the fort

The ICMR Run

TheICMR group with the all important pic

For contrast - the modern and the traditional

Unfortunately the chaps at the fort would not let us near the gates because there was a program - a run organised by ICMR's local office. We were all told to go far away near the parking lot and we waited there for the run to commence and get over. In time a bunch of some 30-40 people came jogging downhill, some 300-400 metres from the top, all wearing identical t shorts and caps, stopped and then headed straight for some refreshments and pictures. Not much one can say about this'run'.

Up on the fort

View of the city

While waiting for the guards to let us at the gates we tried unsuccessfully to get the chaiwala to serve tea before 9 am - nada. We walked this way and that and made our strategy as more and more tourists started to pour in by the car loads,bus loads and so on. The moment they let people in, we'll be the first at the gates.

The palace overlooking the city

The Meghrangarh Fort, built in 1459 by Rao Jodha, looks majestic on the hill top. A winding road leads up to it. Close to it is a memorial called Jaswant thada which is one of the tourist attractions. Entry to the fort for foreigners is 600 bucks and for Indians its 200 bucks. There must have been thousands of tourists that day. A guide costs some 250 bucks and for use of the lift, you pay another 50 bucks. We were among the first to squeeze in and we instantly got ourselves a guide - Hema Kunwar - who said she was the only lady guide among 3000 guides there. She was pretty efficient because I gave her a time frame of an hour and she let us off exactly in one hour. 

Hands of women who committed jauhar

Way out

So we took the lift and went all the way up, got some spectacular views of the city, the palace, the china, the glass,the swords and such stuff. She showed us one room which was apparently the king's bedroom and told us how one king had 30 wives and he would make them play a chess like game to figure out who the lucky one was for that night. Anyway standard fare but the scale, the vision etc were quite impressive. Marks of cannon balls, hands of ladies who died while performing jauhar, are all marked out there. 

Abhinay, me, Hema ji and Vasu

An hour spent quite immersively we went down and took leave of Hemaji who led us to the Zip Line.

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