Monday, November 7, 2022

The Rajasthan Diaries - Day 2, Umaid Bhavan Palance and Shahi Samosa, Jodhpur

Off we went from Mehrangarh Fort to Moustache hotel, freshened up, checked out and headed to the famed Shahi samosa - the best samosa in Jodhpur. This shop was right outside the Sardar Market, where we had gone to see the clock tower last evening - only thing was that it was now very crowded. 

Random pics inside Umaid Bhavan Palace

Those guys were at it full on - frying samosas and kachoris and bajjis in huge vats. A large crowd waited for their samosas and we tried everything. Vasu tried the kachori and liked it. They also make some mirchi bajji which is huge - a full meal. Abhinay and I tried the samosa - when we asked for a chutney  that guy said we won't need it - and it was true. The filling had everything. A taste of the bajji and we tried some lassi -Abhinay and me - thick and heavy - nice though in a dessert like manner. Having satiated ourselves we were about to go when two little girls popped in and wanted their picture taken and they smiled beautifully and added much charm to it. We hopped into the vehicle and off we went to Umaid Bhavan Palace.

A train clock

The Umaid Bhavan Palace was on the other side of town. There was a huge crowd there already and once again we hired a guide, a soft spoken gentleman who led us through a half hour tour. We had a quick look at the paintings, the cars and memorabilia. One part of the building is a hotel, one part is open for tourists and one part is where the present king Gaj Singh lives with his family. There were some vintage cars at the end where Vasu found a Morris Minor which was similar to what his Dad had and took a picture.

The corridor and the young lady

I found one very interesting corridor and tried to take a pic when suddenly this young girl popped into the frame. It was interesting that she did because she was a young mother who was there with her young child and her parents. She drew a lot of attention with her clothes, tight, figure hugging ones and well she carried them off well. What I did like was the fact that she did not care two hoots about all the old aunties and others were whispering about her.   

Random pics again -did not know what I was doing there

The palace

Seeing the crowd and the way it was consuming the palace and its history I first wondered (even for me) that it was more of a tick off point. Been there and here's the pic of me smiling and eating. I have no clue why I should be there at this palace paying good money without having an inkling about the history, without taking time to study it while I am there. Its just one mad rush - half an hour and we are out. Its the equivalent to flipping through a book and letting a couple of words catch your attention. Its disturbing to know - why do we do this? One idea certainly is that its better than not doing it simply because the sight expands your imagination but hey, can we be more present to it? The only thing I remembered most was the kesar kulfi outside which was a big hit but we didn't have it being full of samosa and kachori.

Us three - been there, done that

Some great philosophical lines come from our guides - in fact most people there are full of philosophy. All troubles start with the marriage said our guide when I asked him why the current king's daughter did not marry (two children - the son married and the daughter did not). He had a twist to it that I forget which made it sound more believable than what I wrote. Something like she devoted her life to looking after the business or something and one cannot afford to marry when we have such responsibilities.

Vasu and the Umaid Bhavan Palace

I could not help but think that people must have paid taxes etc for such forts and palaces to be built and wondered at how middle class people still paid a bomb to visit these places and pay entry fees and see this opulence. Made me feel rather stupid by the end of it. That said, Umaid Singh was quite a character. He built the fort to provide employment in times of famine they say. He was an aviator, a hunter (who did his hunting in Ooty), a polo player and had many facets to him. 

Glad we contributed to the Trust that runs this - apparently the richest Indian royal Trust with a net worth of 230 billion rupees.

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