Written By: Becky Reining
The next leg of our journey consisted of the three main cities in the state of Rajasthan - Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Jaipur. This entire region has the exotic feel of an Arabian Knights fantasy. Ancient castles and forts line the hills. You hear stories of Raj's conquering different regions. The people, the art and tapestries, and the food all have a middle eastern influence. The landscape is nothing but desert and as you drive through it you will often see camels either lazily passing the road or carrying passengers to their next destination. The heat was full on and dry - forcing us to spend the mid day hours either indoors or in a pool. It was my personal favorite part of the trip!
First stop was Jodpur, the "blue city". We had arranged this leg of our journey through a travel agent in Delhi. You can never be 100% certain travel agents that call you "my friend" and give you the receipt hand written on a piece of ripped out notebook paper are legit. But Max (the travel agent) pulled through and we were whisked away to none other than a castle for our Jodhpur accommodation! Big red curtains, colorful stained glass windows, multiple luxurious window seats, and indoor patios complete with fountains adorned its different levels.
The highlight was a rooftop tower we discovered that offered a breath-taking 360 degree view of the blue city. The name is literal, as the majority of the houses were indeed painted a light blue. The reason? The color apparently keeps mosquitos away!
We could barely handle being on the roof for longer than 20 minutes before the heat became overwhelming. This combined with the travel time from Varanasi to Jodhpur being a good 6 hours led to us decide that some down time would make up the agenda for the afternoon, rather than playing tourist. We got ourselves a couple of cold beers, pulled out the sequence, and spent the afternoon in the shade enjoying our castle.
As the sun set the temperature cooled down enough for a nice dinner on the rooftop. We called it an early night as we had a lot planned for the next day.
We woke up bright and early, did a Nike Training Club work out, and headed over to Jodpur's main attraction - the Mehrangarh Fort. It has been given the title of "Asia's Best Preserved Fort" and this is a title well deserved. I really did feel like I was in one of the 7 Kingdoms of Game of Thrones. The Fort rests on top of a hill and has beautiful and elaborate carvings linings its windows and towers. We learned that the most recent Batman had a scene filmed here - where Christian Bale escapes from prison. We also learned that Naomi Campbell hired out the entire fort for her 40th birthday. Celebrities from around the world that were given the exclusive invite were treated like royalty for Naomi's special evening.
Rather than do yet another audio tour, we opted for checking out the Fort via…a freaking Zip Line tour! Hell yeah! Gina said it best…"if we are going to check out Asia's most awesome fort we should probably do it the most awesome way possible". Truth be told, it was awesome. I felt like Aladdin on his magic carpet soaring high above the Fort's moats and walls.
As the tour came to an end we learned one other random fact that made the Fort even more awesome - the very first pomegranate tree EVER came from inside the fort. And yes we got to see where it grew and the four trees that have since replaced it.
It was a good thing we started the day out with such a bang, because the rest of it was spent in a 6 hour taxi ride from Jodhpur out to Jaisalmer. This was also organized by Max and was unfortunately the only thing that was not so great organized through him. The driver was nice enough, a young guy named "Vicky". (Kyle goes….so I just met the driver. His name is Vicky. Yes, a girl's name but for a dude. But this is OK because I have a boy's name I guess). But his vehicle was TINY. We were a good two weeks into our journey by this stage and our bags had only grown in size. Trying to squeeze everything and ourselves into his tiny car was hellish. Then the journey….imagine a similar description as driving out to Agra with cows/rickshaws/goats/cars honking everywhere….but add to that the WORST road conditions I think I've ever driven on. "Road maintenance" isn't something really enforced in Rajasthan. We were bounced all over the place with tall Kyle hitting her head on the roof with each pot hole and our bags pushing up against us awkwardly.
It was a trip well worth it though…we were rewarded with the magnificent Jaisalmer at the end of it all….