Jodhpur – Where Shiva and Allah are shaking Hands
In Jodhpur muezzin’s call to prayer is getting louder and Arabia coming closer. The city Jodhpur is a very interesting interface between Indian and Arabic influenced cultural areas. The countless picturesque lanes with its historic buildings, Haveli called, are crowded with day life. Though from almost everywhere a glance at the massive Mehrangarh Fort is possible, doesn’t matter how narrow a lane is. The Fort is appears like a massive battle ship anchoring in front of the city gates. The city centre is the Clock Tower being surrounded by the Old Market, a place so diverse that it wouldn’t come as big surprise when bumping into a stall selling already chewed chewing gum.
When looking from Mehrangarh Fort down to Jodhpur it is no problem to notice what colour does give the city its identification: Blue, as an indigo paint coat is protecting the houses from all too hot sun. Jodhpur is not that big, however in its veins, the dozens of small lanes, life is buzzing as hell. It is noisy and dusty. The rickshaw driver was lucky as he didn’t bump into the cow suddenly stepping on the road, but it takes no second and six other people behind him already start to push the horn.
The way up to Mehrangarh Fort is everything but wide and plain, however walking up this path is enjoyable. Having reached the fort’s entrance, a nice wide view can be enjoyed. The inner fort is a well preserved Maharaja Palace and accommodates a very nice and informative museum, where countless tourists are streaming through when being remote controlled by their audio guide.
The Old Market around Clock Tower is one of the funnier places in India as besides character faces above all you will see all kinds of goods being sold: Spare parts for sewing machines next to a stall selling freshly baked Naan, or the salesman selling ALL kinds of locks beside a stall having the most recent selection of Bolly- and Hollywood blockbusters burned on self-made DVD on offer. The market’s diversity as well as the range of dealers selling them is one of India’s most fantastic snapshots. But the best are the greengrocers, who are taking the whole scenery so relaxed and cool that even Happy Days’ Fonzie could take a leaf out of their book.
Sweets. A small group of girls runs down a lane but suddenly stops and starts gazing at the culinary gems shown in a confectioner’s window. Where else if not in Jodhpur those little masterpieces had been brought to perfection. They are created from honey, coconut, saffron or pistachios, almonds, puffed rice and cardamom as well as from good aromatic milk of course. Once having tried the most well-known Gulab Jammon, you can’t stop trying anymore. But be careful: those tasty little gems don’t take a by-pass, they will go straight to your hips :-)
Old Town’s small lanes are canalising the traffic, making Jodhpur a bit louder than other cities in Rajasthan, but when following roads leading parallel to traffic’s main paths then there is quite a chance to experience Jodhpur in a more quiet way and to get in touch with people living there. By chance you can even bump into one of countless unavoidable Indian weddings being held in Jodhpur. The city seems to be kind of a magnet for this as even wedding parties from Delhi are celebrating here.
Before the festivities take part, the groom is riding to the venue to the venue on a white horse while being surrounded by drummer and trumpets. Merely having had a first glance at all things going on, you’ll get immediately invited to join the vibrant ceremony. Funnily such a guest is getting paid even more attention that the actual couple, hence don’t wonder if you find yourself in thunderstorm of photographic flash lights.
The hospitality is incredible, your plate will be filled up with every single question asked, like what you are doing in India, how you like the country, what you are doing back home etc etc etc. As single man you also automatically have to shake hands with all marriageable women ranging from the age of 15-50.
In particular when enjoying food you will notice that Arabic and Indian cuisine are shaking hands here. This includes general food such as curries as well as sweets. When visiting Jodhpur you should indulge yourself by eating at Indique Restaurant and enjoying their Silver Thali, a rich meal that once got served only to maharajas. Their Chicken Tikka is world class, but also curries are that well prepared, making you tasting every single spice used.
It is a roof top restaurant offering a superb view to the illuminated fort (yes, finally there is something is getting illuminated in India!) as well as the clock tower. It is a great place to stay and enjoy the sunset while swallows are chasing through the evening sky. Read more about that in the culinary article.