Monday, December 15, 2014

Jodhpur Jaunt

The lovely heritage boutique hotel - Ratan Vilas

The Pool at Ratan Vilas 

We booked Ratan Vilas, a gem of a hotel on account of its #2 ranking on Tripadvisor. Also my friend, who I was travelling with, strongly recommended the hotel as she’d stayed here some 6 years ago and loved it.
We arrived and after a quick check in, were offered tea in an inner courtyard – our room looked onto it. Rooms are spacious with large bathrooms. Ours had a sunken tub! The rooms showcase attractive Rajasthani curtains and other soft furnishings.
Though well located on a busy thoroughfare, the expansive grounds keep street disturbances from intruding.
An old haveli, its beautifully maintained with attentive staff. I’m certainly coming back to stay here on my next visit.
Location is great – a short rickshaw ride from the “ghanta ghar” (clock tower) market, Mehrangarh Fort and the airport!
We took a rickshaw when we left the hotel. (Rishi 09772536278) and went to the market in the clock tower area. We roamed around, buying local handicrafts as gifts – mojris, the wooden “temple” and a beautifully lacquered peacock.

Indique with Mehrangarh Fort as backdrop 

We then went to Indique (a must do  for drinks if not dinner). Perched on the terrace of the Pal Haveli, it gives an amazing view of the Mehrangarh Fort and a great view of the Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) market and the twinkling lights of the city.
We went for drinks and got the last table at 7:30 pm on the highest open terrace. There are other (lower) terraces also as well as enclosed dining areas with huge picture windows. 
Sangrias at Indique

We had a white wine sangria – half a pitcher (very large portion we had 2 glasses each and barely finished half!)
We ordered the galouti kabab which was well made. Most people around us were having dinner – some on lovely silver thalis.
Strongly recommended for the heady ambiance and great view.
On returning to Ratan Vilas,  we dined in the garden which had portable bonfires going. We chose to have local cuisine - vegetarian, Ker Sangri (desert berries - ker and beans - sangri cooked in  a yoghurt based gravy), gatte ke subzi (besan dumplings in gravy) and rotis. Rather yummy! Great service and lovely ambiance – the garden was quite magical with tiny fairy lights strung on trees. Very romantic J
The highlight of our trip was Mehrangarh Fort which we visited the next morning. An imposing sight, perched high on a hill about 400 feet above the city and enclosed by thick walls. It includes several palaces and courtyards within.  At the entrance, you see the imprint of cannon balls on a huge gate big enough to allow entry to elephants.  
The Blue City - Jodhpur

Inside the wonder that is Mehrangarh Fort 

The museum includes old royal palanquins, arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.

The Fort offers an audio tour which is a MUST DO (carry a driving licence or other government issued identity document or be prepared to make a hefty deposit – you get the document or deposit back when you return your audio guide set).
The audio guide is the erstwhile Maharaja Gaj Singh’s voice. Informative and educational in tone, it brings to life the glory of the Rathore dynasty of Marwar.
You have to walk a lot so wear comfortable footwear. We went through the Fort in about 2 hours – you can spend longer if you linger.

You can buy an elevator ticket to go up instead of walking – we did. (Elevator tickets are available for the descent too, we walked down)

The view of the “Blue City” is gorgeous from the ramparts and other open areas and windows high up in the Fort. As you exit, you see the Museum Shop which is full of beautiful and desirable merchandise– I bought recipe books, illustrated books for children, jewellery, fridge magnets and more. There are also some traditional handicraft stores which we patronised – lac bangles and wood carvings.

Part of the proceeds from all sales go towards the Fort restoration so shopping here is justified as doing good!

We couldn’t leave Jodhpur without buying ghevar the local sweet. We bought 9 boxes of the lacy round sweet between us and needed extra carry on bags to bring it back to Mumbai. Good thing that they are light!

The grand finale of the Jodhpur visit was a visit to Café NXT in Ratanada to eat D

al, Baati Churma. My 1st time! This simple hotel has alfresco seating and an airconditioned restuarant. It is the only place near the hotel where one could get this dish – we had asked in Ratan Vilas and the sweet shop to no avail. Baatis are flaky round breads baked on traditional stoves and then dunked in ghee. Served with panchmel dal (made of 5 types of dal) and churma – crushed baatis which are sweetened and eaten. Heavy and deeply satisfying as only a ghee laden meal can be!
Good service and fast too! Very economical – only Rs 300 for 2 of us!

Rishi our Rickshaw driver even dropped us back to the airport and my first trip to Jodhpur ended, barely 20 hours since we arrived.

Can’t wait to return for a more leisurely visit


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