Category: India, 2019

Jodhpur—Countryside and Villages

Breakfast at the hotel, which, of course, would not be complete without live music.

A bit of history, and myth. The Kingdom of Jodhpur was established by the powerful Rathor clan who claim ancestry as far back as 470 AD.  In the mid 15th century, Rao Jodha, the ruler of Marwar, abandoned his old capital and built a new fort on the rocky cliffs of what is now Jodhpur.  According to legend, in the process of building the fort, he displaced a hermit who was meditating on the site. The hermit placed a curse on the descendents of Rao Jodha saying they would be plagued by famine every year. This is the reason the locals claim that the area has drought every three or four years. The gigantic Umaid Bhavan Palace Where we are staying was built as a result of a project initiated by the Royal family during a famine to provide employment.

Our “safari” today is designed to give us an authentic rural experience to an area that is completely devoid of tourism and commercialization. It gives us the opportunity to see the daily struggles and the joys of the hardy yet very welcoming people of the desert.  We switch to a Jeep to rude on bumpy dirt roads, our driver having to get out frequently to open and close stick gates.We first visit the Bishnoi tribe who are regarded as the first environment conservationists of the world, and have been preserving the flora and fauna for the past 550 years as a sacred tenet of their religion.  They live in a small “Dhani” or settlement of mud and stick huts, one of many that dot the desert region of Marwar.  They are resourceful in storing things in the sticks of their huts for ready access.

most of the men are out visiting friends to wish them a Happy Diwali, but there are some women and children around.We also see the thriving cottage industry in a region where skills of the hands earned more than farming in this inhospitable land.     We stop at small workshops doing pottery embroidered jootis (camel leather shoes), the famous pattu weaving and embroidery 

of these craft visits is that we were not pushed to buy anything. In fact,,nothing was even offered to us for sale. This is in complete distinction from every other craft visit we’ve made any place else in the world.

Of course, there are the inevitable cute little kids.We tour have lunch with the local “Thakur” the equivalent of the village head, Ajai Singh and his wife, a very erudite couple. He shares with us the 200-year history of ownership of the house he now lives in, having restored it from rubble and recently converted it to a lovely 4-room guest house, from which visitors can walk into and almost become part of the village. Very neat. He walks us around the property, pointing out historical remnants. An extra bonus is that his lawyer daughter, Darshika, who works for a large Japanese company in New Delhi, is in for Diwali, so we get to visit with her as well.

We drove back into Jodhpur and stopped at an enormous place that had textile and art of all kinds. Did a little damage, as we succumbed to the smooth presentation of an owner. Avoided any damage at a jewelry store, though.

Returned to the hotel, where I swam and used the hot tub and steam room Well, I mean, I deserved it, didn’t I, after a tough day? Had dinner in the hotel. While the dinner was fine, it wasn’t great. The setting, though, overlooking the lit palace gardens, with Diwali fireworks providing a profusion of color in the distance and flute music wafting up from below, was outstanding. Went back to our room, er, suite, and packed.

Forts, palaces, temples and markets are fine, but I’ll take a day wandering around a village over all of them.

(Headed to the desert, so may be no posts for a couple days. Try to deal with it.)

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