Let’s not relive last night, I thought as I sat on the rooftop of the Pal Haveli in Jodhpur, India’s “Blue City”, aptly named for the blue hue adorning many of its buildings. To echo my thoughts reliving yesterday, the sad and melancholy notes of Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” and the jubilant chords of his “Born to Run” played back and forth in my head. It was only fitting.
The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort stood majestically at city’s highest point looking down upon us. We had driven 330 km yesterday, most of it uneventful until the sun went down. Driving became treacherous from that point forward until finally arriving “home”. We agreed that night driving was to be avoided at all costs; we wouldn’t be doing that again. And I was glad for that. No point in going through that again.
Despite how tired we were last night, both Derek and I woke up early as the sun was just about to rise, leaving DaveRisner behind to sleep. We both had a feeling the city would look especially resplendent at this time. Our history with Indian cities only justified our early rise. Derek was a few minutes ahead of me, and by the time I reached the rooftop, he was already there snapping pictures along with Sean and Mark, two other adventurers from the Rickshaw Run.
What felt so dangerous driving back and forth along the switchbacks up and down from the fort, this morning instead looked simply stunning. The Mehrangarh Fort was every bit a challenger for the other Rajistani forts we had seen on this trip and the last, joining high status along with Jaisalmer Fort and Fort Amer in Jaipur, all of whom were rivals centuries ago between the respective rulers and people of each city. Built around 1460, the fort sits over 400 feet above the city, thick walls protecting the people inside. Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodha, ruling his people from his new capital a year after his ascension to the throne. However, most of the fort was built during Jaswant Singh from 1638-78 spreading over a plot land over three miles on the hill, with walls in some parts of the fort over 115 feet high and almost 70 feet across, with entry into it from one of the seven famous gates. It’s massive.
After breakfast, the three of us decided to visit the fort, DaveRisner being especially interested in it. I decided to dress up for the occasion, wearing a tie flashing the colours of the Indian flag. We jumped aboard a tuk-tuk who took us up the windy road, instead of opting to drive ourselves, which seemed significantly more beautiful today than it did last night. I envisioned Wes Anderson filming Darjeeling Limited looking out into the facade of blue enveloping the city. The driver took us to the main gate — Loha Pol — which would take us into the main part of the complex. We decided to walk the audio tour. DaveRisner moved past us, engrossed in the audio as he went exploring. Derek was immediately surrounded by children, young boys on a school trip taking in the history behind the fort that overlooked their school. After another set of admirers for Derek, we made our way past the people following the tour into the various palaces inside the fort — Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana. The museum all sorts of items from centuries past; with every step you could feel the history that took place here. Depending upon the room, we saw a myriad of paintings depicting kings and battles and everyday life, all sorts of military armor worn over hundreds of years, different types of furniture, etc. From various parts of the fort, we could see breathtaking views of the city, as well as on its grounds, musicians playing folk music for our benefit.
By the time we caught up to DaveRisner, he was already the talk of the children and their mothers around him. And he was handing out more #FreeHugs. Later, I witnessed him convincing a gentleman to temporarily hand over his turban. DaveRisner looked good in a turban.
Soon after, as much as we didn’t want to, we left the fascinating fort by early afternoon, on the road from the Pal Haveli for what happily turned into a fairly uneventful drive. About 125 km later, we decided to stop on the side of one road town named Barr, met up with other adventurers from the Rickshaw Run including Fleetwood and Dan from Southern CA.
I took time out to post a video wishing my dear cousin Jules daughter Eden a happy third birthday.
The sun went down. We ate. We drank a little.
We spent the night in air-conditioned tents.
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