After our camel safari in Jaisalmer, we moved on to the two last cities in our tour around Rajasthan – Jodhpur and Udaipur.
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. Its central location beside the stark desert landscape make it a popular tourist destination and a gateway to the Thar Desert (even though we went the other way). Jodhpur is known as both the “Sun City” and the “Blue City,” two aspects of the city that we really experienced in person.
The “Sun City” nickname comes from the strong sunlight that sweeps the city from east to west all year round. Needless to say, it was exceedingly hot in Jodhpur. During our stay, temperatures reached 44 degrees Celsius (110 F) during the day and no less than 28 at night. Walking under the sun was an arduous task and we could never do it for more than five minutes without seeking some shelter under the shade. An auto rickshaw ride was like being inside a convection oven, with the hot dry wind cooking our flesh. We probably would have enjoyed Jodhpur more had we come a different time of year.
The other nickname, the “Blue City,” was far more pleasant than the first one. To find out why Jodhpur is blue, we headed to the mighty and robust Mehrangarh Fort.
The walk up the small alleys of the Mehrangarh Fort wasn’t easy in the heat. After many breaks, we finally managed to reach the walls that overlooked the city. From 120m above, we saw the striking signature blue of the many surrounding houses.
The colour blue traditionally signified the home of a Brahmin; however, non-Brahmins also caught on to it and the result was a blue wave in the middle of the sandy landscape. I had never seen anything quite like it and it was beautiful in its own way. We appreciated it for as long as we could, before the sun really became unbearable.
From the sunny and blue city of Jodhpur, we continued our journey to the lake city of Udaipur.
Nicknamed the “City of Lakes,” Udaipur was far more manageable when it came to the weather. The large bodies of water scattered around the city helped to keep it cool and also provided attractive promenades to get together and relax.
Once considered the most romantic city in all of India, the tourist development in Udaipur was not as extensive as other places in Rajasthan. We experienced this first hand during our strolls through the City Palace.
Even though the views of Pichola Lake and the lake palace were undoubtedly beautiful, most of the buildings in the City Palace have been converted to luxurious hotels and were no longer accessible, with only a few open galleries remaining. It certainly wasn’t what we expected; however, something different and equally unexpected surprised us there.
On the way out of the palace, we spotted a large group of people crowding around something. As we got close, we found out why. Two very large rat snakes were in the gutter doing what seemed, at first, to be the romantic dance of life. Both Julie and I were really shocked to find such huge snakes in the middle of the city. It was only later that with some research, I found it wasn’t a mating dance at all. It was actually a deceivingly deadly battle between two male snakes fighting for territory and females. I had never seen such large snakes in the middle of the street, it was a tad scary.
We ended our visit to Udaipur with a meeting with local family friends. After a great time spent over coffee, they took us to Fateh Sagar Lake for a nighttime stroll. It was calm and relaxing, charming in a way that only a lake city could be. We sat on the promenade, chatted, and even watched a cultural dance show. Many locals were also found chilling by the lake and it was not hard to see why.
Jodhpur and Udaipur marked the end of our stay in Rajasthan. Having seen the sights, we can definitively say that the state deserves its image as one of the most popular touristic parts of India. From here, we begin heading south, to see yet another different part of this diverse country. Next up – Mumbai!