India Diaries: Colours, Chaos & ‘Raas’ in Jodhpur.

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Jodhpur was the third destination on our Rajasthan road trip. If there is something called as ‘haveli hopping’ then we were in thick of it (and one should expect nothing less in the land of kings). Although it was largely Mehrangarh Fort, that tempted us into the ‘blue city’ (and kept us charmed throughout our stay), the bewitching haveli that we were planning to stay in, was as big a bait that we were rising to!

 

 

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The Mehrangarh Fort overlooking the blue city.

 

This time it was an 18th century haveli called ‘Raas’ that stood with its poise reinstated, right under the shadow of Mehrangarh fort.

 

 

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The beautiful ‘blush pink’ entrance of Raas Jodhpur.

 

 

However, it wasn’t a straightforward journey to enter this gate.

 

Post a long drive in the mercilessly hot and dry western Rajasthan, we once again looked like two bees stuck in the maze game. The streets leading to Raas were as chaotic, more narrow, equally shadowy, had more blind turns, lesser gradient but no less busy or tricky than what we squeezed through in Udaipur. Infact, the word ‘street’ that I use here might not even be remotely related to a western picture of the same word. So past a man painting a name in Devnagri script, an array of dusty souvenir and handicraft shops, a stall of ‘Mexican Mansurian’, a man falling from a scooter, we reached ‘Raas Jodhpur‘. Therefore, what I did just describe, romantically so, in picture above, looks more like a ‘gate’ that you pass through on clearing a stage on a ‘video game’ (well, it was called a video game when I last played it!).

 

And keeping in the tradition of ‘games’, we were well rewarded. 🙂

 

 

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A man painting a name in Devnagri script.

 

 

 

 

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On entering the Raas haveli, the property seemed to merge and become one with the Fort beyond. It was magnificent!

 

 

Staff dressed in Nehru jackets and crisp white churidaars welcomed us & showed us around, filling us on the history of the place. But I was deafened and stunned on entering the premises of haveli, that otherwise remains veiled from the main street and the reception area. The only sense working here was ‘sight’. The grandest pink sandstone marvel stood imposing over and dwarfing everything under it. It was a vision! A vision that sweeps you off. A vision that remains vivid & lucid for a long time afterwards.

A lot has been said about the hotel that you can read here and here and with a skill and flair that is hard for me to match. I’m just going to try & fill in some gaps.

The hotel property was wide, airy and open to the sky above and has city’s signature on its architecture which is a blend of contemporary and traditional carvings on the beautiful pink sandstone that I feel had a kind of soothing quality about it.

 

 

 

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The carved sandstone window in the balcony of our room and the majestic view of fort beyond it.

 

 

The picture above is not of the best quality but you would really appreciate it reading further along the text.

 

Raas is a beautiful property, incredibly so, because it is situated in the heart of the city with blocked arteries! Our room was comfortable, done in understated tones of beige which makes it an ‘oasis’ in the desert of colours, sounds and sights that simultaneously bombard your senses the minute you step out of it. The best feature of the room was the balcony that opens to the panoramic views of Mehrangarh fort (that could be enjoyed as well while soaking in a bath). And we never got tired of looking at it standing in ‘pink of health’ (inspite of the age) by day & being a glowing cynosure at night.

 

 

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The view of the fort from our room at night.

 

 

 

While our eyes enjoyed the treat all this while, it was other senses that were not as pleased raising a dilemma in the mind whether we’re actually loving it here? Before we got to our room we had lunch in Baradari which is a cafe with al fresco dining & also one of the oldest part of the haveli. Having Indian food all along our trip it made sense to give a detour to our taste buds by opting for a Thai lunch. While I was gloating on the fact that I was going to have lunch, in which probably is one of the most unique ‘settings’ in the world, our order arrived looking not exactly Thai. But then I remembered the virtue of being slow to judge and went ahead with a first mouthful. As I guessed by the first look it wasn’t Thai. At least I haven’t had that kind of Thai food anywhere in the world, let alone Thailand. So there with our happy eyes and displeased taste buds we were back to Indian food for the rest of the stay and I’d say we made a good choice as the Indian food was commendable.

 

 

 

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Baradari at night.

 

 

There is another one of our senses that is silently, constantly at work and when overwhelmed can make or break our moments. Ours was overwhelmed too. And that caused a big, deep fault line across the whole experience. As soon as we opened the sandstone windows to take in the views of the Mehrangarh Fort, the overwhelming smell of cow dung (yes, you’ve read it right) hit us sharp, with a vengeance. While we stayed put all scrunched nose and creased brows wondering about its source, the braying cattle claimed responsibility for the same.

There! We were right across and above a cow shed!

And in the game of Happy Senses Vs Unhappy senses, the score was 1 : 2, in the favour of Unhappy senses.

 

The game point onus lied on sense of sound. I’ll get to that when I get to that. Meanwhile, we took a short survey of the city on foot.

 

 

 

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The relatively simplistic outer facade of Raas Jodhpur speaks volumes.

 

 

 

 

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Intricately carved sandstone overhang jharokha that is more or less a thumbprint of Jodhpur.

 

 

 

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Sardar Market

 

 

The first and unmissable structure was the tall Clock Tower, around which was a spread of handicraft, cloth, shoe, plastic, masala, gulaal (with festival of Holi just a week away) shops & stalls, curious foreign tourists conspicuously clutching their bags hard and in proper walking shoes, equally curious locals beckoning them to their businesses, of course cud chewing cows, Tongas (horse carriages) trotting by, speeding two wheelers coming two ways or at times more ways, busy street food vendors deftly wrapping food in newspaper. What looked like a photo bloggers group on ‘photography walk’, walked unblended in deep thought, looking on both sides of a street as if searching for some particular store, probably hunting for a ‘unique’ image. All this added up to a perfectly typical image, that I have, of the word ‘Bazaar‘.

 

 

 

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A colourful glass bangle stall in Sardar Market.

 

 

 

 

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Mounds of gulaal and other pigment powders used in the Holi festival.

 

 

When I was taking these pictures a small boy stood watching me and when I tried to take his picture he immediately shrunk his smile to a bare minimum & straightened up like a jawan (an army recruit). Realising the blur in my image I gestured the boy to wait for another picture. But he was gone! While I was looking for him I saw three little men come running towards me and I smiled at the the image that I was seeing and capturing in my memory, too inefficient to record it sharply on camera, too moved to act quickly and too small before his magnanimity and innocence. He wanted to share the moment & the space with his friends &/or brothers, in the world of duck faced ‘selfies’!!

I showed them the pictures and they danced in joy. They were gone the next moment, leaving a lovely memory with me.

 

 

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The lads of Jodhpur, blurring the image in glee 🙂

 

 

 

 

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The buzz in the bazaar still on at night.

 

 

 

 

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Clock Tower at night.

 

 

With these images of the immediate surroundings of the hotel we returned back to Raas for dinner and then retired to our room.

 

 

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Raas – for those who like to make grand entries.

 

 

 

 

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Found it beautifully lit!

 

 

Who knew the score was waiting to be settled at 4am!! Yeah. Although we’d been forewarned by the guy who showed us to the room that there is a mosque nearby and we might hear the azaan in the morning and therefore could use the ear plugs provided. We did not take that too seriously relying on the soundproofing of the room and having not seen any mosque really close by.

But I woke up startled at around four in the morning to the sound of azaan. And trust me even if you don’t see it, it is somewhere really really close to be that loud. As close as being right next to your room.

 

 

 

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The lamps beyond the plume that drives the mosquitoes away.

 

 

Although one could take all that noise in, considering it a part of the experience or a sort of background music that probably goes well with the setting you’ve placed yourself in. But I guess this applies outside the walls of Raas. Once inside, one deserves a peaceful nights’ sleep.

We did better next night onwards, owing to complimentary ear plugs & wine. They work best together.

 

Final score, 1 : 3, in favour of unhappy senses.

 

While we enjoyed a lot of things about Raas, like its ambience, the beautiful restaurants (Darikhana being one of the most gorgeous places I’ve dined in), Indian food (the breakfast & the desserts were my favourite part), the stunning views of the fort, its central location & a great store but an equal number of things annoyed us. Like the heart piercing fluttering sound & distress call of a bird at around 11pm from our A.C vent that nobody could do anything about. The call from the secret mosque at 4 in morning! The foul smell of dung! The staff that was not well acquainted with the city as such (they could not guide us to a place to buy rugs/durries that Jodhpur is so famous for or regarding day trips from Jodhpur!!). Which is a shame because after spending three days there, I can tell you more about Jodhpur than any staff working there! All these things fall in sharp contrast to all the pretty things one reads about this luxury hotel before embarking on the journey. What was also very annoying was the fact that they seemed to be focused only on selling their ‘readymade’ trips to us.

 

We have a lot of mixed feelings regarding our stay at Raas.

 

 

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Us at Raas.

 

 

But we do cherish a lot of other memories from Jodhpur and will be sharing them along with some very useful tips on visiting Jodhpur in the forthcoming post.

 

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One can always find some lovely moments to look back to, even in not-so-perfect places!

 

 

More on Jodhpur HERE.

Comments

  1. Nice pictures, looking very pretty specially in saree. Majesty and grandeur of Maherangarh Fort is beautifully depicted.Nice post ,Waiting for the next.

  2. devina chaudhary says:

    majestic Indian beauty..

  3. Nice…waiting for more..:)