Tag Archives: Rajasthan

Live like a local: Jodhpur
Live like a local: Jodhpur

The third in our Live like a local series that tries to give you the insider scoop to what the long term residents love about their cities. Read our Mumbai and Delhi posts also!

Jodhpur

Where to stay:

Indrashan Homestay. A beautiful red brick building surrounded by thick, lush banana plants, soft lawns and trees that droop gently over the whitewashed terraces that define the domestic life of the cities of North India. Meet Chandrashekar and Bhavana, who urge you to their dinner table and then into their kitchens to dip your fingers into the wholesomeness of Jodhpuri cuisine. Discuss culture, history, art, society or your feelings over an evening drink by the fire that could turn into a night of scintillating conversation. The rooms are furnished in dark wood handed down through the generations, draped in the soft Rajasthani linen that visiting Indians carry away in great bundles to grace their winter beds. Everything about this homestay spells the summer pilgrimage that diasporic Indians make to regroup in the houses of their grandparents, an annual regrouping of cousins and in-laws from across the country into a modern semblance of the erstwhile joint family, an journey that every traveller deserves to make.

What to eat:

Rajasthani thalis. You might want to skip breakfast before you take a stab at this, because the Rajasthanis believe in a full and I mean a FULL belly for a full life. Go to Gypsy for the whole hog: five kinds of bread, fried cakes, samosa, sweet daal and spicy vegetable, rice, chutneys and chillies ring the shiny stainless steel plate. All around you will be college students, office workers, parents hand-feeding their little children as they tuck in heartily, always calling out for more.

Make sure you also grab a Mirchibada on the street, a deep fried chilli patty, maybe between two slices of bread if you’re not sure you can handle the spice. It’s the city’s pride and joy.

Where to go:

Go to Cafe Mehran. I know, it sounds like I’m just sending you back to eat some Rajasthani fast food or look at the monument that every tout pushed you toward, but trust me, a cold beer and good view is just what everybody needs at the end of the day, and this is the most beautiful place to savour it.

What to do:

Sail high above the Blue City on Mehrangarh Fort’s own zip lines. You’ll be trekking through Rao Jodha Park and watching your murky reflection skim over the surface of the lakes as you shoot through the sky. Granted, there’s probably going to be a bunch of tourist hanging around as well, but you’ll see your fair share of adrenaline hungry locals as well. Remember to book in advance from inside the Fort.

Mehrangar Zip line

What to say:

‘Koi dikkat nahin’ (Ko-ee dikk-kath nu-hee). It literally means ‘no problem’, but it’ll be repeated to you so often across the beautiful state that you’ll soon pick up the gentle lilt of the people and slip smoothly into their carefree culture.

Bonus Tips:
  • Jodhpur is famous for being one of the country’s ultimate wedding destinations. If you’re visiting during wedding season (December-January), look out for the lavish baaraaths or wedding processions. Actually make that listen for the baaraath. There’s no way the deafening dhol beats and shrieking trumpets can go unnoticed.
  • Be ready to bargain for your souveniers, it’ll only endear you to the shopkeepers.
  • If you head down to the university areas, you might find tiny hovels that call themselves restaurants with only two items on their menus–Maggi and Beer.

Feeling Like Royalty in Udaipur
Feeling Like Royalty in Udaipur

Thank you India Someday for putting me up like royalty for these first couple of cities. The air-conditioned bus (with plush reclining chairs) from Ahmbedabad to Udaipur dropped me on the outskirts of town and I proudly negotiated a 50 Rupee rickshaw ride to the Old City.

My room (or shall I say rooms) at the Madri Haveli, in the master suite, made me feel like a queen. With multiple seating areas to choose from, nooks and crannies with beautifully shaped windows looking out onto the charming old city, a separate regal bedroom, and an eye-catching stone bathroom, larger than my NYC bedroom, replete with a giant tub, two sinks and a great supply of adorable Colgate toothpastes and other toiletries.

I made my way to the rooftop and was awe-struck by the stunning views of the lush mountains, beautiful lakes and enchanting city. I knew I’d be more than content if I never left the grounds and treated myself to some laptop time in what became one of the world’s prettiest offices.

I meandered the busy colorful crooked streets and worked my way towards the quintessential boat ride around Pichola Lake. I entered at Lal Ghat (where all tourists were Indian) and took the 250 Rupee ride around the beautiful waters, staring out onto City Palace and Jagmandir and Jagniwas Islands, quickly gaining a sense of the regal life of India.

Drawn to the green park space nearby, I wandered the windy paths, checked out some sculptures and spotted my first monkey hanging out.

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Working my way back to the haveli, I stopped to visit the Jagdish Temple, all dressed up with lights, streamers and statues, and packed with folks celebrating Janmashtami; Lord Krishna’s birthday.

I slipped off my shoes and joined the packed line of exquisitely dressed women in colorful saris to enter the temple, built in 1651. A clay pot dangling high above the open public square, I grew excited for the community celebration that would happen the following eve. For now, it was teeming of people, lots of music, and in the evening, a midnight procession marking the birth of Krishna.

I was thrilled to meet Udaipur artist, Rajesh Soni. In addition to photography, he does beautiful work hand-coloring, in fine detail, others’ digital pictures, many of which were on display in the Madri Haveli Gallery. We drove in his car to the new part of Udaipur, passing the famous Fateh Sagar Lake (or FS as they call it here), where droves of locals go to hang out in the evening, sitting on the waters’ edge and eating at the plentiful food stands across the road. He brought me to a typical Indian thali place where unlimited vegetarian dishes are served by eager waiters. I’m so loving the yogurts and delicious aromatic flavors of each meal more than the next in this country!

Our drive back was insane, his small car in competition with the motorbikes, bicycles, rickshaws, people, cows, goats and who knows what else. The streets are windy, super narrow and barely have room for one car to go by. He had an impeccable sense of the car-size and magically finessed his way through the tightest of squeezes, at impressively high speeds.

I retreated to my royal room and woke to a rooftop breakfast fit for a king. Fresh fruit, black tea, cheese omelette, banana crepes and four pieces of toast with an assortment of jams and that delicious Indian butter. I enjoyed learning that the Amul brand of butter I’ve been loving, started out as a women’s cooperative. Some women started a milk society, collecting milk from everyone’s house, which eventually developed into a large established company.

Ayurvedic Massage

I spent the day having my first Ayurvedic massage, meandering the Udaipur streets and lap-topping atop my glorious shaded rooftop. Struggling to find the place listed in Lonely Planet and overwhelmed by the plenitude of choices, I decided to go with a place in the Lal Ghat area where I was sold on having a woman provide my massage.

Loving a good massage and having experienced some of the best throughout my travels but never an Indian Ayurvedic treatment, I was curious. Throughout my hour of being gently massaged, I was curious if this woman’s work was indeed a good sampling of Ayurvedic massage because if so, I was going to exchange my rupees for bahts and head to Thailand!

Thankfully, the guy who ran this questionable operation, wanted a genuine debrief and had offered earlier to return my money if I wasn’t satisfied. Dissatisfied though I was, I didn’t intend to ask for a refund. We spoke at length about Ayurvedic massage and I much more enjoyed the next half hour of treatment he gave me. Moral of the story is make sure you go to a reputable place, especially if having a woman is important for you. It became clear to me that this woman had no idea what she was doing.

Overall, a restful day in charming, well-touristed Udaipur, the City of Lakes. I loved hearing the sounds of the Krishna celebrations and staring out at those beautiful hills.

Thank you India Someday.

Thank you You Wander We Pay.

Namaste.


India Someday Review of Hem Guest House Jodhpur
India Someday Review of Hem Guest House Jodhpur

Our Experience

Hem guest house is a homestay in Jodhpur. Named after their mother, who conceived the idea of turning their home into a retreat for travellers, the two brothers Vipin and Rishi now run this homestay.

Jodhpur city has few homestays and Hem guest house is definitely part of the top tier. The family lives on the ground floor and the top two floors are for guests. They have a rooftop restaurant which offers a striking view of the Mehrangarh Fort. Not showy or over the top in any way, this simple abode welcomes you with all heart and will go out of it’s way to ensure a happy and satisfied stay and that you leave with a smile.

Whilst there, there was also a group of boys staying there who were to leave for Udaipur the next day and they wished to rent Royal Enfield motorcycles in Udaipur and ride to Pushkar. Now although the brothers (Vipin & Rishi) had come across such a request for the first time, they asked the guys to just give them a few hours. In that time they made every call possible to their contacts in Udaipur and by midnight they had it all arranged. We were really impressed with their effort and conviction!

We dined together with the family and what a delicious meal it was! Very simple vegetarian fare but I found it incredibly yummy. The USP of the guesthouse is their hospitality–Service with a smile.

What we love about Hem Guest House Jodhpur

  • The warmth and hospitality extended towards the guests and the experience of staying with an Indian family
  • View of the Mehrangarh Fort from the terrace
  • Within walking distance from the clock tower and Mehrangarh Fort

What we like about Hem guest house Jodhpur

  • Although compact, the rooms are clean with comfortable mattress, clean linen
  • Clean bathrooms with running hot water
  • The traditional home-cooked food fixed up by the ladies of the house!

What we did not like about Hem guest house

Personally there isn’t anything that we did not like. But we noticed that two of the guestrooms open into the kitchen and may disturb guests if things get too loud in the kitchen.

Hem Guest House is ideal for

  • Budget travellers
  • Single travellers
  • Travellers looking for a homestay experience

Rates and Details for Hem Guest House

  • The room rates in season start from INR 1600 for a Standard room with Breakfast. They also offer discounts on non-ac rooms and for single travellers.
  • Contact Person: Mr Vipin Jain/ Mr Rishi Jain
  • Website:  http://hemguesthouse.com/
  • Trip advisor Reviews of Hem Guest House Jodhpur: Click here

To plan your thoughtful and economical trip across Rajasthan, contact us


Jaisalmer: The Golden city in the Desert
Jaisalmer: The Golden city in the Desert

Jaisalmer is a beautiful city near the Thar desert. The border to Pakistan is 100 kilometres away. After our arrival at the train station a car from the hotel picked us up and brought us to our accommodation. On the way I saw Fort Jaisalmer for the first time. I felt like Aladdin in Disneyland. The fort is amazing and I felt like I was a part of former times when kings ruled the country. The havelis in the city are also beautiful.

Things we did in Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer Fort

In 1156 the fort was built by the Rajputana ruler Jaisal. I would recommend visiting the Fort Palace. The audio-guide is included in the ticket and we learned a lot about the history of the city. The various rooms inside the palace were beautiful. We walked into the fort and the gates and the havelis were amazing. It all reminded me very much of a fairy tale.

Jain Temple

We also saw two nice Jain temples inside the fort when we walked around. The entry for this monument was quite expensive. We walked around in two temples and especially the reliefs made of sandstone are very detailed and therefore interesting.

Camel Safari

The Camel Safari was the most exciting, romantic and spectacular part in Jaisalmer. We started the trip at 3 pm with a Spanish couple and one guy from Canada. We went to an empty village by car which took us about ½ hour. After that we made a short stop at a village in a rural area with nice inhabitants and children. At 5 pm our camel safari in the Thar desert at the Khuri Sand Dunes Resort started. It was a bit scary when the camel stood up because I was shaking in both directions. To sit on a camel is not really comfortable and it’s very high. We were going in a row, one camel after the other. The view was amazing. After 10 minutes some sheep crossed our way. Two of the small sheep “attacked” two camels. One of the sheep was under my camel and the animal got really nervous and aggressive. It was really hard to stay in the saddle. I don’t really know how I managed the situation but in the end I jumped off the camel. This was a really dangerous situation for me and the Spanish guy. I had to be calmed down for a long time. Marlene was shocked too. After a while everyone was better and we continued our journey through the desert. After about 1 hour of camel riding we arrived at our camp in the sand dunes. It was amazing. There were no people around us and we enjoyed the sunset together. We took some great pictures. After a delicious dinner, the cameleers sang ussome folk-songs. We had a lot of fun together—it was great. We were sleeping outside in very comfortable “beds” with nice big blankets. It was amazing to sleep outside under soooooo many stars and the moon.

In the morning we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise and a delicious breakfast. After that we rode the camels back through the sand dunes to the main street where a car picked us up.

Our accommodation:

Mystic Jaisalmer

This is a beautiful hotel with an amazing roof top terrace and a good view of the Golden Fort. Our room was clean, the beds were comfortable and the room itself had a nice furniture. The staff, especially the boss, was really friendly and informed us about the camel safari.

Restaurants

Mystic Jaisalmer

On the roof-top terrace I enjoyed very good Rajasthani special food with naan and vegetables from the desert. The staff is very friendly and fast. The ambience was very nice with the view of the fort.

Sunset

This restaurant is located inside the fort. Here you can enjoy very good Indian food on a roof-top terrace. And again everything is about the view of Jaisalmer fort.

Jaisal Italy

This restaurant offers very good Italian pasta. It was quite close to international standards. I also ordered one orange-juice. This one was already unfit for consumption but it was no problem to give it back and order another drink. Marlene’s ice tea was very good.

The Bhang Shop

Well this was very interesting, crushed marijuana leaves mixed with milk and served legally. This is a traditional drink in India and lets just say it left us craving a lot of food and parts of the day we cannot remember.


Rajasthan – A tryst with royalty
Rajasthan – A tryst with royalty

When you think of India, Rajasthan is probably the first word to come to your mind, after the Taj Mahal of course! Known for its massive forts, culturally and historically rich cities, and being very tourist friendly, Rajasthan  is surrounded by the Great Indian Desert and nation’s oldest hills – the Aravali ranges. Its history is moulded from the valour of the ancient Rajputs and the impressions wrought by the Mughal invasions.

A land of little water, Rajasthan’s response to its arid climate has been the creation of thbeautiful lakes, tanks and step-wells. To combat the lack of colour in their environment, the people showcase colourful and vibrant clothing. This can also be seen in the sheer variety of handicrafts, art, cloth and semi-precious stones that are sold in its curious bazaars and stores.

Other than the historical forts and colour-coded cities (blue, pink and gold), you can also find a national park replete with tigers, a religious and spiritual oasis, and a chance to explore the desert. Rajasthan also offers a great range of hotels, from charming home stays (Hem Guest House, Jodhpur) to luxury heritage hotels (Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur). This is probably the reason why every third international traveler in India tours Rajasthan.

We at India Someday have experienced the beauty of Rajasthan firsthand and would love to help you share it.