Jodhpur to Delhi

Jodhpur Station

Thursday 31st March 2011

Me at the Midtown Restaurant Jodhpur

I decided to keep my room for another night, as the train to Delhi wasn’t due to depart until 22:30, but of course I didn’t want to stay the whole night.  This threw Yogis Guest House into a state of confusion as they wanted to charge me half price for staying after checkout time, but they wanted to add this to the three nights which I was prepared to pay for.

They were simply unable to grasp the concept that I had only stayed two nights, yet was prepared to pay for three.  Over and over again.  Frantic phonecalls to try to find the boss.  After twenty minutes I had to  switch to being in charge again.  I wrote down on a sheet of paper Tuesday Night 800 rupees, Wednesday Night 800 rupees, Thursday Night 800 rupees.  Total 2400 rupees.  OK?

Yes sir.  Then you pay only half price for today. 2800 rupees.

Oh for goodness sake it is only Thurdsday day time today…

… finally they gave in, but were totally convinced I was trying to con them.  I therefore insisted on written receipt which caused another ten minutes of mayhem while they refused and even told me it was illegal. I waited patiently until the necessary form was completed in triplicate.

Out in the heat of the night, I walked down to the station, leaving just long enough to find the Midtown restaurant which I had failed to locate a couple of nights ago.  Finally I found it – the Rough Guide makes it look like it is on the road outside the station, but instead it is actually on a main wide road directly opposite the station.  A good find it was too – very clean with promises of all vegetables being washed in purified water etc.

Jodhpur Station
Jodhpur Station

Back to the station then – the train 14060 Jaisalmer to Delhi Express was the longest train I have ever seen.  At least 24 carriages.  A dozen were arleady standing on platform 1 about half a mile away – these were the carriages starting from Jodhpur while the rest of the train had arrived on platform 3 before being taken away and brought back into platform 1.  Thanks the the new LED displays which mark the location of each carriage, I was happy that things were going to work out OK, but it was about 10:45pm before carriage HA1 appeared at its allocated space.

HA1 is a good carriage number.  It designates a split first 1AC and 2AC carriage, with three compartments in First, and twenty berths in 2AC, and despite looking like a typical wreck, this one was only a year old, according to the builder’s plate.  Unlike the rest of the train which was either sleeper or second unreserved, and therefore very busy, this carriage was a little cool calm oasis, where most of the other beds were already occupied and everyone was asleep.

2AC Carriage, Indian Railways

I made up my bunk and climbed in and slept all the way until Delhi with vague recollections of stopping at Jaipur at 5am.

We came in to Old Delhi station on Platform 1 which is where I first came in to the station two weeks ago.  Other Europeans in the train were convinced this couldnt possibly be Delhi, and so remained sitting,  but I knew the way, up over the enormous footbridge and onwards to the main station at the far side, where I collected my bag from the Cloak Room and headed for breakfast.

The final leg of the journey was starting – a rickshaw to New Delhi Station to catch the Airport Express Metro back to the airport.  A quick security scan before being allowed into the station, 80 rupees fare paid and within 30 minutes of arriving at New Delhi Metro, I was at the airport.  My blue token was rejected by the exit machine though so there was a minor crisis in which I was required to go to Customer Services who wanted to see the printed ticket issued alongside the blue plastic chip, which I had fortunately retained.  They were able to tally the token to the printout and therefore let me through but it just goes to show that in India, never throw anything away.

Delhi Airport is immaculately presented – I had treated myself to a Business Class upgrade as far as Dubai which gave me access to the brand new Emirates lounge with as much free food and drink as I could manage, and comfortable chairs with wifi. And so here I am sitting for the last hour before the flight departs.


Tuesday 29th March 2011

The chaotic scenes of Jodhpur station were just a starter for this crazy city.  I had no idea how big the place was before arriving – but there’s over a million inhabitants and most of them are on the street at any given time.

As per usual I pushed past the rickshaw drivers – there’s a completely new style of bigger rickshaw here – certainly taller than those in Delhi and some are extra narrow, presumably because the streets here are also very narrow.

I walked along the relatively quiet main road – shops were just beginning to open their shutters and looked for somewhere for breakfast but decide to push on to find a guest house.  Yogis Guest House sounded good from the book – but is quite a long walk from the station – probably about 2km – so there was plenty of time for the touts of Jodhpur to clock a new white face in town.

The ancient walled city revolves around the clock tower and market area, all very photogenic and it wasn’t long before I had followed the map to a smelly back street full of cows but encouraging painted arrows kept my faith in Yogi.  An arched gateway  led into a tranquil courtyard full of period memorabilia including a 1950s split screen Morris Minor Convertible.  Inside, another courtyard furnished in the same style – old trombones, gramophones, cushions, faded photos – just a fantastic little haven from the streets outside – and painted bright blue – the colour of most of Jodhpur’s buildings.

I checked in for a couple of nights and had breakfast on the roof terrace which is the most perfect location just beneath the imposing walls of the fort and with a view for miles and miles out into the flat plains of Rajasthan.  Altogether an absolutely excellent place.

Mid afternoon it was in the high 30s which takes some getting used to after the cool mountain airs.  Nevertheless I walked up the steep path to the Meherangarh Fort – one of the top ten tourist locations in India.  The climb wasn’t nearly as hard as I had thought, and I was soon paying my 300 rupees entrance fee, after a guard made sure I didn’t join the Indian residents’ queue which would have been 200 rupees cheaper!  The fee entitles you to borrow an audio guide which was actually quite good, but as always it focussed on detail of the exhibits in glass cases, and almost overlooked the most stunning location with views over tens of miles.

At the end of the audio tour I was almost forced into writing in the visitors book before my driving licence, which I had left as deposit for the audio guide, could be returned.  I think the girl finally thought I couldn’t write and so opened a plastic sleeved book holding dozens and dozens of ID cards, in no apparent order.  She thumbed through all the pages twice until finally mine turned up, right in the back page.

There is then no option but to walk all the way round the very nicely laid out souvenir shop. You are not allowed, by means of a security guard, to miss out any of the rooms and finally get accosted at the exit to make sure you had understood how good all the souvenirs were.  Finally let out into a further courtyard full of slippers, carpets, bangles and so forth before having a chance to look into the temple, and the temple souvenir shop.  I don’t know what came over me but I spent 15 pounds in the temple shop, somehow comforted that the profits were for the upkeep of the temple.

By the end of the day the maze of lanes was beginning to make sense and I was relieved to find Yogis again after several hours of wandering.  I wonder if anyone has ever counted the number of shops here!  Tens of thousands would be my guess.

I headed for a recommended eatery but couldn’t find it – a few millimetres on the Rough Guide map can be blocks and blocks on the ground, so I settled for the Fort View Restaurant in the Govinda Hotel near the startion.  Yes you can see the fort from the terrace but nothing compared to Yogis view!