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Thursday, 19 March 2009


17th-19th March

Leg 5 – Pushkar to Jodhpur
Distance - 206kms
Time – 6
Average Speed -34.3km/h
Road – Small back roads, dirt tracks, sandy desert, more back roads, 2 lane highway.

To get to Jodhpur we had two options; the highway route backtracking over Snake Mountain, or the longer, scenic way. After the congestion on the last leg we decided to take the scenic and avoid the highway as long as possible. Within minutes of leaving Pushkar we were asking for directions; our map, though detailed enough didn’t show every junction and the multiple choices of back roads. People seemed more than happy to help. After all, to them we must have looked quite a spectacle – two foreigners wearing futuristic helmets of space man proportions, big sunnies, heavy jackets (in 40 degrees heat) and leather gloves. If ever we stopped for more than a few minutes a crowd would gather around, sometimes quite shyly, unsure of who we were, in other places all clamouring for Ady’s attention. None seemed to know what to make of the pale blue-eyed woman sitting astride the pillion seat (women here all ride side saddle), looking every bit as unladylike as possible.
To begin with the road was amazing – a prime example of Rajasthan’s recent investment in its infrastructure. The white road markings look like they’d been painted just yesterday and the absence of bumps and ditches made for a fast, fun ride. But all good things come to an end and just a few kilometres further the new surface ran out and we were back to painfully bouncing
up and down in the saddle, speed much reduced. At one point the road diminished so badly we were riding on gravel and dirt and then eventually just sand – the golden sands of the Rajasthan desert! The Bullet definitely isn’t built for this kind of terrain, let alone with a passenger and 20kg bag in tow and it was nothing short of a miracle (Ady claims it was his excellent riding skills) we stayed upright! Eventually we found the highway and managed to cover the same distance again in just a fraction of the time.

The walled city of Jodhpur and its majestic fort towered above us. Once inside the city gate we got completely lost in the maze of tiny lanes, none with street names and each looking the same as the last. Again, helpful locals put us right and we turned into a particularly narrow alleyway, following the signs for Cosy Guesthouse. As we turned each corner the gradient became steeper and steeper still; the engine was revving too loud when suddenly somebody stepped out in front of us. Ady slammed the brakes on but there was no way they were going to hold us on this hill…we started rolling backwards! Somehow Sam managed to leap off the back seat and without the added weight Ady managed to get the bike under control. It was a heart stopping moment and the ride further up to Cosy wasn’t much fun either – when we arrived there was no room to turn around so we ended up
jamming a brick under to rear tire! Exhausted after the long journey we didn’t make it past the Cosy rooftop restaurant that day. The view over Jodhpur and the fort was unbeatable though.

The following day we both felt achy and fluey (and as
usual it was difficult not to assume we had malaria!) and it took an age to get ourselves together. We made a poor attempt at sightseeing, spending just a brief time at the Jaswant Thada memorial before visiting the main attraction – the Meherangarh fort. To brighten things up the fort was being used as a film set for a Bollywood flick. The cast and hundreds of extras were milling around, dressed in full medieval costume, including a number of westerners as members of the British Raj. We got a bit of a shock when one of them walked over to us and started talking. It was Damien, kitted out in a red soldiers outfit and fetching moustache (and Charlotte, who wasn’t dressed up), from our guesthouse in Bundi! They’d arrived at the fort just a short time earlier and Damien had been coerced into taking part. Thankful for our lie in bed – extras notoriously get paid peanuts for the privilege of hanging around all day, waiting for a few seconds of fame. Besides it was about 40 degrees and we were grateful to escape to the refuge of the fort interior.

Inside the fort there is a deep-terracotta-coloured, latticed network of courtyards and palaces, beautiful examples of asymmetry and symmetry that marks Rajput buildings. The palaces have evocative names such as the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace) and Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) – the latter is beautifully decorated using a curious concoction of gold leaf, glue and cows urine. At the southern end of the fort, old cannons look out from the ramparts over the sheer drop to the town below.

After such a hard afternoon we cabbaged back at Cosy for the rest of the day and enjoyed some R&R. Our next stop was Jaisalmer on the edge of the Great Thar Dessert, 280km northwest, home to the another famous fort and the start of the infamous Camel Safari.

N.B. We can highly recommend the Cosy Guesthouse Spicy Veggie Burger…Indian style – we’ll never go to Burger King again!

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