During the six hour drive to Jodhpur we found our road weaving through the Aravalli Mountains believed to be the oldest existing mountains in the world and protects Rajasthan from the rough Thar desert. We were told that leopards and tigers are common here but we were lucky only to encounter the black faced monkeys that came up to our mini-bus with great interest and gave us a good close up of themselves.
We stopped by a group of people working in the heat of the midday sun building a wall. There were women and children young and old all labouring together. Here the subject of the lower castes were raised. Dalits or 'untouchables' are generally given the dirtiest jobs and discrimination is still very evident concerning people from this caste. There are four main castes and these are briefly Brahmin (holy men and teachers), Kshatrya (rulers and soldiers), Vaishya (traders and merchants) and Sudra (labourers).
The caste system (very simplistically) determines that if you are born into a lower caste it means you led an impure former life which is in keeping with some Hindu scriptures and beliefs in karma. There is a fifth class which consists of those Indians who are born outside of caste and rejected by society, these are known as the 'Untouchables'. They are expected to perform the dirtiest of tasks such as clearing away excrement and are considered outcasts and excluded from society. They make up about 15% of the population.
We were also fortunate to stop to in the very rural parts to see how a woman was pressing mustard oil and selling it by the roadside. It is done by a cow going round the press for most part of the day and squeezing the oil out of the seeds.
I managed to buy the girls some colourful skirts and t-shirts at our first stop and as my stomach was not trustworthy I did not eat anything here.
We visited the Jaswant Thada Mausoleum built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh in memory of his father. The entire building is built on sheets of marble and is a crematorium site for rulers.
We then walked through the streets of Jodhpur, 'The Blue City', named this way because of the many blue houses in the city. It gradually got busier and busier as time went on and there were many, many cows everywhere!
If you ever see a sight similar to the one below in India and you ask yourself: "Will it charge?" Let me answer the question for you now... Yes it will and... it did, just after I took this picture it went for us and nearly managed to pin Gill against a wall. Luckily some of the villagers shouted at it and it left her alone, but it was a scary moment!
Up in the trees I spotted these very unusual spider webs woven inside the leaves and fine branches.
Relieved to rest my feet in a Tea Shop though I had a very strong coffee. The Tea Shop was upstairs above the hustle and bustle of the streets and a welcome retreat from it all for a little while. We had this lovely view of the clock tower from above.
Thoroughly infused we continued on from there to the best kept secret in Jodhpur, especially for designers and high end shops. The Jain Textiles shop close to the clock tower is definitely the place to go. They sell exquisite throws and scarves. The shop is the largest in India and over 8 floors but it does not look that way from the outside. They export internationally and supply to designers such as Miu Miu, Armani, Kenzo, Paul Smith and many others across the UK and all over the world. They were not disappointed that we visited as Gill and Mary-Anne made a good investment here and was happy to find that they also ship your goods back to your home.
We went on to the Sadar Bazaar by the clock tower in the heart of the old city where there were lots of people wanting to take their picture with us and very friendly. It was a buzz of many different stalls and vendors and the noise was overwhelming but a fantastic atmosphere.
Anup told us about the Hindu philosophy of life and that it is a way of life rather than a religion, to act morally and be kind to everyone throughout your life and in doing so one achieves Dharma. People have to act to serve their need not their greed.
Next time a glimpse at our incredible Fort accommodations and the village of Kherjala.