After another night train we pulled in to Jodhpur Junction and despite some rudeness from another traveller and some petulance from me there were no incidents. Nothing stolen, no illness; a success. The town was awake and busy despite the early hour. We had wanted a room with a view of the fort which we got, which was nice. My goodness though, what a fort. It is absolutely magnificent. Those Moguls knew a thing or two about architecture, especially defensive architecture.
“The fort has never been taken” we were told, not surprising when you look at the height of the rock its built on and then add the height of the fort itself on top of that. It is immense. The wide path that leads up to the main fort gate has a steep slope. Steep enough to tire out charging war elephants that have been stampeded towards the fort gate. There is then a sneaky 90 degree right turn just before the gate. I don’t think tired charging war elephants do right turns very well. Despite all the defensive stuff the fort itself is simply stunning and we wandered around it for hours.
The other interesting feature of the town is the town well.Its immediately outside our hotel and straight in front of the tourists saying “ I don’t believe that”. It is a most extraordinary thing. Imagine if you can a giant square jelly mold turned upside down so that the narrow point of what is effectively a four sided pyramid, is at the bottom and the big open square is at the top. this top part is about 50 meters square and the pointed bottom bit is about 6 meters square. The sides are like a series of steps so you can walk down as far as the water and then walk back up. Well you would be able to if the steps were not about 2 meters high. To make it possible to walk down to the water level and fill a container there are flights of stone steps that join each level together. Its like walking around a giant Escher 3d model. on steroids. As all the steps slope down to make the water run off it also feels very unsafe.Three natural springs fill the structure. During the monsoon season it is filled to the top. At present it has 15 meters of water at the bottom of it. When full the surface area would be large, but when relatively empty the surface area would be quite small reducing evaporation, (Did I say it hot here? actually its hot here: god its hot here). Young people take a delight in using it for swimming and tomb-stoning. It looks dangerous but good fun.
In al its been wonderfully relaxing and its been good to get out around the town without having to use any transport.
Later that night we walked around the old town, past the market clock tower ending up in went one of the many rooftop restaurants to eat slowly, watch the castle light up, the sky darken and the stars came out. Even the cold that Jo had endured so stoically, before passing it so thoughtfully, on to me seemed to have peaked and I was beginning to breath through my nose. It was a lovely day and a wonderful evening. Little did I know that the next day I would take the common cold into room 101. “That” as Kipling used to say, “is another story”.