From Udaipur we caught the 06:00 train to Ajmer, the closest train station to Pushkar, around 12km away. We left our hostel at 5am and soon found a rickshaw to take us to the station. We were originally worried that we wouldn’t be able to find a rickshaw at this time of morning, but the drivers know people are going to the station so are up nice and early to take you there. If you can’t find a rickshaw then it’s only a 3km walk to the station, but you don’t want to really be doing that at 5am. After a bit of bartering we caught the rickshaw for 100 Rupees.We had booked a Chair Class train, which was actually quite pleasent, for 400 Rupees and taking just over 5 hours. The carriage had 3 seats on one side and 2 on the other, but was just a little cold, make sure you wrap up warm at that time of the morning. Once at Ajmer Junction you can catch a rickshaw straight to Pushkar or to the Bus Station, or do as we did and walk the 1.5km to the bus station. Once leaving the Train Station take a right and follow the road straight until you reach it. The bus takes around 30 minutes and cost 16 Rupees for me and 12 for Holly. Holly’s ticket said concession, so either ladies get the journey cheaper, or they thought she was my child. The bus leaves from around stand 21 and you buy your ticket on board, despite there being a ticket window at the station saying PUSHKAR. We spent 3 nights in Pushkar, which is a holy Hindu town but in all honesty there is not an awful lot to do, which was lovely. I would recommend booking a nice hotel to relax in with a view of the Ghats. We stayed in Bharatpur Palace, which directly overlooked the Ghat where Ghandi’s ashes were scattered, which meant we got to view hundreds of colourful people coming down to pray and go about their daily lives. There are cows walking the streets, monkeys swinging from the rooftops and flocks of birds trying to steal the food from the monkeys and cows. The main bazaar is fantastic for shopping with rows of shops selling brightly coloured fabrics. I ended up buying a coat and scarf for £6 as I was really starting to struggle with the cold at night. When I say cold I mean 15 degrees at night, I’m just so used to the heat now. It’s definitely worth buying something here as they give you fantastic fabric bags to take your product away in, not the horrible plastic ones you get everywhere else in the world. There are some fantastic restaurants around, including La Pizzeria, which sells fantastic, massive pizzas starting at 170 Rupees. It is rated number 1 out of 80 restaurants in Pushkar on Trip Advisor and I can see why. I know I’m meant to be eating the local food, but this really was something special and I was craving a pizza! One thing to note is that because this is such a holy town, there is no meat or alcohol for sale in the restaurants, unless they are being naughty. I would recommend Pushkar for a couple of days, just for the experience, but make sure you have a nice place to relax.
From Pushkar we caught a taxi back to Ajmer Junction for 350 Rupees, for our 4 hour train to Jodhpur, the blue city. Holly had been quite ill we didn’t want to have to deal with a packed stuffy bus, plus the walk to the Train Station from the Bus Station at the other end. We booked a Sleeper Class train for 175 Rupees, leaving an hour and twenty minutes late and arriving in Jodhper at 18:50. We caught a rickshaw to our hotel for 150 Rupees after some really hard haggling. It should have been a lot cheaper than this but not one driver was budging on their “lowest” price, after starting ridiculously high. The driver we got had absolutely no idea where he was going, turning the 10 minute trip into well over half an hour. He went the wrong way 6 times, asked 12 different people for directions and crashed into a parked bicycle. After eventually finding our hostel, and despite us telling him we were there he decided to carry on driving around. In the end we got him to stop and walked back down the street to our hotel. We were staying in Jodhpur Heritage Haveli Guesthouse for 400 Rupees a night which we found at a cut price on booking.com. it’s well worth having a look on there as you can get some great deals and it saves you the hassle of trooping around in the dark with you big backpacks on.
We ended up staying 4 nights in Jodhpur, despite there not being that much to do. Most people only spend one full day to see the impressive Mehrangarh Fort but we didn’t want to rush through it. It was quite lucky we booked a few nights as Holly was not getting any better and having the time allowed us to take it easy. Mehrangarh Fort is incredibly impressive and well worth the 600 Rupee entrance fee for the museum (to walk around the grounds is free). You also have to pay to take pictures, 100 Rupees a camera/phone. The price includes an audio guide which is very interesting and informative and explains in detail about the different sections of the fort. You can really imagine how the Maharaja’s lived in the years gone by and how they defended the fort from attackers. Not once in its entire history has the fort ever been taken. You also get a fantastic view of the old blue city from the far end of the fort. You can either walk 300 metres up a steep slope/stairs, or catch a rickshaw up the 5km snaking road. We decided to walk up which gave us some great views of the fort and the city and it wasn’t too strenuous at all.
We spent one day walking the street and alleys of Jodhpur, immersing ourselves into the culture and really getting a feel for Rajasthan. The street are colourful, lively, noisy and exactly how you expect India to be. There are small winding alleys with local craftsman and tailors going about their daily business, rickshaws and motorbikes squeezing past cows laying in the road, dogs risking a blow from a cow’s horns as they try to steal the food and all in all a terrific buzz and a sense of excitement. There are also some quiet colourful alleyways and a wide range of rooftop restaurants that give you a perfect view of the towering Mehrangarh Fort which dwarfs the city. The Clock Tower and Clock Tower Market are worth a visit where you can find everything you have ever needed, plus more.
Pushkar and Jodhpur were both fantastic places, one holy and the other with a classic Indian fort. They are both a must do if you are in Rajasthan and both offer something completely different. A lot of people do only spend one day in Jodhpur but its well worth taking a bit more time, really exploring the streets and soaking up the atmosphere. From here we are heading to the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer, around 100km from the border with Pakistan.