These stories are from my recent visit to what seemed to me & my hubby a magical place.
We were visiting India to see my parents & his. I have been nursing a desire to go to Rajasthan. A place we have never visited during our 35 years living in India. It holds a promise of romance. I don’t know quite why I think that way.
I want a month or so to truly explore Rajasthan and know it is going to be a while before I am able to do that. So I decided to sneak in a couple of days to see Jodhpur.
We stayed at Bal Samand Palace Hotel that is owned by Hh Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji Jodhpur.
My cousin runs a travel business GeTS India so we knew we were in good hands! We were received at the Railway Station by his team and taken to the hotel. We were escorted to our room and in a few moments eagerly opened the door that led into the garden. My hubby visibly sighed as he sank into the chair on the verandah. “Wow” he said. We both sat there quietly soaking in the tranquillity. It is as though we were transported into a different world and everything slowed right down.
Our driver was Prem Singh, a very well informed and philosophical guy. He was our self appointed guide and had many stories. These stories warmed my heart and is the reason for this blog. I would like to share them.
I hear that Maharaja Gaj Singh is a very generous man. In the days when kings ruled, villagers were required to pay “lagan” – a form of tax. This tax was intended to work as a social security; i.e., in times of drought, the money would be distributed to the farmers that would help when the income was not enough to sustain their families. Lagan obviously no longer exists. However in a recent drought, a bunch of farmers got together and approached the Maharaja. He spent his own money and got 40 water pumps installed so the farmers could water their fields and save the crops.
Today, this beautiful palace has been converted into a hotel. It truly is a magnificent creation that has been built with a lot of respect for the surrounding land.
This is only one of the properties that has been converted into a hotel. The Maharaja is committed to develop tourism as a way to create opportunities for income generation for the people of Rajasthan. Jodhpur in particular, seems to stand apart. I did not notice any beggars on the street. I shared this observation with our driver. I had some left overs packed from our breakfast that I thought I may have been able to give to someone on the streets. There was none!!! It appears as though no one goes hungry in Jodhpur. People who have plenty to eat, will go and feed the few who don’t … they sit by the wall of the Railway Station. There is no need for them to go begging. They get fed!!!
We visited the Mehrangarh Fort which has a stunning collection of artefacts, paintings & collectibles from a long time ago. We enjoyed roaming the rooms and equally, loved the vibe. This gorgeous woman is a police constable. We met a few women – a couple of them were studying for a promotion. It was such a delight to see women who were ambitious for themselves. And other women, employed at the Palace Hotel, who were on a small wage and talked about their ambitions for their daughters, wanting to give them the best education.
We left Jodhpur in a couple days. Our hearts full of hope. And joy. I am a dreamer, after all! I feel privileged to have met some other people who are too!