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November 28, 2014

Jodhpur: Top 10 Must Dos

Text by Nisha Jhangiani. Illustration by Wyanet Vaz

Verve’s fashion director and intrepid shopper scouts the coolest places to find stuff you can never imagine. Get in on her secret travel diary

1.     Jodhpur is easily my favourite city in all of Rajasthan. The food, culture, secret shopping holes that you can only find out by an elite word-of-mouth all count…but by far, my favourite reason to visit is to kick off my heels and savour the impeccable delights of the Raas hotel. A faultless property nestled amidst imposing views of the Mehrangarh fort, Raas, in my opinion, offers the best when it comes to service, food, wine, relaxation and an overall sense of style. I use their spa frequently and can vouch for all their scented oils I buy in generous quantities. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to bring back the scrumptious kebabs I gorge on at their terrace bar. The early morning and late evening namaaz can be a sound deterrent to some but I choose to put it down to the hotel’s unique charm.

2.     When it comes to royal grandeur though, nothing beats the Umaid Bhawan Palace. Dining al fresco on the courtyard, sampling local Rajasthani delicacies generously spread on silver platters and listening to a live Tansen-like performance is just one of many heady memories I have of this hotel.

3.     The Ajit Bhawan hotel is a great stop for lunch post shopping at Amrapali, Anokhi and a host of other jewellery stores that reside conveniently just outside its gates.

4.     Once I’ve selected my emerald earrings and enjoyed an easy brunch, I head to Lalji Handicrafts, an antique store with mind-boggling treasures. From crystal flacons to vintage posters and a prized jaali-work wooden Jaisalmer frame, I have found many a must-buy along the dusty corridors of this incredible shop.

5.     Bibaji’s cut-glass bangles and Tyebji’s delicately shaded chiffon saris always make it to my souvenirs to bring back home. The former has a store near the Ghanta Ghar but he will happily bring along a selection to your hotel for a private viewing. The latter is tougher to track down and may only have a dozen or so pieces to show at any given point of time – though I’ve never been disappointed.

6.     The Mehrangarh fort. Splendidly ancient and undoubtedly spectacular, I have never tired of my annual visits to this place. I am a regular at their Sufi Festivals too; it’s a spiritually uplifting experience that I can’t get enough of.

7.     The market around the Ghanta Ghar is another area I find myself going back to repeatedly. Loud, dusty, often dirty, the bylanes selling their wares of spices, soaps, fabrics and metal bangles somehow create an aura that is hard to resist.

8.     Jodhpur’s havelis have a mystical hold over me. Most have been converted to small hotels or lodges, while others have been kept intact and can be viewed mainly from the outside. This is Indian workmanship at its awe-inspiring best.

9.     A Rajasthani thali is a must-do on. I’m a glutton for ker sangri and laal maas. The thali at Hanwant Mahal rooftop is my go-to spot for a finger-licking local meal.

10. When I’m adventurous (and that’s not very often), I head to the dunes for a ride on the desert sands where a sunset can be more vivid then any imaginative painting. All that trudging on the dunes does mean that I stop by at the Osian Desert Café for a bite before I head back to the cosy confines of my suite at Raas.

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