“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
It was my second visit to the royal state of Rajasthan . As the quote says, the landscape remains the same with variations in different aspects of culture, the most notable being the taste of cuisines.
We started off to visit this city on the night of 10th February. After a journey of around 12 hours from Delhi, we reached Jodhpur. We reached the hotel which we had booked. From the rooftop the boundary of the famous Mehrangarh Fort was visible. We had the traditional breakfast near the Clock Tower and then headed towards the Mehrangarh Fort. It was at a walking distance from our place of stay. The path was steep and it took a while to reach there. As we were entering the fort we could see the people singing traditional folklore of Rajasthan. The huge fort has a museum inside it with all the antiques carefully preserved. The museum has a collection of palanquins, pieces of war equipment, treasury boxes and many more historical items.The paintings dating back to that era are just remarkable.The Fort hosts the canons of the era gone by. From the top one can actually see why Jodhpur is known as the Blue City. The township comprises of residential houses all painted in blue.
After the tour of Mehrangarh Fort, we started off to Umaid Bhawan. Access to a very limited portion of this palace is provided for visitors as the other portion has been taken over by the Taj Group of hotels for the tourists. One part of it is still utilized by the royal family. As legend says, it was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh to provide employment to the people during the drought which had hit Jodhpur, the then capital of the Marwar.It contains 347 rooms and is made up of a special type of sandstone called the Chittar Sandstone. There is a display of old models of cars in the outer premises of the palace. The surroundings have a café with trees providing the shade. We relaxed there for a while and then returned to the “Heritage Haveli” where we had booked our stay. In the evening at around 7:30, we went to the Pal Haveli Rooftop Restaurant. The dinner tables for this were booked much in advance to avoid any last minute rush. The view of lighted Mehrangarh Fort in close proximity is amazing. For the first time in my life, I had candlelight dinner. On one side, its Mehrangarh Fort, on the other the lighted clock tower and far off is the Umaid Bhawan Palace.
The next day we went to the shrine of Om Banna. It is located at approx. 50 kms from Jodhpur. Buses ply over in that route. It was a surprise to see the people there pouring liquor as an offering on the bust of Om Banna. Next to it was a Royal Enfield inside a glass house which had flower garlands on it. The folklore says that Om Banna met with an accident while driving and died instantaneously. The police took his motorcycle to the police station. The next day they could not find it there. The motorcycle was discovered at the place of the accident. They emptied the fuel tank and again took it to the police station. Next morning the same motorcycle was located at the place of the accident. People say the restless spirit of Om Banna brought back the motorcycle to the place again and again. So people constructed a bust of the individual and placed the motorcycle next to it for worship. The belief that the spirit there ensures safe journey makes it a place of worship.
After returning from Om Banna we visited Jaswant Thada in Jodhpur which has royal cenotaphs built in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.Cenotaphs are basically empty tombs built in honour of an individual whose mortal remains are somewhere else. The main memorial resembles the structure of a temple and has some beautiful marble work done on it. It is one of the architectural delights of the Blue City.The surroundings have beautiful gardens and fountains. Jaswant Thada is at a walking distance from Mehrangarh Fort. Thus we walked back along the boundaries of the fort and came back to pack our bags.
In the evening we boarded the train to Delhi. The next day there was an article in the Economic Times with the heading “Six unusual temples in India that should be in your travel plans” and Om Banna was one of them.