ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Gulab Sagar

DAY 2 (2/4): MEDIEVAL STEPWELLS, Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra, Gulab Sagar, & Toorji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, 2018.11.25

While Jodhpur is famous for its magnificent architecture and folk music, the second largest city of the desert state is also well known for its historical water management network of reservoirs, stepwells and wells.  Medieval Jodhpur inhabitants made well use of the catchment area of the Pachetia Hill where Mehrangarh Fort stood, and collected rainwater at various depressions and water bodies within the walled city.  Every community in Jodhpur had its their own baori or stepwell.  In fact, one of the main reasons for Rao Jodha selecting the summit of Pachetia Hill to build his capital city in the 15th century was Jodhpur’s potentials to collect rainwater.

Saving two months’ monsoon rainwater for the rest of the year, the stepwells represented the wisdom and engineering marvel of the Medieval Rajasthani inhabitants.  Many stepwells survive to present day, despite being superseded by modern water systems.  Although representing a unique cultural heritage of Rajasthan, many stepwells have become nothing more than a garbage dump or outlet of sewage effluent.  Caron Rawnsley, an Irish environmentalist and traveler, has been staying in Jodhpur for several years.  Passionate in conserving India’s historical water management network, Rawnsley has been cleaning a number of water bodies in and around Jodhpur, including stepwell Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra and reservoir Gulab Sagar.

img_8790The first water body we visited in Jodhpur was Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra.  Some said the stepwell was named for Mayla, a wealthy concubine who commissioned the construction.

img_8789A few years ago, Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra was filled with trash and dirt.  In 2015 Irish traveler Caron Rawnsley took up the challenge of cleaning the well almost single-handedly.  His effort inspired other locals to join him in maintaining the stepwells and other water bodies around Jodhpur.

img_8788Constructed with local pink sandstones, the Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra is a beautiful community stepwell just a stone throw away from the Ghanta Ghar Market.

dsc_0548At Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra, we met a local cleaning staff who opened the gate and let us into the stepwell.

img_8799Across the street from Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra, Gulab Sagar is a manmade reservoir measured 150m x 90m.  It took 8 years to construct the reservoir, in which water from Balsamand Lake was transported to the reservoir via canals.  For tourists, Gulab Sagar is one of the best places to photograph the reflection of the Mehrangarh Fort.

dsc_0572In modern times, domestic and industrial effluents have been dumped into Gulab Sagar, raising the risk of water pollution.

dsc_0573From the north side of Gulab Sagar, we found our way through lanes of blue houses towards our next stepwell Toorji Ka Jhalra.

dsc_0575Blue paint on red sandstone houses gives Jodhpur its unique visual identity.

dsc_0576We also passed by beautiful haveli mansions erected in the bygone era.

dsc_0593Out of the 100+ stepwells in Jodhpur, Toorji Ka Jhalra is probably the most well known and frequently visited for tourists.

img_8819Built by Rani Toor Ji in the 1740s by a queen of Maharaja Abhay Singh, Toorji Ka Jhalra is another prominent historical stepwell near Gulab Sagar.

dsc_0597A few years ago, local hotels organized efforts to restore and clean up Toorji Ka Jhalra.

img_8816Today, Toorji Ka Jhalra is widely seen as a success story of restoring a historical stepwell and maintaining acceptable water quality.

img_8815Water level at Toorji Ka Jhalra varies from season to season.  The stepwell is over 200 feet deep.

img_8812After restoration and cleaning, Toorji Ka Jhalra has become a magnet for locals and tourists.  Many locals would take a dip into the water during the hottest hours of the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe immediate area around Toorji Ka Jhalra is gradually revitalized with shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotels taking over restored heritage buildings.

img_8826“JDH is an urban regeneration project that aims to restore the walled city of Jodhpur to its former glory, breathing new life into its invaluable landmarks and livelihoods.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter checking out the water bodies, we returned to Pal Haveli to have a quick bite at the rooftop restaurant.

dsc_0443From the hotel rooftop, Gulab Sagar appeared to be calm and beautiful.  Our hired car arrived at 13:00 for our ongoing journey over to Jaisalmer.



DAY 1 (5/5): SADAR MARKET AND GHANTA GHAR CLOCKTOWER, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, 2018.11.24

It was dark by the time we left Mehrangarh Fort.  We turned our gaze from the fort to the cityscape below us.  We saw countless festive lights flickering in different parts of the old city, as if a citywide party awaited for our return.  At the centre of Old Jodhpur, the Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower was bathed in colourful lighting like a rainbow popsicle.  We followed a winding footpath going downhill, hoping to get back to the old town in time for dinner at the rooftop restaurant at Pal Haveli. Before supper, we still had one more destination to go which was the vibrant Sadar Market at the Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower.

dsc_0381It was getting dark when we began to walk down from Mehrangarh Fort. From afar, the clock tower in colourful lights was highly visible and served as a destination landmark to guide us for the walk.

dsc_0382Mehrangarh Fort looked majestic under the evening flood lights.

dsc_0384The path soon led us into small streets at the foothills below the fort.

dsc_0390It was dinner time and most shops were about to close.

dsc_0393We walked by many homes with their doors kept opened.  From time to time, we could hear laughter of families from inside their homes.

dsc_0396In Jodhpur, there was a common way in which the street vendors decorate their store with bags of chips and snacks in different colourful packaging hanging vertically around the front edge of the roof.  It was very eye-catching.

dsc_0397We kept on walking downhill and hoped that we would soon reach the Sadar Market  and Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower.  Behind us, the massive Mehrangarh Fort provided a mysterious background.

dsc_0398Soon we reached the bottom of the hill in the streets of Gulab Sagar,

dsc_0399It was dinner time for many families, and even bedtime for this puppy on a motorbike.

dsc_0403Near Sadar Market or Clock Tower Market, we passed by a small Hindu shrine along the main commercial street.

dsc_0405A beautiful gateway welcomed us into the vibrant Sadar Market.  The market was named after Maharaja Sardar Singh, who built the market and the clock tower during his reign from 1880 to 1911.

dsc_0407Built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in the late 19th century, the Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower is one the most iconic monuments of old Jodhpur.

dsc_0410Sadar Market is one of the busiest place in Jodhpur where locals and tourists come to shop for handicrafts, souvenirs, spices, fresh produce, textiles, jewellery and clothing.

dsc_0409At Sadar Market, our target was to check out MV Spices Shop.

dsc_0415Established by Mohan Lal Verhomal years ago, MV Spices is a renowned spices shop recommended by many guidebooks and foreign media.  Today, the spices shop is managed by the friendly daughters of Mohan Lal Verhomal.  After a cup of chai tea and a good chat with one of the daughters, we bought a pack of Maharaja curry, and also spices to make chai tea and chicken tikka masala.

dsc_0435After a quick visit of Sadar Market, we returned to our hotel Pal Haveli.

dsc_0439We climbed up to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Indique for dinner.

img_8755Indique is a popular rooftop restaurant in Old Jodhpur, serving decent Indian food with magnificent views of the old city.

dsc_0425We enjoyed the distant view of Mehrangarh Fort at one side of the rooftop. During dinner, it was a surprise to see a small firework in front of the fort. It came in a split second.   We couldn’t react quick enough to capture the moment with our camera.  The scene could only live in our memory.

img_8748At the other side of the rooftop restaurant, we could look down to the vibrant Sadar Market and the colourful Ghanta Ghar Clock Tower.