maharajah of the road

Day 14

Maharajah of the road

Muscle cars


Day 14

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In Jodhpur

Thursday 29th January 2009

All timings according to Indian Standard Time – IST


The day begins with a faint twinge of endings. Today is the last day. It seems impossible that 15 days have passed us by… That we have completed our magical journey through the swirling golden sands of Rajasthan, and traced the legendary Maharajah’s Road. The feeling of solidarity that each of shares with each other; having experienced everything together is an unshakable bond. Some experiences change us as people, and alter the fabric of our being. And if you are so lucky as to have companions on this journey, why, those companions will forever be linked to you, be it in mind or in spirit. This is what we are feeling this morning. Bright sunny, with a pleasant breeze blowing by us. The ambience of a fairytale ending to a fairytale journey.


Rousing ourselves to look around the town today, we finish breakfast and march out to the bus, our friendly tourist companion. Mehrangarh fort is where we are heading to right now. 10:15am As we drive towards the fort, the helpful attendant on the bus fills us in on some interesting facts about Mehrangarh Fort. The Mehrangarh Fort, which lies on the outskirts of Jodhpur city, is located atop a 125 m high hill. The magnificent Fort of Mehrangarh (Jodhpur ka kila) is the most majestic and one of the largest forts in India! Wow! It was originally started (c.1459) by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, but most of the extant fort dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The walls of the fort are up to 36 m high and 21 m wide. Within the walls, they enclose some superb structures. The fort museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort provide not only excellently preserved cannons but also a breath-taking view of the city.
Now that we have some time on the way to the fort, let us explore the city of Jodhpur. The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred as the Blue City due to the indigo tinge of the whitewashed houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name (Jodhpur), also known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a strange contrast. A popular tourist destination, featuring many palaces, forts and temples, set in the stark landscape of the Thar desert, with a healthy intermingling of traditional values, with an ever expanding mental horizon, a gift from the west. One can see the dichotomy of east meets west, possible a result of the strong influence that the tourism industry has on this quite little princely state. Jodhpur lies near the geographic center of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The entire old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a thick stone wall.
Historically, Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of to the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state which came to be known as Marwar. As Rao Jodha hailed from the nearby town of Mandore, that town initially served as the capital of this state; however, Jodhpur soon took over that role, even during the lifetime of Rao Jodha. The city was located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.
Early in its history, the state became a fief under the Mughal Empire, owing fealty to them while enjoying some internal autonomy. This carried on to be cultural trend with the princely state of Jodhpur, wherein foreign influences, notably the British (East India Co. and the Empire) and the Maratha Kings from the Deccan region (south of the state of Rajasthan) who were called in at different periods, to settle strife, and add a peaceful influence to the intrigues at the Royal Court of Jodhpur. Jodhpur and its people have actually benefited from this exposure to the wider world: new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across India. A simple example of this is the cosmopolitan influence Jodhpur has made on the Fashion world. The trouser style, known as the Jodhpuri, a favored style of riders, and Polo players the world over (notable for the flared baggy thigh section, and the tighter, more streamlined claves; ideal for riding). Also, the seamless fusion of eastern and western styles that one sees at the Umaid Bhawan Palace is a clear indication at the advanced mindsets in this city, in the middle of the desert!


The fort and everything else we see, is fabulous. The intricacies of stone work and the detailed filigree that they have managed to produce are outstanding. However, there is a lot more to see and move on we must. DHANNO Sweetlime is being completed back at the palace, so a small group of us, both overwhelmed and just plain tired after walking around the beautiful fort; decide to return to the Palace and witness another grand sight; the completion of DHANNO Sweetlime, and the signing of the car! We have all been very fortunate to have been able to witness the creation of an original work of art by Camilo and Kyle, both renowned artists and designers of great repute.


The boys from Detroit are hard at work. Even though we have all been a part of the process; stepping back and looking at DHANNO Sweetlime and seeing how much they managed to accomplish in all these days is a magnificent! With no consistent art supplies, or a regulated studio space to work out of, literally making the car as we drove down the roads, DHANNO Sweetlime is truly a product of the Maharajah’s Road, and we are all very proud of her, because in many ways, the car is a physical representation of the experience. Like the rest of us, the car has transformed, literally, on the road, into something better, something wiser, more beautiful. She almost feels like ours in some ways, possibly because we were all witness to her transformation; and in the process, transforming ourselves. But let’s get back to present, so keeping with the trend of the painting sessions, with wine, music and beer in tow, we all join in the party.


Finally, it looks like the guys have completed the car to their satisfaction! And we can all finally look at her, and make a conclusion; and the verdict is that she looks unbelievably cool!!!! The body graphic is like a subway map, a melee of large graphical dots, straight and angular lines, and the names of all the places that we stopped and explored everyday… Each name on the car body evokes a special memory. We all stand around and look at the roadmap fondly, as the boys prepare to sign the car. The car’s monicker: DHANNO Sweetlime adorns one side, and a soft Swastika (an Indian symbol of good luck) graphic in orange, adorns the other.Bassam and Pascal have decided to name the car Dhanno after the famous horse cart drawn by Hema Malini (a bollywood actress) in the legendary Indian Bollywod Biopic – Sholay. How apt, for a road trip that began in Bollywood! So the Indian Yellow ’67 Stock Mustang will have 2 names! Sweetlime and Dhanno! However, I don’t think there will be time to put Dhanno on the car before the big reception later tonight, so that will be completed later on.


We all head down to the beautiful heated pool, to relax after all that time in the sun. Sitting by the pool watching the sun set is wonderful!! We have been staying at such beautiful palaces and hotels all these days, and each one has had a swimming pool to outclass the others. But given the time constrains and the frantic pace of our journey, we’ve never really used any of the pools! That makes the warm waters of the Umaid Bhawan Pool all the more special!After seeing the breathtaking sunset, with vivid Indigoes swirling into blazing Oranges and a pristine Cornflower Blue behind it all…we rouse ourselves just in time to rush back to our rooms to change for the grand Gala Dinner


As we walk out to the Patio area, we are struck speechless by the sigh that meets our eyes… Abhimanyu Singh Rathod and his team, from Incent Tours have outdone themselves! The entire lawn is resplendent with lights; and right by the edge of the lawn, lit up to showcase all her best assets, is DHANNO Sweetlime!!! What a wonderful surprise!!! Abhi (as we all fondly call him) has pulled some strings and made the impossible, achievable. They have managed to bring our art car right up to the buffet area (the lawn area being off limits for automobiles), so that we can present her at this Gala Dinner as well.
Camilo and Kyle, stand by their creation, and await the arrival of Maharaja of Jodhpur. This is their night, and the culmination of all these days of working late into the nights, and on the roads, into something beautiful; of a piece of Art.


H. H. the King of Jodhpur walks in with Nicole and Mia by his sides. A regal sight, the King, dressed in the traditional costume of the region, flanked by our princesses, is a beautiful sight. Like something from a lost time. Of kings, palaces, and princesses…What better end to our journey, both artistic, and the road trip, than have the King of Jodhpur sign the Art car!! So under the supervision of Kyle and Camilo, the King does a beautifully calligraphical signature on the hood of the car.Just as all the formalities of recording and video graphing have finished, and we are all about to commence with dinner, the starry sky above our heads bursts into a thousand points of light, as the fireworks begin! This is truly a night from a fairytale… As we all watch the fireworks spellbound; the feeling that this truly is the end of the ride; begins to sink in. That strange feeling, of endings and celebrations come back to us… bittersweet, right at the tip of our tongues… But we drink it away with some more champagne. For tonight we must make the most of it. For tonight is a night for celebrations… We have our lifetimes to remember this night…we better make it worth it…


Everything this evening has been enchanting. And all the meticulous attention to detail making it ever so special as well.Mr. Abhimanyu Singh Rathod, of Incent Tours, and his team; the cheerful souls who managed the accommodations and food for all of us, through the entirety of this trip deserve our sincere thanks, for making this night so memorable. They strove at every leg of this magical journey to make our experience a little better, a little more special, a little more memorable… And it is thanks to them, that we have such precious memories to take back home with us, more priceless than the rarest souvenir. Cheers to them!Tonight has been the night of nights, and we all never want it to end. So be it… Tonight we will try and make the night last forever, with the hope that we can make our memories of this trip last forever along with it….
So for the last time…Goodnight, and goodbye! It was an experience of a lifetime.

Maharajah of the Road

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