Travelogue: Delhi to Jodhpur in the Mercedes B-Class

Varun Anchan Updated: August 31, 2013, 01:38 PM IST

At some point in our childhood, we've all been told bedtime stories of royal civilisations, historic palaces and battles royale. So, when you're offered the opportunity to soak in this regalia in the form of a luxurious escape to the Old Walled City of Jodhpur in a Mercedes B-Class and document your experience, you can't help but accept.

The B-Class at the Mehrangarh fort in JodhpurThe B-Class at the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur

At first glance, the Mercedes B-Class is a robust yet striking vehicle with plenty of character. From its sleek design to its trademark face and tail lights, you can't mistake this car for anything but a Mercedes. As pleasing as its exteriors are, the brand has pretty neat interiors as well, offering the luxury of a sedan within a hatchback.

We began our trip from Delhi comfortably navigating through the traffic-ridden streets exiting onto the NH8 highway. The B-Class proved to be an excellent highway car with good speed stability and steering response. Despite brisk driving, the mileage never dropped below 16kmpl, which was a pleasant revelation. The responsive 7G-tronic dual clutch makes quick but imperceptible gear shifts to keep the car in the powerband when required. A very generous 488-litre boot makes plenty of space for luggage when on a family vacation.

A narrow walk way deep in the 'Blue City'.At the entrance of RAAS, the luxury hotel where we stayed in Jodhpur

Travelling through 600kmph of the crowded, winding expanse of the freeway, we arrived in Jodhpur. The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur is a colorful reminder of our country's ethnicity and culture. The splendor of Mehrangarh; the romance of the Blue City; the extravagance of Umaid Bhawan – Jodhpur boasts of an old world charm with narrow lanes and friendly locals clad in their traditional garb.

The dimensions of the car were ideal for the constricted roads of Jodhpur and as we drove through the city, its contrast from an Indian metropolis like Mumbai or Delhi was palpable. Jodhpur, renowned for its remarkable preservation of our nation's heritage, is a popular tourist destination featuring palaces, temples and forts. This imperial city echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the Thar Desert.

We arrived at our final destination for the day at sunset. Set on the foothills of Mehrangarh Fort sits the recently renovated 18th century haveli that is now the 'RAAS – the Luxury Boutique Hotel'. The haveli, situated in the prestigious north-eastern quarter of the Walled City, comprises of four buildings in Jodhpur's own 'rose-red' sandstone. They are now accompanied by three contemporary buildings designed to flawlessly combine opulence and history. The palatial RAAS Hotel – the hallmark of Rajput architecture – is a rare and charming complex that reflects the essence of Jodhpur within its walls.

RAAS with Jodhpur's evening sky in the backdropRAAS with Jodhpur's evening sky in the backdrop

Each of their rooms are contemporary, understated and make the most of Jodhpur's pink sandstone and black terrazzo, with splashes of 'Jodhpur blue' displaying Indian touches and crafted by local artisans. With two restaurants (Baradari and Darikhana) offering the finest in local and international cuisine, a pool and a delightful spa, RAAS is an ultimate luxury set up to explore Rajasthani culture and traditions, from desert safaris to Rajasthani folk.

Rajasthan's history is captured in Jodhpur's grand architecture and our exploration of the city began with a visit to Mehrangarh Fort. The drive from our hotel to the fort comprised navigating through narrow by-lanes and as worried as we were about making the journey in car, the B Class allowed us a smooth ride without so much of a halt. The steering mounted gear selector made parking and reversing through the narrow lanes much easier.

The fort is situated above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palatial structures known fintricate carvings and expansive courtyards. A winding road leads to and from the city below. In ancient times, the fort was a site for historic events, which are commemorated onto its edifice. Today, the city's victories are apparent in the form of imprints gained during its former title as capital of the Marwar state.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is quite well-stocked. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins. The museum exhibits the legacy of the erstwhile Rathore rulers in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.

Another notable feature of this wonderful structure is the view of Jodhpur from within its confine. It's no wonder Jodhpur is known as the blue city with the azure roofs that blanket this dusty desert town. It is thought that Brahmins – members of the priestly class – first took to coloring their houses blue to signify their domicile and to set them apart from the rest of the population. Soon, however, the rest of the population followed suit.

The day was followed by a quick stopover at the Clock Tower popularly known as 'Ghanta Ghar'. On an ordinary day, this vicinity is bustling with tourists due to its close proximity to the Sadar Market popular for its Rajasthani textiles, jewellery and other memorabilia. However, an early morning visit on the 15th of August guaranteed a quiet visit.

The luxurious abode at the RAASThe luxurious abode at the RAAS

A major part of Jaipur's culture and history is its food, so we decided to return to the hotel and treat ourself to some authentic Rajasthani cuisine. We opted to try Laal Maas which is meat in a red chilly curry served with chapattis and quickly understood its well-deserved position as a specialty.

We ended the day by heading out on foot to explore the Blue City. Rajasthanis are considered a hospitable lot, and our experience only confirmed it. From willingly flashing a smile for the lens to inviting us into their humble homes, our encounters with them were nothing short of heartwarming.

The luxurious B-Class diesel interiorsThe luxurious B-Class diesel interiors

The folks there wear lovely multihued costumes. The women wear wide gathered skirts and a hip length jacket, with three quarter length sleeves, covering the front and back. Women love to wear jewelry and most cliches associated with Jodhpur's beautiful culture are well-earned. Another one of the unique features of the culture of Jodhpur is the colorful turbans worn by men. The popular tight, horse riding trousers, 'Jodhpurs' also found their origin from this city.

Traditional Rajasthani local at the fort. Traditional Rajasthani local at the fort.

But sadly it was time to leave the 'Blue City' and drive back to Delhi. Thankfully, the ride back was on a Mercedes B-Class.

As we made our way to back to the traffic ridden streets of Delhi to catch our last flight back home, we were still slightly upset that we couldn't stay a while longer in Jodhpur. But as far as the road trips go, no many luxury cars can match the B-Class's comfort and drive experience on the long winding roads on the highway and the narrow lanes around the city. We are already up for another trip to Jodhpur, hopefully, on a Mercedes B-Class!


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