Phalodi …

India is just bursting at the seams with life, with colour and movement, noise, history, architecture. The only thing a visitor won’t find is ordinariness.

Phalodi is just a small town in Rajasthan about 140 km from Jodhpur. A quick skim through Tripadvisor reveals that the main reason for tourists to come here is for somewhere to stay close to Kichan and the famous Demoiselle Cranes. Exactly what took me there. More of them later.

The town grew up on an important trading route and if you were a prosperous merchant two or three hundred years ago you built yourself a haveli. This was a private mansion built in a style heavily influenced by the Mughals. Behind a gate like this …

P1020440

… there would typically be the main courtyard, often with a fountain, and beyond that a second smaller courtyard for the women. The mansion would surround the courtyards in such a way as to give privacy from the street and carefully segregate the sexes. A large haveli might have three or even more courtyards.

The best hotel in town started out as a private haveli. As its web site says

Built in 1750, Lal Niwas is a splendid haveli boasting of intricate craftsmanship on red sandstone. The traditional balconies, terraces and doors add an authentic royal touch to it.

Fifteen glorious rooms await you. Not every reviewer found it glorious but I found it more than adequate. Two of the courtyards …

Lal Niwas.
Lal Niwas.
Lal Niwas.
Lal Niwas.

Phalodi has a population of about 45,000 if transplanted to Australia that would make it the fifth largest town in the state of Victoria, above Shepparton and below Bendigo. If you fired a cannon down the main street of either on a Sunday you would be lucky to hit a pedestrian. Don’t try that in Phalodi. There are no buildings in either town dating from 1750 which was twenty years prior to Captain James Cook’s encounter with the east coast of Australia.

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