Want an escape from the daily routine and yet not travel afar? Be a tourist in your own city and explore the ins and outs like a pro. Talking about my hometown, Jodhpur – a small city in the state of Rajasthan; is a popular destination for travelers. Being a local, I never immersed into the history and culture of Jodhpur until my friends from college came to visit. As a child, I had been to all the places that were to be seen in Jodhpur, but revisiting them after so many years; I developed a new-found appreciation for my city. So without further ado, here are some ways to be a tourist in your hometown:
GO FOR THE TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Go to those places a foreigner or outsider would go to. Yes, every place will have those “must see” sights that attract the tourists. I know you will think that being a local, you can see them anytime, but do it NOW. For example, Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace are the top attractions in Jodhpur, and when I took my friends there, I was completely in awe; thinking to myself why I didn’t go more often. Go with someone who knows the place better (in my case, my father), and has insights into the history. One of my favorite places is Jaswant Thada, a milky white marble mausoleum in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, among other domes, facing the Mehrangarh Fort.
INDULGE IN NEW ACTIVITIES
Try things you would normally do on a vacation, like take a walking tour or go kayaking. My sister tried zip lining at Mehrangarh Fort and I can’t wait to try it next time. Depending upon the place you live, you will have new and different activities that would give you a vacation like experience. It could be a day of hiking, cycling or rejuvenating at the spa. The spa at Raas hotel, is an oasis of tranquility with every nook and corner so perfect, I had a hard time leaving the place.
EMBRACE SOME LOCAL HISTORY
Check if your city has any museums that would peak your interest. I am not a history buff but I would not turn down a chance to learn about Jodhpur’s glorious past. The museum at Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace showcase the heritage of the Rathore clan.
MAKE A BUCKET LIST
When I am planning my trip to a new place, I prepare a bucket list of what I would like to see in that particular place, be it a highly recommended restaurant or a historic street. In the same way, you can bring the notion of travel to your own city by making a bucket list. It could cover popular attractions or off-beat places that you find on Pinterest or a cool restaurant. My bucket list for Jodhpur, included exploring the Old City. The old city of Jodhpur is a walled city circling the Mehrangarh Fort with several gates. Enclosed within is a tangle of narrow one-way streets only apt for two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws (tuk tuk). It was a wonderful experience roaming the streets flagged by gorgeous blue houses, shops at every corner and old havelis converted into heritage hotels and restaurants.
Since I live SO far away from my home, I miss it so much more. To think that there was a time when I wanted to leave my city and go live in bigger cities. What an irony it is. I have seen my father observe and appreciate little things around him, like an old framed painting at a local temple; that others including myself would overlook. The point being that I am no longer waiting for beauty to smack me in the face, instead open my eyes and look around.
Photography of Umaid Bhawan Palace by Abhimanyu Bhawad