Jodhpur – the blue city

22 December 2018

Jodhpur is quite a bit smaller than Jaipur and although its centre is hectic in an Indian way, it’s not on the same scale. We have both taken a shine to it even if we did both get pooped on by pigeons within the first hour!

Jodhpur is named after Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief, who established the city about 500 years ago, although there had been smaller settlements around the area before that.  It’s known as the “Blue City” because quite a few of the houses are painted in different shades of blue….

…there are many theories as to why this is, ranging from keeping the houses cool during summer (why not white like everywhere else in the hot parts of the world?), keeping insects away (not sure about that one) and the one that we think sounds the most feasible is that it was once an indicator of social class. Initially it indicated a Brahmin house – priests of the Indian caste system – and over time it spread to other people using the colour.  Now we think it’s probably just for tourists! During our time here we wandered through the blue part of the city a couple of times and found it to be quite nice and certainly interesting in places, but the further we got away from the centre the dirtier and smellier it got, with lots of rubbish piled in the streets.

Jodhpur is also known as “Sun City” as the sun shines here very brightly and it’s hot almost throughout the whole year. Temperatures in the summer can reach high 40s! It’s been about 25 degrees since we’ve been here, which is warm for us, but cold for the locals apparently who we’ve seen with big thick coats on! And finally, Jodhpur is where jodhpur trousers originated!

During our time here we have done some touristy siteseeing, which included  a very elaborate stepwell just around the corner from where we were staying…

We walked up to Mehrangarh Fort on the hill to the north of the town and took a route via a rocky outcrop which gave us great views of the fort and the Blue City. As well as a great viewing point there is also a temple at this outcrop, which we didn’t realise until some locals mentioned that we shouldn’t have our shoes on, oops! We apologised, removed our shoes and quietly departed! In typical Martina and Nigel style we then took the path less trodden to the fort entrance – along a stony path around the base of the walls.

We wouldn’t normally take an audio tour, but as it was included in our entrance ticket we decided we may as well give it a go.  As it turned out it was really good and gave us the history of the fort, which has been the seat of the ruling Maharajah’s for the last 500 years – even up to the present day. Apart from being an impressive defensive fort it was also the very opulent home of this ruling class. The interiors are spectacular in a gold, plush furnishings and mirrors way…

…and the battlements gave spectacular views across the city…

There are lots of temples in the city and in our wanderings we came across a Hare Krishna one, where we decide to stop and have a look. We were positively welcomed in and it turned out to be a serene place, especially compared to the street we had just come from.

There is a clock tower in the centre of the main market, which during the day this looks just like any other clock tower…

…but at night it turns into a crazy, multi-coloured, flashing, psychedelic phenomenon…

Walked around the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park…

Visited the Jaswant Thada Temple which was is where all the ruling maharajahs were cremated….

We also took in the Gulab Sagar Talab, a lake in the centre of town which, to be honest, is pretty disgusting. The place stinks and the water is rank, so definitely not worth a picture!

At various tourist attractions across Rajasthan you can find Tourist Information Force (TIF) people who are there to help folk like us and have have used them to get maps etc. Here when we were waiting to get a tuk-tuk from the fort to the main market square, Martina asked one of these guys how much we should charged for this journey –  and he said 100 rupees. The first driver we’d approached had said 200 so we walked away (100 rupees is only £1…but it’s the principle!); second had said 150 and it was at this point that a heated argument broke out between the TIF guy and the drivers! We didn’t meant to cause a stir…but we did get our ride back into town for 100 rupees!

A couple of non-Jodhpur related things…

We’ve found that showers that produce warm water have been fairly rare in the accommodation we have had here so far (as well as toilet roll, which Martina mentioned in her earlier blog), but each bathroom comes equipped with a bucket, small stool and jug. We’re now well versed in the ‘bucket wash’ which is fine if there is warm water, but a bit bracing if it’s cold only as has been the case on a few occasions.

Plug sockets in some parts of Europe and, from what we have seen so far, in India are often placed at shoulder height in the middle of a wall….why?!? …as  it’s a right pain for charging equipment…!

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