As little kids, we would pester our grandparents to tell and retell the stories of beautiful queens, handsome maharajas, fierce battles and bejewelled royal palaces. I managed to behold and soak in the regalia of one such fairytale-like princely state on my recent trip to Rajasthan’s second largest city and home to the Maharajas since 1459, Jodhpur.
I have spent my life’s most precious four years in Jodhpur. I completed my graduation form India’s one of the oldest Colleges , MBM Engineering College, Rajasthan. So I should have written this blog a while ago. But sometimes you come to know the worth of some things when you miss them. My recent visit to Jodhpur was one such experience. It was all the more refreshing and old memories were just popping up in my head. But this recent visit made me realise that how beautiful calm and peaceful this royal Blue city is.
Yet upon arrival in Jodhpur, it isn’t obvious why this bustling city is so closely associated with just one colour. After all, many other hues can also be seen on the busy streets and in the bazaars. The majority of Rajasthani women wear long, colourful skirts and you can see this while visiting the shops of the Nai Sadak and examining wares on the stalls of the Sardarpura Market. Eye-catching, bright oranges and yellows are popular colours for their fabrics. And the Rajasthani tradition for women to cover their heads with scarves — in light materials of complementary hues — adds to the multi-coloured impressions of life here. That’s also exacerbated by local men wearing sizeable turbans. The yellows and reds of their traditional headgear is just as much a draw to the eye as women’s garments.
For an overview of Jodhpur, and the blue houses of the old town, nothing beats heading up to Mehrangarh Fort. A winding lane leads up the 125 metre high hill, on which the ancient fortress is built. The walls are 36-metre-high in places, providing additional elevation. From there you can look out and appreciate just how many of the houses in Jodhpur are blue. Not all cities deserve their sobriquets, but anyone looking out over the flat roofs of Jodhpur, from the perspective of the Mehrangarh will realise that the term “the blue city” is indeed apt, whatever the true reason behind the prevalence of that colour.
The mighty walls of the Mehrangarh Fort have many secrets buried inside. Maintained by the present generation of Marwar Kings, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, the expansive courtyards, exquisite palatial spaces like the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), and hidden balconies for women to listen to court proceedings, chambers and galleries enrich the fort’s heritage.
Located half way up the road that climbs onwards to the Mehrangarh fort is Jaswant Thada. Immaculate in white marble, this mausoleum was built in the year 1899 in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. A tomb with an array of domes is the crematorium for Jodhpur rulers. As the sun rays kiss the milky surface of the monument, the memorial comes alive in a glaze and its intricate carved jalis (screens) emit a glow.
Pic credit - Amit Rawat @flickr
Perched high above the city of Jodhpur, Umaid Bhavan Palace another magnificent Art Deco palace that serves as the royal residence to this date. Today, the honey sandstone and white marble palace has been converted into a luxurious hotel and private museum.
Pic credit - Abhinav Singhai @flickr
In my 2 day trip I realised how magnificently this city is set at the periphery of Thar Desert, Jodhpur echoing with tales of rich cultural heritage and legacy. This fairytale-like former princely state is an amazing concoction of dazzling colours, magnificent sights and humble residents.
I would recommend all my readers to surely give a small visit to Jodhpur and best way to make the most of a short stay, say 2 nights in jodhpur is to keep first day easy and second day busy.
On Day 1 do a bit of sightseeing, spend the evening at hotel and sleep early so you can start Day 2 early. On Day 2, start early and cover all the important spots and have dinner at an unique place.