Saturday 1 November 2014

Day 164: Jodhpur - A blue or many-coloured city?

Anyone know why Jodhpur is called the "Blue City"?
Another day.  Another fortress.  Another palace.  Our Rajastan palace count has now reached four, as has our fortress count, and we have given up counting the temples.  Not that Mehrangarh is just another fort.  Unlike Chittorgarh and Kumbalgarh it sprouts from a single rock bastion above the blue city of Jodhpur, instead of enclosing a sprawling mass of hillside.  It might almost be an organic extension of the sheer rock face.  Impressive.

The palace inside is in great condition and houses collections of embroidered tents (for Maharajas on tour, albeit without their feet in the clouds), palanquins, elephant howdahs, beautiful paintings, gilded weapons - whatever floats your boat.  And to explain it, there's an audio guide narrated by the Marwars who turn out to be considerably less full of themselves then their Mewar cousins in Udaipur and make for far more pleasant listening (they tell you about what you can see in the palace, not just about how awesome they are).  To cap it all, they have even got the hang of funnelling tourists through such a juicy-looking gift shop as they leave the building that they could almost give the retail teams at the RA or the British Museum a run for their money.  Yes, Mehrangarh Fort has got this tourism thing sorted alright, far better than any other attraction we have seen in Rajastan.

A palace guard
After lunch at the fort we walked through some of the bazaars on our way back to our quirky homestay at Juna Mahal.  The street scene was a blur: pink saris, hooting horns, red and gold saris, motorbikes jostling with auto-rickshaws, a handcart stacked with sweets, a row of stalls selling nothing but woven baskets, spice stalls, silver stalls, heat, cool patches of shade, heat, your face almost pressed against a cow's bum, hooting horns, the smell of cumin, the smell of urine, yellow saris, a hard cart piled with fruit, two cows scavenging from a rubbish heap, white trousers with white shirts, orange saris, hooting horns, hooting horns ...

Back at Juna Mahal, we sat on the roof terrace overlooking the blue city.  As evening fell, two mosques duelled over the loudest call-to-prayer, one trailing the other by half a phrase, like slow-motion tinitus.  They even drowned out the hooting horns in the streets below.

Jodhpur is a very real city: not a tourist trap or a hallucination-on-a-lake, like Udaipur.  It's rough at the edges and bustling and smelly and beautiful; both exciting and hard work.  Tomorrow life may get a little easier as we return to tourist-ville in Pushkar.

Jodphur: it's actually multi-coloured!
Mehrangarh from the approach road 
The royal throne at Mehrangarh
Mehrangarh details 
Detail from one of the sets of miniatures on display at Mehrangarh 
Blue Jodhpur
One of the many swallows nesting in the rood at the Mehrangarh Fort
The Fort from our guesthouse (Juna Mahal)
Jodhpur seen from the heights of the Fort
Comfy stylish accommodation at Juna Mahal

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