City SundayTravel Expeditions

Mystique of India – 8: Jodhpur – The Blue City

Jodhpur is known as Blue City. But the reason for this city acquiring this epithet, we were told was the mosquito menace.  In order to fight this menace, the erstwhile kings had ruled that all buildings be painted blue. From the hill top even today one can see prominence of blue color in the landscape.

However,   Jodhpur is also known as the “Sun City” for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all the year round. Jodhpur topped Lonely Planet‘s list of most extraordinary places to stay in 2013. Jodhpur lies near the geographic center of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The old city circles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates.

The linguistic elegance & culinary delight

Jodhpur has a culture of its own. The language spoken here has softness and a tinge of respectfulness. When we stopped at a street corner to enquire about direction to Dhillon House, an ordinary looking person gave us the direction with complete details and at the end said “padhaaro”. This word quintessentially meant “Please Step in (to our City, Sir)”.  We knew of Lucknowi Thehjeeb, its cultural nuances. In Jodhpur also we observed that even a commoner spoke in such a lofty language.

It was summer and in keeping with its name as Sun City, bright day light was conspicuous even at 7.00 pm. Therefore, we quickly freshened up,  and  drove to the Mehrangarh Fort  to have a bird’s eye of  the city,  and to watch its beautiful sunset. Jodhpur has shopping complexes in several places and we found the city buzzing with business. We had our dinner in a trendy eatery called Gypsy, which is ranked first out of 297 restaurants. Located in the corner of a busy commercial square, it has two portions.  On the ground floor, with extra chairs and tables  on the footpath, like in any European city,  one could have a  buffet, choices of dishes were  Italian, South Indian, Punjabi etc. On the first floor service was a la carte where only Rajasthani food was served, and in Rajasthani style.

We learnt that Jodhpur has several dishes unique to it and has hundreds of sweet meet shops. Janta Sweet Home is ranked fifth out of 297 restaurants in Jodhpur and is known for its Sahi Samosa, which is not only bigger in size but also has a different taste, a sweet and sour taste. Then there are sweet king-size Mawa Kachori, Pyaj Kachori, Namkeen Pyaj Kachori, and stuffed Parathas, large enough to compete with the Pizzas. Shrikhand, Mango Shrikhand, Lachedar Rabdi,  many other milk based sweets and Jilebis  are specialty sweets of Jodhpur. One finds Agra Petha, but with Jodhpuri touch to it. In allm Jodhpur is a place of culinary delight for the Indian tourists.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

Umaid Bhawan Palace is said to be the last of the great palaces of India and one of the largest private residences in the world. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, the golden-yellow sandstone monument was conceived on grandest possible scale, in a fashionable Art Deco Style of the time. Designed by renowned Edwardian Architect, Henry Lanchester, the palace is a blend of eastern and western architectural influences. The lavish interiors with gilt furniture and elegant artwork follow the Art Deco style, complemented by the exotic murals of the self-exiled Polish Artist, Stefan Norblin. A part of this palace is converted into a museum; another part is maintained for personal of the royal family. However, a large portion of this huge palace is a hotel run by Taj Group of Hotels.

Mehrangarh Fort Palace

The fort is located at the centre of the city. Its walls, which are up to 36 meters (118 ft) high and 21 meters (69 ft) wide, protect one of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan. Entry to the fort is gained through a series of seven gates. The entire structure bears a powerful influence over the city. Its magnificence can only be understood when one stands at the foot hill of this structure and looks around it. To facilitate easy climb now a paid lift service is made available to the visitors.

Mehrangarh (etymology: ‘Mihir’ (Sanskrit) -sun or Sun-deity; ‘garh’ (Sanskrit)-fort; i.e.’Sun-fort’); according to Rajasthani language pronunciation conventions, ‘Mihirgarh’ has changed to ‘Mehrangarh’; the Sun-deity has been the chief deity of the Rathore dynasty. Though the fortress was originally started in 1459 by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh of Marwar (1638–78).

The palace on the hill is once again a reflection of Rajasthani architectural style. The ventilation is primary concern and is taken care of by Jharokas (windows), the canopy of each Jharoka used to beautify the exterior of the building. The ceilings are kept high with ventilators at appropriate distances. It is said that even during the height of Rajasthani summer the temperature within the palace is very comfortable.

One day is too short

Our stay at Jodhpur was only for one night. On the hind sight we feel that one should stay at least for two nights for proper feel of this historic town.

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