…or ‘welcome to our city’ exemplifies the spirit of Jodhpur — a canvas of Rajasthani culture
Ever thought the colour used by locals to paint their homes — in a bid to ward off insects —would become synonymous with the city? In the past, Jodhpur suffered from a major termite problem —so the residents started adding copper sulphate to their whitewashes, which lent the city its pristine blue-indigo hue. The Blue City is really blue!
Modem Jodhpur stretches well beyond the city walls, but it’s within the walled city that you find the Rajasthan of your imagination – the hustle-bustle, the colours, and the larger-than-life Mehrangarh Fort At the base of the mighty fort is a jumble of blue cubes that stretches out to the 10 km-long, 16th-century city wall. Inside are vibrant, entangled and bustling medieval streets — all of which never seem to lead where you want them to… The shops sell everything from vintage home decor items and temple decorations to colourful clothes and accessories. The colourful rickshaws here are super slim since they have to squeeze through the narrow streets. They make for a great travel option.
The colossal and grand Mehrangarh Fort, which rises 400 sq ft above the city, looks nothing less than a page out of a fairy tale. The imprint of Jodhpur’s erstwhile royal family, built by Maharaja Jaswant Singh in the 17th century, it is the defining feature of this otherwise low-rise landscape. If you aren’t visiting Jodhpur in winter, make sure you reach the fort early to skip the midday sun. You don’t need a ticket to enter the fort; only the muse um section requires one. Packed with history, Mehran- garh Fort houses one of the best- kept collections of regal parapherna lia in the country. What you see is a mag nificent collection of silver elephant how dahs, gilded palanquins, carved ivory, weapons inlaid with gold and jewels, rare pieces of textile, and some of the world’s finest miniature paintings. You’ll be amazed to see elaborate cradles of infant princes and the extensive zenana (where maharanis lived) with dainty filigree win dows. Make sure to hire a guide to take you through the palatial labyrinth, great hall ways and long corridors and hear fascinating stories about the heroism of the leg endary Rajput warriors of Marwar. You can also consider spending the afternoon in its small cafe, sipping chilled beer or wine, lounge under shady trees reading a book or simply enjoy the spectacular views of the city. There are some curio shops too; you can take back valuable merchandise like a Jodhpuri earring or a maharaja pen as memento. For adventur seekers, there’s the flying fox zip- 1 line tour, which runs below the fort.
When in Jodhpur, a visit to Umaid Bhavan is a must. If your budget doesn’t permit you to stay there, go for dinner or drinks at its scenic restuarant where the verandah of fers a lavish view of the palace gardens. Indulge in some Rajasthani delicacies (ker sangri and laal maas) generously spread on silver platters. Visitors aren’t admitted dur ing all seasons, so call in advance to make a reservation. Again, casual visitors are not allowed inside the palace as the current royal bearer Gaj Singh II still lives in the premises. But you can certainly visit the museum by paying a nominal entry free. Pictures of artistic palace interiors, a collection of antique clocks and the maharaja’s vintage cars are eye-catching.
ALL THINGS ETHNIC
You’ll find steps leading to the marketplace all around the Ghanta Ghar. The area somehow creates an aura that is hard to resist. Though loud, dusty and a tad dirty, the bylanes sell wares, spices, metal bangles, Jodhpun jootis, Rajasthani turbans, and loads of mithais and snacky items you can munch on during a shopping spree. The city is popularly known for its antique fur niture emporiums. There are a few near Ghanta Ghar too. If you love investing in retro, unique home decor pieces and fur nishings in Indian prints, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. From coloured-glass lanterns and vintage posters to jaali-work wooden frames and quirky painted metal trunks, you’ll find them all. As a souvenhi you can pick a signature Jodhpuri re versible block-print quilt that is known to have a cooling effect in summer and acts as an insulator against the cold in the harsh winter cold.
Lose yourself to the sacred sounds and dance performances by the best artiste line-up from across the globe at Mehrangarh Fort that is lit by the sparkling incandescence of a thousand candles.
World Sacred Spirit Festival (Feb 26-27, 2016); Flamenco & Gypsy Festival (Mar 18-20, 2016)
Your trip would be incomplete if you leave Jodhpur without biting into the fiery mirchi vadas (king-size green chili stuffed with spicy potato filling, dipped in gram flour batter and fried), kachoris and makhaniya lass!. The busy area around the Clock Tower market has a number of street stalls offering freshly-fried versions of the eatables. Try Janta Sweet Home at Na! Sarak, a favourite among the locals.