• Anusha Parthasarathy

A Pedacito Of Jodhpur, India

Jaipur had been on my travel list since the first time I heard of it, and it wasn’t just because blue is my favorite color. Known as the Blue City, the city fits right in with Rajasthan’s color-themed cities (Jaipur is the Pink City, Jaisalmer is the Golden City, and so on) but has an incredibly different aura to it. There is a general air of regality that you get a dose of the moment you set foot in this princely state, but that aside, Jodhpur exudes an aura of mystery, and it was a puzzle I was stubborn about solving.

An example of Jaipur's regal architecture
An example of Jaipur's regal architecture

I visited Jaipur at the end of 2015 and stayed there for a week, walking through its meandering streets and trying out every cafe possible to taste its diverse cuisine. And I must warn you, the city is a dervish, and its magical fort and streets draw you in so intensely that you may very quickly find yourself falling… in love with it.

I had a comfortable stay at Zostel in Jadhpur
I had a comfortable stay at Zostel in Jadhpur

On a shoestring budget at that point, I stayed at Zostel, one of the most well-known chains of hostels in India. And Jodhpur was their very first -- it was a comfortable and friendly space where I never felt unsafe.

Jodhpur is called the Blue City because many of the buildings are painted blue
Jodhpur is called the Blue City because many of the buildings are painted blue

Jodhpur is called the Blue City because many of its buildings are colored a cool, indigo blue. There are many legends behind why this was done - worshippers of the Hindu god Shiva colored their homes blue to pay homage to him drinking Halahala (a terrible poison) to save mankind. The venom turned his body blue, and hence the color.


Another belief is that it is tied to the social status of certain Hindus who lived in those homes. Upper-caste Brahmin homes, to stand out, were often painted blue to stand out from the rest. Whatever the reason is, the homes contrast beautifully against the early-evening sky, especially when you’re looking down at the town from the fort hilltop nearby.

The first place I visited is the most prominent place in Jodhpur - Mehrangarh Fort, the biggest in India and covers about 1,200 hectares. Constructed in 1459 by Rao Jodha, this colossal feat of architecture is a true testament to the Rajput rule in the area. Everything about it is grand and big, and you will need at least a day to get a good look inside.


And chances are, you’ll want to come back. Just next to the fort is Jaswant Thada, a grand marble cenotaph dedicated to Raja Jaswant Singh. It’s beautifully intricate and extremely well-maintained. Don’t miss walking through the garden while you’re there. The Rao Jodha Desert Park is nearby too and offers a lovely walk into a garden or restored forest and desert vegetation.

Jodhpur's clock tower
Jodhpur's clock tower

Following this, I began roaming the streets, especially the gullies around Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower), sampling the food, digging out quirky cafes, and shopping gorgeous home and personal products at a steal. Oh, in case you aren’t aware, Rajasthan is a block print and tie-dye lover and shopper’s paradise.

One of my favorite finds in Jodhpur was the Nirvana Cafe
One of my favorite finds in Jodhpur was the Nirvana Cafe

Two of my best finds in Jodhpur are these; Nirvana Cafe and Rooftop is an alfresco cafe that once served as a temple. So you can not just get to see what Rajasthani temples of yore were like but also dine under beautiful murals and temple bells. Go up to the rooftop for great views.


The other is a tiny ‘lonely-planet and trip-advisor approved’ sandwich shop near the clock tower. The order lines outside these places were so long and serpentine that more often than not, we’d wait at least 20-30 minutes to get to the counter.


We also found a streetside dosa stall run by a man from the southern Indian city of Madurai, who doled out the authentic southern specialty in big numbers to a constant stream of customers.

Bangle stall along the streets of Jodhpur
Bangle stall along the streets of Jodhpur

We spent a lot of time talking to locals, laughing with the ladies at the bangle stalls, and even entertaining ourselves at the local street puppet shows. The people, in general, are warm, friendly and the hospitality is like something I’ve never seen before.


At every restaurant we ever ate in, waiters would take so much care to make sure our plates were never empty, and sometimes we would literally have to stop them from feeding us any further. Now, where else would that be a problem?

 

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