Jodhpur is in western Rajasthan and is known as the "Blue City" due to the large number of light blue painted houses in its old city section. The color was originally reserved for homes of high-caste Brahmins but others started painting their houses the same color, eventually resulting in beautiful splashes of blue all over the city. Jodhpur's main attraction is the Meherangarh Fort, which is visible from everywhere and dominates the city from high above. Like other cities in India, the Blue City thankfully understands the value of the rooftop restaurant, and we spent a good chunk of our time sitting on rooftops and gazing at the Fort above and the streets of the old city below. I cannot emphasize how important the rooftop experience is in an Indian city: it allows you to observe what is going on down below from a safe distance, letting you take it all in without subjecting yourself to the constant and often overwhelming smells, sounds, and general chaos at street level.
Apart from taking it easy on the roofs and visiting the fort, we also took advantage of the great shopping in Jodhpur. As with other cities in Rajasthan, the Blue City has a great selection of embroidered and beaded leather shoes, tons of colorful bangles, textiles galore, and plenty of tailors ready to make you whatever you want out of their huge selection of fabrics.
We also took a cultural tour of the Bishnoi villages. The Bishnoi are literally a tree-hugging religious sect. During a drought in 1485 that was caused by deforestation, a guru formulated 29 rules for living in harmony with nature, and his followers are named Bishnoi after the local language's word for "twenty-nine". They are strict vegetarians, do not kill animals for any reason, and are particularly protective of the khejri tree. So protective, in fact, that in 1730, when several workers sent by the local ruler to cut down some trees began to carry out their orders, 363 Bishnoi lost their lives by decapitation when they hugged the trees and declared that the workers would have to cut their heads off first. The ruler, affected by the commitment of the Bishnoi, called off the felling of the trees, and ever since this incident, the Bishnoi and their trees have been respected and protected by law. While our tour of the villages was a bit touristy, we gained a window into the Bishnoi lifestyle by seeing how they cook, eat, and make beautiful block-printed fabric and pottery by hand.
After three nights in Jodhpur, it was back to Delhi for one final night before taking off to Nepal!
- Make sure to try a mekhania lassi while in Jodhpur. It's made with saffron, cardamom, and thick, delicious yogurt. Sounds weird, but it's absolutely the best lassi we had in India!
- Yes, they can be super lame, but we found the audio tour at Meherangarh Fort to be engaging and well worth the price.