A couple of hundred kilometers west of Jaipur lies Jodhpur, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Marwar—the largest kingdom in Rajasthan and the third largest in India. The desert Kingdoms retained their autonomy until well after Indian Independence in 1949. It was their strategic border “sand buffer”, with hostile Pakistan than eventually convinced the rulers to join in with the greater India. Even still, however, the United States of Rajasthan” as it was known for a while has an independent and different feel to it. There are as many Indian tourists as foreign tourists. It is different—and Jodhpur announces it! The huge fortress here is built on a 500-foot cliff top and seems to rise straight vertically from the ground. Kipling said it seems like it was built by the gods—and Kipling was the master of understatement. We stayed in an old Havali (wealthy merchant’s house in the old city. From the rooftop (and small overhanging balcony in our room), we could admire the size of the fort, Mehrangarh, although “Mega “would not be amiss.
The fortress walls soar skyward as one walks up the steep hillside to the first of the seven fortified gates to get inside the main palace. These gates bend sharply around steep corners to prevent elephants for getting up enough speed to ram the huge wooden iron studded doors. |
At the last gate there are 15 tiny handprints left on the walls—the final goodbye to their home and palace by the 15 widows of the maharaja who in grad procession left to throw themselves on his funeral pyre in 1843 (The last known royal sati). There is still some devotional following to this last self-sacrifice, which is now illegal. The museum inside the palace was worth the admission. The collection of “royal things” was eclectic and interesting.
Jodhpur itself is interesting. It is known as the “Blue City” mostly Monet pastel blue. Originally the color was reserved for the high Brahmin Caste—but the color also seemed to deter mosquitoes so about 40% of the old houses are painted blue inside the old city walls. It is photogenic as one winds through the old medieval streets. With its “blue theme” and with one of the most impressive forts in India it is worth a visit.