Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jodhpur – 1 January 2011

Because of last evening's late-night festivities our tour guide graciously granted us all a lie-in this morning and then after the worst breakfast we have had so far in India we set off on the 2-hour trip to Jodhpur. Most of the distance was though a flat, featureless, semi-desert landscape of obviously poor quality soil as there was little evidence of any viable agriculture and very few villages or towns along the way.

After making our way through Jodhpur we stopped at Jaswant Thada, a marble mausoleum on the road up to the fort. After this beautiful building was erected here, the local royal family have used this area for their individual memorials following their cremations. The marble used in the walls is of such quality that on a day like today the sunlight makes the walls translucent.

A little further up the hill is the Mehrangarh Fort, begun in 1459 it is still the official residence of the Rathores of Marwar-Jodhpur although now it is in trust and significant areas are open to the public as a museum. We were given a most enthusiastic introduction to the audio-guides by a gentleman who has obviously missed his calling as a salesman: His over-the-top sales-pitch for something we had already purchased was a delight to witness.

Calling this place a 'fort' really does it an injustice; a 'castle' or 'palace' would better convey the sumptuous interiors and intricate stonework exteriors of this royal residence. Clearly, though, it is a defensive fort situated on top of a rock outcrop and one that has successfully repelled all attackers.

One fascinating snippet was the story of a local who agreed to be buried alive in the foundations to ensure peace and prosperity after a prediction was made that, given the history of the place, building a fort there would not be auspicious. Given the subsequent success of the fort, this man's sacrifice has cemented an enduring bond between his descendants and the royal owners.

Jodpur itself contains the 'Blue City', all the buildings are blue, and was the area lived in by the brahmans. They believed the colour kept the city cool and repelled mosquitos.

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