16 November 2009

Jodhpur - the blue city

We're working our way through the coloured cities of Rajasthan. After the pink city of Jaipur we're now in the blue city of Jodhpur, home of the flappy thighed horse riding trouser.

The old town of Jodhpur is probably the muckiest place we've stayed in a long time (since Varanasi). The sides of the street run with open sewers and effluent whilst the roads themselves are overrun with cows and goats. Outside of our hotel felt (and smelt) more like a farm than a city of nearly a million people!

Normally we can use our hotel as a place to get a bit of peace and quiet from the chaos of the streets outside. However this proved quite difficult at the Jee Ri Haveli where we were staying. The owner and his son where what would best be described as a little over attentive and wouldn't give you a seconds peace. To say it was a little wearing would be somewhat of an understatement.

Thankfully Paul and Sarah where staying on the outskirts of town at the much more relaxing Ajit Bhawan where they had a luxury tent!

We've seen quite a lot of forts and palaces since we arrived in India but we think that Meherangarh is probably the best. The fort sits overlooking the town on top of a 125m hill.

The fort and the views of the city from the battlements where really spectacular.

In Hindu society people are divided into one of four castes which are used to denote your social standing. The highest of the Hindu castes is the Brahmin which is for priests and scholars. In Jodhpur the Brahmins painted their houses blue and from the fort walls it's easy to see how the city got its nickname.

Just down the hill from the fort is Jaswant Thada, a white marble cenotaph that was built in 1899 for the Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.

The marble walls were so thin that on the inside of the building you could see the sun light glowing through from the outside.

We had planned to end our day in Jodhpur with a sundowner at Umaid Bhawan Palace, the home of a Maharaja that is now also a hotel and restaurant. What we didn't know before we arrived was that you needed the wallet of a Maharaja to to be able to afford to visit the bar. There was a cover charge of 3,000 rupees (about £40) per person, which we thought was a bit steep for a few gin and tonics so we headed back to the equally pleasant surroundings of Paul and Sarah's flashy hotel.

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