Jodhpur, India, is the Blue City.
Because Jodhpur sits on the fringe of the Thar Desert, and daytime temperatures soar to 40 – 45 degrees throughout the months of summer. The blue paint is supposed to keep things cool. Thinks cool thoughts. That kind of thing.
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort, which looms over Jodhpur, dates back to 1460 CE. If you’re thinking the fort looks familiar, that might be because you’ve recently watched the 2012 blockbuster Batman: the Dark Knight Rises, with Christian Bale as Batman, and Tom Hardy as evil villain Bane. Mehrangarh Fort isn’t named in the film, but its form can be seen rising up behind the pit, an inescapable prison, which Michael Caine’s character – the rectitudinous butler, Alfred – tell us is situated in a more ancient part of the world.
Jodhpur was founded in 1459 CE by Rao Jadha (a name straight out of a Batman film). The site was selected for its defensive capabilities, as the photos above make clear.
All those who wish to enter the fort must first pass through a series of gates. Loha Pol, the final gate, is marked with the immortalised hand prints of numerous Rajasthani queens, each of whom wiped a coal-stained hand on the gate before throwing themselves onto their husband’s funeral pyres, as was customary at the time. The last sati, or suttee (widow’s immolation), in Jodhpur was in 1843. Sati was banned in all British-Indian territories in 1829, and banned India-wide in 1861.
These days Mehrangarh Fort is a museum, and houses all sorts of curiosities, including swords used by Akbar the Great and Timur (the founder of the Timurid Empire in Central Asia), along with elephant’s howdahs, and a gilt palanquin won in battle in 1730.
Ghanta Ghar, Jodhpur
Ghanta Ghar translates to Hour House, a word commonly used to describe clock towers. There are Ghanta Ghars all over India, Pakistan, and Nepel. This Ghanta Ghar is set next to the famous Sardar Markets, named after Maharaja Sardar Singh
Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur
The 347-room Umaid Bhavan Palace, seen on the horizon of the photo above, is one of the largest private residences in the world. It was built in 1943 to house the former royal family of Jodhpur.
Jodhpur is the Blue City, the Sun City, the Gateway to the Thar. And yes, for those who were wondering, it’s also the birthplace of those kooky, tight-fitting pants worn by horseback riders.
Practical information and how to reach Jodhpur:
Jodhpur is on the train network with direct trains to many major cities throughout India including Jaipur (5 hours), Jaisalmer (5 hours), and Delhi (12 hours). Bus services run to Udaipur (8 hours) and Mount Abu (5 hours). More transport info here.