Travelling is a heavily romanticised experience in modern literature, often described as limitless in terms of the learning it offers – learning about culture, history, language, art and various ways of life, along with the development of the trait of empathy. Due to my parents’ unquenchable desire for travelling, I have visited quite a few countries abroad, seen quite a few airports while in transit, but have all the while ignored the ethereal beauty of my own hometown – Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan and a popular tourist destination. I have come to realise that this is a common phenomenon; people are so interested in visiting places far away that they underestimate the value of places close to them. So, on my latest trip to Jodhpur for Diwali, my uncle, my enthusiastic cousins and I managed to budget some time away from shuttling between the homes of distant relatives and visit the old quarters of Jodhpur, primarily the Mehrangarh Fort.
After traversing the long-winded road leading to the fort, at an elevation of 410 feet, we were greeted by a mesmerising view, a view encompassing the entirety of the city of Jodhpur, also addressed by its sobriquet, the ‘Blue City’, on account of all the blue-coloured houses visible from above. Legend has it that the houses were painted blue on the orders of the founder of the city, Rao Jodha.
Mehrangarh, its foundations laid in 1459 C.E. by Rao Jodha, is enclosed by impenetrable walls. Its boundaries enclose several palaces, known for their expansive courtyards and intricate carvings. The impact of cannonballs fired by the attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. The fort is also home to a fully stocked museum, with items from the private collection of the current ruler, Raja Gaj Singh. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathore dynasty, in armour, costumes, paintings and royal palanquins.
I also managed to visit the famous clock-tower, ‘Ghantaghar’, which overlooks the bustling local Sardar Market. For me, in addition to its rich history, the vibrant colours, which provide a picturesque backdrop to everyday life, really make the city beautiful. I initially found it difficult to wrap my head around why this old, quaint town is so closely associated with only the colour blue, as many other stunning hues can also be seen on the busy streets and in the bazaars. One can see a plethora of long, colourful skirts worn by the women, with complementary headscarves, as well as coloured turbans worn by men. The captivating bright oranges and yellows commonly seen in shops selling fabrics on ‘Nai Sadak’ serve to add to the vivid impression of life here. However, as seen in the case of a name like ‘Blue City’, legends hold a very powerful place in people’s lives and tend to stick.
Prior to this experience, I was oblivious to what Jodhpur had to offer and now, I’m so glad to have had an opportunity to appreciate my hometown from the eyes of a tourist, which I encourage everyone to do – for the time being, leave your far-fetched desires of visiting exotic countries (and perhaps, planets), and visit your hometown, with the mindset of a tourist, and when you do so, do not forget to keep an iPhone camera handy…:) (Genuinely speaking, with just a little bit of correct framing and composition, look at the pictures it can give you.)