As I’ve mentioned before, I spent New Year’s eve and day traveling and staying in a city in Rajasthan called Jodhpur. For those who might be into horse-riding, Jodhpur is indeed the origin of the classical rider’s pants called Jodhpurs.
It’s also a pretty city with an imposing fort and pretty winding lanes full of blue colored houses. The blue color is indigo, and it was traditionally reserved only for Brahmins, the highest caste in the Hindu varna system. Eventually however, the indigo fashion spread to residents of other castes as well. According to some guide book it’s supposedly good to keep away mosquitos as well as to keep cool.
The fort in Jodhpur definitely deserves mention, as it had been beautifully set-up for visitors with an audio-guide that is one of the best I’ve taken anywhere (normally audio-guides leave a lot to be desired). This guide was a great aid in doing what I love best when in historical places – trying to transport my imagination back to the time when the place was in use. Apparently the last maharaja and his family had taken quite an active role in restoring and making their family’s heritage available to the rest of the world. And though there was something quite patronizing in his voice when he spoke about his role vis-a-vis his subjects in Jodhpur, I must admit that maharaja had done a good job of making the fort an accessible piece of history.
Of special note was the recording in the audio-guide of the grandmother of the current maharaja speaking about the experience of leaving purdah. Purdah was the practice of keeping women completely cordoned off from men only allowing them to be seen by their husbands and certain servants. In fact the entire palace, with it’s covered windows was designed to make complete purdah possible. Women would only be able to follow the life of the outside court through the slits in the windows. As grandma narrated you definitely got a feeling for how odd it must have felt to leave purdah and suddenly start living uncovered in the open. Not that neither she nor her family had to live any kind of harsh life – they still had the modern Umaid Bhavan to house them, and seemingly they didn’t experience any hardship when money was concerned.
Beyond blue-houses and fort, Jodhpur did have some great culinary treats such as saffron-lassi and great Rajasthani curries (none of which I quite remember the name nor ingredients of)…