Overlooking the Cities of Pink and Blue: Jaipur and Jodhpur

Jaigarh Fort (Tiger Fort) 20 - Awesome View

Looking down upon the Amber Fort just outside of the city of Jaipur

To the West of the Indian capital of Delhi, and stretching all the way to the border with Pakistan, lies the storied and oft-visited state of Rajasthan, a land of deserts and camels, of clustered cities teeming with life, of medieval walls encircling historic old towns, and of majestic forts perched atop hillsides.  Originally the home to the notoriously stubborn Rajput warriors, much of the Rajasthan state was absorbed into that of the Mughal empire, and later that of the of British Raj.  Regardless, however, of which tribe or sect historically held power at any given time, the state has still become known by the glorious title of “The Land of the Kings.”

Jaipur, India:

The most common entry point into the state of Rajasthan is that of the capital city of Jaipur, which, incidentally, completes the third leg of what is known as the “Golden Triangle,” a popular tourist trail that also included Delhi and Agra (see my previous two posts for these locations).  Originally planned as a walled-in city with a grid-like pattern of streets — the City Palace, or the focal point, being located at the center — the population of the city quickly outgrew its early 1700’s confinement and has since overflowed well outside of the original Old City design.  Additionally, in the late 1800’s, then ruler Maharaja Ram Singh decreed that entire city be painted a pink hue as a welcome to the Prince of Wales who was to visit (pink being the traditional color of welcoming), a legacy which still stands today, lending Jaipur its nickname: The Pink City.

Jaipur 17 - Old City Streets

Virtually every facade within the walled Old City of Jaipur is painted this dusty pink hue

Virtually every facade within the walled Old City of Jaipur is painted the same dusty pink hue

The Jal Mahal, or Water Palace, located just outside the Old City and reachable only by boat

Jaipur 9 - Old City Streets

The Hawa Mahal, or "Palace of Winds"

The Hawa Mahal, or “Palace of Winds”

Jaipur 11 - Doorway

A puppet show near the City Palace

A puppet show near the City Palace

Jaipur 15 - Produce Vendor

A produce vendor showing off her vegetables

One of many astronomical instruments within the intellectual grounds of the Jantar Mantar

One of many astronomical instruments within the intellectual grounds of the Jantar Mantar, an observatory and place of learning that has since garnered the UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

A colorful doorway within the City Palace

A colorful doorway within the City Palace

One of the best views of the Old City of Jaipur can be seen by climbing the spiralling stairs to the top of the Iswari Minar Swarga Sal, a towering single minaret located near the City Palace and Jantar Mantar and within the Old City walls — although I will say, finding the entrance is a bit more difficult than it looks in the tangled web of back streets and alleys!

Looking up at the Iswari Minar Swarga Sal

Looking up at the Iswari Minar Swarga Sal

The view back over the city

Isarlat 9 - View

Isarlat 4 - View

To truly take in the view of the city of Jaipur and the surrounding countryside, however, one will have to travel 11 kilometers out-of-town to the site of the Amber Fort, a mountain-top palace that served as the original capital city and seat of power in the area for nearly a thousand years until it was moved to Jaipur itself in the early 1700’s.  Whereas the Pink City is worth a visit, the Amber Fort is probably the premier attraction to the area:

Looking over a small pavilion towards the Amber Fort

Looking over a small pavilion towards the Amber Fort

Amber Fort 5 - Garden

Elephants carrying tourists and travelers along the zig-zagging pathways up to the fort

Elephants carrying tourists and travelers along the zig-zagging pathways up to the fort

The view from the walls of the fort

The view from the walls of the fort

The shiny, mirrored suface of the walls and ceiling of the Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory)

The shiny, mirrored suface of the walls and ceiling of the Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory)

Amber Fort 35

A seemingly floating garden in the middle of the Maota Lake

Nearby the Amber Fort lay two other hilltop forts, the Jaigarh and the Sanganer.  Although neither one is nearly as intricately decorated or innately beautiful as the Amber Fort, they both excel in that they are placed higher up on the hillside, giving visitors a great view back down over the Amber Fort and back towards the city of Jaipur itself (also see my opening photo):

The Amber Fort can be seen just to the right-hand side of the picture, with the fortress walls snaking along the ridgeline to the left

Looking out through the ramparts of the Jaigarh Fort

Looking out through the ramparts of the Jaigarh Fort

Jaigarh Fort (Tiger Fort) 10 - View

The interior of the Nahargarh Fort

The interior of the Nahargarh Fort

Nahargarh Fort (Monkey Fort) 9 - Light through Window

Jodhpur, India:

My next destination was that of the city of Jodhpur, but before diving into the heart of the city itself, I first had to get to the city.  When traveling in India, the preferred method is usually that of the train, given the country’s extensive rail network.  However, the crowds and commotion can make for a slightly unnerving experience, especially if you aren’t accustomed to going with the flow when things don’t go as planned.  And this train ride proved to be no exception, as I couldn’t have predicted the cultural experience I was about to have.

After arriving at the train station 30 minutes early, I spent most of my remaining time trying to figure out which track my train was due into (not the easiest task, considering that the entire place seemed to be one massive, teeming organism composed of thousands upon thousands of people in constant motion, with no train station personnel in sight).  After finally locating the track assignments on a small, unmarked sheet of paper posted on an unmarked wall, I made my way to the correct platform…only to get the message that my train was running a half hour late.  No worries, I guess trains are late all the time.

I began to pace up and down the platform with my bags in hand, at least until I was approached by a nice, middle-aged Indian man who began by exchanging small talk to pass the time.  After getting through the usual bits of information about our names and where we were from, he began asking about how old I was, how much money I made, whether or not I was married, etc.  While these questions may seem inappropriate and a shade too forward for most Westerners, throughout my travels, I’ve grown accustomed to these types of direct queries from others curious about the obvious foreigner in their midst, so I didn’t think too much of it and casually answered his questions.  Little did I know he had more of an ulterior motive than I had first anticipated.  After grilling me even more acutely on my marital status, he quickly ushered me over to his family seated nearby and spoke a few sentences in Hindi, which drew smiles from all within earshot.  He then introduced me to his daughter, taking special care to emphasize phrases such as, “it is very fortuitous that you two should meet, for she, too, is unmarried”, “she speaks very good English”, and “she has always dreamed of marrying and moving to the United States!”  After these obvious hints, I finally put the puzzle pieces together and tried to formulate an appropriate plan of escape.  I complimented both father on daughter on their English skills, agreed that the daughter was very pretty, and then quickly excused myself to the restroom before the train arrived (actually, there wasn’t a restroom at the station, as I had already checked beforehand, but I figured this was an easy way to defuse the situation without anyone losing face).

Luckily, only a few minutes later, and before the family could further rope me into an arranged marriage, the train finally pulled in.  Before it even came to a stop, I could already see that there were significantly more people on board than there were seats actually available.  Hmmmmm…so it is going to be that kind of a ride.  Around the entrance to each train car, a small crowd developed, awaiting the previous passengers to step off before they could finally step on. Apparently, however, given that the train was running well behind schedule, the conductor decided to go ahead and pull out after only a minute or so, well before those wishing to get off the train had finished doing so, meaning that NO ONE had had a chance to begin boarding the train.  As the loco,otive began to pick up speed, the panic began to set in and each little toiling pocket of crowd started moving down the platform in sync (for now) with the train’s movements.  Harking back to a scene from a movie, luggage and boxes were haphazardly handed in and out of the train windows, hands and fingers desperately grasped for any bars or protrusion upon which they could find a grip, and the general chaos and confusion grew almost to the breaking point.

I’m not particularly proud to say it, but given that I was facing the imminent threat of not being able to board this quickly departing train, I did something I hardly ever do, and that is to use my size and strength to my advantage.  I put my head down, hitched up my back-pack, and plowed head first into the melee.  After a minute or two of heavy exertion, I parted the seas of the angry crowd and managed to land myself — as well as a small Chinese girl (obviously another tourist, though we hadn’t met) that I drug in my wake — safely aboard the moving train.  Once I found my seat in a six-person berth — which already had at least 15 or so people, and all of their luggage, already jammed inside — I took up my perch squeezed against the ceiling on the top bunk, hugging my backpack, and thankful that I was both able to dodge a marriage proposal without an offense and make it aboard an entirely too crowded train in one piece.

The Interior of my sleeper compartment

The Interior of my sleeper compartment

Keeping inline with the theme of medieval, walled cities that have their own distinct color assigned to them, Jodhpur is affectionately known as the Blue City.  Originally, the color blue represented the Brahmin, or highest traditional class within the Hindu society, but the town of Jodhpur took the color to a whole new level, and, again, painted almost every building with the same swath from this soothing palette:

Jodhpur 6 - Composition

Hostel 4 - View from Rooftop

The blue paint of almost every building glowing in the light of the setting sun

Clocktower 3

The center of town is marked by the distinctive clock tower, with the surrounding courtyards filled to the brim with market stalls

Jodhpur 10 - Streets

Negotiating traffic in my Tuk-Tuk

Negotiating traffic in my Tuk-Tuk

Jodhpur 4 - Streets

The most striking landmark within Jodhpur, however, is easily that of the Mehrangarh Fort, a dominating structure that stands atop a 120-meter high cliff, the walls even being chiseled from the rocky cliff itself .  Built in 1459 with the profits gleaned from the city’s strategic location along a busy trade route, this imposing structure served as the seat of power for the Rathore Kingdom, which ruled over much of what became known as the Land of Death, due to the parched and inhospitable landscape of the surrounding area.

The Mehrangarh Fort perched atop the rocky cliff in the background

The Mehrangarh Fort perched atop the rocky cliff in the background

Mehrangarh 44 - Fort over FlowersMehrangarh 3 - WindowMehrangarh 7 - Cool LightMehrangarh 39 - Hands

The view back over the city of Jodhpur, however, was breath-taking:

Mehrangarh 37 - View over town

Mehrangarh 23 - View over town

Mehrangarh 27 - View over town

And finally, one last stop to make before continuing on with your Rajasthan adventure is to the Jaswant Thada, a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II that lies only 1 km away from the Mehrangarh Fort on the outskirts of Jodhpur.  Its many white marble domes and picturesque placement beside a scenic lake make for a few great photo opportunities:

Jaswant Thada 21 - View over Lake

Jaswant Thada 11

Jaswant Thada 10 - Weathered Door

Jaswant Thada 14

Jaswant Thada 12 - Design inlaid into floor

Jaswant Thada 15 - Cool Tree

The biew back towards the Mehrangarh Fort in the distance

The view back towards the Mehrangarh Fort in the distance

After touring through these two colorful cities, the next stop on my itinerary is the small desert town of Jaisalmer at the very Western edge of both Rajasthan and the country of India, itself.  After all, I’ve got a date with a camel once I arrive!  Until next time, cheers from Jaipur and Jodhpur!

About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

12 Responses to “Overlooking the Cities of Pink and Blue: Jaipur and Jodhpur”

  1. Nice marriage-escape technique 😀 I think I might’ve had trouble catching that train, though – “No, please, after you!” LOL.

    That’s a very pretty shade of blue. I wonder how it’s made.

  2. Such a beautiful place and so full of contrasts… fantastic photos…

  3. My heart was racing when reading your story about the supposedly marriage proposal. I’m glad you won’t be coming home a married man! Take care Rew!

  4. Loved this! Makes me miss India even more! Thanks 🙂

  5. Lo! Adventures indeed!!!! Makes for great stories!

  6. Love reading of your amazing adventures, Andrew. Always good to see that you’re enjoying yourself, and I selfishly love traveling the world vicariously through you! And to this last post, I’m glad you’re still single 😉


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