October 4, 2023

A trip to Jodhpur

I have been at home, down and out with a wound in the foot that has got infected. Have been running – limping actually – between doctors who stare at the foot perplexed, and plot (!) the next move in their heads. I have been putting off this small operation but will have to go for it immediately now since all the antibiotics that have been pumped into the system have not worked so far.

So here is some armchair travel to cheer me up as I sit and twiddle my thumbs at home. This one on the Marwari bastion of Jodhpur. My Jodhpur visit last October was not particularly pleasant; tourism there is totally geared towards the Western visitor. Domestic racism? But there is something magical about the Mehrangarh fort and the life it holds within its walls that somehow makes up for everything else.

Mehrangarh - fort rising up

Inside the huge rooms, you find yourself staring at the colorful jaali work on the windows. And you catch reflections of this colour between the huge pillars that hold up the room. And you catch yourself wondering about how the place must have been in the older times, all its original colour and pomp intact. What was the reason for the houses, and the town itself, to be painted a bright shade of purple-blue?

Reflection between pillars

As you step out and walk through the corridors, you watch others like you, people from other states, from other countries fascinated. Just as you are. Fascinated by the human and not human elements that make the fort.

Peeping from the balcony

Painting the artist Musician in crayons

Capturing images through their senses, through their hands to carry back with them. Far away where they come from.

Elephant in regalia

Decorated camel

Can kitsch ever be charming? Or even captivating? The Marwar festival at Jodhpur was. Oh, all the right symbols screaming out “tradition” and “heritage”, but something innocent all the same. The brightly decorated camels and elephants. The best way to catch the spirit of the Jodhpur Marwar festival is to roam the streets of the city during the day.

Here you see the pied piper of Jodhpur, there the dancers on wooden horses.

The pied piper of Jodhpur?

Horse dance

And at evenfall, head to Mandore gardens, just outside the town. As you wait for the performances to begin, watch the hundreds of monkeys eyeing your camera and greedily reaching out for the peanuts you throw their way. As the first singer raises her voice to the tune of Rajasthan’s anthem, padaro mharo desh, a hush descends on the restless crowds. And the next three hours fly past.

If local “sightseeing” is not enough to keep you happy and occupied, head out to Osian, barely 65 km from Jodhpur. Visit the Jain temples there, take a camel ride on the desert, take in more “culture” with these brilliant local performers.

Alternatively, you could just watch silent and spellbound, the sunset on the desert.

And wonder about nature’s fashion sense – just what is she thinking of – wearing all those bright yellows and oranges and purples and pinks and reds all at the same time?

Dancer at Osian

Or you could just do what I like doing best in new places. Amble round the streets aimlessly. Looking at shops selling mojris and mirror work bags. Stopping only for piping hot and sinful jaliebis and samosas. Or for a hard bargain at one of the road side shops. And coming away pleased. As much with your purchases as with your bargaining skills. And not looking back to see the smirk on the face of the seller.

Taking in such busy morning scenes. And wondering yet again about the point of one’s hurried no-time-to-stand-and-stare existence back home.

Ghantaghar - the clock tower

My earlier piece on Bundi Rajasthan is here. And if the foot remains the same way in a few days’ time, expect more.

One thought on “A trip to Jodhpur

  1. Hello

    I am writing from the National Library of Scotland. We are staging an exhibition on Scots Music Abroad and would really like to use your lovely image of the ‘pied piper of Johdpur’ in it. Would this be okay and would you be able to provide me with a higher res version of the image?

    Look forward to hearing from you

    Best wishes

    Jackie Cromarty

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