The Grand Tour III:14 – Jodhpur… Blue City

1 - Blue City Jodhpur

View of the Blue City (otherwise known as the Old City of Jodhpur), from Mehrangarh Fort.

Jodhpur is the penultimate city on my Grand Tour of the Port and Princely Cities of the Subcontinent. It is the capital of the Kingdom of Marwar, an ancient territory ruled by Maharajas with an ancient lineage dating back at least till the 13th century, if not further.

Jodhpur itself was founded in the mid 1400s by Rajput chief, Rao Jodha (hence the name Jodh-pur) of the Rathore Clan. The old city of Jodhpur is known as the blue city, on account of many of the city’s facades being painted blue.  It is probably the best known fact of the city, and certainly one of its oft-photographed views.

One has a magnificent view of the blue city from the stupendous Mehrangarh Fort, built in 1459 by Rao Jodha. The fortified palace perches impossibly and imposingly at the top of a hill, and is visible from everywhere in Jodhpur. It is the archetypical Indian Fort Palace, and is the most iconic landmark of the city.

2 - MEhrangarh Main

Mehrangarh Fort (right), Jaswant Thada grounds (left), and the Old City of Jodhpur (Centre).

It was once the residence of the Kings of Jodhpur, though today the royal family resides in yet another monumental, fairytale-like palace – the Umaid Bhawan Palace, built between 1928 and 1943 in a style that combined ancient Hindu principles with Art Deco.

Some say it resembles the Taj Mahal in form and scale. Though with its emphasis on Hindu cosmology in its design, it probably best takes after the ancient Temple of Angkor (Angkor Wat). Certainly, upon approaching it from a distance, that is the impression it gives the visitor.

Though still a private royal residence, part of the Palace is today opened up as a heritage hotel, and a stay in this hotel is perhaps one of the most magical experiences a Grand Tourist could have.  I would have to say that in my entire Grand Tour of the East (all 40-odd cities I’ve been to and hotels I’ve stayed at), the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace was hands-down, the Grandest of all the Grand Hotels I had the chance to stay at.

And then there is the Jaswant Thada, the royal cenotaph and crematorium built in 1899 by the Maharaja Sardar Singh in memory of his father Jaswant Singh II. Built entirely out of white marble, it gleams atop its hilltop location and can be taken in en route to the Mehrangarh Fort.

The architecture is purely Indian-Rajput, with the main memorial built in the shape of a Hindu Temple, and the grounds surrounded by exquisitely carved marble pavilions with peacock arches.  These grounds provide yet another epic vantage point from which to admire the Mehrangarh Fort and the Old City.

3 - Mehrangarh Fort

Close-up of Mehrangarh Fort.

4 - Jain TEmple

The Main Memorial of the Jaswant Thada.

5 - Close-up Temple

Approaching the Main Memorial, designed in exquisite Rajput style.

6 - Interior Temple

Interior of the Main Memorial.

7 - Mehrangarh Fort from the Temple

View of Mehrangarh Fort from Jaswant Thada.

8 - Fort Itself

At the Mehrangarh Fort itself…

9 - Close-up

Marble and sandstone.

10 - Kings

The Kings of Jodhpur/Marwar.

11 - Palanquin

Royal Palanquin in the excellent Mehrangarh Fort Museum.

12 - Blue City

View of the Blue City from the Mehrangarh Fort.

13 - Blue City Textures

Impressions of the Old City…the Blue City…

14 - Blue City Textures

15 - Blue City Textures

Impressions of the Blue City…

16 - Umaid Bhawan Palace

Umaid Bhawan Palace.

17 - Interior Umaid Bhawan

Under the dome of the Umaid Bhawan Palace.

18 - Dining

The patio, Umaid Bhawan Palace.

19 - Bapji

Portrait of Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, who is the present head of the Jodhpur royal family.

20 - Blue City Final

…and once again, a view of the Blue City.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Heritage, India, Landmarks & History, Museums, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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