India – Rajasthan – Jodhpur and JaipurBack to Story

Discovering Rajasthan: India's Northern Jewel

Deep in the heart of Rajasthan are the two cities known as the Blue City (Jodhpur) and the Pink City (Jaipur). Make sure you take the time to explore the old palaces and colourful streets.

Jodhpur

Our tour took our group deep into Rajasthan to Jodhpur. The highlight as a photographer was walking through the old streets. Many of the houses were painted blue as this was the traditional colour associated with the dominant caste of its inhabitants. Over the years Jodhpur has inherited the ‘Blue City’ as an appropriate nickname. These days the blue colour has been adopted less as a caste symbol and more as a city one. The rich blue provides an amazing backdrop to the colours of the women’s saris, children, cows and general mayhem of the streets. To me these streetscapes sum up the contradiction that is India – it is simultaneously ugly and beautiful all in one breath.

The air is significantly clearer out here after spending time in Agra, Varanasi and Delhi. The two nights we have in beautiful Jodhpur seem to go quickly leaving the feeling there is so much more left to explore.

The central attraction for this city is the Mehrangarth Fort that dominates the skyline.  You can choose to wind your way up the hill through the imposing seven gates or take the express lift to the top.  The fastest way is of course choosing to walk because the queue for the lift makes it the slowest and by far less spectacular option. The museum is well worth taking a look around but the most notable features are the amazing architecture and detailed carvings.  You will need several hours to really appreciate this labyrinth of rooms and buildings inside the walled city.

The most luxurious place to stay in town is the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, which I am told gives you access to some of the palace you cannot otherwise see.  India has many palaces or historical buildings that are converted into hotels.  Our group stayed at the more modest Ajit Bhawan a charming hotel with excellent facilities and even has a pool if you’re travelling in the summer.  Another intriguing option is the Raas Hotel that is ideally situated in the old city.

Jaipur

Jaipur is our next destination and a stark contrast to the rural environment we had just experienced.  Jaipur is Rajasthan’s largest city and not to be left out of the colour spectrum is known as The Pink City.  There is a lot to see and do in this busy city and many historical sites including the Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, The City Palace and Hawa Mahal amongst others.  Our group spent a morning at the Amber Fort that offers an interesting blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture.  The great fort is first seen as a visitor from across Maotha Lake and it’s looking up that you feel the sense of grandeur this amazing structure possesses.

Even from a distance you can see the elephants weaving their way up the path to the gates carrying excited tourists.  It is worth taking the stairs though and appreciating the giant wall on the opposite ridge and the formal gardens at the base of the fort.  Once inside it is like a childhood adventure exploring all the hidden rooms and corridors.  Each new corner offers amazing light and sometimes a new viewpoint over one of the many courtyards.

For those with a scientific mind or interested in matters of time and the universe the Jantar Mantar is a collection of astronomical instruments dating from 1727 to 1734. There are guides to show you around and fill you in on the history of this well-preserved collection.

One final note of Jaipur is where to stay. The group stayed at Narain Niwas Palace which is another character filled historical palace.  Each room has a distinct personality but it’s the surrounding gardens, which offer a pleasant haven for a quiet moment.  If you’re looking for something more luxurious the Oberoi have a hotel here but the pick seems to be the Taj Rambagh Palace if you want to splash out.

Our final night is spent in an amazing boutique hotel that also deserves mention. The Nemrana Fort-Palace is a quirky restoration of a sprawling fort.  Many of the rooms and terraces have views out over the village or surrounding countryside.  It is an easy drive from Delhi so makes an excellent stopover on your tour around Rajasthan. A perfect farewell for our group and fitting reminder of some of the unique architecture of this magnificent region.

Travel photographs from Rajasthan in India. Images include the cities of Jodhpur and Jaipur.

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