"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Our trip to Rajasthan. First stop : Jodhpur

After three and half years in India, we have finally been where everyone rushes first : Rajasthan. It was well worth the wait. Unfortunately, we had to cancel Jaisalmer because our little one became quite ill on Christmas Eve and ended up spending two days in hospital to fight dehydration. I still hope we can see Jaisalmer, the desert city, before we leave India. But for now, and considering how we had to reschedule several flights, hotels and everything at the last minute, I feel lucky that we managed to get to Jodhpur, Deogahr, Kumbalgarh Fort, and finally, truly magical Udaipur. I'll share a few of the 800 + pictures my husband and I took.

Above is the mighty - but cursed, more about that below - Mehrangarh Fort, perched on its rocky cliff, 400 feet above the plain. It seems to grow out of the rock itself, and in some parts, the rock face was hewn to create its ramparts. It's quite a walk, all the way up, and there is an elevator for those who don't want to make the effort. We didn't mind, but it's a good thing that it was cool outside. I can't imagine the climb in the blistering heat of summer.

This young boy who couldn't be more than 4 years old was inside the Mehrangarh Fort, between the first and the second gate, with his father who played the ravanhatta. He welcomed us in about half a dozen languages - Hello, Bonjour, Hola, Ciao, Gutten Tag, etc - before he proceeded to ask - repeatedly, this young chap was on a mission - for a "baksheesh" and apparently, that word needed no translation. He sang, he danced, he charmed everyone who came near him, and seemed to take a liking to our smallest daughter, who was her height, and when his father got up a few minutes, he promptly replaced him with the instrument. He didn't really play, but he was just as good at pretending.

Below are the roofs of Jodhpur, aptly-named "the blue city." The blue houses were originally for Jodhpuri Brahmins, as they'd discovered that the light indigo color deflects the heat and wards off mosquitoes. Soon, non-Brahmins joined in. All these blue roofs and walls are quite a sight, from the fort.

This is one facade of the palace apartments inside the fort, with its delicately latticed balconies. We took the audio tour, and really enjoyed it, in spite - or because - of some of the gruesome stories connected to the fort. For instance, a hermit meditated on this plot of land and had to move out so the foundation could be laid. Not too happy to be forced out of his chosen spot and deprived of such a lovely view, no doubt, said hermit cursed the land. To date, Jodhpur suffers from shortage of water - due to this curse, says the legend. In order to keep the fort safe, a human sacrifice was required, and a man called Raja Ram Medhwal volunteered to be buried alive in the foundation. A tiny plaque mentions the valour of Raja Ram. Makes you shudder.

This camel was patiently waiting outside the first entrance to the fort, all decorated, with his lunch laid out in front of him.


Annette Gulati said...

Your pictures remind me of my own trip to Rajashthan in 2003. My husband's family lives in New Delhi, but we spent several days in Jaipur, "the pink city." Now, I need to go back to see the blue city too. Lovely!

Katia said...

Hello Annette, we were in Jaipur in October. The palace of the Wings was beeing renovated, unfortunately, so the whole facade was covered with scaffolding. Jodhpur feels smaller, somehow. But I found the Jodhpur fort much more spectacular than Amber fort. Hope you're well.