Jodhpur is known as the Blue City, as many homes in the old city are washed with indigo. Originally, this treatment signified that the home belonged to a Brahmin, the highest Hindu caste responsible for priestly duties and teaching, but the custom soon spread to others as the blue tinge supposedly helps keep the home cool and repel mosquitoes.
If you haven't figured it out by now, the main themes in Rajasthan are forts and palaces, and Jodhpur is no different. But, the Mehrangarh Fort here is unique in that it is exceptionally well restored and the admission price includes a fascinating audio tour that really brings the place alive.
After climbing the hill on which the fort stands, you enter through a series of gates surfaced with spikes to thwart attacking elephants. Near the last gates you find the hand prints of the thirty-some wives who ceremoniously committed sati, a act of ritual mass suicide, following the death of their maharajah husband. That's some kind of love!
The exterior of the palace is decorated with ornate carvings, while the inner rooms are filled with intricate paintings and mirror work. On display are fantastic collections of weapons, palanquins and elephant howdahs (forms of royal transport), miniature paintings and even opium pipes. The ramparts house many of the original canons used to defend the fort, a task they apparently performed well, as the Mehrangarh was never taken by force.
Jodhpur is also home to some lovely temples and lively market, and we regretted that we had to spend so many hours trying to sort out train tickets for the latter part of our journey rather than simply wandering around to take it all in. Just when you think you have the system all figured out, another obstacle rears its ugly head...