Flying from Maharastra to another state: Rajasthan. Literally, “the Land of the Kings” in Hindi. I haved received a very warm welcome, with a huge signboard “Welcome to Rajasthan” with flowers, and my name on it (and no spelling mistake). So sweet!
Dropping my bags at the small heritage hotel and then meeting my guide after a bit of Rajasthani Daal (mashed lentils) to go to the bazaar (Hindi word for “market”) near the Clock Tower area, the Sardar Market, where the tourists don’t usually go to really, but he wanted to show me local products: sweets, lentils for daal, cane/mango juices, camel leather products, textiles (we went to a shop where the owner presented his own work, proud to be getting orders from international designers like Kenzo, Hermes, Armani etc….- he showed me a picture of Richard Gere in the shop with him and a magazine article where one of the designers mentioned his name).
Raghu, my nice guide, was born here, did all his scholarship in this city, counting 1.2 millions inhabitants (biggest in Rajasthan after Jaipur, and Udaipur, being the third one in size) and still lives here. A real local and I hope to hear local stories!
“Pur” in Jodhpur comes from Sancrit and means “city”. Muslim cities end by “bad” for example Ahmedabad. The people here are Marwari people (from the Marwar area: Jodhpur, Bamer, Jalor, Pali, et Nagaur).
The Fort here was built by Rao Jodha, in 1459, Maharaja who gave his name to the city.
The owner of the place where I am staying (Ratan Vilas) is the cousin of the Maharaja living currently in the fort.
Why is the city called “Blue City”? Well it comes from the Indigo blue used to paint the houses. Why paint them in Blue? Because it keeps the houses fresher and keeps the insects at a distance as they think the blue is water and do not want to drown in it. Locals here say “ Blue is good for the eyes, not for the flies”.
We passed by the Taj Hari Mahal Palace, where Elizabeth Hurley, apparently she is an English model and actress, got married with an Indian guy…but has already divorced him.
During the visit of the Fort, some of the others visitors were pilgrims who walked from the nearby villages going to a temple near Jaisalmer (about 80 km away from the Golden City). The entrance fee for them is half price because the reason why they are here is religious. Those people are not educated and speak their own dialect, not even Hindi (the national official language). The staff of the Fort were giving them the instructions with a microphone as reading the signs was impossible for them. They never see tourists in their far away villages, and were staring at me with interest and I had about fifty pairs of eyes on me…
After taking a lift (not built with the Fort, thanks God! haha) we reached a terrace, with a view on the whole city and the 10 km wall surrounding it, and some artificial lakes. Then in the fort, all the rooms made you feel back in the times of the Maharajas with many glittering decorations and colors!
Raghu then took me to Thada Jaswant, the Royal Crematorium. What a surprise, but if the locals are proud of something in their city, then it worth seeing it, as that is part of their identity! And it was indeed a wonderful place with green gardens and flowers. Without speaking of the amazing view on the fort on its mountain. I could have stayed hours, and have a nap under a tree! Raghu confessed that many Indian tourists do not want to see this building as the word “crematorium” does not inspire them. Well, they definitely missed something! And apparently nobody is cremated here, it is done somewhere else, and then the ashes are brought together with a picture of the person for remembrance.
As I was taking a picture of Raghu, he thanked me and I replied “Aapka swagat hai” (“you’re welcome”) and one of the gardeners passing by at that moment, asked if I really spoke Hindi, all surprised, and we told him “thora Hindi” (“some Hindi”).
In the memorial, photos everywhere of the Maharaja’s family, and even though it was dark, the light was coming in through the translucid stone, giving the impression the walls were orange.
After the ceremony, at the time, all the guests used to bath in the artificial lake next to that very place, to clean their body and soul.
My visit in the city was over and it was time to say “alvida” (goodbye) to Raghu, who had so generously shared with me his home town where he was born and grown up….and I HATE goodbyes….!!! But as a Hindi film says “Kabhi alvida naa kehna” which means, “never say goodbye, it prevents us from meeting again”.
So I’d rather say “Phir milenge” (“see you again”).