Thursday, 7 March 2013

Jodhpur.....the blue city

So today we arrived in Jodhpur after setting off from Jaipur early this morning. It was a six hour drive across the desert to get here and there wasn't a huge amount to see except miles and miles of arid terrain and the usual array of animals. Cows and ox are still a common theme but there are now also many camels due to the area which we are in. We passed through many villages and again got to witness daily people going about their daily rituals. The poverty is still incredibly apparent to both of the smaller towns in Rajasthan, due to the climate local people can only access clean water 1 hour in every 48!! Whenever the car stopped we were immediately swarmed by numerous beggars- most of them children- and both of us sit there feeling incredibly guilty although we have been told by our guides not to give money. This is largely because, the government of India are running a campaign to stop tourists giving money to beggars. By handing money to the children, there is the belief that this is encouraging families to keep them begging rather than allowing them to attend the free schools which have now been set up as it is more profitable for the family. While this makes sense, we both still feel incredibly uncomfortable. However, the vast amount of souvenirs which we have purchased over the last few days have certainly contributed somewhat to the local economy and to the pockets of numerous families we are sure!!

Arriving in Jodhpur, we made our way out into the city. The temperature continues to climb and the dry heat is stifling! The locals wear long sleeved shirts and trousers and the women wear saris which are made of vast expanses of material yet barely seem to break a sweat! Obviously coming from the Uk we aren't used to such extremes of weather! There is a massive military presence in Jodhpur. The city is only 240kms from the border of Pakistan and our guide informed us that the city was nearly destroyed several years ago in a bomb attack, only spared as most of the bombs failed to detonate.

We headed first to a beautiful fort overlooking the whole city. From here you can see why it is called the blue city as 75% of the buildings are painted blue. Each city in Rajasthan is a different colour. The fort is definitely the most well-preserved monument which we have visited so far, with barriers dictating the route which you go around in and (shock horror) queues rather than the usual skirmish to reach the attraction. Inside, are multiple exhibits displaying the textiles, weaponry and furniture of the Maharajas who have lived there in the past. One of the most interesting features was the wall which had the handprints of the women of the Sati. These women were married to warriors and when their husbands died in battle they were burned alive!!

Our next stop is the Jodhpur bazaar which is a huge open air market where the locals do their shopping. It's ultra-colourful and everywhere you look there is something to see!! From the roadside barbers to the food stalls to the sugar cane juicers (can't even imagine what sugar juice tastes like!!) to the brightly coloured textiles and souvenirs, it's a real experience. However, again the filth is somewhat overwhelming. You literally seem to inhale flies as you walk as there are so many of them feeding on the fruit, vegetables and meat which will later be purchased by the locals and on the piles of animal dung littering the street (which will later be converted into fuel to cook with).

A few more stops for photo opportunities and the day is done. Unfortunately we didn't really get to spend as much time here as we would have liked!! Tomorrow onto Udaipur (the Venice of the East and the place where Octopussy was filmed) with a quick stop at Ranakpur on the way.......

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