Capture the blues in Jodhpur

Jodhpur is second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan and has long been a popular destination among international tourists. However, surprisingly few visitors know the origins of its sobriquet, “the blue city”. The old town is a wonderful example of vivid colours providing a photogenic backdrop to everyday life.

Yet upon arrival in Jodhpur, it isn’t obvious why this bustling city is so closely associated with just one colour. After all, many other hues can also be seen on the busy streets and in the bazaars. The majority of Rajasthani women wear long, colourful skirts and you can see this while visiting the shops of the Nai Sadak and examining wares on the stalls of the Sardar Market.
Eye-catching, bright oranges and yellows are popular colours for their fabrics. And the Rajasthani tradition for women to cover their heads with scarves – in light materials of complementary hues – adds to the multi-coloured impressions of life here. That’s also exacerbated by local men wearing sizeable turbans. The yellows and reds of their traditional headgear is just as much a draw to the eye as women’s garments.

To understand why Jodhpur is known as “the blue city” you should wander away from the market places and new town, and head into the older quarters of Jodhpur. Here, under the centuries-old protection of Mehrangarh Fort, whose foundations were laid in 1459, on the orders of the city’s founder, Rao Jodha, many of the houses are painted blue.

That, obviously, explains why Jodhpur is known as “the blue city” but even experienced tour guides can’t agree on the underlying reason as to why blue was chosen. Some say the colour is associated closely with the Brahmins, India’s priestly caste, and the blue houses of the old city belong to families of that caste. Consequently, you might well hear the properties referred to as the ‘Brahmin Houses’.

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