Jodpur is the City of Kings, with spectacular palaces, forts and rolling hills. It is known as the Blue City because many of its homes are painted this colour. Traditionally, houses that were lived in by the Brahman (the highest level in the cast system) were blue. Now, any house is allowed to be painted blue. It is thought to be an insect repelling colour.
We began our walking tour down the main avenue to the step well. This feature was very peaceful. Many steps led down to a pool of water at the bottom.
On the step well there was a temple where you had to take your shoes off. Boys were climbing the steps and diving into the pool below. They were climbing to quite some height. It made me nervous!
The clock tower was next on the agenda. To the left of the tower was a cafe where we enjoyed a lassi.
Surrounding the tower are markets where every spice imaginable was being sold.
Fresh fruit and vegetables were displayed in colour order.
I was invited into a spice and tea shop (M.G Spices) that had been visited by a couple of famous American actors and directors.
The owner of the shop explained that he had also been visited by the UK supermarket Sainsbury’s. I sampled a cardamom, cinnamon and saffron tea. It was very sweet. I smelt lichi tea, mint tea and guava tea. The smells were divine.
The reason for sweet tea in India stems from the simple fact that sugar used to be extremely expensive. And the more sugar you give your guest in their tea, the more you were seen to respect them.
We walked around the Blue City getting lost down the windy streets. Children sat on doorsteps playing games, cows roamed the streets and ladies hung their washing out to dry. We passed a school where children happily chatted.
Climbing up through the streets, we reached the famous fort. It cost 600 rupees (£6) to enter. You can easily spend a couple of hours there.
Inside many rooms were visible. We saw artwork, armour and spectacular decor. This was a carriage that royalty used for visiting other places. It was to ensure the ladies were not seen by the public.
We made it up a nearby hill in time for sunset. This was known as the Tikra Mata Mandir. Coming out of the fort, you need to keep left where you’ll find a series of steps you can climb to reach the peak. Getting to the summi is well worth the effort.
We chilled at the top as the sun descended in the sky.
That evening a group of us enjoyed a game of Jenga (no one knew the rules – using just one hand and only attempting the block you touch first). So I became known as the ‘English girl with all the rules and regulations.’
Top tips for visiting Jodpur:
Accommodation – I stayed in Locomo Hostel, which is just outside the old city. It was clean, very cheap (around 500 rupees £5 for two nights) and had a friendly atmosphere. The hostel has a common room and kitchen downstairs and a roof top hang-out area. Breakfast is included in the price. The staff are super friendly. The host named Bhom gave us a free walking tour and planned our journey to the next place for us. Here is a picture of what you can do in Jodpur (which was on the hostel wall).
Safety – It felt safe to walk around Jodpur during the day. People will stare at you and ask for selfies but nothing out of the ordinary. During the evening the same is the case. It is best to walk around with someone else at night to feel more comfortable.
Eating – There is a chain of restaurants called Janta Sweet which are dotted around. They serve all types of fast food cuisine. I enjoyed a cheap Thali and lassi there. You can opt for sandwiches or noodles too.
Visiting the fort – try to bring a student card to get discounted entry. Do not pay extra to take photographs. You can take pictures anyway.
Prepare yourself for lots of selfies – it gets annoying taking all these selfies after a while. When you say yes to one person, more come along. I want to give the UK a good name, so try to be friendly. After several selfies I tend to look away when people ask.
Tuck tucks – travelling by rickshaw is great. However, they do try to get as much money out of you as possible. Even if you pre-arrange the price (which you should always do, unless there is a meter) they will ask for more. Be firm and strict where possible. Remember that it is not always worth arguing.
Make sure to know the address of your hostel as drivers will not always know the hostel name. Asking them to take you to a landmark and then directing them to your accomodation is best.
And finally enjoy, relax and learn. I stayed two nights in Jodpur and had a full day to explore. I felt like this was enough time.