The Mysterious Blue City of Jodhpur, India
Jodhpur, one of the largest cities in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is also known as the Blue City. Although nowadays the buildings have different colors and as a visitor you are most likely to walk around the markets and new town, the old quarters outside the city center still carry the traditional wall colors.
Urban myths have different explanations for the reason these houses are blue. Some say it has to do with termites and that the color blue mixed with chemical components keep the houses bug-free. Others say the color 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’.
Ultimately there may be no way of establishing the true reason as to why the houses are blue. Strolling through the streets of the old town does, however, give you opportunities to peek into the homes. Many of the doorways remain open, allowing an insight into moments of everyday Rajasthani family life.
For an overview of Jodhpur and the blue houses of the old town, nothing beats heading up to Mehrangarh Fort. A winding lane leads up the 125-metre high hill, on which the ancient fortress is built. The walls are 36-metre-high in places, providing additional elevation. From there you can look out and appreciate just how many of the houses in Jodhpur are blue. Not all cities deserve their sobriquets, but anyone looking out over the flat roofs of Jodhpur, from the perspective of the Meherangarh will realise that the term “the blue city” is indeed apt, whatever the true reason behind the prevalence of that colour.
Cover photo: Michel Meynsbrughen.