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Jodhpur – The Blue City

March 31, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Jodhpur, often called Sun City for its everyday sunshine and Blue City with the hundreds of blue buildings, is one of the largest cities in Rajasthan. This non tourist local town and gateway to the Thar Desert gave us an unforgettable glimpse into the true culture of Indian. Well known for incredible textiles, unique food, and local lifestyle this place took us for a whirl wind of exciting adventures and fun surprises.

Our trip to Jodhpur began with a long and absolutely insane driving experience from Udaipur. First I must mention we hired a driver, as it is not possible to drive in India on your own. They say to drive in India you need three things: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck. Personally I think you just need a plane or lots of medication. I haven’t quite told my parents about this experience but since I made it out alive I might as well share it now, right? Well we start down the two lane highway and the driver quickly begins to pass the slower cars, trucks, and motorcycles in front of him. This is something that makes me nervous even under normal driving circumstances, so I quickly realized this was going to be a long eight hour trip. Tyler just laughed and said quit looking and try to read… Not an easy thing to do considering I get car sick and were swerving around everything in sight. After a couple close call passes with oncoming busses, trucks, and cars Tyler’s laughs turned into a wide eyed silence. Neither one of us could say a word, we had never experienced or even seen on television anything like this before in our lives. I immediately grabbed my phone to email a friend, who had previously spent a couple of months in India teaching English, to ask her how she traveled around because I was sure we had made a huge mistake. Mind she is a wonderful and extremely religious young lady… Her response was to find some valum and/or tylonyal pm …. I just laid down and starting praying.

Halfway through the drive we stopped in Rankakpur, thank goodness, to visit the famous Jain Temple. The architectural detail found in this temple made this place one we won’t ever forget. Jain Temple, a late 14th century temple, was constructed from a lightly colored marble, and designed as a chaumukha and quadrupled in size representing the four cardinal directions. There are over 1,444 detailed columns with no two alike. It’s actually said that it isn’t possible to count all of the columns within the temple, hence the approximate number of columns. One of the fascinating pieces of the temple is a carving made from a single slap of marble with 108 snake heads and an impressive intertwining tail with only one end to have ever been found. The abundance of unique detail in this temple left us in complete amazement, is was without a doubt one of our favorite historical structures of India.

A few hours later we finally arrived to the city of Jodhpur and were shocked beyond belief by what we saw. The streets were the usual packed with people and random cows, but the pollution was something we hadn’t seen to this extent. India is a dirty place and we had taken notice of that upon arrival but the city of Jodhpur was on a whole different level. As we walked around the entire city Tyler kept asking what was wrong with me and I didn’t know how to explain that every step I took and the more I saw I was becoming sick to my stomach and depressed. To see the children walk-in around barefoot in these streets, and to watch the women prepare food on the streets in the filthy environment was absolutely horrible. It was all I could do not to just start picking up the trash and taking the kids back to my room and give them all baths, but with the hundreds of them staring you straight in the face where do you begin? But even under the circumstances all these children want from you is acknowledgement. Considering Jodhpur isn’t a popular tourist area most of these children have never seen a westerner before so a smile is worth a million words in their little eyes, and something as little as a wave or “hello” could make their week or even year. To experience this heartbreak experience truly puts your life in perspective. We have no idea how blessed we truly are living in a country with such a great environmentally conscious standard.

Now for the upbeat fun stuff Jodhpur had to offer! In our full day of exploring through Jodhpur we began at the well known Mehrangarh Fort, where we got to see why Jodhpur is called as the blue city. Then we decided to dive into the cultural and try some unique Jodhpur dishes and visit their textile warehouses for a little shopping. Before making our way through the fascinating food market, we made a stop for a famous Jodhpur lassi. A lassi is an Indian yogurt drink that can be sweetened, unsweetened, or even flavored with banana or mango if you’d like. It’s a delicious snack that can be found throughout India, but the Makhaniya Lassi is unique to Jodhpur. This heavenly tasting rich drink is uniquely spiced up with cardamom and butter. So we we went into a well-known hole in the wall to enjoy the best Makhaniya Lassi drink in all of Jodhpur. This delicious is one recipe we won’t be forgetting to bring home! After our little indulgence we made our way through the local market where we saw everything you could think of being made and sold… Shoes, purses, jewelry, and beau coups of food. We had to stay away from most of the food for obvious sanitary reasons, but we did try the famous Indian chi tea. The market was a maze of streets with each of the different streets selling in the same product category, we were quickly lost in the chaos for at least a few hours.

After finding our way out of the local market we made our way to visit some of the textile warehouses. After reading a few articles in The Little Black Book and Harpers Bazzar on one warehouse in particular I had my mind set on where I wanted to go. When we finally found the place I was a little concerned the articles of Hermes scarfs and silk bedspreads weren’t true, but boy was I wrong! After browsing for a couple of minutes at all the folded up cloth around us we were asked if we would like to sit down and be shown some of their work. We sat down to let the fun begin and he explained to us that he had two different categories; local Indian products and international products and he would show us some samples of both. While we were waiting I just so happened to glance over and see a picture of the guy we were working with and Richard Greer. By that time I’m thinking this has to be the place! After showing samples of the local products he started to pull out the international stuff saying he thinks we will probably find more interest in this section. His first piece was a bed spread for the House of Paris in France, then came a cashmere throw designed for Neiman Marcus, a gorgeous silk bedspread for Armani Lavender label, a few pieces for a Japanese designer, another bed speed for a palace in Italy, and lastly a Hermes throw! I was in heaven. He went on to explain that he only had a few of each piece if even that, and that we could not place an order or have anything that we saw duplicated due to his exclusivity with the designers, but he could sell what he had left over. He continued to pull out more of the things we liked the most, and we spent hours looking at all these amazing pieces that he is selling for a fraction of the price you could get them back home. He had 2012 style Louis Vuitton Loro Piani scarfs not even in stores yet! Some of these things weren’t for sale… Not that we could buy it all anyway, but it was amazing to see a warehouse all the way over in India that produces for top labels around the world. After we made friends with the guy by asking a million questions he started to tell us about himself. He was the owner of the company which was passed down as a fifth generation family business. One of his good friends is Bill Murray and actually introduced him to a lot of the people he designs for today. It was amazing the many things he had to tell us, and how many celebrities visit his warehouse when traveling to India. The whole experience was just such treat I never wanted it to end!


After that long day of site seeing, shopping, and exploring the city with only a lassi for lunch we were ready for dinner. Our new friend from the warehouse suggested a place for us to try different authentic local dishes. He suggested we order a thali, which is a tray filled with little dishes of different food. We had ordered this type of dish before, but it wasn’t anything like this one. With not one foreigner in the place, we knew it was the real deal. Along with the many different dishes on the tray came different types of bread and spices to accompany each dish. We may not have known what everything was, but regardless it was the best meal we had in India thus far!

With Jodhpur being a gateway to the Thar desert we decided we would be crazy not to spend a night at the camp only an hour or so away. So we headed out of Jodhpur to a little desert town by the name of Manvar where we were able to participate in jeep safari through the desert to see local wildlife, spend the night in a tent in the middle of the desert, and ride a camel to watch a sunrise in the morning. We had the time of our lives! We were also able to meet a local family and visit their desert home, and attend a traditional performance of local music and dancing for the people living in the area. It was nice to see India in a different way, a peaceful way, without the thousands of people and car horns in city.

Well I would say that wraps up our trip to Jodhpur, now were off to celebrate the Holi Color Festival in Jaipur. See you soon!

Alvida,

T+C

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