Jodhpur: The Blue City

November 24, 2015
Currently: Trying my darndest not to think about the fact that I only have a week left so I keep enjoying every moment!

It was blue! Recap: pink city (Jaipur), golden city (Jaisalmer), and now the blue city (Jodhpur). They really like their J-names here in Rajasthan don’t they? Jodhpur is another desert city along our path towards Mumbai. It’s been listed as one of Lonely Planet’s most extraordinary places to stay, so it was another worthy stop on the itinerary.

Rewind 110km. We took a little detour to the small desert village of Setrawa. This region is remote and home to a women’s empowerment center called the Sambhali Trust. Founded in 2007, this nonprofit operates sixteen projects around Rajasthan to disrupt the cycle of poverty so often seen in rural areas within India through education and skills trainings. They fight against inane belief systems, like ones that argue domestic violence against women is justified for things like “poor cooking” and “leaving the house without permission.” If you can believe it, 55% of Indian men and 50% of Indian women stand by that previous statement. From after school programs to sewing training to language courses to self defense classes, it combats discrimination of caste, gender, and economy. We arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon and were warmly welcomed by three teachers and a roomful of children aged 4-16.

A short introduction and tour later, we spent some time just hanging out and getting to know the vibrant personalities within this little haven. Under the shade of an old tree, we sat in a huge circle playing duck duck goose. Giggles and laughter replaced words and sentences. It’s wonderful how something as simple as a smile or music or games can be so universal! After a delicious homemade lunch, we had a little henna party. Henna is another skill taught here that girls can use to earn a little extra income, so we happily offered our hands as blank canvases!

While they were chattering in Hindi, we couldn’t understand much but still caught on to the authenticity of the relationships. Their friendship is one of family. You could see it in teasing comments and lighthearted laughter. It was a wonderful few hours and I’m so happy that this organization exists to provide the space and time to flourish children and women into their full potential.

After arriving in Jodphur, we were again amazed by our stunning accommodations complete with a rooftop view of a palace. We took a tuk tuk tour of the city, starting off with a visit to the Umaid Bhavan Palace before setting off to explore the ever impressive Mehrangarh Fort.
Umaid Bhavan Palace – built by a really cool king, Umaid Singh, who decided to build this palace to give thousands of people a job to survive a three-year famine in the 1930s
Mehrangarh Fort – built by the Rathores
This fort is invincible. It has never been taken in a siege even when that siege lasts over six months! Cannon holes puncture the walls and are now a symbol of pride for the city and a reminder of the might and spirit of the Rathores. Today, it houses an impressively well-stocked museum filled with galleries of priceless items from the olden days – from howdahs to palanquins to royal paintings.
blue indeed
We saw some other touristy things like the mausoleum, Jaswant Thada, and the clocktower, Ghanta Ghar. But the highlight of the day was definitely getting swept into the madness of the Sandar Market. Mike, Nicola, and I meandered through the narrow streets, half browsing for souvenirs and half aimless strolling. It was great to be back in the “heart” of an Indian city again.
We stumbled upon the Mohanlal Verhomal, a small spice business run by three sisters. After a great conversation about their business (they export to Homer, Alaska!) and the best way to make masala chai tea, Mike and I invested some money in masala chai tea spice mix. And, if you’re interested in buying some for yourself, you should check out their website! You can order online the same magic spice mix I bought. I cannot wait to go home and try my hand at recreating amazing Indian tea! I also happened upon the ‘local tea guy’ (seriously, five locals cut in front of me while I was attempting to buy some) and bought some Assam tea for the crazy low price of Rs 55 for 250 g. Awesome.
my tea guy!
my spice gal!
Another one to check off the list. Another city closer to my final destination. Jodhpur was good fun and a city I highly recommend putting on your to-see list.
Lots of love,
Lena

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