Jodhpur: A Brief History of India’s Enigmatic ‘Blue City’

jodhpur-india (Image: ImmortalSpartans, cc-sa-3.0)

Known as the ‘Blue City’, Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a chief of the Rathore clan, who moved a disgruntled hermit from a cave in order to begin construction of the Mehrangarh Fort, which rises approximately 400 feet above the landscape.

jodhpur-india-2 (Images: *christopher*, cc-3.0; Tom Maloney, cc-sa-3.0)

Many dwellings in Jodhpur are painted a vivid blue, making the city look like the sky or sea as the hot sun beams down on the area.  The rainy season lasts from June to September but droughts are not uncommon in Jodhpur – the ‘Sun City’ (as it is also known) sits next to the Thar Desert, in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

jodhpur-india-3 (Image: Tom Maloney, cc-sa-3.0)

The visual contrast between the Blue City and the ‘Great Indian Desert’ is truly striking.  Legend says that it was the hermit (who Jodha later rehoused) who cursed the land with this hot and thirsty fate.

jodhpur-india-4 (Image: Lokankara, cc-sa-3.0)

The people of Jodhpur may paint their homes blue to keep them cool but they’re more likely following tradition.  The practice is thought to have begun when Brahmins (a priestly group in the Indian caste system) began painting their homes to signify their own high status.  If this story is true then clearly the fashion spread to every home over time.  Jodha allegedly had a man buried alive in the foundations of his fort, although thankfully this didn’t also become a trend.


jodhpur-india-5 (Images: cheekay (website: brain dregs); Johannes Enevoldsencc-nc-sa-3.0)

Nowadays Jodhpur is popular with tourists and the handicrafts industry is the city’s main source of income.  Along with several growing higher education institutions, Jodhpur also boasts training centres for the Indian Air Force, Army and Border Police.  There are several spectacular palaces in the city; including Moti Mahal (The Pearl Palace) and Sheesha Mahal also known as The Hall of Mirrors. Explore more colourful cities of the world.

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About the author: Alexandra Smith




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