While a myriad of colours are omnipresent in the culture and traditions of Rajasthan, the shades of blue, pink and gold have come to define some of its cities, distinguishing them from the rest of the state.
A land of massive forts, grand palaces, rich cultures, colourful clothes, scrumptious cuisines and warm people, the north Indian state of Rajasthan is a rather vibrant destination set in the dulls and dries of deserts and sand dunes.
The largest of Indian states, it has always been an affluent territory with many a king at the helm of its affairs during the royal eras, and hence the name ‘Rajasthan’, literally ‘land of kings’.
A regal Indian state that continues to preserve its heritage, besides its royal grandeur, is known for its pink, blue and golden cities; the colourful cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer defy the brown and the brunt of the sand and the sun.
The capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a confluence of modern influences sprinkled over ancient cultures and royal legacies. It dates back to 1727 when it was established by King Jai Singh II, is called the Pink City, and is alive with tradition, history and some tales that explain why…
It is said that when the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink, the colour being symbolic of hospitality. And the city continues to host travellers who explore the city’s palette of peaches, plums and pinks.
In the old quarter of the city, where the famous Hava Mahal or the palace of winds is located, the colour is more dominant, especially in the palace that is made of pink sandstones. A five storey structure with 356 intricately carved jharokhas or windows, it was designed for the women of the royal family to sit in privacy while observing life on the street.
The streets, as they have it, are again a play of pinks particularly those of the Bapu Bazzar, one of the most popular local markets in Jaipur. This is the place where both locals and tourists head for shopping traditional textiles, bed linen and quilts.
The city palace, a marvel of Mughal and Rajput architecture is another pink attraction that is a slightly darker shade. Home to the last ruling royal family that lives in a private section of the palace, part of it is a museum and is open to tourists.
The Jal Mahal or lake palace in the middle of Man Sagar Lake is another structure of sand coloured stone. The Albert Hall Museum, the Jaigarh Fort, the Digambar Jain temple, are other ancient structures that add to the pink palette of the city.
Like other cities of Rajasthan, Jodhpur too has grand forts bordering the city and dominating the cityscape with their sheer grandeur. One can experience the glory of the bygone era packed in the old yet beautifully painted and coloured walls of its forts. At each step is a story, of both, a regal and a tarnished past. The walls in the Mehrangarh Fort, for instance, boast of colours and art in its Moti Mahal or the pearl hall and the Phool Mahal or the flower hall, but also have imprints of cannonball attacks from Jodhpur’s war with Jaipur. So when in the vivid interiors of this fort that is 125 metres above Jodhpur’s skyline, gasp at the sheer magnificence of it and behold what you see below. From any of the windows in the fort, peep out to a view of this city drenched in hues of blue.
The Blue City, as Jodhpur is called, is like a reflection of the sky. The reason why this city dating back to the year of 1459 AD is blooming in blue is not known for sure; but some say it is to keep away mosquitoes and termites while others claim it is because the colour has a cooling effect on the senses in summers; some associate it with a community of Brahmins (Hindu priests), while others say that it was simply a breeze of fashion that blew over the town. Whatever the reason might be though, Jodhpur’s view, from atop a hill or a fort, is a sight to behold.
When not exploring the about 500 of Jodhpur’s temples of the blue tint, visit the Umaid Bhavan Palace, the Ranisar Padamsar lakes, Jodhpur Government Museum, Ghanta Ghar (clock tower), Sardar Samand lake and palace, Masuria Hill’s gardens, Kailana lake, Mandore or the Machiya Safari park among some other spots. Take a village tour to Bishnoi to get a glimpse into the rich cultural life of the locals or have an adventure on a zip line tour to enjoy the best view of Mehrangarh and the Blue City of Jodhpur from above.
The western-most city of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is in close proximity to the great Indian desert or the Thar desert; thus at the time of sunsets and sunrises, when sunrays bounce off the golden sands or seep through them, an unfathomably bright spectacle daubs the skies. The amber-yellow hues that then spread in a space of changing lights, radiate over the city of Jaisalmer also called the Golden City. But it is not just because of this play of the sand, sun and the sky that the city is called so. The Jaisalmer Fort, also called Sonar Qila or Golden Fort lends the city the adjective. One of the most prominent landmarks, it is bustling with tourists who visit its shops, hotels and stop by at the ancient havelis where generations continue to live. A mega structure that appears to be rising from the desert itself, the Golden Fort is a world heritage site and so well documented that it is synonymous to the city. Once an emperor’s abode, the view of the city from the fort boasts of many a shade of yellow and gold, which are prominent in its houses and other famous spots like the Jaisalmer Governmnet Museum, Nathmal Ki Haveli, Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Patwon Ki Haveli, Mandir Palace and Bada Bagh.