Soak in the blues of Jodhpur as you walk through the old Blue City of Rajasthan

This story was originally published in TravelDine India by Vernika Awal.

Sometimes, a city walk leaves you to fathom a vibe by leaving you on your own with a view. In Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Bluecity Walks achieves exactly this.

They say that one of the best ways to explore a city is by walking through the alleys and bridges that the natives frequent, and not just the tourist destinations. Of course, if you’ve travelled far enough to a place, there are a few ticks that you must get in those typical checkboxes. But, if you want to soak in the soul of a place, ask a local to take you and show the city the way they live in it.

Often, what you end up seeing are sights seldom written about, and sounds that you’d likely never forget. The iconic, history-steeped ‘Blue City’ — the old streets of Jodhpur — is one such sensory overload. Yet, there’s really no better way to see it, than by walking through the bylanes of the old city that have been around for centuries.

The Jodhpur blues

Jodhpur, at the edge of the mighty Thar Desert in Western Rajasthan, was once the capital city of the Rajputana kingdom. The old part of the city, famously known as ‘Blue City’ or ‘Sun City’, is still often called ‘Jodhana’ by the locals. With history and heritage that beckons you in every turn, every step and every brick, you cannot help but crave to find the tiny, tucked-away secrets that this unique place holds on to, even today.

Enter, Laxmi Bhati of ‘Bluecity Walks’.

Bluecity Walks is an organisation founded by Govind Singh Bhati and Sharon Genevive that aims to preserve and present the culture and heritage of Jodhpur, to its eternal stream of visitors from around the world. Alongside organising musical concerts that give a platform to folk music artists from Rajasthan, they also organise heritage walks inside the walled old city of Jodhpur, aka the Blue City.

Bhati’s walks are customised around the 15th century town through ornate temples, busy alleys, mithai shops and beautiful blue havelis. Every now and then, you meet a local resident who welcomes you to their place – as if they’ve known you for years. In a heartbeat, you start relating to the old town – as if you, too, have belonged here before.

Enter Bluecity Walks

Our story of familiarity here began at Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, located at the periphery of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort. The walk began on rocky terrain from where Bhati, who’s also an award-winning textile artist with expertise in Ajrakh, talked us through the unique geology of the place. Joining these anecdotes were folk stories from the celebrated days of the Rajputana kingdom – tales that you’d hear about the grandeur of the queens of yore, and the lives of those who lived in the shadow of the imposing fort atop the hill.

One pro tip for enthusiastic travellers would be to visit at dawn — which then gives you one of the most surreal sunrises that you’d see.

As we made our way through the historic blue city, we caught a variety of interesting snippets – how the city gets a fresh coat of blue every year around Diwali, and how the blue colour helps in keeping the insects away and the temperatures cool, amid the hot and arid Jodhpur.

You also find families that have lived here for over three centuries now — passing on the baton of this fabled stretch from generation to generation.

Savour the flavour

One such residence, for instance, belongs to Chandrakala ji — who helms a residence of over 350 years here.

As you hear her tales of life in the Blue City from her, the stretch of walk flashes by you as if on a showreel. From the writings on the wall that welcome you with grace and warmth, to tiny, picturesque corners that you may have missed had someone not pointed out, you find yourself in between a grand old labyrinth that the residents are proud of having preserved.

As you are served a scrumptious, wholesome breakfast, and are left to savour it with an unbeatable view of the city from her terrace, you find yourself to your thoughts, and all the grand old tales that you’d only ever thought of as tales.

Sometimes, especially in old cities, the best way to walk around also includes being left on your own to fathom its vibe. Perhaps the best bit of Bluecity Walks is that it manages to achieve exactly this.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.