Kesaria Balam Padharo Mhare Desh- A Journey through the majestic “Blue City”, Jodhpur

The glory of the royal Rajasthan is enticing enough to make an ardent traveler return back to explore the mysteries of this majestic state again and again and so was with me. The idea of celebrating my birthday this time around in the splendid “blue city or the sun city” Jodhpur excited me enough to accompany my mother on her official trip.


The grandeur of the city is difficult to baroque in words, the wide roads, the glimpse of the unique architecture, the hospitality of people; everything is entrancing to transport one back to the ancient Rajput era. The popular song, “Kesaria balam padharo mare desh….” epitomizes the true spirit of the people of Jodhpur who inspite of being proud of their lineage and cultural heritage welcome everyone to their city with an equal amount of humility and love.

Jodhpur or popularly known as the “blue city” or “sun city” founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore clan of Rajputs, originally was surrounded by walls all around The city retains its rich culture, tradition and architecture while blending with modernism. We stayed at Lakeview Resort which boasts of picturesque sceneries being located on the bank of the “Kaylana Lake”, the water reservoir of Jodhpur that effectively sustains the city.

The serenity, at times interspersed with cacophony of ducks, cranes and other migratory birds is indeed a delight to one’s senses and a treat to an astute nature lover. In the stunning sunset that casts thousands of hues of oranges, pinks, and blue shades on the lake, the birds appear to be celebrating the onset of the night, the moon marks the beginning of the alluring night while the crickets hum their melodies tunes. Our first destination was the imposing Mehrangarh Fort which is also known as the “Sun Fort”.

The impregnable fort stands tall atop a 125m hill and overlooks the city. It is said Jodhpur was one of the few cities which could never be invaded and this accounts for the pride that the inhabitants still reckon with. The fort can be reached by seven gates which indeed posed as formidable threat to any intruding army. The entrance of the fort is mesmerizing with wall paintings depicting the kings and theirs conquests.
A journey through the interiors of the fort takes one through the ancient eras of the Rajput kings. The remnants have been beautifully placed in the museums. The palace is adorned with intricate panels and latticed windows, carved from red sandstone.

The magnanimous palace hall such as the Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal or the Darbar e Khas, the Sheesh Mahal and exhibits such as the palanquins, royal cradles, miniature paintings and the display of armor and costumes equally vie ones’ attention.

Special mention here is of the “Gangaur” idol, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, who is worshipped during the “Gangaur festival”, a festival were married women worship her for the long life of their husbands and equally so for unmarried women for a bride.

Other festivals celebrated with great valor include the Teej, Nag Panchami and the Marwar festivals. The ethereal folk music played and sung by the folk singers perched at different locations across the fort ferry one back to the ancient eras when the kings and queens walked through these hallways.

If that is not enough, a steep walk through one of the fort exits takes one to the grand display of cannons on the fort terrace, the sanguine yet breath taking holistic view of the blue city and finally to the revered “Chamunda Devi” temple housed within the fort where till date the king comes and offers prayers every year.

The golden fort when wreathed in the rays of the setting sun is one of the most spectacular views.

Exiting the gate and moving down further one can view the astounding white marble memorial Jaswant Thada, built in 1889 in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh. The cenotaph houses portraits of rulers of Marwar and looks equally stunning in the setting sun.

Post the historical journey through the Mehrangarh Fort and the by-lanes of the city we were ready to relish a plateful of Rajasthan ethnic cuisine. Our hosts, Dr Ranjeeta and Dr. Prabhat Mathur took us to “Nirali Dhani”, a unique hotel which is comparable to “Chowki Dhani” of Jaipur.

The hotel houses a restaurant and bar, marriage lawns and offers a unique display of “Rajasthani culture” by way of puppet shows, horse and bullocks cart rides, magic shows coupled with an ethnic Rajasthani ambience.

Tired enough for the day we headed for a wonderful sleep cradled in our beds to the melodious tunes of the crickets. It was indeed divine waking up to a refreshing morning being welcomed by the heterogeneous yet symphonic duck quacks, the view of ducks swimming in rows, cranes gliding into the lake to prey on fishes, crows and parrots humming their morning tunes and the white lotus pods that seemed to glimmer silver in the water of the equally enchanting lake.

The next day began with my maiden visit to the opulent Umaid Bhawan Palace built over an area of 26 acres by Maharaja Umaid Singh between 1929- 1942. The palace was designed by the architects V. Lancaster and J. R Logde.

The palace also known as the “Chittar Palace” is made of hand chiseled sandstone blocks have been put together in a special system of interlocking without the use of mortar binding. A special railway line was put in place to transport the sandstone and it took 3000 people and 15 years to stand tall to its magnificence. The current king Maharaja Ghaj Singh is highly revered by the locals and is addressed as “Hukm” resides in the palace with his family.

It is indeed a real royalty to be able to stay alongside the king. The palace includes several suites and courtyards, has a whispering underground gallery, 347 rooms, an auditorium, a ball room, a banquet hall for three hundred people and an underground swimming pool with its captivating architecture. The uniqueness of the palace lies in the fact of it being one of the first palaces using air conditioning systems.

The in-house museum tells the tales of the gallant kings that inhabited the palace and their contribution in developing Jodhpur as one of the major cities in the world map with its victorious history and patronage of “horse polo”- information courtesy the interesting anecdotes from Dr. Neeraj Mathur, our host for the day. The collection of vintage cars strategically placed at the entrance gate are a delight to see and the thrill associated with a drive on one of these cannot be expressed in words.

A part of the palace is converted to luxury hotel with “Liz Hurley and Arun Nayyar marriage” being one of the major events besides the Salman Khan black buck case.

Post the royal treatment it was time now to walk through the narrow alleys of the old city shops. Jodhpur is famous for its wood, stone and clay handicrafts, bandej and ethnic pachrangi sarees and salwar kameez, chaniya cholis – the traditional Rajasthani attire, Jodhpuri jutties or mojaries, lacquer and silver jewelley, paintings, portraits and ofcourse food. The rich spicy delectable mirchi vada, mawa kachori, makhania lassi from the “Mishrilal Sons” in the Girdikot and Sardar market of the NDTV’s Zaika India ka’s fame is indeed a foodies’ delight.

Jodhpur is a shopper’s paradise with variety of shopping options and equally exciting “eating options” when one is exhausted and needs energy post the shopping spree.
Our next destination was “Balsamand Lake and Palace” built as summer palace on the lake’s embankment by Balak Rao Parihar in 1159 later and on extended by Maharaja Sur Singh, the palace is now converted into a luxury resort and is truly enthralling being surrounded by sprawling garden rich in flora and fauna.

The astounding feature of the resort are the “once horse stable” now aesthetically transformed into “earthy single room cottages with an attached toilet and front lawn” that still retain stable ambience.

Moving further we headed to the “Mandore Gardens”, fondly remembered by the locals as their favorite picnic spot in younger days of school times. Interestingly, Mandore was the ancient Marwar capital. The gardens are studded with six glorious cenotaphs known as dewals.

These domed “chattris” with exquisite architecture mark the spots where the Marwar rulers were cremated, the highest being of the Maharaja Jawant Singh and Maharaja Ajit Singh. One intriguing yet less known fact was queen Mandori, wife of Ravana from the Ramayana epic belonged to Jodhpur, quite humorously commented by my host Dr. Rashmi Mathur inspite of Ravana being our “Jamai” we celebrate Dusherra. The remarkable “Hall of Heroes” which houses sixteen gigantic figures of Hindu deities and local folk heroes, chiseled out of one single rock and the “Kali Ma” temple are the other enchanting attractions of the Madore Gardens.
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All in all a wonderful day spent with our amicable hosts, the day marked the end of our second day and heralded yet another adventurous day ahead, our visit to the “golden city” Jailsalmer which will be covered in my next article- “Wondering through the desert alleys of the Golden City- Jailsalmer”.
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26 Comments

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thank you, Ms. Raman, for a highly readable and informative account of your visit to Jodhpur. My earliest memories are of Jodhpur, where my father was posted in the mid 1950’s. I have hazy recollections of highly polished brass vessels stacked in the kitchen and eating makki rotis with khadi.

    Eagerly waiting for your post on Jaisalmer whose beauty was captured so beautifully by Satyajit Ray in his movie ‘Sonar Kella’.

    • mala says:

      Thanks a lot Mr Narayan for your appreciations.

      It was a wonderful experience for me as well. The Jaisalmer post should be up tomorrow. Hope you like that too. Yes, Shonar killa by Satyajit Ray, that was our first thought to on seeing the Golden Fort.

  • superb informative post……………..

    and good pics …………………………………….

  • Rashmi mathur says:

    wonderful n beautiful explanation ……….hope u enjoyed ur stay……:)

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Thanks for taking us to Jodhpur. Very vice write up and pics :)

    Sahil

  • toddler ved says:

    Nice information on Jodhpur and beautiful pics too. thnx…..
    Since long wondering of the term “Kesaria Balam”…….. is that the song Mandodari sang???????…..and the result…. someone visited from Lanka!!!!!!!!!!
    I, too, am eagerly waiting for the sequel as one of my most favorite Movie ‘Sarfarosh’ had extensively been shot there…………be it astrologer of Bahid, Gulam Hasan’s Haveli or Mirchi Seth’s den…….. John Mathew Matthan found himself attracted towards it for his dream project….Kuch to baat hai Jaisalmer me….

  • mala says:

    Thanks Ved.

    I guess thats the song Mandodari sang, i think it was mentioned in the recent “Jai Jai Jai Bajrangbali” serial when Ravana comes and takes her along without her parent’s consent…:)

    My Jaisalmer article should be up by tomorrow, loved the place, indeed its wreathed in mystery and romance that somehow captivates the traveler.

  • Jodhpur is a stunning place and always worth visiting…some great pics here!

  • Rachna says:

    Hi,
    This is a wonderful blog site! I’ve enjoyed reading through your blogs because of the great style and energy, and of course amazing photographs.

    I have a blog on travel theme. I was wondering if you would be interested in guest blogging on my blog.

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  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Mala,
    a very nice and comprehensive post on Jodhpur…will surely be of great help to anyone planning a visit to Blue/Sun city.
    The palace…hope it lasts far far more than Liz Hurley and Arun Nayyar marriage :-)
    Nice pics too…
    Auro

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very informative post @ Mala, helpful for the follow Ghumakkars.

    I was in Jodhpur for two years when my father was posted there, he was in Army. We have been to most of the place covered by you, you missed one of the biggest Santoshi Mata Mandir. Thanks for refreshing our memories.

  • J. K. ARORA says:

    Dear Mala Raman Weldon U have given details/photographs in very interesting & useful manner . I hope to utilise in my Rajathan area trip. KEEP IT UP. with best wishes jkarora ( Retired Engineer).

  • rkmaurya says:

    Hi Mala

    Nice to see you visiting places in Rajasthan..
    this is the only state in India which i have seen almost completely.. missing only few places.
    Blue city is one of good place among all.

    enjoy your trip
    take care

    rohit

  • wonderful n beautiful explanation

  • Archana Ravichander says:

    Very nice post Mala. Beautiful city, beautiful write-up!

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