Visiting Golden and Blue City in Thar Desert.
April 8 2012 — The Rajasthan sun is merciless. Hot dry breath of wind blows over the dunes and through the labyrinth of ancient town. Am in India’s western border. Jaisalmer used to be important trade post between east and west, until sea trade replaced slow caravans. After independence and partitioning of British India, 1947, Indian-Pakistani border closed much of the regional trade as well. Name Golden City comes from yellow sand stone that is building material for majority of buildings.
My guesthouse arrange camel safaris to the desert. Decided to go with a traveling pal I met in the train from Delhi. Seemed then like a great idea then. Now am wondering how on earth am going to survive, when even the shade of town seems too much. After washing, clothes are dry after two hours of hanging. @ Jaisalmer
Desert living during camel safari
April 10 2012 — Back from desert. Tired but happy! Air is exhausting from 9am to 5pm and temperature hangs over and under 40 Celsius. At evening winds get cooler and night air is almost chilling. We slept outside in open air, thick blankets on our beds. Its exhilarating feeling, lying in bed and gazing up to bottomless night sky. Stars shine as bright as they possibly can. There is no big human settlements nearby to make light pollution. All sounds are natures own: camel munching grass, fire rattling in campfire, night bird cocooing somewhere in darkness. At first its hard to catch a sleep, but eventually the inevitable happens… @ Jaisalmer
Beds in desert
Mehrangarh fort of Jodhpur
April 14 2012 — Continued my desert journey to Jodhpur, the Blue City. Weather here has been nice relief after Jaisalmer. It has rained every afternoon. Yesterday night winds were strong and thunderstorms provided magnificent show of drum and dance over the Mehrangarh fort. Fortification stands on a cliff, and city has grown around it. Houses are more colorful and have more variety in styles than in Jaisalmer. Areas in old town are painted in blue, from which city has gotten its name. Tradition originates from past cast divisions that dictated who were living where.
Visiting the fortification is a must see for everyone stopping by. Audio guides were excellent, and place is fascinating adventure to history both in and outside.
Marwars of Jodhpur had semi-autonomous status during reign of Mughal centuries (1526–1857). Wild desert region and proud warriors living here proved too much for even mighty Mughals to repress entirely.
In the other end of the spectrum of experiences was learning about Sati (aka. Suttee), and Jauhar traditions. While walking by the big entrance gate of Jodhpur castle, I noticed curious hand insignia’s carved by the gate wall. They were painted in red and had decoration of fresh flowers on them. This is a shrine for widows of Maharajahs that had committed a Sati, a self immolation.
Sati was practiced among aristocrats, and was at the time accepted practice in Hindu religion. Michael Edwards, British India 1772-1947:
… In 1780, the deceased Raja of Marwar was joined in death by sixty-four wives. A Sikh prince of the Punjab took with him ten wives and no less than three hundred concubines
Jauhar had more to do with harsh reality of desert life: isolated communities living where marauding nomad armies could (and did) appear out of nowhere and without warning. Jauhar, for men meant fighting and dying a certain death in hands of enemy. And for women, again, immolation. These unimaginable events repeated several times during the history of Rajasthan. British banned immolations in 1829 and later independent India continued the work. Sati Prevention Act from 1987 makes it criminal to aiding, abetting, and even “glorifying” the act of Sati. @ Jodhpur
April 15 2012 — Last day in Jodhpur. Did some photography around local market. Day was hot and dry, and summer is coming. My Rajasthan journey is over for now, but am definitively coming back if I ever have a chance! @ Jodhpur
British liked to build bell towers all around their Indian colony, and Jodhpur is no exception