Dances with Eunuchs: The Blue City


After our trip through the Thar desert we arrived back into Jaisalmer with some pretty amazing memories and some very raw bottoms.  Which was unfortunate, really, as we were about to embark on the first of our long bus rides in India – an 8 hour journey to Jodhpur.  Now we’ve done long bus rides in many countries and weren’t particularly concerned…but going 8 hours without a toilet break on a hot bus (and having to dehydrate yourself accordingly) isn’t that much fun!

IMG_3192This ride took us through a number of back towns in the sweltering heat.  Which kinda sucked cause we were sweaty and dehydrated, always an awesome combination!IMG_3198IMG_3209Dehydration started to make our respective brains go a little bit mushy…
IMG_3205leading H-J to give up and pass out asleep…
IMG_3223and leading Dan to the fabulous [insert sarcastic tone] decision to buy an ice-cream from a vendor leaning through the bus window in some random, small and grubby town.
IMG_3202 Verdict on the bus-window purchase it tasted like a cross between warm rubber and arse.   Sadly, this wasn’t to be the last nasty ice cream in India – but you’ll have to wait a while for that episode.IMG_3203Eventually we pulled into Jodphur and were greeted by the imposing sight of Mehrangarh Fort which overs the city below.  We were starting to sense somewhat of a theme in the towns we were visiting…fort…fort…fort…

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Feeling somewhat in need of beverages and a bite to eat, it was straight to the roof of our newest abode for dinner, whilst being serenaded by a band.  Ahhh.

IMG_3243 Dan and the onebagnomad.com busted their moves – Welly and Cali represent!IMG_3247 IMG_3249Its not all dancing, eating and chilling though – we woke up the next morning refreshed, rehydrated and ready to visit the fort and check out the views of the city.     It was a short but upward walk through the streets below and we began to get an inkling of why Jodhpur is referred to as the ‘blue city’.  Not only that, but we were starting to see why its also referred to as the ‘sun city’ – t’was a gorgeous day with blue, open skies – something not to take for granted in India!

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Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest in India and has within its boundaries several palaces and a museum.  The foundation of the fort was laid in 1459, making it even older than H-J’s ‘senior citizen’ parents!
IMG_3265 IMG_3269 The complex is huge, to put it simply.  At every twist and turn (of which there are a lot, we even got lost trying to get out again!) there are ornate, beautiful carvings and gorgeous details.IMG_3278IMG_3279

Old andornate stuff aside, its perch upon the mountain top provided perfect panoramic views over the land below.  Funny that, being a fort and all.

IMG_3460And of course, we were rewarded with a more complete view of the blue bit of the city!  There are a  couple of stories we’ve heard about why the buildings are blue – the official one given to us during our stay in Jodhpur is that the blue colour deflect heat and in turn keeps the mosquitoes away from the houses (and people within) in the heat of the summer.  What the informative guides left out of this, is that this discovery was only made as a by-product of the caste system.  The first people to paint their abodes blue were the Brahmins, the highest caste, in order to differentiate themselves from the the lower groups…who of course followed suit when they cottoned-on to the non-mozzie factor!  IMG_3275

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Throughout the grounds and buildings were sprinkled not just architectural delights but also performers, recreating some of the grandeur of the day when these places where filled with Maharajas and their incredible entourages.
DSC04404 DSC04368 IMG_3299 IMG_3443Not only dancers and musicians were represented though.  No historical stone left to be unturned, even a wasted, opium-smoking dude was part of the scenery.  The poor dude alternated between puffs on his pipe and napping.  While it might not sound like the worst job in the world to some, the room was pretty small and we can imagine that having thousands of tourists a day stop and stare at you getting high probably takes off a little of the sheen!DSC04365

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan, with each of the unique galleries separated by yet more delicate architectural features.  Ush and H-J were by this stage starting to mentally design their dream palaces…

IMG_3489 IMG_3458IMG_3500 IMG_3323and of course would need a lovely palanquin or two to be ferried between each other’s humble homes.  DSC04370 IMG_3314 IMG_3282

A fascinating sight was a group of men dressed as women; “Hijras”, otherwise known as the third sex in India, are castrated males or those born with deformities.

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While we tend to think of eunuchs as being in the realm of storybooks, in India theirs is a community of about one and a half million, mostly living on the fringes of society but also acting as caretakers and entertainers in some of the countries forts and palaces.  Of course, in more by-gone days, Hindu and Muslim rulers employed them as servants, guards and dancers with unrestricted access to private apartments and palaces – Hijras were considered the perfect guards as they posed no threat to the harems of women the rulers liked to keep.

DSC04400 DSC04410 IMG_3482With a final flourish of a skirt, and a full morning having been spent trawling the days of old while planning our future home constructions, it was time to leave the fort and travel back down through the blueness to contemplate the road ahead…to one of the most stunning cities we’d ever seen…IMG_3302See you in Udaipur!

Categories: India, Photos, TravelTags: , , , , , , , ,

18 comments

  1. Nice Pics and well written… 🙂

    I hope you enjoyed you visit to India…

  2. So very beautiful. Don’t think I could have managed 8 hours without a loo break or water 😦 Not sure how I feel about those poor “third sex” men – it seems sad, but I suppose the other alternative for them would be a life of desperate poverty?

    • From what we’ve read, they tend to get a bit of a bad rep in ‘normal’ society and kinda trade in on that fact, turning up at various occasions to dance, give blessings and make money, lest they put a curse on you. The whole thing is really fascinating but I’m sure hard work living on the fringes of an already difficult society. Having work is always a bonus, you’re right.

      Believe it or not, there is actually something worse than an 8 hour bus ride without a loo break or water…but we’ll leave you hanging on that one for the upcoming blog on exactly WHAT is worse than that…!

  3. The “Mozzie-Factor”! I love it!

    I like the blue, too. I’ve heard that painting a roof-top white keeps the inside cool, and also reflects harmful sun rays back out into space.

    Was that poor guy really just sitting here smoking opium all day??

  4. Does the blue really work to keep the mozzies away? Why doesn’t everybody paint their house blue? I’m going to paint my Korean apt blue if it’s true! 😀

  5. hands up if you want the old dudes job ;D Loving the architectural features/tight crops, keep em comin crew!

  6. Woweee wow wow!!! Insanely gorgeous fort! Really really informative post! Eunuchs, opium, classism…fascinating!!!

  7. An amazing article with different picture gallery. which is a great part of incredible India and heritages of India.

  8. India is one of my have-to-go list. Nice write up babe! 🙂

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