Did you know that Jodhpur was Ravana, the king of Lanka’s in-laws’ home? Our blue city was the maika of his wife, Mandodari,” said the guide, enjoying my look of amazement as my eyebrows shot up to touch the stunning roof of the Umaid Bhavan Palace—one of the largest, most lavish private residences in the entire world, spread across 26 acres of bewitching Rajput architecture and richly textured art deco expressions
I blinked, looking at the gigantic murals with the eye-popping ochres and limpid blues all around me. For me, this was the best-kept secret of the museum here— the Oriental rendition of scenes from the treasured epic Ramayana. Life-sized yet genteel, in exotic and powerful forms: the lithe and lanky Lord Rama and Sita’s slender facial features with almond eyes and arresting beatific aura, as the duo reclined by the river with a bridge in the background, and the towering inferno in the sheer scale and expression of Ravana’s statue, complete with his gold scabbard and weaponry. The ribbed horses with their swaying manes, as they pulled his magnificent carriage across the skies to combat the gods. Dip into this prized reserve to savour the artworks of Polish artist (who fled the German onslaught during World War II) Stefan Norblin—the hands commissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh to create his own European interpretation of the epic, between 1941-46, at this location.
Jodhpur brings in a slice of slow travel, unfurling in delicate layers with quiet poise. No, there is not much blue about the city as I discovered by the time I reached the second most important touchpoint at Mehrangarh Fort. From the ramparts, the bird’s eye view of the old part of the city is visible, speckled with a few blue roofs. The blue-throated Lord Shiva (Ravana was a Shiva devotee too!) is deeply venerated here. The desert climate demands a touch of cool to bring physical relief from the burning heat as the summer sets in. Also, the leaves of the locally available indigo plant are a rich source of colour. Perhaps all this contributes to the reasons why Jodhpur was dubbed the blue city. Nevertheless, once you are done trekking the magnificent ramparts of the fort, clicking pictures with the caparisoned jumbos, observing the racy zipline that swings into your horizon, as you take in the goosebump-inducing views of the lake and the battlement area, sit up and soak in the surroundings of this magical place.
Shilpi Madan for Zee Zest