Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Jodhpur- The Fort of Forts

Our time in Jodhpur was brief we only ended up staying for 2 nights and one whole day in the blue city and really other than the unbelievably epic fort that looms large over the busy city there was really very little else to behold.

Firstly- the fort. The Mehrangarh fort that sits proudly over the city in a bowl of protection from hills forming natural walls around the once impenetrable city. The fort itself sits picture perfect above the surrounding city emerging like some majestic behemoth from the earth exerting its power over all.

You also learn how the architecture such as the long curving entrance ways and steep hills, evident at all the forts, prevented elephants, horses or any form of battering ram from gaining enough speed and velocity to breach the walls.

The only entrance to the great complex.

One of the things we loved about the fort was the little gallery of Mughal style art which we both took a liking too and bought some postcards of. It was just quite different, they hadn't learnt how to draw at angels or perspective yet so paintings of buildings with columns looked completely flat and people were always drawn to the side in intricate clothing and bright colours. Many of the paintings included the maharajahs or were of religious stories such as the Ramayana or shiva and Parvati. Unfortunately photography was forbidden, although we've collected a few postcards and cards copying the style.

Here is a selection of photos from the selection of courtyards and palace that we hand permission to explore. As with all the forts we visited different eras of rule built new swathes of fort on the hill each in distinct styles.

Unsurprisingly this is one of the few forts that was never conquered.
An artist continuing restoration work on an outer part of the complex.

After exploring the nooks and crannies of the fort we headed out to the rock park below to do the awesome 'flying fox'. Basically they set up a course of zip lines that fly through and across the foot hills below the fort. It wasn't the most exhilarating zip lining but the views of sunset over the picturesque old town with its blue washed buildings the huge fort made it an unforgettable experience. It wasn't cheap (by Indian standards) but it certainly made for an exciting and different way of seeing such impressive historical landmarks, it does become a little tiring all this history and forts.

(Shoddy quality screen cap from a video)

The city itself felt poor. One of the only places in India where you really felt the struggle of so many in the sub continent. The railway station when we arrived at midnight resembled a refugee camp, packed with people sleeping on every surface, seeking asylum from the chilly night and polluted city. Jodhpur doesn't have the friendly traveller vibe of Jaisalmer, it really is a working city (as is most of India) but here it just felt as though there just happened to be an incredible landmark signifying the power this city once held yet now is struggling to fit in to the puzzle of 21st Century India.

If this view seems familiar it might be because it is where Christian Bale's Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, emerges from the cave prison place where he (spoiler alert, I mean come on who hasn't seen it) recovered from his broken back. We didn't actually know this until we happened to recognise it ourself when watching the film.

2 nights was plenty and off we went bright and early for the 5 hour train to the much smaller, quainter and charming town of Pushkar.


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