Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hot, Hazy, Majestic and Blue

Compared to the 24 hours immediately preceding my arrival in Jodhpur, my time in the city has been very relaxing. I'm staying at Pal Haveli, a traditional Rajasthani home still owned by a family who has lived here for years. My room is spacious, breezy and gorgeously decorated. One wall is lined with french doors that look out onto a peaceful courtyard. The windows are covered by pale orange drapes from floor to ceiling, and when the sun filters through them the room is shrouded in a soft, hazy light. The ceilings are about 15 feet high and there are 6 ceiling fans in addition to an air conditioning system to keep the room cool.

I can now understand why Rajasthan has a reputation as a "romantic" destination. In addition to the beautiful, traditional rooms, it's so hot here that for good portions of the day you want to retire to your room and laze away the late morning to late afternoon. With nothing to do but lay around under the fans in bed, I could see why it wouldn't be a bad place to come with a lover.

I've been spending my days differently, though no less enjoyably. Yesterday, I toured the large fort set atop the hill that overlooks the city. Here, the buildings - one to three story box-like structures built on top of one another dotted by roof decks and courtyards - are painted in shades of blue, cream, and tan. The most popular and striking color is a bright indigo blue color, the color that was traditionally reserved for the high caste Brahmans. The color is believed to have a cooling affect and to repel insects. Looking down at the city from the ramparts of the fort, it looked like a labyrinth of blue boxes set off against the rust-red sands of the distant desert.

In addition to visiting the fort, I visited the residence of the current Maharajah of Jodhpur. It's an impressive domed structure, similar in shape to the Taj Mahal though less elegant, that took over 3,000 people 15 years to build. The work was begun as a famine relief effort, and when it was completed it housed the reigning family of Jodhpur rulers. Now, most of the palace has been turned into a luxury hotel. There's a small section that is a museum, and then there's a separate section that continues to house the Maharajah. I made a brief stop at the museum and then headed directly to the restaurant of the luxury hotel. I had an absolutely delightful time in the air conditioned restaurant - so cold that I was blissfully chilly for my time there - having coffee, a slice of chocolate walnut cake, and a scoop of mango ice cream while the temperatures climbed to sweltering heights outside. It cost me almost as much as my room at Pal Haveli but it was totally worth it.

Today, I had breakfast on a roof top of a nearby guesthouse, the Haveli Guesthouse (also a good option with friendly staff and a bit cheaper than Pal Haveli). The coffee was good, but my chocolate-banana pancake came out looking shiny, waxy, and bright yellow. Perhaps it had been made with saffron? It tasted all right, though a bit oily. For the remainder of the morning I'm going to wander the streets, do a little shopping and try to take some pictures. My A.C. car picks me up at my guest house at around noon to take me to Udaipur, a city in Southern Rajasthan that is about six hours away from Jodhpur. I expect that it will be slightly cooler as it's nearer to the coast and situated around a lake. I'm feeling very self-congratulatory for my excellent decision of arranging to be in an A.C. car during the hottest hours of the day.

I still haven't made my tickets to Goa, but I'm hopeful it will all work out.


Anonymous said...

This city sounds so lovely and healing. I like knowing that bright indigo blue repels insects. One of our walls in the LR is this color because my husband just loves it. Now I know that in addition to bringing joy to his life, I have no bugs to worry about!

As for oily yellow pancakes, I think that I'll pass on that recipe, if you don't mind! Ick.

Your AC car trip sounds good. Why suffer the heat if you can think up a sensible way to avoid it? So smart. Happy trails.

Buttercup said...

Ally Bean - I've always loved that indigo blue color as well. Fun that one of your walls is that color.

Starshine said...

B'cup! Congrats on your excellent decision to travel via AC car. Honestly, the things you have endured on this trip sound so exhausting, but the nice places you've stayed sound so very lovely. It seems like India would be a good country to visit once dematerializing teleporters are invented! Scotty, beam me to Southern Rajasthan! :) If you have a chance to check your B&B e-mail, I sent you an e-mail there!

Happy and safe travels, my friend!

Starshine said...

Thanks Buttercup! I just got your e-mail. Happy travels!

Starrlight said...

So very jealous! I read Shadow of the Moon by MM Kaye when I was 12 and have dreamed of India ever since!