The unique cities of Rajasthan each have their own nickname: Jaipur is the Pink City, Jaisalmer the Golden City and Jodhpur the Blue City. While Jodhpur’s traditional blue buildings are slowly disappearing, I was enthralled to discover the intriguing history behind this nickname as well as the winding back alleys of the old town on a fabulous Brahmins and the Blue City tour by excellent Jodhpur walking tour company Virasat Experiences. Come with us through the secret passageway to reveal the true history of this magical city.
Coming across Virasat Experience’s website, I instantly knew that they were the right guides to introduce us to this wonderful and culturally rich city. Their team is passionate about sharing and preserving local heritage which is what triggered Akshat Mathur and Vipul Kumar to start up the company. They are actively involved in the community and reducing the negative effects of the city’s rapid growth on the walled city. They offer a range of small group and private walking and biking tours, responsible visits to nearby traditional villages, farm stays, craft workshops and more.
I wanted to fully understand the history of the “Blue City” so their Brahmins & The Blue City Walking Tour seemed to be the perfect match. Since we were staying in the Old Town at the heritage Singhvi Haveli, nearby the start of the tour, our guide Kuldeep kindly offered to meet us there. Lucky us, as the winding streets of old Jodhpur really need an expert to navigate them! Kuldeep, born and raised in Jodhpur, succeeded at this with the adept finesse only a true local has.
After making our way through a series of narrow lanes we reached a secret gate at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort, the city’s imposing 15th-century fortified palace. Once inside our secret entrance, Kuldeep gave us an overview of the founding of Jodhpur and the importance of its position and layout. We then made our way to another hidden place, the lake which served the fort. In this tranquil setting we learnt about the royal court and the important of the Brahmins, the priest caste in the Hindu religion. We continued to follow their thread as we ventured deeper into the old town, dotted with blue washed houses, the traditional color of Brahmins’ homes. Kuldeep informed us that this tradition had been gradually dying, however, there’s been a recent revival of painting houses in the old town this vibrant indigo. Taking us down an obscure path, Kuldeep illustrated this with a phenomenal view over the whole city and the fort, perfectly time, cast in the glow of the lowering sun.
We didn’t only get to admire these gorgeous ancient homes from the street… we were invited in for a warm cup of chai at one and another homeowner spontaneously invited us in to see historic beams in his kitchen, helping us understand the unique building techniques of the city. The residents of the area are proud of their heritage and eager to share this with visitors. These weren’t the only locals we met on our tour either.
Kuldeep then guided us over to the jewelry district, where we met a few of the crasftmen and admired some of the stunning commissions they were working on. As we descended the ambiance got livelier and livelier. We’d left the silent back streets for the vibrant bazaar area of the city where we were treated us to some tasty julab jamun, a local delicacy from one of the city’s most prized sweet shops — it was hard to resist requesting a second helping! Busy with shoppers hunting down bargains, overflowing bags of spices and bookbinders concentrating on their craft, the bazaar provided us the chance to learn about these living trades and their ongoing importance in today’s Jodhpur.
We weaved our way through more of the bustling lanes, past a night market and finished up at the city’s famous clock tower landmark. This offbeat tour gave us an excellent overview of the city, took us to many incredible places we would never found on our own and showed us a wonderful window into daily life in Jodhpur, both past and present.
This 2.5 hour tour costs 1700 INR per person with a minimum of two participants for a confirmed tour. It usually runs between 9 AM and 3PM, though it’s best early in the morning or later in the afternoon to evade the heat. I’d highly recommend this one or Virasat Experiences also has a tour of the Bazaars of Jodhpur and the city’s historic Step Wells in case you’re looking for further original explorations in Blue City. See further info and enquire about a tour on their website here.
I was a guest of Virasat Experiences, however all of the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.