The old city of Jodhpur is drenched in shades of blue. There are monuments everywhere.
From the towering Mehrangarh Fort to the majestic Unmaid Bhavan Palace to the sober Jaswant Thada, every part of Jodhpur is historic.
I enter lanes and bylanes filled with markets and temples, where people munch into samosas and bhajjis in this namkeen capital and finally find my autodriver, Habib waiting for me . I hop on and he takes me on a literally roller coaster bumpy ride around the old town, as we head out to see some monuments, besides the Mehrangarh.
For most tourists, a visit to Jodhpur begins and ends with the towering Citadel of the Sun, the Mehrangarh Fort that was built in the 15th century and is the symbol of Jodhpur, founded by the king, Rao Jodha, of the Rathore clan.
However the entire city is littered with monuments and sites that are usually ignored. Take for instance, the Rao Jodha Park, a desert rock park that was created a few years ago at the foot of the Mehrangarh. Even the entrance to this 70 acres park looks magnificent. The park was carved out of wilderness to preserve the natural heritage and it gives an introduction to the flora and fauna of desert life.
We drove a little distance from the Mehrangarh, crossed a placid lake in the rocky environs to see this marvel in white – Jaswant Thada. A memorial built for King Jaswant 11 by his son, Sardar Singh in the 19th century, Jaswant Thada, stands silently shrouded by trees and surrounded by gardens.
There are a few tombs scattered around, but the monument is bereft of locals and tourists. A pair of lovers disappear into the bushes while a couple of foreigners pose against the white dome . I sit quietly and take in the landscape surrounding it.
We leave Jaswant Thada in the quest of more cenotaphs and head to the ancient capital of the Rathore clan before Jodhpur. We are on the way to Mandore . Home to forts and memorials, temples and tombs, it is hardly on the tourist map.
We stop at Mandore gardens where the ruins lie. The cenotaphs are filled with langurs who have made it their home. A dirty lake filled with filth lies in the centre of the lake.
Locals are having a picnic on the lawns of the gardens. A folk singer follows us, singing or rather whining piteously. There were several cenotaphs here and some of them were built like temples and were even four storeys here. Built in red sandstone, the pillars, walls and ceilings were carved with sculptures.
One of the temples, I was told was referred to as The Shrine of the Three Hundred Million or Three Crore Gods, filled with images of deities. A hall of heroes lay near the cenotaph s, dedicated to the Rajputs. There is a museum here as well.
I enter a couple of temples only to find muck and shit everywhere. The stench is unbearable. A group of foreigners join me , only to get off the monument very quickly.I sit for a while, around the greenery while the langurs invade every monument. They seem to have made it their home. As I leave, I am interrupted by a huge board dictating code of conduct for tourists . It is ironic that the erstwhile capital of the Mewar kingdom is now in ruins and filled with muck.