Skip to navigation

Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

India: Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort
The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort dominates the skyline of Jodhpur

Jodhpur isn't only famous for its hard-nosed businessmen, it's also home to one of the most staggering fortresses you will ever see. The Mehrangarh Fort dominates the city, sitting atop a 125m-high cliff-edged hill that catches the rising sun beautifully.

The blue houses of Jodhpur
The blue houses of Jodhpur

The work of angels, fairies and giants... built by Titans and coloured by the morning sun... he who walks through it loses sense of being among buildings. It is as though he walked through mountain gorges...

This might sound grandiose, but Kipling doesn't overstate the immensity of the place. Huge walls sheer straight up from the cliff edge, serrated battlements provide ample room for huge cannons and view-hungry tourists, and even though her eloquence was hardly that of Kipling's, Jackie Kennedy managed to sum up the fort with the wonderfully hyperbolic, 'The eighth wonder of the world!'

The Money Man

A backstreet scaffolding yard in Jodhpur
A backstreet scaffolding yard in Jodhpur

On my way through the winding streets leading up to the eighth wonder of the world, I met a man. As per usual we got talking, but it was obvious from the start that this man had done his homework even more thoroughly than most.

The clock tower in Sardar Market
The distinctive clock tower in Sardar Market
A rampart temple in Mehrangarh Fort
A rampart temple in Mehrangarh Fort
Jodhpur from the fortress
The amazing view of the blue buildings of Jodhpur from the fortress
The inside of Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort is full of intricate buildings

The Fortress

A man using a hookah
A bewhiskered man demonstrating the use of a hookah in Mehrangarh Fort

I finally escaped to the fortress, where the man at the gate asked me where I was from, and when I told him he said, 'Ah, England. Prime Minister is Tony Blair.'

Birds perched on the ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort
Birds on Mehrangarh Fort
The blue buildings of Jodhpur from the fort
The blue buildings of Jodhpur contrast beautifully with the brown fort

...from the bastions of the Jodhpur Fort one hears as the gods must hear from Olympus, the gods to whom each separate word uttered in the innumerably peopled world below, comes up distinct and individual to be recorded in the books of omniscience.

That's as maybe, but what I heard from the battlements was a calamitous cacophony of chaos from crashing clutches to crowded chowks and clopping cows. I idly wondered if Huxley ever visited the Golcumbaz, as Forster did; now that is a real ear on infinity.

1 Many thanks to Matt Kilsby, who left the following message in my Guestbook:

I'm currently travelling around India and have found your website really helpful and bloody funny as well!

I'm currently sitting in an Internet café in some backstreet in Jodhpur (it's all a bit of a maze, though). This morning a friend and I went up to the fort, and who should accost us on the street? 'Prime Minister Tony Blair... etc.' I knew what was coming next because I'd already read your section on Jodhpur. Lo and behold, out came the foreign note album and I must say that it's a fantastic collection! I was also offered a two pound coin. Six years later the cute teenager is now a fully fledged Indian businessman.

As to the note that you sent him... there were two one-quid notes in his collection, one from Jersey and the second a Royal Bank of Scotland one. If either of those notes are yours, then they are sitting proudly in his album (can't remember the page number unfortunately!).

Anyway, thanks again for this great site. Keep up the good work. I'm off to get lost in Jodhpur.

Thanks for letting me know, Matt. Unfortunately the note I sent to Awatar was from the Bank of England, so I suspect it got lost in the post. Ah well, someone somewhere is a pound richer...