Mighty Mehrangarh, the muscular fort that towers over the Blue City of Jodhpur, is a magnificent spectacle and an architectural masterpiece. Around Mehrangarh’s base, the old city, a jumble of Brahmin-blue cubes, stretches out to the 10km-long, 16th-century city wall. The Blue City really is blue! Inside is a tangle of winding, glittering, medieval streets, which never seem to lead where you expect them to, scented by incense, roses and sewers, with shops and bazaars selling everything from trumpets and temple decorations to snuff and saris.
Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but non-Brahmins have got in on the act too. As well as glowing with a mysterious light, the blue tint is thought to repel insects.
Modern Jodhpur stretches well beyond the city walls, but it’s the immediacy and buzz of the old Blue City and the larger-than life fort that capture travellers’ imaginations. This crowded, hectic zone is also Jodhpur’s main tourist area, and it often seems you can’t speak to anyone without them trying to sell you something. Areas of the old city further west, such as Navchokiya, are just as atmospheric, with far less hustling.