A trip to Rajasthan they tell you is colourful: the people, the landscape, the buildings. But it’s not until you’re there that you realise the buildings really arefull of colour. In my ten days in Rajasthan I visited three cities: Jaipur, Jodphur and Jaisalmer. I’d been to the Taj Mahal on the way (as you do) and the contrast between the white marble edifice and the hustle and bustle of the Rajasthani cities couldn’t have been greater – emphasised by their use of colour.
Jaipur is characterised by wide boulevards and is painted Red. Jodphur has medieval winding streets (and dogs that bite) and is painted Blue. Jaisalmer is in the desert and is Golden.
In 1876 for a visit by the Prince of Wales, the Maharaja of Jaipur decided to impress the monarch and so painted it mock-sandstone to improve its appearance. It has been kept that way since, though it looks like it needs a touch-up nowadays.
Historically the Brahmin (priests or learned men) would paint their houses blue to distinguish themselves within a village and as a mark of prestige. In Jodphur, this apparently caught on with the wealthy merchant-men who all wanted improved social standing and so painted their homes blue.
Jaisalmer is in the middle of the desert and is built in sandstone. In the centre of the town is a living fort where the buildings rise from a large natural rock formation of the same material. With its crenellated fortifications, it has the unnerving appearance of a whopping great big sandcastle – which I guess it is.