India has a turbulent history. At a time of intrigue and assassination an ambitious man could make a name for himself or die young or both.
Rao Jodha was born in 1416. In 1427 his father secured the throne of Mandore and subsequently extended his influence by a strategic alliance that saw him administering an adjacent area. In 1438 the alliance was dissolved in the time-honoured way, assassination. The young Rao Jodha escaped and mounted a campaign to regain the throne he had expected to inherit. His attempts to retake Mandore were unsuccessful until one day, so the story goes, he stopped at a farmer’s house where he kept his identity to himself. He was given a bowl of stew, khichdi. He would have eaten this with his right hand. Unwisely he began in the middle and burnt his fingers. The farmer’s wife said “Stranger, you are making the same mistake as King Jodha, khichdi is hottest at the centre and coolest at the edge”.
Jodha saw the wisdom in this, turned his attention to the outlying forts which he took with ease. Once these were secure Mandore fell into his lap. A more secure capital had a lot to recommend it, so in 1459 Rao Jodha founded the city of Jodhpur and began to build a hilltop fort, Mehrangarh.
A combination of impregnability and luxury, Mehrangarh, enabled Rao Jodha to enjoy his kingdom until his natural death aged 73.
Our guide was very suitably clad …
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan with a population of almost 1.3 million people. People make good use of their roof tops and also their basements.
Whenever I visit Jodhpur I stay in utter luxury at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, well I stayed there once … for one night. Up the red carpet to a trumpet fanfare, a shower of rose petals, under a canopy held aloft by a welcoming party of five to have a garland draped around my neck by a pretty young lady and anointed on the forehead with a red dot by another. It has probably sealed my fate come the revolution. But hey, it was worth it.
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