Question: Where in the world does a blue painted home indicate elite social status to some and termite repellent to others?
Answer: Jodhpur, India
In Jodhpur, India, the color blue permeates the city. It’s brushed across the limestone from house to house and through the winding streets. From the top of the Mehrangarh Fort—a 15th century fortress that towers over the city—the homes look like miniscule puzzle pieces fitting together to create a vast landscape of azure. The mesmerizing backdrop has captivated visitors for years, but what is the reasoning behind the extensive use of blue paint?
While there is some uncertainty regarding the true origin of the color choice, it is widely believed that the color was used to signify social status centuries ago. The oldest homes of the community were built in the 1400s, a time when the Hindu caste system determined one’s rank in society. At the top of the hierarchy, Brahmins were typically teachers or intellectuals and were believed to have come from the head of Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Since the caste system dictated every aspect of one’s religious and social life, it’s plausible that the blue coloring was used to help the elite caste stand out. Blue is also often viewed as a sacred color and represents the Hindu Lord Shiva, which may be why the Brahmins chose it.
Other folklore suggests that blue was painted across city residences as a way to deter invading termites. The pesky insect has a long history of causing structural damage to the buildings by chewing through the walls. Legend goes that mixing copper sulfate with limestone for the blue paint was a chemical concoction capable of warding off the troublesome bugs.
Lastly, some explain the use of blue as a way to help citizens cool down from the city’s sweltering climate. Located near the Thar Desert, Jodhpur has consistently sunny and hot weather. It is believed that the calming color can reflect the sun’s rays and keep homes cool during the warmer months.
No matter what the true reason is for why the city is bathed in blue, Jodhpur is certainly a captivating and camera-ready backdrop. Even while the city continues to grow and expand, this centuries old tradition is kept alive, creating a vibrant view for locals and visitors.
More Fascinating Facts about Jodhpur, India:
- Jodhpur was originally founded and named after Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, which can trace its lineage back to a Hindu deity named Lord Rama.
- Today, Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan with a population of over 1,000,000 residents.
- Due to its sunny and hot desert climate, Jodhpur is also nicknamed the “Sun City.”
- Positioned between Delhi and Gujarat, Jodhpur was once a large trade center for opium, copper, silk, coffee, and sandalwood.
- Today, the city is well known for its furniture shops, booming textile industry, delicious cuisine, and lively bazaars.
- Jodhpur’s Merhangarh Fort is one of the largest and most famous forts in India. Situated atop of a 500-foot mountain, it is surrounded by nearly two miles of ramparts and overlooks the entire city. Inside of the fort’s walls visitors can view thousands of pieces of memorabilia from a former palace, several stunning temples, and an expansive garden.
- Merhangarh Fort is chiseled from pieces of sandstone and was once described by Rudyard Kipling as “the work of angels, fairies, and giants.”
- The Umaid Bhawan Palace is also located in Jodhpur and is one of the last grand palaces to be built in India. Completed in 1944, the royal family of Jodhpur still lives in a section of it, making it the largest private residence in the world. The palace is also home to a luxurious heritage hotel which is one of the most expensive hotels in the world.