Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Color in India

Panorma of Jodhpur (from:


photo by izzet keribar   

Looking for some images today of aerial views of cities, I came across the top photo of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India.  Stunned to say the least, a city in blue, it propelled me to look into this interesting city and its choice of blue exteriors.

Here is some information about the city

Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan in India and is also known as the blue city because the color gives an indigo aura to it with blue colored houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort. Also known as the Sun City due to its perennial sunny weather, it receives sparse rainfall and is located in the Thar Desert. Jodhpur is a famous tourist attraction and offers myriad places of interest that have significant historical importance. It is also famous for its well preserved forts that are adorned with exquisite intricate carvings and pieces of art. The city is teeming with bazaars and crowded with tourists and is comparatively more populated than other cities in Rajasthan.

Some ideas for why the buildings are painted blue:

The district of Jodhpur that is painted light blue is generally where the highest cast of Hindus live. This high cast is referred to as "Brahmins" and traditionally were priests and town leaders. The color blue in India is commonly associated with royalty and power . One motivation for the blue painting of Jodhpur is that the higher cast Brahmins wished their dwellings to be of the Royal color and this is the commonly accepted reason.

The residents of Jodhpur are extremely proud of the city's blue color. When pushed for an answer as to why the city is blue they usually respond by saying it keeps the buildings cool during the punishing summer. This answer usually puzzles visitors who fail to understand why Rajasthan's other great cities are not also painted blue. 

The true reason for Jodhpur's blue color is more practical motivated than artistic reasoning. The dry arid environment of which Jodhpur is located is blighted by termites. The small insects damaged and destroyed the traditional building techniques which involved the exterior being coated in lime wash. It was discovered that the termites were repelled by copper salt compounds and these were added in low concentrations to the lime washes. Copper solutions under certain conditions produce blue compounds and this was true of the materials applied to the exterior of Jodhpur's houses.
The Brahmin class could afford the copper sulphate lime washes and applied it to their houses which were concentrated in just one area of the city. It is therefore commonly thought that the Brahmins painted their houses the blue color to emphasize their royal connection when in actual fact they were the ones only able to afford the specialist exterior paint. The blue of Jodhpur is best viewed from Meherangarh Fort where an entire side of the city is painted in this one uniform blue color.

1 comment: