Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
A photographer captures everyday life in Jodhpur, a city in the western desert state of Rajasthan.
Indian cities have some colorful nicknames. There's a White City, an Orange City, a Pink City, a Golden City, a couple of green ones, and Jodhpur—the Blue City in the western* desert state of Rajasthan.
These nicknames arise from the distinctive architectural features of each city. The Pink City of Jaipur, for example, is so named because its buildings were painted pink in the 19th century, back when India was a British colony, to prepare for a visit by Edward, Prince of Wales.
Nearby Jodhpur was painted blue, but for different reasons. The city's sea of blue houses are widely thought to have emerged as a result of the caste system. In the past, the city had a disproportionate number of Brahmins—the priestly class at the top of the caste hierarchy. Their houses were pained blue to set them apart from the lower castes. Over the years, other non-Brahmin houses around the city's Mehrangarh Fort also turned bright blue, possibly because the Indigo dye that gave the walls their vivid blue color was a good defense against termites, one theory says.
But locals recently gave photographer Adnan Abidi another reason for the hue: It cools down houses during the city's harsh summer, they say. (Jodhpur is also called the Sun City.)
Here are some of the photos Abidi took of the Blue City for Reuters:
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post located the state of Rajasthan in the East; it's actually in the western part of India.