Jodhpur, India

Thursday, April 18, 1929

This morning after the usual argument between Dorton and Mort concerning hotel prices, we finally left the breakfast table and started for the fort at nine-thirty. This time we had no trouble and a soldier conducted us about. From the battlements, 460 feet above the city, you have a marvelous view. We saw a small Hindu shrine and priest at prayer. The large figure of the god shone from the dark recess and the gilt glittered in the dim light.  Nearby we saw the bloody spot where the eleven sacred buffaloes were killed the day before.  On the path up to the fort we had seen the remains of two of these, the vultures busy picking at them. Temples, tanks, the city, the desert. In the Armory was a splendid collection of swords, spears, knives, shields, etc., much in gold, silver, and precious stones. For instance, one shield was just covered with semi-precious stones and hundreds of pearls.  The rooms of the palace we were permitted to see were used as more of a museum. They contained lots of beautiful furniture, etc. and priceless rugs. One room was especially interesting, having windows of colored glass fragments and all sorts of inlaid stones in walls and ceilings to say nothing of the furniture. The stone fretwork on the palace seems endless.

Returning to the Dak Bungalow at one, we set about getting ready for tea. Mort didn’t feel like going, so Frank and I got all dolled up, got a 3rd-class gary that was painted up like a circus cart, and off we galloped down the hot, dusty road, over a hundred in the shade and as much as one-twenty in the sun.

Arrived at the place where His Gracious now lives and has his office, we discovered he was asleep. Dorton was also waiting to see him about the electrical equipment of the new palace. We, Frank and I, waited well over an hour and then Frank insisted on leaving. We had just sent our card in too. As I suspected, he sent his car for us and the chauffer took us back. Tough! This big open job traveling along, the driver in a huge pink turban, the soldiers and police standing at attention and saluting as we sailed past.

We had tea, Dorton included, and then the three of us went for a ride while Dorton returned to the Dak Bungalow to talk an arm off Mort. We drove a couple of miles from the city to a pretty park in a natural bowel [sic.] of rock walls on three sides. Here there was actually grass. Peacocks roamed about in abundance while tropical trees were everywhere. Banyan trees grew to a large size and the roots grew down from the branches into the ground again, thus spreading like a huge vine.

After taking a couple pictures, we walked up to a large reservoir in a natural recess of the rock. At this end was a stone bathhouse and a walk some 15 feet above the surface. It is a charming place. The water looked inviting, but we declined the invitation for a swim in this pool of the Maharaja’s. The car followed us and then took us around an enclosed park for the use of the Maharaja’s wife, who is kept in strict seclusion and can be seen by only the Maharaja himself, her maids, etc. and Unics [sic.] who wait upon her.

Next we drove to the old capital of Jodhpur, or Marwar, Mandor. It is five miles to the north of the city. Entering through a large gate, to the left is a pantheon called the Shrine of the 300,000,000 Gods, carved out of solid rock under the face of a cliff and containing a row of gigantic painted figures of heroes and divinities. To the right of the road are gardens and some of the Chattris, or cenotaphs of the former rulers, erected on the spots where the funeral pyres consumed their remains. Some are fine and massive, intricately carved, and of a type of architecture that is a mixture of Saivite and Buddhist with many of the details Jain. While we were looking of these, it grew dark, but these monuments stood out against the darkening sky, and in a bright moonlight. It is exactly the thing you read about but never expect to see.

We rode back through the warm evening to the site where the new palace is being built, overlooking the airfield, the old palace, the city, and the desert. Gosh, but it was an exquisite night, and the lights of the fort shone high above those of the town below. The bushy plain was a sea of uncertainty in the moonlight.

Winding down toward the town we passed the palace of the present Maharaja and stepped out at the door of the beautiful Raikabagh Palace where, after a whisky soda (lemonade for Frank), we took our coats off and fell to a grand dinner in the banquet hall, we three occupying one end of the long table. Celery soup, fish, lamb chops and peas and turnips, chicken or duck (?), potatoes, gooseberries, and things all made into a real dessert, and lastly mangoes, which he showed us how to eat. These are delicious plus. Frank and I did justice to dainty dishes of candies while he hopped into his clothes to meet the Maharaja who was returning from Jaipur that evening. Such Indian and Persian rugs I have never seen, and the gold dishes, plates, huge candlesticks, etc. would knock your eyes out. Would probably cost at least a quarter million cool and cold in America. We then returned to the Dak Bungalow.

He invited us to dinner Saturday, but I think we’ll be pulling out Saturday morning for Mount Abou.  He also suggested we come up to a place near Lahore and take a ten-day hike with him through the mountains. Now he is going to send his car for us at five tomorrow and dress us up in Hindu clothes so we can get some pictures, then put his car at our disposal to visit Mandor again. Also is going to give me a letter of introduction to the Minister of Jaipur—which may mean we will be state guests there.

In the Hindu religion, a man who has attained his highest success in life is supposed to renounce the world, forget all of his learning, and put on rags to wander through India, living on the charity of people who are supposed to support these holy men. They wear but a loincloth; their hair is long and wild, and they are often crazy, as is one who hangs about our room in the DB, moaning like a dog, braiding his hair, playing with his rags and in the dirt and dust. It seems a pitiful end for many men who really have been a figure, outstanding, learned, or wealthy. On the other hand, it encourages plenty of naturally lazy to become lazier still, if that is possible, and spend their life begging. Thus begging is an important profession in India. Then there are the Untouchables, born Untouchables and carried down generation through generation. They rate no higher than dogs, which rate as low as anything can, and those of the higher classes would never dream of speaking to one or touching him. His Gracious told us that it was very hard to get Unics [sic.] for the Hindu religion because they must be born that way naturally and not operated upon.

I thought the books in a bookcase of the latter very interesting—books on war, cooking, farming, good housekeeping, poultry raising, rhetoric, fiction, parliamentary law, India, and what-not.

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