Rising from the blue-block houses of ancient Jodhpur is Mehrangarh, an impressive citadel perched atop a sheer-walled sandstone outcropping. Around the clock tower in the market square are shops selling vegetables, spice, trinkets, junk and dusty books. We stopped for a Makhaniya Lassi, flavored with saffron: thick, creamy and delicious. We wandered through the narrow alleys of the old town, dodging cows and their droppings, stopping to look at the small workshops and stores. Inside one dark, cavernous room was an oil press. Sesame seeds were added to a stone crucible as a giant wooden beam, turned by a leather belt, crushed and grated the pulp, squeezing out the light, foamy oil.
We continued through town to the ramp that led to the fortress. Up we climbed, passing through high, iron-studded gates mounted in the solid rock. We took the audio tour, passing through the rooms of the palace to admire the views as much as the objects on display. From the walls of the citadel, the old town of Jodhpur spread out below us, the whitewashed houses colored a sky blue.