JODHPUR STEPWELL: URBAN CLIFF JUMPING
While I was exploring Jodhpur, I’d heard about a stepwell. Having been in Jaipur and missing out on visiting the Stepwell nearby, I definitely wanted to see if I could find the Jodhpur Stepwell. After visiting the clock tower market area I headed for the Stepwell Cafe because the Jodhpur Stepwell (Toorji-Ka-Jhalara) didn’t appear on Google Maps. After winding around the neighborhoods I finally arrived and it was an amazing sight.
Descending layers of stairs wind around the stepwell leading down to the pool of water. It is said to be built in 600 AD but I couldn’t find a solid source on the date. It was originally a drinking source for the city. The Jodhpur Stepwell is now the unofficial local swimming pool. I went to the Jodhpur Stepwell three days in a row and each time the kids were running about, swimming and jumping in. Security didn’t seem to mind even when we jumped from the roof. However, when the police arrive the security spring into action chasing the kids around with a stick. They gather their clothes and run around the stepwell in a game of cat and mouse with the security who moments earlier had been cheering their jumps. Well maybe not cheering but they were looking on without any issue.
On my third time getting kicked out with the other fifty kids the police officer yelled at me telling me not to come anymore. It seems like an odd system and I guess if the police aren’t there you can go for it with the local kids but be ready to make a swift exit if the police show up. Normally I like to follow the rules but when fifty kids are swimming each time I drove past the Jodhpur Stepwell it seemed quite obvious to me the police had been told to keep it clear but the community was all for swimming and jumping.
The Stepwell Cafe sits at the top of the Stepwell and was always full of tourists who were enjoying a break from the sun, a refreshing drink and a great view of the Jodhpur Stepwell and all of the action.
On my first visit to the Jodhpur Stepwell, I shot a few photos and then one kid jumped into the water. He came from nowhere, from over my head! All of a sudden a few kids were jumping in from 7 meters and lower. When you are in Rajasthan, you don’t get many opportunities to swim and even few to cliff jump. So I threw off my shirt, took off my shoes and jumped in with the kids.
Things soon escalated as older boys turned up. Before I knew it I was jumping from about 15-20 meters off of the roof. A crowd of 50 or more had gathered in the cafe and on the streets as the locals and I had a blast jump after jump from the roof.