Oct 7, 20215 min
Jodhpur - a city that prides its palaces and forts, swells with culture and tradition, and is full of color and texture. Jodhpur is often known for its old city - a maze of blue sugar cube houses stacked in narrow, unpaved, dusty lanes, filled with charm and authenticity. It's a city that is untouched by mass tourism, allowing its places and people to remain their normal, unconstructed selves.
Nestled in the sweltering Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan in India. Jodhpur has gained a couple of names in its time, most distinctively The Blue City because of its bright blue painted houses found in the old city, and The Sun City as the sun mercilessly scorches all year round. Jodhpur is the kind of city you want to visit if you are keen to learn about a more authentic India.
Jodhpur is a six hour drive west from Jaipur, and five hours north of Udaipur.
You can see what the city has to offer in three days, although five days is ideal.
The language spoken in Jodhpur is Hindi, with the Rajasthani dialect of Marwari being common.
The reason I was drawn to Jodhpur was because of its crumbling blue painted houses, and chances are, you're eager to see this too. Here is your word of warning - not all of Jodhpur is blue. The blue heaven can be found within the Old City. But once you get to the Old City, you won't associate Jodhpur with anything but blue. The streets and alleys boasting weathering layers of blue are quiet, calm, and certainly make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Locals leisurely carry out their daily routines against the blue washed walls, making it a photographers dream. Although the reason for why Jodhpur's houses are painted blue is not entirely clear, many say its either to repel heat, to wards off mosquitos, or due to the majority of population being of the Brahmin caste who worship Lord Shiva, who's color is this exact blue.
The best way to explore the Blue City is to simply get lost in its entanglement by foot, and see where you end up. Although there are many tours available, I think its best to wander on your own, without a schedule or plan, stopping off where your heart desires then taking an auto-rickshaw back to where you need to be.
Jodhpur is home to over 100 Hindu temples that cant be missed, even if you are not seeking a spiritual experience. The breathtaking architecture, meticulous structures, and intricate hand carved marble is something to awe at each of the temples. Here is a list of my favorite temples in Jodhpur.
Thakur Ji Shree Raj Ranchhodji Temple - a beautiful red sandstone temple with gardens.
Chamunda Mata Temple - dating from 1640, this temple is built on a raised platform, ringed by verdant gardens making it a magnificent escape from the chaos of the main city.
Mahamandir Temple - after traveling through a maze of narrow lanes you will reach the Mahamandir Temple - a stunning temple with lots of intricate hand chiseled work from 1812.
Jaswant Thada - although not a temple but a cenotaph, this hidden gem in Jodhpur is situated amongst lush green trees perched tenderly on a lakeside. The intricacy in craftsmanship in traditional Rajasthani style make Jaswant Thada a beautiful sight to behold.
Note: When visiting Hindu temples, dress modestly covering your legs and shoulders. Also practice responsible photography respecting these are grounds of worship.
When visiting Jodhpur, one of the often missed, yet most stunning places is Toorji Ka Jhalra. Toorji Ka Jhalra is an old step well that was built in the 1740s by Rani Tawar Ji, consort of King Abhaya Singh of Jodhpur. This is one of the few step-wells in Rajasthan that is open to visitors. In the olden days before plumbing, women would walk down the steps to the bottom where laid a body of water. They would fill large jugs which they would carry back on their heads to take home. This water was used for cooking, cleaning and bathing. Now, Toorji Ka Jhalra has become somewhat of a local hangout where the steps are dotted with young romantics, school boys jumping and swimming in the water, and a little children selling balloons and toys. I recommend going to Toorji Ka Jhalira in the evening before sunset, when the yellow glow from the low sun illuminates the steps, and the infamous honking seemingly subside for a moment of calm.
Jodhpuris are known to love their food and its pretty evident from their preparation of it. From tasty desserts to savory pastries, Jodhpur is a foodie's playground. Here are some of my favorite places and things to eat in Jodhpur:-
Gulab Jaman from the famous Chaturbhuj Ramesh Chandra - a sweet Indian dessert soaked in a sugar syrup.
Mirchi Bada (or sometimes called Mirchi Bajji) from Janta Sweet Home - a vegetarian fried snack that's made of a chili stuffed with potatoes and sometimes cauliflower.
Piyaaz Kachori from Janta Sweet Home, Chand Vilas Namkeen or Shahi Samosa - a fried snack filled with caramelized onions.
Namkeen from Jodhpur Misthan Bhandar or Chandravilas Namkeen - Jodhpur is known for its Namkeen - a savory snack enjoyed like chips in the western world.
Chai from any Jodhpuri tea stall - I recommend Jodhpur Tea Stall and Bhati Tea Stall.
Lassi from Shri Mishrilal Hotel - a thick and rich yogurt drink served with cream in little clay cups, that can be enjoyed while people watching in the clocktower square.
Rajasthani Thali - this can be from most good restaurants - thali is a large plate filled with different dishes served in small compartments and come with rice and bread. I stayed at Ranbanka Palace and loved the thali there, but it can be found in most restaurants in the city,
Hailed as one of the most beautiful forts in Rajasthan, Mehrangarh Fort is a must visit when in Jodhpur. Not only is the fort an architectural masterpiece carved from a hill in 1459, but the views of the old and new city from Mehrangarh Fort are spectacular. Many rooms within the former palace are open for viewing and act as a museum, and there are multiple courtyards, corridors, balconies and galleries, making it a very popular site for Bollywood movie filming and photoshoots.
Some tips for traveling Jodhpur:-
Most local and small places prefer cash over card.
The weather is hot all year round so dress accordingly. Cottons, linens and light layers are recommended.
Take sunscreen with you.
Jodhpur is generally safe, however, I do recommend a tour guide if you are a female solo traveler.
Always negotiate a price with auto-rickshaws before getting in. Offer half of what they ask for and meet somewhere close to that. Don't be afraid to walk away if they don't lower it - they will always agree on close to fair price.
Haggle on everything you buy from the markets, outside of food and drink.