The Blue City of Rajasthan
You could be in one of the most luxurious properties in India and experience old-world Rajasthani hospitality. Or, you could stay in a guest house in one of the hap-hazardous lanes of the old town.
Jodhpur has enough to offer to both sets of travellers, the luxury-seeking-elites and the backpackers.
The city is bustling and colourful if you walk around on Nai Sadak – eye-popping yellows and oranges and reds can be seen in shops and on people. But if you head to Mehrangarh Fort and look down at the blue houses of the old town, you realise that the city deserves its sobriquet of ‘The Blue City’.
One of my favourite cities in Rajasthan – Jodhpur with the majestic Mehrangarh Fort, other examples of architecture, spicy local food and friendly vibes – is a must-do on any itinerary to Rajasthan.
Also, read – Jaisalmer: The charming desert citadel in Rajasthan
What to see in Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort and Museum
There is arguably no Fort as majestic as this one. This massive structure, standing at 410 feet looms large, can be seen from practically anywhere in the old city.
Mehrangarh Fort was built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur city. Still run by the Jodhpur royal family, it is packed with history and legend.
Do visit the well-stocked museum inside the Fort. Entry into the Fort is free, a ticket is needed only for the museum and is available at the main entrance itself. The museum has an extensive collection of royal palanquin collection. Another section displays textiles, paintings and armoury. The museum also encompasses the Fort’s former palace – you can see the royal reception hall, the king’s bedchamber and the extensive zenana or women section.
Also worth exploring are the panoramic ramparts lined with artillery – the blue city spread below is a sight to behold from here.
Just before the museum entrance is a restaurant, with decent food and drink options. Do wear sensible shoes while visiting the Fort – it is a steep walk from the main entrance to the interiors.
This marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II is located about a kilometre away from the Mehrangarh Fort. It is a peaceful spot, especially in the early mornings.
I have attended a fascinating music performance at this venue – the dawn concert by the Grammy-winning flautist Wouter Kellerman with Carnatic vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram.
Toorji ka Jhalra
Meandering along the narrow alleys of the old town, I stumbled upon a large, seemingly upside-down structure with steps all around it and a pond with deep blue water in the middle.
Sets of seven steps go down – one set to the right and one to the left, descending to the next platform, and the next set of stairs starts to go down on each side. What I had stumbled upon was Toor ji ki baoli, or what locals in Jodhpur refer to as Jhalra – my first sight of a significant ancient stepwell.
What stunning architecture was my first thought. No locks or gate or visitor fees for a monument like this, was my second thought. I went closer and found several local boys jumping in the pond with a loud yell and glee on their faces. That must be cooling!
Walking ahead from the step-well for about half a kilometre got me to the Clock Tower. This is an old city landmark surrounded by the vibrant sounds, sights and smells of Sardar Market. Except for Sundays, the crowds can be quite chaotic, make sure you hold on to your kids in crowded spaces.
What to do in Jodhpur
Have a sundowner with a view of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort
There are several restaurants with claims to the best viewpoint of the Fort that defines this city. One of the best, in my opinion, is the rooftop at RAAS. Good cocktails, a wide variety of snacks to go with the drinks and a personal, close view of the Fort.
Another restaurant with a great view of the Fort is rooftop of Pal Bhavan. My husband and I went there for dinner. The breeze was quite chilly that evening, I was glad to be carrying a warm stole.
Try spicy local food
Stick to drinking bottled water to not fall sick, but live a little on the wild side and try local food in Jodhpur. I am from Rajasthan, and yet found some dishes fiery!
Ask any local and the one name that pops up for street food is Janta Sweet Home. I went there for a breakfast of pyaz kachori, jalebi and mirchi vada. My friend also tried the thick sweet lassi to wash it all down.
Another local restaurant that I found particularly good for local Rajasthani food is Jhankar Choti Haveli, near the Clock Tower. They served the best ker sangari I have eaten.
Shop for local stuff
There is a row of shops on the main road near Ajit Bhawan that are worth looking at. Though some of the shops like Fab India, Anokhi and Amrapali have several stores across India, I found their collection at Jodhpur stores to be distinct with many local crafts on offer.
The shops inside Mehrangarh Fort have a large variety of non-precious jewellery, bags, stoles and shoes. It is nice to stroll through the Mehrangarh Museum Shop and see their quirky souvenirs.
You will find kitschy souvenirs and glass bangles all over the old town – around Clock Tower and in shops on Nai Sadak.
Where to stay in Jodhpur
The most luxurious stay in the city is undoubtedly, Umaid Bhawan Palace. If you can afford the price tag, this is the place to stay in Jodhpur. Spread over 26 acres, this grand palace is one of the largest private residences in the world.
Disclaimer: I haven’t stayed here as yet!
Taj Hari Mahal is a good option for good hospitality, beautiful gardens, good food and the Taj hospitality. If you are looking for a luxury option in the old town, look no further than RAAS Jodhpur – a lovely boutique property built in red sandstone, overlooked by Mehrangarh.
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