The popularity of Jodhpur owes to its majestic Mehrangarh Fort and elegant Umaid Bhawan Palace. These architectural marvels have made Jodhpur one of the most popular travel destinations in Rajasthan. Jodhpur is the brainchild of Rao Jodha who shifted here in 1459 from the nearby town of Mandore. This region, situated on the edge of the Thar Desert, had a geographical advantage. It fell on the Delhi-Gujarat trading route; hence, the rulers could earn from the traffic of the merchants. Jodhpur had once risen to become the most important town in Marwar Region. Today, Jodhpur is the second-largest city in Rajasthan, but the pace of growth is thankfully gradual.
Attractions in Jodhpur
This imposing edifice must have been one of the most unassailable forts of Rajasthan. Rao Jodha had chosen to construct this towering fort on a lone hill (150 m high) situated amidst the plains. The reason is pretty evident that standing on the fort, soldiers can easily spot the approaching enemy. As you watch the fort from outside, it clearly appears to be an expression of might. But things change when you enter inside. There you are greeted by the elegant palaces which are intricately sculpted and beautifully decorated. So, this fort is a wonderful amalgamation of the expressions of the might and of the art. No wonder it is one of the most visited forts in Rajasthan. Read More
This magnificent palace, built in the new part of the city, is the best example of Indo-Deco style of architecture in India. Built of creamy-pink sandstone, this edifice is nothing short of an extravaganza. But the irony is that this palace was a famine relief project. Begun in 1929, it kept 3000 labourers employed until 1943 when the construction got accomplished. Situated in the middle of 26 acres of land, this palace has 347 rooms. When the palace was ready, the royals shifted here from the Mehrangarh Fort and even today one-third of the building is occupied by them. Rest of the palace houses a hotel and a museum. Read More
Travel Tip: Visitors can access the museum, but to visit the hotel, there is a cover charge for non-residents which can be settled against food and refreshments.
Jodhpur was originally established around the base of the hill on which Mehrangarh Fort stands. This town was fortified with a 9.5 km long wall, strengthened with 101 bastions. Today it has sprawled to become a large city, but the old city has retained much of its authentic charm. Walking in its labyrinth of streets and alleys, you can discover many old houses and small bazaars. The pace of life is endearingly slow in this part of the city. Some of the old colonies here are painted blue imparting the moniker “Blue City” to Jodhpur.
Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
This park was created in 2006 to improve the state of the wasteland near the base of the fort. The entire land had got covered with thorny bush. After getting rid of the shrub, the ecologists planted here about 80 species of rock-loving plants brought from the Thar Desert. The park covers about 200 acres of land and has a walking trail.
This pillared marble memorial is a cenotaph made in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II who got rid of bandits from Jodhpur and introduced the innovative irrigation schemes. This memorial is just 500 m north of Mehrangarh Fort and is connected by a road. Mehrangarh looks beautiful from the terrace of Jaswant Thada.
This tower was constructed in 1912 and the clock on it is still working. Standing amidst Sardar Bazaar, this tower looks beautiful with its overhanging balconies on every floor.
Centered around the clock tower, this is the main bazaar in the old city. Here you’ll find small shops selling textile products, soft leather shoes, lacquer bangles, silver jewellery, puppets and clay figurines.
Mandore, 9 km north of Jodhpur, was the home of Rathore rulers until Rao Jodha founded Jodhpur and shifted to Mehrangarh. Today Mandore can be visited to see the royal cenotaphs and ruins of the ancient fort. The royal cenotaphs can be found spread across terraced gardens in a huge campus. Many of these cenotaphs, made from dark red sandstone, resemble temples. The largest cenotaph, built in 1724, is dedicated to king Ajit Singh. A short walk from these gardens lead to the remnants of the ancient fort. Nearby is a palace of queens and behind it is a small and dull museum. A short walk from here is the “Hall of Heroes” which has sixteen gigantic figures of deities chiselled out of a single rock.
Umaid Gardens and Government Museum
A small zoo is located within the gardens along with the government museum. Apart from some stuffed animals and miniature portraits, the museum has images of Jain Tirthankaras and some antiquities.
Kaylana Lake and Takhat Sagar are two lakes separated by a strip of land which is cut through by Jaisalmer road. The lakes are about 11 km from Jodhpur. Despite not being well-kept, Kaylana attracts many locals with its boating facility.
Adventure lovers wouldn’t be disappointed in Jodhpur. Flying Fox Asia manages a network of six zip wires here. Gliding over them, you can get a bird’s eye view of Mehrangarh Fort and the blue city beneath. Instructors are available for guidance and each trip lasts about ninety minutes. It is suggestible to do advance booking on their website. (www.flyingfox.asia)
This unique thing about this temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is that it stands on 84 pillars without any walls. Each of these pillars is ornately decorated with frescoes and carvings depicting different postures of yoga. This temple is about 3-4 km from Mehrangarh Fort.
Bal Samand, 6 km north, is known for its lake and palace. The lake here is said to be the oldest artificial lake in Rajasthan. Beside the lake is a palace-turned-hotel. This red sandstone palace, with beautifully carved balconies, has European-style interiors. It used to serve as a summer retreat for the royals.
Places to see around Jodhpur
The most popular excursion out of Jodhpur is visiting a few of the Bishnoi villages. Bishnoi is the name of a sect which has mastered the art of living in harmony with nature; there are many villages near Jodhpur which are inhabited by them. They are vegetarians and detest killing of animals and felling of trees. By visiting these villages, you can get a sneak peek into their lives along with spotting a few animals like nilgai (blue bull) and antelopes. Blackbucks can also be spotted as they roam freely here. Your hotel or guesthouse would help you arrange a safari to these villages.
Nagaur was a huge kingdom in the medieval period. It was attacked and plundered several times and has changed many hands. Before independence, it was part of Jodhpur Kingdom. Today along with the dominating Ahhichatragarh Fort, it has temples and havelis. For a period in history, Nagaur was a centre of Chisti Sufis. The fort here serves as a venue of annual World Spirit Sufi Festival.
Osian, a village in the middle of Thar Desert, was once a major trading centre. Today along with its historical Hindu and Jain temples, it offers the travellers a glimpse of the life in a desert village of India. A short drive out of the town will put you in the middle of pristine desert. There are desert retreats near Osian, in case you want to stay back. The most visited temples in Osian are Hindu temple of Sachiya Mata and Jain Temple of Lord Mahavira.
This village’s popularity owes to its guests. Scores of demoiselle cranes land here during winters when their natives in Central Asia are too cold to survive. Villagers here are very protective for them and are happy to feed them. Oswal Jains from various parts of the country contribute for the feeding of these winged visitors. The sandstone havelis of the village are worth a gaze.