Jodhpur is rich in fort and palace treasures and well endowed with side trips, such as Guda Vishnoi, home of the gentle Vishnoi community and a haven for wildlife, and the Thar Desert temple town of sian. Two other forts beckon: the 16th-century Khimsar Fort, now a Heritage Hotel and a destination in its own right, and Nagaur, in whose fort you can camp during the town’s winter cattle fair.
Guarded by one of the most imposing fortresses of Rajputana, Jodhpur sits at the base of a golden sandstone ridge. Capital of the Mar-war kingdom for five centuries, the city is named for its 15th-century founder, Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan of Marwar (which traces its lineage hack to Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu Ramayana epic). The city is on the fringe of the Thar Desert, so a wall 9 kms in circumference keeps out the desert sands. Not to be outdone by the Pink City, Jodhpur is famous for its blue houses, painted with blue dye mixed into white cement. From Meherangarh Fort the city looks like a sea in the desert.
Getting around Jodhpur is relatively easy, and rewards you with walks through a massive fort, palaces, and gardens as well as markets full of fruit, textile, and handicraft stalls. Take special note of Jodhpuri pathar, the peach-color stone that makes these houses and buildings stand apart from others in Rajasthan. If you have extra time, take a desert safari on camelback.
Jodhpur is also well-known for its food and hospitality, especially its mithai (sweets) and the manuhar ritual that accompanies its food. When you’re offered a mave ki kachori (milk-based pastry) or basin ki baarfi (graham-flour cookie), along with mirchi hada (fried breaded pepper) and kofta (fried breaded potato), don’t resist: The offer will be repeated until you take some.
Jodhpur can be experienced in two days, covering the essentials first. Start your first day early at the Meherangarth Fort, where you’re bound to spend a few hours. Take one of the waiting rickshaws down the mountain and north to the Jaswant Thada memorial. After a break for lunch, hire a car and driver for the short drive north of Jodhpur to the Mandore Gaidens. From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to Balsamand Lake and Gcirden. If yoil have a little extra time, visit Mahandir. End your day at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum—walk through the museum before it closes at .5; then stay for dinner and fabulous sunset views.
If you have two days here, drive out of town once more to see the nature-loving town of Guda Vishnoi, where deer and birds feed at water holes early in the morning. Return to Jodhpur for lunch and a bit of shopping. In the early evening, make a pilgrimage to the temple town of Osian.
Top sightseeing attractions in India’s Blue City – Jodhpur
Balsamand Lake and Garden
This public park (cum wildlife sanctuary) has a picturesque view of its 12th-century artificial lake and the royal family’s beautiful 19th-century summer palace, now a hotel. The lake is surrounded by a thick jungle of fruit trees called badis. It’s the perfect place for a tranquil stroll—just bewares the mischievous monkeys, who are always on the watch for good pranks (and good pakoras, vegetable fritters). Don’t try to pluck the fruit from the trees, as the monkeys will catch you red-handed.
The royal marble crematorium was built in 1899 for Maharaja jaswant Singh. Capping the enormous white structure are marble canopies under which individual members of the royal family are buried. You may see people bowing before the image of the king, who is considered to have joined the ranks of the deities.
Built in 1812 just outside Jodhpur, this old, walled monastery complex still’ has a few hundred houses. The monastery belongs to the Nath community, warrior-priests who worked closely with the royal family to arrange support in times of war. Mahamandir is best known for the 84 beautifully carved pillars that surround it.
Within the old Marwar capital at Mandore, these gardens house the exquisitely sculpted red-sandstone davals (cenotaphs) of former rulers. The Hall of Heroes depicts 16 colorfully painted heroes and deities carved from a single piece of stone. The small museum on the grounds’ has sculptures from the 5th to the 9th centuries as well as ivory and lacquer work. There’s even a cactus nursery. Unfortunately, due to the large number of picnics and dal baati churma feasts held here, the gardens have grown dirty and are not terribly well-maintained.
Perched on the top of a hill, this enormous fort was built by Rao Jodha in 1459, when he shifted his capital from Mandore to Jodhpur. Looking straight down a perpendicular cliff, the fort has been thus far impregnable and is a mighty imposing landmark, especially at night, when it’s bathed in yellow light. You approach the fort up a steep walkway (the 40-minute hike is much more enjoyable than the rickshaw alternative), passing under no fewer than eight huge gates. The first, the Victory Gate, was built by Maharaja Nit Singh to commemorate his military success against the Moguls at the benignity of the 18th century; the other seven commemorate victories over other Rajput states. The last gate, as in many Rajput forts, displays the haunting handprints of women who immolated themselves after their husbands were defeated in battle.
Inside the rugged fort, delicate latticed windows and pierced sandstone screens are the surprising motifs. The palaces—Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace), and the other apartment sate exquisitely decorated, their ceilings, walls, and even floors, covered with murals, mirror work, and gilt. The palace museum has exquisite ropms filled with lavish royal palanquins, thrones, paintings, and even a, giant tent. The ramparts provide an excellent city view.
Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum
Built between 1929 and 1942 as a public-works project during a long famine, by 3,000 workers at the behest of Maharaja Umaid Singh this palace is now part museum, part royal residence, and part Heritage Hotel. Its Art Deco design makes it unique in the state. Amazingly, no cement was used in construction; the palace is made of interlocking’ blocks of sandstone, a fact to bear in mind when you stand under the imposing 183-ft-high central dome. The collection includes royal finery, local arts and crafts, miniature paintings, and a large number, of clocks. You may catch a glimpse of the maharaja of Jodhpur, who still lives in one large wing of the palace; but in any case you won’t miss seeing the magnificent peacocks who dance around the palace’s Marble chattris (canopies) and lush back lawns.
One of Jodhpur’s most exquisite places to watch the sun set is Pillars, the restaurant on the palace’s elegant, colonnaded veranda. As you con-template the immaculately manicured gardens, peacocks strut up the steps and strains of sitar music fill the air.