We visited Jodhpur as the second stop during our Rajasthan trip late last year. Jodhpur was a late addition to our itinerary, mainly based on discussions with friends and colleagues. The layout of the city, especially the old city is completely different, and could look chaotic to an out of towner like me, but the folks there navigated the meandering, tangled, buzzing and glittering little lanes and spiraling traffic with utmost ease and effortless patience. The auto rickshaws were modified to be slimmer to fit through the narrow gullies, and turn corners like no other! Cars drop off outside the old city, and then its walking or autos. We of course decided to stay in the old city, which by the way also has mandates of painting the walls on one side as blue – hence acquiring the name Blue City. We opted to stay in Juna Mahal – a cute little boutique hotel in Mithaio ki Gali! Yes, that is where it was!
Jodhpur is mainly a bustling business city, located right in the centre of Rajasthan facilitating trade easily. The heart of the Marwar empire, which eventually was taken under the Mughals. To be honest, things to do in Jodhpur didn’t really amount to a long list. We loved the experience of the stay, the people and the food. But to identify the top things to do, here’s our pick.
First and the unmissable is the towering Mehrangarh Fort, that has a remarkable view of the Blue City, all the Brahmin houses painted alike. The fort is now a museum, and also an exhibition venue. Some of the pieces of jewelry, clothing and weaponry, even royal palanquins kept here are from the ruling ages, showing art that emerged as part of the close ties between Mughals and Jodhpur kings. For a detailed visit to the fort, we recommend you keep aside at least half a day. Local musicians, craft and clothes shops are all inside the fort, along with some cafes.
There are also zipline tours you can take to see the fort in a completely new dimension!
An interesting thing in Rajasthan is the dynasties of the kings still own these palaces and forts, and not the Government of India. So the upkeep and maintenance all falls to the elected trust. Now 36th Custodian of Marwar- Jodhpur, H. H. Maharaja Gaj Singhji handles this property.
UMAID BHAVAN PALACE & HOTEL
A popular place in Jodhpur is the Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum. Beautifully perched on Chittar Hill, the palace has a great view of the city, the fort and is a beautiful architecture. Taj Hotels has taken over most of the property, so the museum is really small, we finished walking around in about 15 minutes. Staying at the Taj, and experiencing the luxury of a heritage property would definitely be very nice, but to visit the place is not really something worth talking about. The vintage cars here are locked indoors as well, with no access, making the experience quite underwhelming. The personal watch collection of the royalty was the only thing worth exploring.
PLACES TO EAT IN JODHPUR
The property where we were staying at had a roof top cafe where we went for a night cap, and even breakfast. The view from the roof top is quite beautiful, the expanse of the old city as well as the fort can be seen during the day, and the night view with twinkling lights was quite nice too. To reach the rooftop, one needs to embark in some serious stair climbing, but my first pick is the Juna Mahal Cafe – a slightly expensive, but good place to hang. The night view is worth your time. The local Mithai and snack shops in Adaa Bazaar are wonderful to explore, no names to list, just get there!
On the Rocks was recommended by a work friend. A large area with several restaurants and a small entrance, with couple of boutiques around – that was the first impression for me. Dim lighting, outdoor seating, quite a romantic destination. They serve non vegetarian food, which is only possible outside the old city walls. Loved the appetizers and the Laal Maas. Good food, chilled beer and great service.
THINGS TO DO NEARBY – RANAKPUR
We traveled from Jodhpur to Udaipur by road, and that wasn’t necessarily a great journey. It wasn’t a highway, and we had to travel through muddy and barely constructed road. However, this was a detour we took to be able to see the Jain Temple at Ranakpur.