Known as the Blue City for its jumble of brilliant cerulean-hued buildings, Jodhpur is a must-see when visiting Rajasthan. One of India’s most beautiful destinations, nestled on the fringes of the Thar Desert, there are a number of incredible sights that should not be missed, from the historic and lavish Umaid Bhawan Palace to the mighty Mehrangarh Fort.
To really soak up the charm of Jodhpur, however, we encourage you to explore beyond the monuments. Instead, get stuck into the tangle of winding, glittering, medieval streets, which never seem to lead where you expect them to, scented by incense, roses and spices. Shops and bazaars sell everything from trumpets and temple decorations to snuff and saris.
Jodhpur tends to fall somewhere in the middle of our guests’ itineraries, meaning that you would likely arrive mid-afternoon in the Blue City, having driven from Jaipur (6 hrs), Jaisalmer (5 hrs) or Udaipur (5 hrs). With that in mind, allow yourself a couple of hours or so on arrival to relax, settle in and enjoy your luxury hotel.
We recommend Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of India’s last great palaces – and still home to the Maharaja today, with the splendid building now divided into the royal wing, a luxury hotel and a museum. Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, the property is the world’s sixth-largest private residence and features the same palm court marble used in the iconic Taj Mahal. It has also built its fame from being the venue for several celebrity weddings like Liz Hurley and Arun Nair and recently priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas tied the knot here. Built in 1943 with 26 acres of manicured grounds, the 64 grand rooms and suites are suitably opulent in Art Deco style and filled with antiques. Let yourself be blown away before you’ve even stepped foot in the palace by arriving in a fabulous vintage car (which we can organize for you). Then, marvel at the massive dome ceiling as you enter, which looms a staggering 105 feet above you.
Should you prefer somewhere more central, where you can really be in the midst of day-to-day life, we recommend boutique hotel Raas Jodhpur. A splendid haveli with a loyal celebrity following, Mehrangarh Fort towers above the property – the illuminated evening views are breath-taking. Also, in the heart of Jodhpur is Ajit Bhawan, which was once home to the Maharaja’s younger brother. A red sandstone structure with 39 cottages set in the gardens, this heritage hotel is picture-perfect: arched windows, carved balconies, cupolas and a quadrangle with exquisitely carved latticework.
In the evening, soak up a private Bhopa performance – a vibrant Rajasthani art form which combines singing, dancing and painting. Afterward, move on to your hotel’s rooftop restaurant with fabulous views of Mehrangarh Fort. Order a traditional Rajasthani thali, a collection of traditional dishes and a great way to sample the flavors of Rajasthan.
This morning you’ll be met by a local expert to explore the architectural masterpieces of Jodhpur, beginning with Jaswant Thada; an elegant milky-white pillared marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, which sits above a small lake with an array of whimsical domes.
It’s a welcome, peaceful spot and the views across to the fort and over the city are superb. Built in 1899, the cenotaph has some beautiful jalis (carved-marble lattice screens) and is hung with portraits of Rathore rulers going back to the 13th century
You’ll then continue to Mehrangarh Fort, one of the most magnificent forts in India, which rises majestically out of a 125m high rock. Still run by the Jodhpur royal family, Mehrangarh is packed with history and legend. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha who gave his name to Jodhpur, the fort was once described by an awe-struck Rudyard Kipling as “the creation of angels, fairies and giants”. The royal apartments within the fort now form part of an outstanding museum. This includes Takht Vila, an exuberantly painted room which was the preferred retreat of Maharaja Takhat Singh (1843–73), who had 30 queens. Next, enjoy a walk around the extensive ramparts and gaze up at the eagles circling above you. The skyline is stunning, too, and looking over the sea of blue walls and rooftops, you’ll truly appreciate why Jodhpur was given the name ‘The Blue City’. Also, worth exploring is the Chokelao Bagh, a restored and gorgeously-planted 18th-century Rajput garden full of leafy banana trees and a well that seems almost as deep as Mehrangarh is high.
Return to your hotel for lunch before a bit of a relaxing by the pool. Alternatively, you could head for a massage (both Umaid Bhawan Palace and Raas Jodhpur have world-class spas). Then, reunite with your guide in the cool of the late afternoon to explore the labyrinthine lanes of the old city. With an entrance marked by an early 20th-century clock tower, the maze of streets in and around Sadar Bazaar is fascinating to explore. Anything and everything is on sale here from silver jewelry to camel leather shoes to puppets and sweets and spices in hundreds of tiny shops and stalls. Just make sure you haggle when it comes to the price! In between the hustle and bustle, school children in crisp uniforms, jostle with rickshaws, goats, sacred cows and tourists. Whilst many of our guests embark on this tour by foot, we also offer the opportunity to explore the lanes on a bicycle if you’re feeling more active, or by tuk-tuk – a great way of soaking up the bright colors and sounds of Rajasthan.
In the evening, if you’re staying at the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, we’d recommend returning in time for the pre-dinner champagne walk through the palace’s private museum. Here, you’ll learn about the history of this fabulous building and uncover its art collection. Top off the day with dinner at the palace’s Pillars restaurant on the terrace – the rose ice cream is excellent.
The majority of our guests depart from Jodhpur after breakfast to their next destination. Should you have time to spare, we’d recommend heading out to the sandy outskirts of Jodhpur by jeep to discover rural Rajasthan. Journey through small towns and villages, past camels, and down many a dirt track road to arrive at the arid countryside south of Jodhpur. Dotted with villages, the mud and thatch huts are home to the Bishnois (a Hindu religious sect dating back to the 15th century) alongside communities of potters and weavers. A tour of this area provides a fascinating insight into the rhythm of daily life in these hamlets, from father and sons creating clay water jugs on a foot-powered throwing wheel to husbands and wives weaving dhurries from cotton and camel hair.
Jodhpur is a fascinating destination guaranteed to provide you with a great snapshot of all Rajasthan has to offer: from vibrant bazaars to splendid architecture and hundreds of years of heritage. You can get a flavor of everything within 48 hours, but, as always with India, the more time you spend there, the more secrets you’ll uncover
Jodhpur is within driving distance of Jaipur (6 hrs), Udaipur (5 hrs) and Jaisalmer (5 hrs), as well as a few of our favorite hideaways in rural Rajasthan such asRawlaNarlai (3hrs), Dev Shree (3hrs) and Lakshman Sagar (2hrs). Daily direct flights operate from and to Delhi and Mumbai, both taking about an hour and a half.
If you’d like to visit Jodhpur, please do get in touch. All our tours are private and tailor-made to your specific requirements; let us know what you’d like to experience and we’ll make it happen. These ideas are just a starting point for what your trip to India could include. To start planning your luxury tailor-made holiday to India, please contact us. Each trip designed by Rajasthan Tours is created uniquely for you, working to your budget, style, and interests with an absolute commitment to quality. We take the work off you to allow you to enjoy the most memorable holiday experience.
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