Visiting Jodhpur has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to meander the quiet alleyways bathed in blue, marvel at the architecture of the forts and palaces, and drift away at the stepwell. My interest in the blue city grew even more when I heard one of my favorite films – The Dark Knight Rises was shot at the majestic Mehrangarh Fort. Now that I was traveling in Rajasthan, Jodhpur’s famous attraction ought to be on the list.
As I stood on the rooftop of my hotel, I was in awe and admiration of the imposing fort in the background with a lush blue sea of homes. It is ritzy yet simple with many places to visit in Jodhpur.
- 1 Things to Do in the Blue City, Jodhpur
- 1.1 Explore Mehrangarh Fort
- 1.2 Dinner at A Restaurant Overlooking the Fort
- 1.3 Be Mesmerised at Jaswant Thada
- 1.4 Sample Mouth-watering Snacks at Janta Sweet Home
- 1.5 Taste of the Royal Life at Umaid Bhavan Palace
- 1.6 Perfect Start to the Day at Toorji Ka Jhalra – ‘The Stepwell’
- 1.7 Visit India’s Angor Wat – Mandore Gardens
- 1.8 Hunt for the Blue Houses
- 1.9 Makhani Lassi at Mishrilal Hotel
- 1.10 Don’t Miss the Thrill of Zip-Lining
- 1.11 Go Easy on the Rajasthani Thali
- 2 Where to Stay in the Blue City?
- 3 Shopping at Jodhpur
- 4 Travel Tips
Things to Do in the Blue City, Jodhpur
An incredibly rewarding experience full of adventure and surprises awaits in a tour of the blue city. If you’re looking for reasons to go, here are some of the top things to do in Jodhpur (in no particular order) to help you plan your Jodhpur travel itinerary:
Explore Mehrangarh Fort
I spent hours exploring Jodhpur’s regal jewel, its grand doorways, balconies, expansive courtyards, and multiple opulent spaces. The 125m tall colossal structure was built in 1459 A.D by Rao Jodha and a trip to Jodhpur without a tour of the beautiful Mehrangarh Fort is incomplete.
The Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), and the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) are all exquisite rooms. The Moti Mahal is a palatial room with stained glass windows and ceilings decorated in gold leaf, seashells, and mirrors. The Phool Mahal was made as a pleasure room for the Maharajas with ceilings adorned in gold filigree and mirrors for the luxurious indulgence of our erstwhile Maharajas. These 3 palaces are amongst the top things to see in the blue city of Jodhpur.
On top of Mehrangarh’s fort walls are cannons on display, providing higher security to Maharaja Rao Jodha. This explains his strategic move from Mandore (the original capital of Marwar) to Mehrangarh. The growing number of attacks on Mandore made several Rathore rulers eventually move out of the city.
Mehrangarh is regarded as one of the best forts in the country. There’s little doubt to that accolade. The fort is maintained well and happens to be the only fort in India with an elevator installed in recent times.
Also read: Places to visit in Chittorgarh
Tip: Do not forget to see kites fly in gyres over the fort at 3:30 pm. Feeding them is an old Rajasthani tradition.
Dinner at A Restaurant Overlooking the Fort
There are a couple of restaurants offering good views of Mehrangarh Fort. You could try a different place every day. I had read about the popular restaurant ‘Indique’ and went with the reviews. The food wasn’t up to the hype but dinner with a view of the illuminated fort must not be missed. The lit-up fort against the night sky is an incredible sight.
Be Mesmerised at Jaswant Thada
A few hundred meters from Mehrangarh Fort is Jaswant Thada, a white marble cenotaph built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The tomb which can be recognized from a distance by its array of domes is a delight to aesthetes. The structure built in 1899 is often referred to as the Taj Mahal of Jodhpur.
The ideal time to visit here is during sunrise and sunset when the rays shine on the milky white marble. Jaswant Thada is one of the best places to see in Jodhpur with its lakeside views and landscaped gardens bringing a sense of tranquillity.
Sample Mouth-watering Snacks at Janta Sweet Home
You can’t not be experimenting with the variety of local delicacies in the blue city. Go straight to Janta Sweet Home for the most savored snacks. Begin with these: Pyaaz Ki Kachori (fried puffed pastry with spicy onion stuffing) and don’t miss out on the Samosas. The Jodhpuri Mirchi vada (fried green peppers and potato) is also a big hit, although I’m not a fan. To finish up get a Mawa kachori (sweet puffed pastry coated with sugar syrup).
With its popularity, Janta Sweet Home does a good job of attending to its customers in a timely manner. Either way, it’s worth the wait!
Taste of the Royal Life at Umaid Bhavan Palace
Umaid Bhavan is the home of Maharaja Gaj Singh and the Royal Family of Jodhpur. It is one of the biggest private residences in the world which took 15 years to accomplish. The palace was built by Jodhpur’s ruler Maharaja Umaid Singh to provide employment to the people during a period of famine. Work towards constructing the palace began in 1928 and was completed in 1943. One of the last built palaces before India got its independence.
Umaid Bhavan is located at Chittar hill spanning a total of 26 acres. The outer structure made with Chittar sandstone overlooks vast landscaped lawns. The architecture inside is a blend of Indo-Saracenic, Classical Revival, and Western Art Deco styles. A WOWW factor for me was the Makrana marble in the palace interiors that was also used to build the Taj Mahal.
Although it is the home of the royal family, Umaid Bhavan has also leased a part of the property to Taj Hotels. Entry is restricted to only the museum for the general public unless you’re a guest staying with the hotel.
This must-visit place in Jodhpur; Umaid Bhavan has a noticeable resemblance to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the official residence of the President of India) in Delhi.
Perfect Start to the Day at Toorji Ka Jhalra – ‘The Stepwell’
The symmetrical beauty of this ancient stepwell has made Toorji Ka Jhalra famous world over. This visual delight is located in the heart of the city and has plenty of commercial establishments using it to their advantage. Fancy cafés, boutiques, and hotels all have cashed in at this architectural wonder.
Tip: Try getting to this top tourist attraction early in the morning to get the place to yourself.
The stepwell was once used to conserve water through long dry spells and aid people during a water shortage.
Today, it is a murky pool which brings my concern to how irresponsible and ignorant we are to the environment today. We must maintain the sanctity and preserve our rich heritage in art and engineering.
Visit India’s Angor Wat – Mandore Gardens
Mandore was once the capital of Marwar until Maharaja Rao Jodha felt Jodhpur was a safer location. The Mandore Gardens are lush green gardens built around cenotaphs with cheeky monkeys doing the rounds. This place bears a strong similarity to the ancient temples of Angor Wat.
Mandore also deserves mention for another intriguing story. In India, Raavan represents evil but in the Mandore vicinity, a Brahmin sub-community is known to worship him. They even have a temple with his deity offering prayers to Lord Shiva. The sub-community believes Raavan was a devotee of the Supreme Lord Shiva. Also, Mandore is the maternal home of Mandodari, Raavan’s wife.
Hunt for the Blue Houses
As blue as the city is made to sound, when you actually step out to find these indigo boxes, you’re going to be wandering for a while. There are so many narrow lanes in the city and the ones in blue seem hidden. I took left and right turns, meandered through familiar streets, and found a tinge of blue only to get lost again. But the adventure and fun are real.
While the color of the houses being blue is yet a mystery, what seems like the most plausible reason is tons of Brahmins lived here and painted their houses blue in the worship of Lord Shiva. It is assumed that everyone followed suit and almost everything from the walls, to the roofs, and the doors were all painted blue.
So, they do exist, you just have to be patient. You can always ask around and get directions.
Makhani Lassi at Mishrilal Hotel
This family-run business has people flocking their little café. It has the finest quality of yogurt known in the city. I won’t rate it as the best I’ve ever had but it’s definitely good. The Makhaniya Lassi is a top seller and a whole lot creamier.
Don’t Miss the Thrill of Zip-Lining
Zip-lining is a fun activity to do and with a backdrop of Mehrangarh fort, hell yeah! As you fly across the open lake and rocky trail to land on the walls of the fort itself, you get a spectacular view of the blue city.
This experience ensures you cover Jodhpur both by land and air.
Also referred to as the flying fox, the adventure ride costs only INR 1800 for adults if you book online. This is relatively cheaper than booking at the counter.
Go Easy on the Rajasthani Thali
The much-anticipated thali had my Jodhpur trip at a standstill! Post my thali feast, I was compelled to push all sightseeing plans to the next day.
In my defense, it was my first Rajasthani Thali and the Dal Bhatti and Gatte Ki Sabzi kept me full for the next 24 hours. A thali would have you in a food coma and restrict your movement most definitely! Maybe, keep the thali last on your list of things to do in Jodhpur before you head to your next destination.
Where to Stay in the Blue City?
The Old City is the preferred location for many reasons. Its proximity to the fort, plenty of havelis and guesthouse options in the vicinity, and most importantly for the best views of Mehrangarh. Having said that, the lanes in the area are narrow allowing little space for a vehicle to pass.
Sardar Market in Old city has accommodation options with rooftops that provide breathtaking views of the Mehrangarh Fort. The fort looks stunning when the sun falls on its sandstone structure.
Two of my recommendations are the Pal Haveli and RAAS Jodhpur near the stepwell in Old city.
Shopping at Jodhpur
Sardar market in Old city is recommended for shopping gemstones, scarfs, shawls, and Alibaba pants. A landmark and point of interest in the market area is the Clock Tower.
- Keep a minimum of 4 hours to explore Mehrangarh fort. There is a lot to see.
- You can avail services of a guide at the fort or opt for the audio tour.
- There are a couple of restaurant options at the fort.
Are you heading to Udaipur after Jodhpur, check out my post – Easy Guide to Udaipur – The City of Lakes.