No this city is not sad. In this case it is a blue city because the dominant color of the buildings and walls in the Old City is blue as far as the eye can see. There are many wonders that Jodhpur can offer and is located in the Thar Desert of the northwest Indian state of Rajasthan. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but there are non-Brahmins here too. The blue appears to glow with a mysterious light and the blue tint is thought to repel insects. It is also known as the “Sun City” because the city enjoys bright and sunny weather all through the year. The Old City circles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. Of course this city has now expanded greatly beyond the Old Blue City.
Mehrangarh is one of the most awesome and magnificent forts in India. It is perched upon a rocky hill that stands 120m above Jodhpur’s sky line. The fort battlements are 6m to 36m high and have been chiseled from the rock upon which it stands. The fort is still run by the Jodhpur royal family and is full of history and legend. Mehrangarh’s main entrance is at the northeast gate, Jai Pol. It’s about a 300m walk from the Old City to the entrance or you can choose to take a winding 5km auto rickshaw ride.
Jai Pol was built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1808 following his defeat of invading forces from Jaipur. The 16th century Dodh Kangra Pol used to be an external gate before Jai Pol was built and you can still see the scars of 1808 cannonball hits. Once you’ve passed through Jai Pol the main route leads to the left through the 16th century Imritia Pol and then Loha Pol, the fort’s original entrance, with iron spikes to deter enemy elephants. Just inside of the gates are two sets of small hand prints, the sati (self-immolation) marks of royal widows who threw themselves on their maharajas’ funeral pyres – the last to do this was Maharaja Man Singh’s widow in 1843.
Past Loha Pol is a restaurant and Surah Pol gives access to the museum. From the museum you can continue on to the panoramic ramparts all lined with impressive antique artillery. Also worth exploring is heading right from Jai Pol, where the path winds down to Chokelao Bagh, a restored and lovely Rajput garden that was planted in the 18th century and then you can exit through the Fateh Pol into the old city quarter of Navchokiya.
One of the largest gardens in Rajasthan is Umed Garden. This popular garden offers visitors green lawn, blooming flowers and lots of other things to delight the eye. You can learn a lot about the rich history of the region’s past in the many forts and palaces to explore here. The garden spreads for 82 acres and has been made so that visitors can stroll about and enjoy the flora and fauna. It is located close to the Umaid Palace.
Roses dominate this garden and there are tall Ashoka trees, sparkling fountains and even a zoo. At the zoo you can see many different birds in their natural environment. Among the animals on display are many varieties of crocodiles, monkeys, deer, leopards, lions, tigers, ostrich, zebras and emus. The garden is constructed that you can enter it through any one of the five gates which bring you into different locations of the garden. The garden was conceived for the purpose of educating kids about the beauty of nature and the importance of protecting it.
Umed Garden has a Walk-In Aviary constructed in 1978 which is home to many common and exotic birds. There are African and Australian parrots and duck swimming in a pond. All of the birds and animals live in natural surroundings. Opposite the aviary is a large cage for bears. Take the time to visit The Government Museum which is within the garden complex and is a major tourist attraction.
Sardar Government Museum was built as an impressive example of Rajput architecture carved from sandstone. The galleries around Shringar Chowk or Anointment Courtyard display India’s best collection of elephant howdahs and Jodhpur’s royal palanquin collection.
Off Daular Khana Chowk one gallery displays textiles, paintings, manuscripts, headgear and the curved sword of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Another gallery is the armory. Upstairs you’ll find a gallery of miniature paintings from the sophisticated Marwar School and the lovely 18th century Phul Mhal or Flower Palace, with 19th century wall paintings that depict the 36 moods of classical ragas as well as royal portraits.
Takhat Vilas was the bedchamber of Maharaja Takhat Singh (r 1843–73), who had 30 maharanis and numerous concubines. The amazing and lovely ceiling is covered with Christmas baubles. The impressive latticed windows feature more than 250 different designs. You can also see the Cradle Gallery which exhibits the elaborate cradles of infant princes and the 17th century Moti Mahal or Pearl Palace, which was the palace’s main durbar hall (royal reception hall) for official meetings and receptions with wonderful, colorful stained glass.
Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park is a 72-hectare park the sits in the lee of Mehrangarh. It has been restored and planted with native species to show visitors the natural diversity of the region. The park has walking trails which will take you up to the city walls, around Devkund Lake where you can see local birds, butterflies and reptiles. If you prefer, you can take along a local guide who can inform you about the native flora and fauna. The most pleasant temperatures are in the early morning or in the late afternoon. There is a visitor center and a small cafe.
Mandor Gardens are situated 9km north of Jodhpur center. Mandor was the capital of Marwar prior to the founding of Jodhpur. The gardens have rock terraces and are home to playful grey langurs. There is the soaring Chhatri of Maharaja Dhiraj Ajit Singh, combining Buddhist and Jain elements in its architecture. This enormous, edifice has a high spire, a pillared and domed fore chamber and fine sculpture that includes small carved elephants and lions. The memorial also marks the spot where 64 queens and concubines committed sati on Ajit Singh’s death in 1724.
Opposite you’ll find the 1720 Chhatri of Maharaja Dhiraj Jaswant Singh I, with a large pavilion and a vast dome on an octagonal base. It has a gallery that is supported by huge pillars.
A path winds 350m behind the gardens and leads to the extensive remains of Mandore’s fort on the hill above. The fort is now home mostly to langurs, dogs and cows.
Umaid Bhawan Palace sits on a hilltop, 3km southeast of the Old City. Gaj Singh II, the current royal incumbent, still lives in part of the palace. It was built in 1929, designed by British architect Henry Lanchester and has 365 rooms. The building is mortarless and incorporates 100 wagon loads of Makrana marble and Burmese teak in the interior. A large part of the building has been turned into a grand hotel. Casual visitors aren’t welcome at either the royal residence or the hotel but can visit the museum which is to one side of the building. Here you can see photos of the elegant art deco design of the palace’s interior and there is an eccentric collection of elaborate clocks. You can also see the maharaja’s highly polished classic cars, displayed in the front of the museum near the entrance gate.
The impressive Jaswant Thada is a milky-white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. It sits above a small lake 1km northeast of Mehrangarh. It’s quiet and peaceful spot with great views of the fort and the city. Built in 1899, the cenotaph has some lovely jalis (carved marble lattice screens) and displays portraits of Rathore rules dating back to the 13th century. There is also a memorial to a peacock that flew into a funeral pyre.
An old city landmark is the century-old clock tower which is surrounded by Sardar Market and has triple gateways at its northern and southern ends. From here the narrow and winding lanes of the Old City spread out in all directions. Heading toward the west you’ll find yourself in the very heart of it with crowded alleys and bazaars that sell everything from vegetables to spices to sweets to silver and handicrafts.
Sardar Market is one of the oldest markets of Jodhpur. It may be noisy and dirty but it sure is also colorful and most likely has up to 7,000 match-box sized shops. You can buy practically anything your heart might desire. It gets really crowded during tourist season which is just four months long and shopkeepers depend on tourists for their living.
Another popular garden is Jodhpur Nehru Park, stretching for 14 acres. It was developed as a park for children. There are is a fountain, a pond, swings, and flowerbeds, trees and plant.
Balsammand Lake is a popular picnic spot surrounded by hills. It’s an artificial lake that was built in 1159 A.D. The lake is located about 7 km from the main city on the Jodhpur-Mandore Road.
Next to the lake is Balsammand Palace, an eight-pillard palace with three entrance gates. Maharaja Sur Singh constructed the palace in 1936 as a summer pavilion.
The lake is surrounded by lush, green gardens. You can stroll through the trees, past the rose beds and around pools with water lilies. There are also groves of mango, guava, papaya, plum, banana, pomegranate and other kinds of fruit. The embankments of the lake, right in front of the palace, have domed structure that offers fabulous views of the lake. You can also see peacocks, blue bulls, jackals and fruit bats in the trees.
On the way to the lake you’ll see the Maha Mandir, a hundred pillared temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A walled town was built around the temple.
60 km south-east of Jodhpur is Sardar Samand Lake. This is a lake for bird watchers and you’ll find many different kinds of migratory birds here. Visitors enjoy the placid water and scenery. Among the birds here you can see the yellow-legged green pigeon, Himalayan griffon and Dalmatian pelican.
On the way to the lake you can spot roaming wildlife of the region such as Black Bucks, Neelgais and Chinkaras. The countryside is dotted with lively villages. On a hill overlooking the lake stands the summer palace of Maharaja Umaid Singh. At one time it was the hunting lodge of the royal Jodhpur family and has now been converted into the Sardar Samand Lake Resort.
Shastri Circle is a traffic roundabout in the middle of Jodhpur. At night it looks fantastic with lights lit up and fountains.
Guda is a Bishnoi village that is home to exotic wildlife and nature. It’s a habitat for thousands of migratory birds. Visitors can see Demoiselle cranes frolicking by the lake. Antelopes and Black Bucks come to drink at the pond. Guda is surrounded by scenic beauty marked with Khejri trees. There is also a manmade lake and the village is sort of like a desert oasis. It is a great place to experience and learn about tradition and customs of tribal life.
For a real adventure head out on a Camel Safari in the Thar Desert. During your camel ride you’ll be able to enjoy miles of golden sand. The safari takes you to tourist destinations such as Meherangarh Fort and some of the other previously mentioned. You’ll also be delighted by Bishnoi villages, picturesque lakes and wildlife habitats.