Explore India’s Blue City: The Best Things to Do in Jodhpur
Visiting Jodhpur for the first time? Read on for places to visit in Jodhpur that you can’t miss, where to stay, how to get there and more.
India is an assault on the senses…in a good way. The scents, sounds and sights can be overwhelming, but it will keep you coming back for more. During my latest trip back to India, I ventured beyond the Golden Triangle spanning Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to explore the colourful Rajasthan state. Rajasthan is located in northwest India and is home to cultural gems like Jaisalmer (the “Golden City”), Jaipur (the “Pink City”), Udaipur (the “White City”) and of course Jodhpur – the “Blue City”.
The sprawling city of Jodhpur has a population of 1.2 million people and features the 15th century UNESCO-listed Mehrangarh Fort, visible from almost all corners of the Blue City and standing proudly at 400 feet above the skyline. The old city is best explored on foot, where you will come across buildings painted in a shade of rich sky blue – a way for the Brahmins, or priestly caste, to keep their dwellings cool in the dry heat.
Those traveling to India should not skip Jodhpur – read on for a quick guide to visiting Jodhpur including places to see, where to stay, how to get around and more.
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What you need to know before traveling to India
- Best time to visit Jodhpur: India’s peak tourism season runs from around October/November to March. If you visit outside of this season you might find the heat very intense, but the crowds outside of peak season also tend to be thinner.
- How to get to Jodhpur: Jodhpur has a small airport (airport code: JDH) so you can fly there from Delhi. Alternatively, if you are visiting other cities in Rajasthan you can travel by car: the drive from Jaipur to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer to Jodhpur or Udaipur to Jodhpur will take approximately 4-5 hours. You can also take a bus or train.
- Local currency: The local currency is the Indian Rupee or INR. The exchange rate is approximately 60 INR to 1 USD – many places only accept cash, so make sure you withdraw some from a local ATM or exchange a small amount when you arrive in India.
- Dress code in India: Both male and female travelers should aim to dress on the conservative side. I recommend covering your shoulders and knees, so pack loose pants, dresses and tops as well as sweaters or jackets that you can throw on when the temperature drops in the early mornings and evenings.
- Stay connected in India: In order to get a local SIM card, you will need to provide a copy of your passport and passport photo. Airtel has a booth in the arrivals hall at Delhi airport and you can purchase a local SIM card for a few hundred Rupees. You get 1 GB a day and the SIM is valid for 30 days, though the SIM card itself will need 12+ hours to be activated. Unfortunately I don’t recall seeing a telecom booth at Jodhpur Airport, but you can ask around to see if they sell any SIM cards in the city.
- India visa process: The dreaded India visa process has been vastly simplified over the years, but you still need to get the application started as early as possible. You are eligible to apply for an e-visa if you hold a passport from one of the countries on the “approved” list. The official e-visa website is located here – do not fall for any other India visa website as there are many fakes out there. Tip: once you have received an e-mail confirming that your e-visa application was successful, you must re-visit the e-visa website to check your visa status and print out the official visa document – a print out of the e-mail confirmation will not be accepted.
How to get around India
I often get asked what the best way to travel around India is. Here’s the thing: do you have to have a tour guide in India? No. But does having one make your life easier? 100% yes. For our trip back to Rajasthan we once again turned to Top Indian Holidays to help plan our trip, book our hotels, organize a private car and driver and arrange a local guide. Nand Singh and his team planned our private Golden Triangle tour a few years ago, and we were so impressed with their hospitality and expertise that it was obvious to us that this was the easiest way to experience more of India in a short amount of time.
Our itinerary was entirely customized and we added several landmarks that weren’t on the original agenda – Nand Singh is a true host and will do what it takes to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable, safe and fuss-free as possible. If you are visiting Jodhpur, make sure you ask if Yuvraj (or Yuri) is available – he has been our guide twice and is a Jodhpur local, so not only does he know the city like the back of his hand, he also knows where to get the best chai and samosas.
Of course, it is also possible to organize the trip entirely by yourself (and many people including myself have done so in the past), but oftentimes you will need to find a reliable driver (or attempt to figure out India’s complicated and sometimes utterly unreliable public transportation systems), and also seek out non-scammy tour guides who know their history inside out. If you are short on time and have no desire to faff around with logistics, and you want a deeper understanding of the history and cultural significance of the monuments, then I absolutely recommend that you enlist the help of a qualified and experienced tour agency.
You might also like: A 1 Week Rajasthan Itinerary for First Time Visitors
Best hotels in Jodhpur
Wondering where to stay in Jodhpur? We had 1 day in Jodhpur and was able to check out one of the city’s top heritage hotels: the Ajit Bhawan.
Ajit Bhawan was the home of the Maharaja’s brother, and as such is a splendid royal palace featuring lush gardens, luxurious rooms and the most sleek bar overlooking the property’s private pool. The palace is located within Jodhpur town, close to the main Jodhpur attractions, and offers a unique heritage stay in the Blue City. Click here to see current rates and availability for Ajit Bhawan Palace! Looking for some other options for your 1 night in Jodhpur? Here are some other highly rated options!
The best places to see in Jodhpur
After our whirlwind stay in Jaisalmer, we embarked on the journey towards the Blue City, Jodhpur. The city oozes magnificence and it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the top destination wedding locations in India. If you only have 1 week in Rajasthan I recommend spending 1 or 2 nights in Jodhpur as the city itself is fairly compact and you can visit many of the landmarks within a day. Read on for what to see in Jodhpur.
1. Explore Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort cannot be skipped when visiting Jodhpur. The fort has been lovingly maintained by the royal family and opened to the public as a heritage museum, with exhibit after exhibit showcasing the city’s resplendent history and artifacts. The magnificent Mehrangarh was built from red sandstone in the region, and features a 6 kilometre-long wall around the fort.
You could sit and read about the sheer size of the fort but it wouldn’t prepare you for how enormous the structure is when you see it in person: Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book, once even proclaimed that the fort had to be “the work of angels, fairies and giants”.
Ask your guide to tell you about the foundation of the fort – a man was buried alive in the foundation to reverse a curse, and to this day his family is paid a nominal sum of money for his sacrifice. Also learn about the attack in the 1600s by the Jaipur and Udaipur royal families over a princess from Udaipur who was betrothed to a prince of Jodhpur. He died in battle and she ended up taking her own life to end the siege.
Entry costs 600 Rupees per person and 100 Rupees for a camera and photography ticket, you can also pay an additional 50 Rupees to take the elevator and skip walking up the ramparts if required. I recommend setting aside 2 hours at the very least to explore the various courtyards and exhibits within the fort, this was one of my favourite Jodhpur sightseeing spots!
2. Visit the Jaswant Thada monument
Once you have traversed through Mehrangarh Fort, head to the neighboring Jaswant Thada monument built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singhjill of Jodhpur. The gleaming marble memorial is one of the most famous places in Jodhpur and surrounded by stunning gardens, with an enclosed temple-like hall at its core. Entry costs 50 Rupees.
3. Check out the Toorji ka Jhalra
The Toorji ka Jhalra is a traditional stepwell located in the old city of Jodhpur. Stepwells in India were traditionally used for the local community to collect water and occasionally perform religious ceremonies.
During the summers it’s not uncommon to see many children and teenagers cool off by jumping into the water. There is no entry cost.
4. Explore the Old City
The old city is located at the base of Mehrangarh Fort and features distinctly blue-coloured buildings. The prevailing theory is that the blue houses were owned by the Brahmins (the priestly caste) and painted in that shade to keep the buildings cool. The colourful labyrinth of houses and shops will captivate you: be prepared to walk past marching bands for hire followed by stylish artisan boutiques and hip cafes.
5. Get lost in the Sardar Market
The Sardar Market is one of the oldest street markets in Jodhpur. Remember that assault on the senses I mentioned here? Be prepared to go into overdrive at Sardar and stay alert for oncoming three-wheelers.
At the heart of the market lies the iconic Jodhpur clock tower, and the various laneways are lined with shops and merchants selling absolutely everything, from fresh produce and spices to wedding saris, fabric and jewelry. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Jodhpur and fantastic for vibrant, captivating street photography.
6. Get a bird’s eye view of the city
Looking for the best view in Jodhpur? The Currys Restaurant on the rooftop of the Blue Turban Hostel has to be the best rooftop bar in Jodhpur, offering panoramic views of the city and Mehrangarh Fort. The restaurant is located around the corner from the Toorji ka Jhalra so you can easily hop from the stepwell over to the rooftop restaurant for a refreshing drink and bite to eat.
Ready to go sightseeing in Jodhpur? The colourful Blue City will captivate with its rich culture, heritage and architecture, and is an essential stop during your 1 week in Rajasthan.
Looking for the best hotels in Jodhpur? I recommend Ajit Bhawan, one of the best heritage hotels in India. Click here to see current rates and availability for Ajit Bhawan Palace! Looking for some other options for your 1 night in Jodhpur? Here are some other highly rated options!
Where to go after Jodhpur
Wondering where to go after Jodhpur? Here are some suggestions for your Rajasthan itinerary!
Jaisalmer: We started our 1 week in Rajasthan in the Golden City because of flight availability, but it’s also possible to travel from Udaipur – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer instead of Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Udaipur. Here is my quick guide to spending 2 days in Jaisalmer.
Udaipur: Udaipur is approximately 5 hours away from Jodhpur by car. The “White City” or “City of Lakes” is yet another breathtaking city to visit in Rajasthan – make sure you visit the City Palace and take a sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola to Jagmandir. Click here for my quick Udaipur travel guide!
Ranakpur Jain Temple: While the colossal Ranakpur Jain Temple is theoretically do-able as a day trip (3 hours from Jodhpur), I would recommend you stop to visit it en-route when travelling between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The intricately designed and symmetrical temple is said to have been a result of a divine dream by the architect, and visitors can enter with a detailed audio guide that describes the history and design elements.
Om Banna Bike Temple: Quite possibly one of the most unique temples that I have ever visited. The Om Banna Bike Temple between Jodhpur and Udaipur is a shrine to Om Banna and his Royal Enfield. Local legend is that Om Banna crashed his bike into a tree and died from his injuries, but despite the police impounding the motorbike it kept reappearing at the tree. Today, hordes of people visit the temple to worship the Royal Enfield and Om Banna, and talismans with his face are often found hanging in the rear view mirrors of cars for good luck and road safety.
Jaipur: Jaipur is approximately 6 hours away from Jodhpur by car. The Pink City is a popular “gateway” into the rest of Rajasthan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can begin or end your Rajasthan road trip. Head on over here to read my perfect 2 day Jaipur itinerary!
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