Jodhpur- A Guide to the Blue City
Jodhpur is what dreams are made of. The sheer magnificence of the capital of the Marwar Kingdom is undeniable and bewitching. The towering Mehrangarh Fort and the blue maze of concrete down below are inevitably the two most distinguishing features of Jodhpur. However, there is more to Jodhpur than just these.
Jodhpur also known as the Sun City, was founded by Rao Jodha, the then ruler of the kingdom. Jodhpur was later ruled by the Mughals and thereafter remained a princely state during the British rule before becoming a part of India post independence. At present, it is the second largest city of the state of Rajasthan in India.
The architecture in Jodhpur is a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajputana styles. Most of the houses here are painted in blue thereby giving it an alternate identity of the Blue City. The reason for such a practice can be manifold. Since Jodhpur receives intense sun rays throughout the year the practice of painting the houses in blue colour could have been an attempt to make the landscape soothing to the eyes of an onlooker. Others believe since the region was inhabited by a lot of Brahmins the blue colour coding was used to distinguish the houses of Brahmins from that of the people belonging to other castes. Over the years many non-Brahmin people have also painted their houses in the same blue colour thereby giving Jodhpur its characteristic blue shade.
Jodhpur is vast and has a lot to be explored. Every bit of this magical city is a no less than a wonder.
The Mehrangarh Fort is a standing example of excellent craftsmanship, breathtaking architecture and sheer brilliance. I had probably only imagined the existence of such opulence in my dreams. Standing outside this prodigious structure somehow suddenly belittled my very existence.
Built by Rao Jodha in around 1460, the Mehrangarh Fort is imposing in every aspect. This high-walled fort encompasses several palaces, darbars, courtyards and intricate gates. The ornate detailing of the architecture is evident of the fact that the Rajputs were indeed great patrons of art.
At present, the Mehrangarh Fort is home to artefacts, war costumes, palanquins, cannonballs, weapons, royal trinkets, and a lot more. There are seven different gates of entry here – Jay Pol, Fateh Pol, Amrita Pol Loha Pol, Bheru Pol Doodhkangra Pol, and Gopal Pol. It is also home to some exquisite palaces such as Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) et al.
The place where the cannonballs are kept high above the walls of the fort is an excellent vantage point to marvel at the sight of the blue hued city down below.
It is advisable that you take a tour guide along or hire one near the gate. You can also opt for the audio guides available at the entrance to delve a little deeper into the history of the fort.
The Jaswant Thada is the quintessential representation of the Rajputana patronage of art. Built in white marble, Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph also known as the Taj Mahal of Marwar. It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Adorned by a beautiful lake, an amazing garden flanked by ornate marble pavilions and a breathtaking view of the Mehrangarh Fort atop the hill basking in its glory, Jaswant Thada will definitely leave you at a loss of words.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
A relatively new palace, the Umaid Bhawan Palace at present has been converted into a luxury hotel, a museum and a private residence for the present King Raja Gaj Singh and his family. The complete construction of this palace took 14-15 years of time. Inspired by the architecture of the Central Library of London, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the largest private residences in the world.
The architecture of the palace was such that there were separate quarters for men and women, the Mardana Quarters and the Zenana Quarters respectively. The museum displays a wide array of artefacts from the royal era. From the quirky collection of watches that were placed inside finger rings or mang tika (a small ornament worn by women on the head) to the stuffed leopards that were hunted by the Maharajas on display are all worth seeing. There is also a proud display of vintage cars outside the palace that may leave you baffled.
Located in the heart of the Sardar Market in Jodhpur is the Clock Tower. Flanked by numerous makeshift shops selling a wide range of paraphernalia the Clock Tower is a busy area. The main dial of the clock impressively toggles between different colours making it a really pretty sight. The Sardar Market is interconnected to other markets in the vicinity such as the Tripolia Bazaar, Kandoi Bazaar etc.
The Mishrilal Hotel was a serendipitous experience. I found out about this eatery which apparently served the best lassi in the world. Well, the truth is it does serve the best Makhania Lassi in the whole wide world. Located near the Sardar Market and Clock Tower, Shri Mishrilal Hotel in Jodhpur is an age old business run by a family of entrepreneurs that dates back to the year 1927. Makhania Lassi is a creamy concoction of yoghurt, milk, cream and sugar. It is so thick that you can’t really drink it.You have to eat it with a spoon. They also serve amazing rabri, mirchi bada, kachori etc. Each of the items available here is worth a try.
You may also like reading Shri Mishrilal Hotel-Jodhpur and The Chronicles of Makhania Lassi
Gulab Sagar is a lake located near the Sardar Market. It was initially constructed to curb the city’s water shortage woes back in 1788. It is clearly visible from the top of the Mehrangarh Fort amidst the blue maze of houses.
Mandore is famous for the Mandore Gardens and as the erstwhile capital of the Marwar Kingdom prior to Jodhpur. However, I visited Mandore for a whole other reason. Mandore is also where the greatest villain of Hindu Mythology, Ravana entered into holy matrimony with his wife Mandodari at a place now called Ravan ki Chanwari. Mandodari was Mandore’s princess and the daughter of Mayasura and his consort Hema. Mandore is 14 km from Jodhpur and worth a visit. Read about my little discoveries of Ravana in Mandore here.
Osian is must visit if you really want to experience the whole desert vibe while in Jodhpur. An oasis in the Thar Desert, Osian is also known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan owing to the art and architecture of the numerous Jain and Brahmanical temples of the region. I didn’t get an opportunity to visit the temples here but experienced a jeep safari amidst the sand dunes.
As you approach Osian you can see many signage’s on the road that offers camel and jeep safaris of the sand dunes. However, I luckily found a group of children who were ready to take me on a jeep safari along with their uncle, the driver. Since I don’t ride animals, I opted for the jeep safari and spent some blissful moments amidst the solitude of the sand dunes overlooking the vast stretches of sand, windmills at a far end and gazing at the sweltering surfaces of land in the scorching sun.
Jodhpur was a magical destination for me. I didn’t get enough time to see some of the other beautiful locations in the city as well as around it. I couldn’t make it to The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Balsamand Lake and Kaylana Lake among the others. But I suggest you keep these in your itinerary while for me I strongly believe in revisits.
Have you been to Jodhpur? What was your experience like in this beautiful city on the verge of the great Thar Desert? Let me know in the comments. I would love to read them. Until then keep travelling!
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