Jodhpur, India

On the eastern fringe of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur, dubbed “the Blue City” after the colour-wash of its old townhouses, huddles below the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, the most spectacular citadel in Rajasthan, which dominates the cityscape from atop its huge sandstone plinth. Blue originally denoted a high-caste Brahmin residence, resulting from the addition of indigo to lime-based whitewash, which was thought to protect buildings from insects, and to keep them cool in summer. Over time the colour caught on – there’s now even a blue-wash mosque on the road from the Jalori Gate, south of the fort.

The best travel tips for visiting Jodhpur

Jodhpur was once the most important town of Marwar, the largest princely state in Rajputana, and now has a population of around 1.3 million. Most people stay just long enough to visit the fort, though there’s plenty to justify a longer visit.

The bazaars of the old city, with different areas assigned to different trades, radiate out from the 1910 Sardar Market. Its tall clock tower is a distinctive local landmark marking the centre of town. Most of the ramparts on the south side of the old city have been dismantled, leaving Jalori Gate and Sojati Gate looking rather forlorn as gates without a wall.

Getting lost in the blue maze of the old city you’ll stumble across Muslim tie-dyers, puppet-makers and traditional spice markets. Jodhpur’s famed cubic roofscape, best viewed at sunset, is also a photographer’s dream.

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Jodhpur, the Blue City, Rajasthan, India © Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock

Jodhpur, the Blue City, Rajasthan, India © Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock

Best things to do in Jodhpur

From visiting Mehrangarh Fort to watching the sunrise or sunset, here are the best things to do in Jodhpur.

#1 Visit Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan’s most spectacular citadel

For size, strength and sheer physical presence, few sights in India can rival Jodhpur’s mighty Mehrangarh Fort. This great mass of impregnable masonry has soaring, windowless walls that appear to have grown directly out of the enormous rock outcrop on which it stands.

Enter the fort through Jai Pol, the first of the fort’s seven defensive gates. The sixth of the gates, Loha Pol, has a sharp right-angle turn and sharper iron spikes to hinder the ascent of charging enemy elephants.

On the wall inside you can see the handprints of Maharaja Man Singh’s widows, placed there in 1843 as they left the palace to commit sati on his funeral pyre – the last mass sati by wives of a Marwari maharaja.

Its apartments now serve as a museum showcasing solid silver howdahs (elephant seats), palanquins and assorted armaments including Akbar’s own sword.

India, Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort  © Marcel Toung/Shutterstock

India, Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort © Marcel Toung/Shutterstock

#2 Head up to the Jaswant marble memorial

Jaswant Thada is a pillared marble memorial to the popular ruler Jaswant Singh II (1878–95), who purged Jodhpur of bandits, initiated irrigation systems and boosted the economy.

The cenotaphs of members of the royal family who have died since Jaswant are close to his memorial; those who preceded him are commemorated by chhatris at Mandor.

In the morning, this southwest-facing spot is an excellent place from which to photograph the fort.

#3 Wander around Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park

If you’re in the fort area, consider heading a little west to the new Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, an undulating, grassy expanse spreading over 70 hectares. Crazy though it may sound, visitors are advised to leave their mobile phone numbers at the ticket booth, just in case they get lost.

This area was neglected for decades, partly on account of an infestation of thorny shrubs; there are still some here, but by and large this has been a resounding success. The fort views are especially good in the evening.

#4 Admire the Art Deco architecture of Umaid Bhawan Palace

Dominating the city’s southeast horizon is the Umaid Bhawan Palace, a colossal IndoSaracenic heap that kept three thousand labourers gainfully employed for sixteen years at a total cost of more than ₹9 million.

The furniture and fittings for its 374 rooms were originally ordered from Maples in London during World War II, but were sunk by a U-boat en route to India. The maharaja was thus forced to turn to Stephen Norblin, a wartime Polish refugee, who gave the palace its fabulous Art Deco interiors.

The present incumbent, Maharaja Gaj Singh, occupies only one-third of the palace; the rest is given over to a luxury hotel and a rather dull museum, containing assorted European crockery and glassware.

Far more interesting is the palace itself, its Art Deco furniture and fittings nearly all original, enlivened with lashings of typically Rajasthani gilt and sweeping staircases. There’s a hefty minimum fee to see them.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Johdpur © Shutterstock

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Johdpur © Shutterstock

#5 See the sunset over Jodhpur from Singhoria Hil

Jodhpur being one of the most picturesque cities in Rajasthan – nay, India – many of its visitors want to see the place in the most spectacular light. The fort often plays a central role in photographic proceedings during sunrise and sunset but its opening times rule it out as an option.

The nearby Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park closes later, and provides views of the sun’s final rays flaring up the fort, as does Singhoria Hill on the other side of the road. Popular with locals and independent travellers is the ridge south of the fort, often referred to as Sunset Point.

Although the trails leading up the promontory from the west and east are a little hard to find, you’ll hunt them down in the end, and the views are colossal.

Best areas to stay in Jodhpur

Jodhpur has plenty of good accommodation in all price brackets, and happily the same can now be said of its main area of interest. Many guesthouses offer free pick-ups from the train or bus stations.

Around Mehrangarh Fort

Heritage hotels and high-end guesthouses provide stunning views of the fort itself and you’ll pay a premium for a fort-facing room.

Old City

Around the Sardar Market, there are a number of cheap hotels that are still part of the action.

Rai Ka Bagh

This residential area has a handful of more chilled places to stay but is a bit away from the sights.

Browse the best hotels in Jodhpur.

Best restaurants and bars

The best places to eat are either in town, around the clock tower, or with views overlooking the fort – though expect to pay more.

Local specialities in Jodhpur include mirchi bada, a big chilli covered in wheatgerm and potato and then deep-fried like a pakora – you’ll often find them served on trains on the way into and out of Jodhpur.

Clock tower

Some of the town’s most notable places to eat are found around the clock tower, which is lit up rather kaleidoscopically at night.

Mirchi Bazaar

For Indian sweeties, try the shops at the western end of Mirchi bazaar.

Around Umaid Bhawan Palace

In the vicinity of Umaid Bhawan Palace You will find a whole host of upscale dining options with premium views of the fort.

Jaswant Thada mausoleum in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India © Shutterstock

Jaswant Thada mausoleum in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India © Shutterstock

How to get around

From taxis to motorcycle hire, it's easy to get around Jodhpur. Here’s how to do it.

The Ola and Uber taxi-hailing apps work in Jodhpur, and prices are usually comparable to auto-rickshaws.

Auto-rickshaws are a popular mode of transportation in Jodhpur as they can sometimes squeeze through the gaps in the traffic, which gets heavy during rush hour.

Jodhpur Travels on Station Rd has motorbikes and mopeds for rent.

What is the best time to visit Jodhpur?

The best time to visit Jodhpur is during the winter months, from October to March. This is when the weather is pleasant with mild days and cool nights, making it ideal for exploring the city's attractions and enjoying outdoor activities.

In winter, the temperature ranges from around 10°C (50°F) to 25°C (77°F), providing a comfortable and enjoyable climate for sightseeing. You can explore iconic landmarks such as Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, and Umaid Bhawan Palace without the scorching heat of the summer months.

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

How many days do you need in Jodhpur?

To fully experience Jodhpur's attractions, allocate 2 to 3 days. That’s enough time to wander through Mehrangarh Fort and take in its panoramic views as well as to stroll around the Old City's vibrant streets.

On day two, visit Jaswant Thada and spend some savour local cuisine like mirchi bada. Add on another day for Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mandore Gardens, and some deeper cultural exploration.

Mehrangarh Fort above Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park © Shutterstock

Mehrangarh Fort above Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park © Shutterstock

How to get here

Jodhpur stands at the nexus of Rajasthan’s main tourist routes, with connections northeast to Jaipur, Pushkar and Delhi, south to Udaipur and Ahmedabad, and west to Jaisalmer. Buses for most destinations are faster than the train.

By plane

Jodhpur’s Civil Airport is 4 km south of the city. Destinations: Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Mumbai.

By train

The railway station is on Station Rd, 300m south of Sojati Gate; there’s a reservations office just north of the station, behind the GPO. Note that there are no direct trains to Udaipur or Chittaurgarh – it’s much easier to catch the bus.

By bus

Government buses leave from the Roadways (Raika Bagh) Bus Stand just east of the fort – turn up an hour or so before departure to buy a ticket.

Most private buses leave from the stand on Pal Rd, 4 km west of the centre, a few private buses leave from Kalpataru Cinema, 4 km southwest of town. Private buses for Jaisalmer leave from Bombay Motors Circle, nearby, where they also drop off. You can book tickets on private buses at most travel agents and a lot of hotels (for a fee).

Find out the best ways to get to India.

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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 02.07.2023

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