Along with the bustling cities of Jaipur and Udaipur, Jodhpur is a must for anyone planning a tour of India’s Rajasthan region. Nestled on the fringes of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is also known as the ‘Blue City’ and well, with the sea of blue houses scattered around the majestic Mehrangarh Fort, it’s not hard to see why!
To soak up the charm of Jodhpur, however, we encourage you to explore beyond the monuments, getting stuck into the bustling bazaars on a guided walking tour and experiencing a special folk performance. Here’s how Indian Excursions recommend you spend your 48 hours in Jodhpur:
For many of our guests, Jodhpur falls somewhere in the middle of the itinerary, meaning you’d likely arrive in the Blue City in the mid-afternoon, having driven in from Jaipur (6 hrs), Jaisalmer (5 hrs) or Udaipur (5 hrs). With that in mind, we’d recommend allowing yourself a couple of hours or so on arrival to relax, settle in, and enjoy your hotel.
The spectacular Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace is undoubtedly the most luxurious place to stay in Jodhpur (in fact, TripAdvisor thought it the Best in the World in 2016!). This fabulous, sprawling, Art Deco palace is often considered the last of India’s grand palaces as it was constructed in the early 20th century. It’s still home to the Maharaja today, with the castle now being divided into the royal wing, a luxury hotel, and a museum. As you arrive here, you’ll first be blown away by the massive domed ceiling a staggering 105-foot above you. We’d recommend a pleasant walk through the 26 acres of landscaped gardens where you may very well spot the Maharaja himself walking his dogs, as well as uncover hidden views of Mehrangarh Fort and having the opportunity to admire the palace’s exterior.
Should you prefer something more central where you can soak up the Blue City’s sights, sounds and smells, we’d instead recommend Raas; a chic haveli amidst the bustling old city just a stones-throw from the heart of the action. Being nestled at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort, it offers a fantastic view.
This evening, soak up a private Bhopa performance – a rare Rajasthani art form which combines dancing, singing and painting. Our past guests have found this a very culturally rich experience, and a highlight of their stay. Afterwards, move on to Khaas Bagh restaurant for a traditional Rajasthani thali dinner. The thali dinner is a lovely way to experience many different tastes of Rajasthan, as you’re presented with a small amount of several different authentic dishes.
This morning you’d be met by a local expert to explore the architectural splendours of Jodhpur, beginning with Jaswant Thada; an elegant pillared marble memorial with beautiful lattice carving, it’s the cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II (r.1878 – 95) whose innovative schemes brought water and prosperity to this parched desert city. You’ll then continue to Mehrangarh Fort. Rising majestically out of a 125m (410ft) high rock, Mehrangarh Fort was once described by an awe-struck Rudyard Kipling as “the creation of angels, fairies and giants”. Dating back to the mid 15th century, the royal apartments within the fort now form part of an outstanding museum, with the Takhat Mahal being Indian Excursions’ favourite. The exuberantly painted room was a preferred retreat of Maharaja Takhat Singh (1843 – 73), who had 30 queens!
Having had the opportunity to return to your hotel for lunch and a bit of a rest, we’d recommend reuniting with your guide in the afternoon to explore the labyrinthine lanes of the old city. Clustered around an early 20th-century clock tower, the maze of streets in and around Sadar Bazaar is fascinating to explore, with its little shops and stalls selling everything from silver jewellery to camel leather shoes to puppets and sweets and spices. While many of our guests embark on this tour by foot, we also offer the opportunity to explore the lanes on a bicycle if you’re feeling more active, or by tuk-tuk for those not too firm on their feet.
In the evening, if you’re staying at the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, we’d recommend returning in time for a pre-dinner champagne walk through the palace. Here, you’ll learn about the history of this fabulous building and uncover its art collection. Finish the day off with dinner at the palace’s Pillars restaurant on the terrace.
The majority of our guests would depart from Jodhpur after breakfast to their next destination. Should you have a bit more time to spend in the Blue City, however, we’d recommend heading out to the sandy outskirts of Jodhpur by Jeep. The arid countryside south of Jodhpur is dotted with villages, their mud and thatch huts inhabited by the Bishnois and communities of potters and weavers. A tour of this area provides a memorable opportunity to observe the rhythm of daily life in these hamlets, experience the warm hospitality of the villagers, and see beautiful traditional crafts being practised. The highlight of the safari is the Bishnoi tribe.
Or, if you’re travelling with children, may we recommend our private puppet-making workshop, developed specifically for families travelling with children who’re looking for a more hands-on interpretation of Rajasthani culture. Puppetry has been performed in Rajasthan for over a thousand years. Wooden puppets, known locally as kathputli, are used to portray folk tales and ballads. Traditionally, puppeteers would travel from village to village entertaining to earn their living. Maharajas were fond of the art, too. During the workshop, you and your children would learn basic puppet-playing skills, as well as the art of puppet making – you’d be presented with the raw materials and invited to follow the master as he/she makes one in front of you. The puppets make a lovely memento to carry with you back home.
Jodhpur is fascinating and seems to encompass everything that makes Rajasthan, Rajasthan: from vibrant bazaars to splendid architecture and hundreds of years of heritage. While two days in Jodhpur would be a comfortable amount of time to get a flavour of the Blue City, three would be ideal for those looking to soak it all up as well as have time to relax at their hotel.
Jodhpur is within driving distance of Jaipur (6 hrs), Udaipur (5 hrs) and Jaisalmer (5 hrs), as well as a few of our favourite hidden getaways in rural Rajasthan, such as Lakshman Sagar (2 hrs), Dev Shree (3 hrs) and Rawla Narlai (3 hrs). Daily direct flights operate from and to Delhi and Mumbai, both taking about an hour and a half.
If you’d like to include a visit to Jodhpur on your upcoming trip to Rajasthan, please do get in touch. We’d be delighted to prepare a tailor-made itinerary based on your tastes, schedule and budget. Meanwhile, for inspiration on how Jodhpur may best fit within your wider itinerary, may we recommend browsing through our Ultimate Luxury Rajasthan Tour, our Rajasthan with Boutique Hotels Tour, our Jodhpur, Narlai and Udaipur tour, and/or our Highlights of Rajasthan Tour. Our best-selling Oberoi, Leela and Taj Luxury Rajasthan Tour also features a two-night stay in Jodhpur at the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace.0