Jodhpur – is one of the largest cities in Rajasthan, India, acknowledged for its unique rhapsody of the blue houses and its mighty Mehrangarh Fort. Known as the gateway to the Thar Desert, it is located about 340 km from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. It was the last city I visited on my summer vacation last year. I did not expect much at first because it was just our alternative stop before going back to Ahmedabad from Agra. Yet, Jodhpur is like an oasis in the desert, offering more than you ever wish for.
How to get there?
Jodhpur can be reached by domestic flights from other cities like Delhi, Jaipur or Mumbai
You also can go by Indian train as I did, if you want to travel on a budget. You can take a train from Jaipur, Delhi, Agra or other cities where you start your journey.
Bus or taxi are also available from nearby cities. Or you can go with your own private vehicle as well.
You can easily find auto-rickshaws or taxi to take you roam around the city. But, Uber and Ola are always my choices. It is way cheaper than other. More importantly, it is easy to be accessed whenever you might need them.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning to visit Jodhpur, summer (March to July) is definitely not the best time, the heat and the sun are unbearable. Try to come between September to February. You may also find some festivals like Diwali in October to November or Holi in January to February.
Jodhpur Surprise! The Cleanest Railway Station in India
Unlike other cities I visited before, Jodhpur greeted me with the cleanest railway station I ever seen in India. It even has the certificate hanging there, What a Suprise!!! Clean, neat and modern. Every section in the station is organized and arranged properly. The tickets inquiry, waiting halls, food corners and other offices are on the first floor. Meanwhile, if you are tired you can go directly to the second floor. They provide very nice waiting room and the sleeping area too. We took a short break in the waiting room to freshen up ou body and change our clothes. After posting our heavy backpack in the cloakroom, we were ready for a day trip in this surprising city. We found Rajasthani painting ornamented the walls of the station. I was wondering what another surprise Jodhpur has?
Umaid Bhawan Palace
The taxi we booked earlier had waited for us in front of the station to take us to our first destination, Umaid Bhawan Palace. It took about 40 minutes before we reach the former palace used by the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur. Some part of the palace is still used by the royal family, the other part used for a luxurious hotel and the other part is now open for public as a museum. The visitors can only have access to the museum. The entrance fee is just Rs. 30
Going Through the Winding Road
Mehrangarh Fort, the centerpiece of Jodhpur was our next destination. Again with Uber, we were taken through the winding road to the rocky hills where the crown of The Blue City stood. Along the way, we were pampered by the incredible view of The Blue City. The driver was very kind just like the local people we met before. He said that they consider the visitors or guests as the representation of gods or goddesses. He was also very excited telling us about the reason why the city is painted in blue.
The Blue City
Why does Jodhpur call The Blue City? Blue because almost every house in the city, especially in the old city, is actually painted in Blue. When you set your eyes on this city, you will witness the sea of blue rooftops. The driver said that the local people painted their house in blue to cool down the heat because, during summer, the temperature becomes very hot. They believe that blue color is a good reflector of sun rays which keeps houses cool.
It only took about 20 minutes drive through the winding road to that rocky hills. We were greeted with the statue of Rao Jodha riding his horse. He was the founder of Jodhpur. There are three main attractions in this rocky hill; Jashwant Tadha, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, and Mehrangarh Fort.
Firstly, we visited Jaswant Thada, the complex of cremation ground of the Jodhpur Royal Family. The main complex is the monument built in white marble as a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singhji II. The guide there told us that the white marble used to build the monument was same as the marble used in Taj Mahal. That is why Jaswant Thada is often described as Taj Mahal of Jodhpur. Inside the monument, the pilgrims used to tie a holy thread for their wishes. We could not miss that too. I wish I can come back there again.
We moved to the next destination, Mehrangarh Fort. Unfortunately, there was no auto rickshaw or taxi to take us there. It was not far actually, about 10 minutes walk. But walking under the summer sun was definitely unrecommended. It was the hottest summer I ever experience, 45 degrees or more I did not know. I was being like a maggot fear of the sun, trying to search the shade to save myself from the burning summer sun. When finally we reached the fort, we were welcomed by the gigantic muscular structure of the fort which merges with the hill creating an architecture masterpiece. The complex is very large but the architecture in each part is different. Going inside the fort, you will be mesmerized by its splendid architectures from Mughal influence to Hindu. When you entered the fort you are instantly dragged into a different era.
The entrance ticket for foreigners is Rs. 600 including audio tour which available in 11 languages and Rs. 100 extra for the camera. The audio tour includes the explanation of 33 sections of the fort and the museum which displays the impressive collections of Marwar dynasty’s treasures.
In front of Loha pol gate, there are numbers of handprint crafted on the wall. For the first time, I was really concern about it, even after I played the audio tour I had no clue what sati is. Much later I know about the practice of sati after I studied Indian Women writers in 19th Century India. So far as I know, sati is a self-immolation of royal and Hindu high caste widows especially Brahmin on their husband’s funeral pyre. Those handprints on the wall is the symbol of the royal widows sacrifice. Another Jodhpur surprise, wasn’t it?
Moving inside the fort, we found a Rajasthan musician playing their music. If you are lucky enough, you may find dance or puppet performance as well.
The Royal Palaces
The palaces and the rooms in the fort are now converted into an impressive museum. There are some breathtaking palaces in this fort like the Phool Mahal (The Flower Palace) used for reception and private meeting, The Sheesh Mahal (The mirror palace), Moti Mahal (The Pearl Place), Takh Vilas used for Maharaja entertainment, and Jankhi Mahal (The Peeping Palace).
The museum also displays many collections from the Marwar dynasty from elephant howdahs, palanquins, painting, textile, tent, armor, turban to cradle. You can also get some souvenirs and knick knacks in the museum shop.
It was truly a wonderful day in Jodhpur although we could not go to Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park and the old city. But, standing there in that mighty fort drawn my conscience to its grandiose landscape. Filling my eyes with the ocean of the blue rooftops of the city. Engraved a smurf-like sensation in my heart.