Posted by: Ciaran | January 10, 2010

Changing places – Jodhpur

The beautiful ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur is quite possibly my favourite place in the entire world.  It is majestic in its setting, and is watched over by a number of truly magnificent structures: the Jaswant Thada and Mehrangarh Fort to the north, where you can also see the extensive and undulating city walls, and the huge Umaid Bhawan Palace dominating the skyline in the east.  The old part of the city, where most of the hotels are, is sandwiched in between.

Part of the imposing city wall

Jodhpur is popular with tourists, despite not being on the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ route of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur; its attractions are therefore not too busy to enjoy but are very well looked after.  Indeed, Mehrangarh Fort was unquestionably the most impressive touristic aspect of my time in India; the staff were friendly, the audio guide was both excellent and included in the entrance fee and there was actually a lot to see, unlike some of the city forts in Rajasthan.

Inside the stunning Mehrangarh Fort, my favourite in northern India

On the way up to the fort, be sure to stop at the Jaswant Thada; it is a beautiful royal crematorium made of white marble and is one of the more visually impressive mausoleums in the region.  They are always fairly quiet places and well worth stopping off for to break away from the crowds, though bear in mind that if there are fewer tourists then the vendors, musicians and beggars are likely to be even more persistent.

Fountain outside the Jaswant Thada

The Umaid Bhawan Palace requires a fairly lengthy drive across the town and is not exactly accessible to tourists.  Part of the palace is a hotel, but the rates are somewhat exclusive.  To be able to even drive up the mile-long driveway you need to show a passport and be given the once over by security (since the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008), and even then your car can’t stop outside the main entrance.  The security are all rather unfriendly; I wasn’t even allowed across the threshold of the museum gate to take a picture of the palace without paying an admission fee, and I didn’t want to go in and see the small museum full of swords so I didn’t bother.

A view of Umaid Bhawan from the security gate

And a sneaky close-up of the entrance to the royal residence

The city itself is best explored on foot.  There are some great shoe shops where you can lay your hands on some very nice shoes at bargain prices; I bought the two handmade pairs in the picture below for just £2.  There are also some excellent handicrafts shops and places selling teas and spices in the markets around the old city’s central clock tower.  I also ate the greatest samosas I have ever tasted at a bustling snack place between Umaid Bhawan and the train station.

These shoes have no left and right so you can wear them on either foot!

I was lucky enough to be in the city during a full moon period so there was a public holiday and the whole city spent the afternoon flying kites from the rooftops.  Make sure you get a hotel with a roof terrace so that you can spectate and chat to the locals – the children are all very friendly and you’ll spend a long time waving and pointing your camera at them as they all went their photographs taken.

Rooftop kite-flying

Many of the city’s buildings are blue, though there is no common consensus as to why this is.  I personally am inclined to believe the termite theory as that was the one I heard most frequently espoused while I was there.  Either way, it is just another enchanting thing about this wonderful city.

'The blue city'



  1. There seems to be so much character crammed into one city, yet the benefit of being slightly quieter than other destinations. Your images in this post are brilliant, I particularly like the one of the Umaid Bhawan Palace from the security gate – divine!

  2. Put that one in especially to get your photographical perspective 😉

  3. […] as it is actually very mundane and quite tired looking.  If you’re heading on to Jaipur or Jodhpur then you could make do with just seeing the Red Fort from the outside and see the far more […]

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