The Blue City: Exploring Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur (and a Trip to the Thar Desert)
“Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed” — Alberta Hunter.
You may need a lifetime’s worth of depressing experiences to sing the blues with any conviction, but seeing the blues is far more easily achieved. The streets of Jodhpur’s old town run thick with the blue hues of the Brahmins. The sea of faded blue mansions and trash filled alleyways sits beneath the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, home to one of the finest palaces in all of Rajasthan.
Below is a list of some of the best things to see and do in Jodhpur, a popular stop on the Rajasthan tourist trail.
Jodhpur’s Rooftop Restaurants
Jodhpur is home to countless rooftop restaurants which offer up amazing views of the city. Mehrangarh Fort dominates the landscape in these parts and it’s a sight to behold. We ate at several rooftop restaurants in Jodhpur, the best being at Mangal Haveli. The food wasn’t great but the view more than made up for it. Most hotels have rooftop restaurants which is handy as navigating the filthy streets of Jodhpur in the dark isn’t much fun.
Jodhpur’s one must-see sight is the giant rock forged Mehrangarh Fort. The unbreakable walls and battlements of this defensive beast ensured it was never taken by force. It remains in the hands of the Jodhpur royals to this day (although they aren’t so royal anymore).
We climbed up the hill from the mean streets of Jodhpur’s old town, which in the harsh summer sun proved to be no easy task. Seeing the detailed exterior of the palace, which is mostly hidden from the rooftop views below, is a reward for the climb.
The artistry only increased as we ventured inside the palace (600 INR for foreigners), with elegant courtyards and massive and intricately carved walls and window screens. I was in awe of the craftsmanship on display in the palace — it’s in complete contrast to the walls-on-steroids look that you see when viewing the fort from below.
Zenana Deodi, one of the final sections of the palace before you exit through the predictably placed gift shop, was perhaps the most impressive section of all. To get the photo at the top of this article I had to venture dangerously close to the female bathrooms — it was worth it though!
Another highlight is seeing the views of the surrounding city. We saw the famous clock tower (which looks better from above) as well as Umaid Bhawan Palace in the distance. The “blueness” of Jodhpur is far more evident from above than it is from street level.
FURTHER READING: Touring the Forts and Palaces in Jaipur, India
Walking the messy streets of Jodhpur
Jodhpur is probably the dirtiest city that we visited in Rajasthan, but the streets still have a certain charm. There are plenty of historic buildings to seek out amidst the chaos of the narrow streets and alleyways. There are also lots of cows in Jodhpur and I thought it would be cool to get a photo of Gia posing next to one. A few seconds after I took the photo the cow flicked her with its tail, which I found funnier than she did.
Jaswant Thada is a small cenotaph close to Mehangarh Fort. It’s worth visiting for the great views of the fort and it’s a nice little attraction in its own right (and it’s really cheap).
A Journey to the Thar Desert near Jodhpur
Osian, a small town an hour from Jodhpur, is famous for its temples (which turned out to be disappointing). It’s also a convenient place to get out into the Thar Desert. We stayed at Camp Thar and went for a trip to some local villages. It was a far different desert experience to the ones I’d had previously. The sand dunes were nothing like those I’d seen in Morocco and Peru, but the barren landscape does have an understated beauty. It was interesting to meet people who live and work in such a harsh environment. We capped off our day with an awesome sunset and we even saw some traditional dancing while we ate dinner. You can also ride a camel on the small dunes around the camp.
Jodhpur travel tips
- Where to stay in Jodhpur: We stayed at Jewel Palace Haweli , on the west side of the fort, for the first night and moved to Mangal Haveli Guest house (on the east side) due to a lack of running water. Both places are decent for the price but the latter’s rooftop view is better.
- Getting to Jodhpur: Most people arrive from Udaipur (6 hours by bus), Jaipur (5-6 hours by train or bus) or Jaisalmer (6 hours by train or bus). Buses in Rajasthan, particularly the private ones, are fairly comfortable assuming you get a seat.
FURTHER READING: Udaipur, Rajasthan: The Most Romantic City in India?
From Jodhpur we made our way to Jaisalmer, the last stop on our 3 week trip through Rajasthan. Stay tuned for more updates!
Would you like to visit Jodhpur? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I was a guest at Camp Thar during part of my trip to Jodhpur. All thoughts and opinions are my own.