Friday, August 08, 2014

Top 10 Things to do in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

As you all know, I just returned from a fantastic backpacking trip to Jodhpur where in I got to explore most of the city, its beautiful attractions and its surrounding places. This blue city has to be one of my favorite cities of Rajasthan and the city appealed to me so deeply that I wish to return to it soon. The people are eager to help, the food is top class, the shopping avenues are many and the attractions are vibrant. Below are the top 10 things to do in the beautiful city of Jodhpur that is based on this recent experience of mine. I hope they come in handy while you plan your Jodhpur holiday.

Blue View from the Top of Mehrangarh Fort

The Blue city of Jodhpur
The Mehrangarh fort is the highlight of a Jodhpur holiday and hence features on the top of my list. One of the largest forts of India, it commands a stunning view of the entire city of Jodhpur. It is from the top of this fort that you can see the famous blue houses of the city that give the city its nickname ‘The Blue City’. The Museum, the palace and the rest of the fort also make for a great dive into the rich history of the Rathore rulers. I would recommend that you opt for an audio guide as it will help you appreciate the structure better. For a totally off-beat experience at this fort, do remember to be at the top of the fort at 3:30 pm every day as this is the time when they feed the wild kites and eagles. An ancestral tradition, this feeding of meat attracts more than 200 to 200 raptors that swoop in to catch the meat in mid air.

Mirchi Vada and Samosa at Shahi Samosa

Famous Mirchi vada and Samosa at Shahi Samosa, Jodhpur
The Halwayi tradition is very much an integral part of Jodhpur’s culture and so much so that people seem to eat their favorite snacks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you wish to indulge in this Halwayi tradition, do try out the iconic Mirchi Vada and Kaju Samosa at the Shahi Samosa shop that is located near the clock tower (ghanta ghar). There are no seating facilities here, but you can always see a huge crowd in front of this shop for these snacks.

Mawa Kachori at Janta Sweet Home

Beautiful play of colors inside the Durbar of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
In continuation with the Halwayi tradition, you should try out the super delicious and sweet Mawa Kachori at Janta Sweet Home, the most famous sweetmeat shop in Jodhpur. This dish is extremely sweet, so do plan for a sugar rush. While you are here at Janta Sweet Home, you should also try out their Special Malai Lassi that is so thick that is feels like an ice cream as you dig in with your spoon. Their Matka Rasmalai is also pretty famous here.

Walk Around Sardar Bazaar at Ghanta Ghar

Rajsthani man with big moustache in front of his silk scarf shop at Jodhpur
The Sardar Bazaar is the place where all the shopping action is. The best way to get to this place is by taking the steep walking path from Mehrangarh to the clock tower. This will take you through the blue houses, the cane workers, the painters, the pottery section, the souvenir section, the vegetable, fruit and grocery market and finally to the clock tower where the rest of the market lives. Here, you can buy handicrafts, locally made embroidered cloth, local dresses, spices, jodhpuri shoes, scarves, carpets and much more. Even if you are not into shopping, this place is ideal to soak in the vibrant atmosphere and the rich colors on display.

Dal Baati Choorma at Bhavani Dal Baati
The centrally ghanta ghar of Jodhpur
Dal Baati Choorma is one of the iconic dishes of this side of the world. A trip to Jodhpur is not complete without having a Dal Baati Choorma meal. If you prefer authentic taste and wish to eat delicious Dal Baati Choorma, try them out at the Bhavani Dal Baati restaurant. If you wish for a more authentic local experience, eat at the Baati Dal Baati restaurant, where you sit on the ground like the locals and eat in simple surroundings. There are other options around Jalori gate as well. The ideal way to eat this meal is by crushing the Baati into a powder, mixing ghee, chillies, onion and dal to it and then finally add the sweet choorma to it. Then, you can eat all of it together with a local papad. Simply delicious it is!!

Desert Safari at Ossiyan

A racing camel in the deserts of Ossiyan, Rajasthan
Jodhpur’s nearest desert getaway is Ossiyan. Located 65 kms away, this desert city offers a fantastic desert safari experience into its remote villages and across its beautiful sand dunes. It’s 9th century temple is also quite a sight and it towers over the city when you look at it from the desert. A lot of people like to go on a camel safari and stay overnight inside the desert at one of the rustic desert camps.

Jodhpuri Shoes, Carpets, Silk Scarves
Colorful Jodhpuri shoes on sale at Jodhpur, Rajasthan
The colorful markets of Jodhpur offer interesting avenues for the shopaholic to indulge in and even so for the normal tourist looking to pick up some souvenirs. The most popular souvenir here is the Jodhpuri shoes (locally called mojari) that come in a myriad of colors. Even hand made cotton and silk carpets and silk scarves are quite a rage with shoppers. Spices and other handicrafts can also be bought as souvenirs or as gift items.

Architectural Beauty of Jaswant Thada

Jodhpur's Jasvant Thada in the rains
Jaswant Thada is a beautiful white marble cenotaph built in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. This place can be visited on the way to or on the way back from Mehrangarh fort. From here, one can see an aerial view of one part of the Jodhpur city and also see the Mehrangarh fort towering in the distance. The lake in front of this cenotaph provides quite a surreal foreground to this monument.

Luxurious Ummaid Bhavan Palace

Tuk Tuk in front of Ummaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur
A luxury palace hotel, a working palace and a museum, the Ummaid Bhavan Palace is a striking landmark of the city of Jodhpur. 70% of this palace is managed by the Taj group as a luxury 5 star hotel, 10% exists as a museum for the tourists and 20% is for the royal family. As tourists, we are allowed into the museum and the hotel. In the museum, you can see artifacts from the rich royal era, interesting murals on the wall of the palace, lots of richness and the various gifts and collections of the Maharaja and his queen. And while you are here, do not miss the opportunity to see some of the rarest cars of the world in the vintage cars section.

Cenotaphs of Mandore Garden

The beautiful Mandore garden outside Jodhpur
Mandore is an ancient town, located about 9 kms from Jodhpur. Once a part of the Parihar empire, today, it is famous for its Royal cenotaphs, temples, a ruined fort and other monuments all located within a very green setting that is dubbed as the Mandore Garden. Popular with the locals especially on national holidays and weekends, this place offers a good day trip from Jodhpur.

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