The sentinel of the country’s western border, Jodhpur is the second largest city of the state of Rajasthan. Located at the edge of the Thar Desert, it is a must visit destination with its magnificent forts and palaces.
A city replete with the glorious history of the Rathore clan, Jodhpur was founded in 1459 AD. Earlier, it was the capital of the Marwar state of Rajasthan. A 10-km-long wall made of stone surrounds the city. Eight doors stand all through the wall leading to different places of Jodhpur. The city has about 100 towers most of which are surrounded by defensive battlements. The guards' chambers, constructed high up above the ground and fitted with iron spikes on top, could be seen alongside these walls. Also known as Sun City, it is a great favorite with both domestic and international tourists for its various tourist spots which is like an oasis in the vast desert, with a variety of thorny shrubs all over the area. The ideal time to visit this place is the period between November and March.
Among the major places that you should see while in Jodhpur are as follows:
Mehrangarh Fort: This is one of the most magnificent forts in the city. Situated on a 150m high hill, the fort is a living testimony of the military might of the Rajputs. The fort was constructed in 1459 by Rao Jodha, the then chief of Rathore clan. You would find a number of attractions within the fort. Besides the palaces, galleries, museum and temples you can also have a glimpse of the artillery system of the Rajput warriors. A bird's eye view of the city from above the fort is fascinating. You can also click some of the best pictures of the city from atop the magnificent Mehrangarh fort.
Umaid Bhavan Palace: One of the most modern palaces in the city, Umaid Bhavan Palace has a lot to offer. Built in the 20th century by Maharaja Umaid Singh, the majestic building is the residence of the former rulers with a part of it running as hotel and remaining part as a museum. It is said that the palace, was constructed to give employment to the famine-struck population of Jodhpur. The palace made of sandstone, took 16 years to complete.
Jaswant Thada: The Jaswant Thada is a white marble cenotaph built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh death fighting the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. It lies to the left of the Mehrangarh fort complex and was built in 1899. You can also see some rare portraits of the former rulers of Jodhpur in this place.
Balsamand Lake: This is a beautiful lake and garden about 4 miles away from the Jodhpur. The artificial lake built in AD 1159 is an ideal place for picnics and excursions. You would surely enjoy being here on a holiday that goes beyond monuments and museums into the gardens of the Balsamand Lake.
Mandar Garden: You should visit this garden to have a look at the Ajit Pole, an old gate decorated with paintings of the gods and goddesses of Indian mythology. This garden is believed to be the ashram of Rishi Mandu.
Jodhpur is one of the most colorful cities in Rajasthan. Its cultural heritage too is very rich and captivates anyone visiting the place especially during its festival seasons. Here are the two most important festivals in Jodhpur:
Marwar Festival: If you are in Jodhpur during September-October, then you should surely be a part of the two- day Marwar Festival. The festival organized in memory of the heroes of Rajasthan is devoted to the music and dance of Marwar region. During the festival, the folk artists bring to life the myths, legend and folklore of the area, you can listen to the folk musicians singing praises of dead heroes of Rajasthan. You can also be an audience to the spirited folk dance wherein traditional folk dancers in their colorful costumes gather and perform with zest. Other attractions of the festival include horse riding, horse polo and camel tattoo show. Various other competitions are also held during the festival.
The festival also offers the best opportunity to take a look closely at the rustic rural life of the people and to see the folk dancers who carry the pots on their heads and even dance to the tunes of the singers. The live entertainment takes place generally in the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mandore and Mehrangarh Fort.
Nagpanchami: Nagpanchami, the worship of the king of the serpents, is also celebrated with great fervor in Jodhpur. Legend has it that the sanctified serpent 'Ananta'or the 'Sesh Nag' depicted as the royal throne for Lord Vishnu is the most holy of all the snakes.
A lot of worshippers from different parts of Rajasthan turn up to pay offerings on this holy occasion. During the Festival in Jodhpur the streets are adorned with lights and you may enjoy a variety of folk performances that take place in the open. The most striking feature of this festival is the Kalbeliya dancers who dance to the tunes of a particular rhythm. You would surely get enthralled by the dancers of the snake charmers community. Naag Panchami Festival in Jodhpur is their most sacred festival and interestingly enough the snake charmers are said to fast in this particular day.
The worshippers visit the temples of Lord Shiva with traditional lamps and also festoon them with flowers and many such beautiful things. You may also get to see a lot of effigies of king Cobra and the mystical snake Ananta or Sesh Nag during the Naag Panchami festival. The worshippers make a lot of offerings that include banana, ghee, milk and rice. The people are of the view that if the snake drinks the milk offered to them, then it brings them good luck.
The festival is celebrated during the time of Bhadtapada Budi Panchami according to the Hindu calendar, which comes off precisely in the months of July-August.
Apart from the places mentioned above, Jodhpur also has a number of spots located at close proximity from the city center that are worth visiting:
Mahamandir temple: This temple located at a distance of 9kms from Jodhpur, dates back to 1812 AD. You should visit the temple to admire its unique architecture and cutwork, which has as many as 84 carved pillars.
The Kailana Lake: This artificial Lake located at a distance of 11kms from Jodhpur is an idyllic picnic spot. Kaylana Lake in Jodhpur, Rajasthan is located 8 kms to the west of Jodhpur on the Jaisalmer road. It is very pretty with its placid waters and picturesque surroundings. You can witness its fabulous sunsets and cherish the beauty of the place. This lake was constructed in 1872 by Pratap Singh, the then Prime Minister of Jodhpur. Near to the lake is a Dak Bungalow of PHED, the Irrigation department. There are also boating facilities available for the tourists here.
If you are interested in birds, then, this place will further interest you with its bevy of birds that gather here especially during the evenings.
Luni: The Luni village is located at a distance of around twenty kms from Jodhpur. The place is renowned for the Fort Chanwa. The village Luni nestles in the shadow of the fort walls and is a hub of activity with its many artisans fashioning metal, clay or wood into intricate forms. If you are interested in traditional handicraft then you may enjoy the artisans demonstrating their skills that have been passed down over the centuries by their ancestors. The fortress palace built by Kaviraj Muraridanji has now been converted heritage hotel. You may consider staying at this place with its elegant designs and lush green gardens.
Ossian: If you wish to watch the spectacular view of the setting sun among the sand dunes of Rajasthan then you should visit Ossian, which is located at a distance of 65 kms from Jodhpur. Ossian is actually an oasis in the desert land around Jodhpur, which is famous for its panoramic view of the setting sun over the golden sands. This place is also famous for the ruins of the some of the majestic temples of the medieval times. Some of the temples exist even today. Noteworthy among them are the Lord Mahavira Jain Temple and the Sun Temple.
Dhawa Wildlife Sanctuary: This Wildlife sanctuary located at a distance of 45kms from Jodhpur on the road to Barmer makes a lovely getaway for the nature and animal lovers. You can see a variety of wildlife species in this place like the cheetal and sambhars in their natural habitat. There are also black bucks, desert foxes and nilgaies but the Indian antelope is the most famous species that is found here.
Nagaur Fort: This fort is located at a distance of hundred and thirty five km from Jodhpur. If you are an architecture buff, then you would simply admire the specimens of Rajput architecture found in this 4th century fort. The three palaces within the fort which are particularly exquisite are the Hadi Rani Mahal, the Sheesh Mahal and the Badal Mahal which are noted for their beautiful frescoes. Nearby lies a mosque which was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar and a shrine dedicated to a follower of Moin-uddin Chishti, the famous sufi (mystic) saint who lived in nearby Ajmer. Also in Nagore lie a cluster of cenotaphs built in the traditional Rajput style; like pristine stone umbrellas.
If you visit this place in the month of February, then you might participate in the annual Nagaur Fair. A major attraction of this fair is a cattle market which is the second largest in Rajasthan and is a wonderful gathering of men and beasts, brisk trading and keen competition in the best traditions of this quaint little township. Held right on the outskirts of the town the fair features cock fights, camel races, puppet shows, folk dancing, tug-of-wars and a host of other things. Towards the evening the atmosphere is enlivened by folk musicians whose melodies resound far and wide across the tranquil desert sands.
If you have allotted some time for shopping while on your trip to Jodhpur, then you should you visit the Sardar bazaar and the Giridkot market located in the heart of the city.
It is the ideal place to hunt for a wide range of handicrafts item. Though Jodhpur continues to be a leading center of wool, cattle, camel and salt, you will also find traditional jewelry, mojris slippers, famous riding breeches and colorful hand-printed cotton fabrics that are the fame of Jodhpur.
While at Jodhpur, buy some colorful traditional kites and try your hand at kite flying.
By Air: The nearest airport of Jodhpur is Udaipur. The airport is well connected to Jodhpur by roadways.
By Train: Trains are available from Delhi and Mumbai to Jodhpur.
By Road: It is also well connected by the national highways and other small roadways.
Jodhpur has a number of hotels for accommodation ranging from Heritage hotels to budget hotels to suit your needs.