Rajasthan’s second largest city, historic Jodhpur may just be its most photogenic.
Known as the Blue City, its 16th-century old town is crammed with hundreds of houses painted bright shades of blue. Labyrinthine streets, bustling spice bazaars and flitting multihued saris make for an overwhelmingly vibrant sight at every turn.
Overlooking it all is the Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India. Built around 1460, with cliff sides chiselled flat to make them unscalable and monumental walls built on top, the vast complex envelops several of Rajasthan’s most beautiful palaces, a series of cool courtyards and an extensive garden. Grand gates bear the marks of numerous failed sieges and its museum holds a stunning array of arms, costumes and artwork from the Marwar kingdom’s glorious zenith.
Downhill from the fort is the Jaswant Thada, a mausoleum for the Maharajas of Marwar built out of intricately carved sheets of marble that glow in the afternoon sun. Another commanding landmark is the Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of the largest royal residences in the world on its opening in 1943, part of which is now the grandest hotel in the city.
Over the past decades, Jodhpur has expanded greatly and the more intrepid visitor can find an authentic taste of modern India and Jodhpur’s incredible handicraft industry by venturing outside the old walls. Go a little further and you’ll understand another of the city’s aliases – ‘The Gateway to the Thar’ – as the Great Indian Desert begins its sprawl westward to Pakistan.
When to go
The best time to visit is between October and March. September and April are considered the shoulder months when it is very hot in the middle of the day but mornings and late afternoons are lovely. From the end of December until the middle of January, mornings and evenings can be foggy and nights cold, but during the day the weather is great for sightseeing.
What to do
- Explore the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India
- Hunt for souvenirs at the Sadr Bazaar
- Wind your way through the narrow streets of the old city
- Find a rooftop from which to admire the city's iconic cubic landscape