The Blue City of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is the second biggest city and is on the edge of Thar Desert. It was established by Rao Jodha, in the 15th century and has become the largest and the most progressive of the Rajput states. In Jodhpur, the genius of the sculptors comes to life, in its exquisite palaces, forts, temples and havelis, which stand as a testimony to the imperial grandeur
The most alluring part of Jodhpur is the traditional lifestyle, festivity and the smiling people, who treasure this former Princely state. Jodhpur, the land of royalty, is a glittering jewel set in the golden sands of barren desert landscape.
In 1459 AD, Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs, who claimed descent from Rama, the epic hero of the Ramayana, laid the foundation of Jodhpur. The Rathore kingdom was once known as Marwar, the Land of Death.
A 10 km. long wall, which was built, surrounds the old city of Jodhpur; a century after the city was founded. Eight gates lead out from the walled city. It was from here, that those baggy/tight horse-riding trousers, Jodhpurs, took their name.
Jodhpur is rich in jewelry, each area having its own unique style. Some of the traditional designs are Rakhri, Timaniyan, Bala, Bajuband, Gajra, Gokhru, Jod, etc. The lifestyle in Jodhpur, is unusually fascinating, with folks wearing lovely multihued costumes, designed artistically.
Women folk wear wide gathered skirts and a hip length jacket, with three quarter length sleeves, covering the front and back. The colorful turbans worn by the men folk, add more color to the city. Jodhpur’s famous Ghoomar dance, which derives its name from ghoomna or pirouetting, displays the spectacular colors of the flowing ghagra, the long, skirt of the Marwari women.
Men and women of Jodhpur sing devotional as well as festive songs. Songs by the saint-poets like Kabir, Meera and Malookdas are part of the folk repertoire.
Jodhpur is a paradise for connoisseurs of cuisine. The palate is pampered with a wide array of snacks and meals, which are fiery and aromatic. The famous kachouri is a favorite that comes with a variety of fillings accompanied by tangy tamarind chutney. Yet another treat is the selection of delectable laddoos, which are guaranteed to melt in your mouth! Tall glasses of cool lassi are the perfect ending to a spicy Rajasthani meal.
Jodhpur is renowned for its tie and dye textiles, jootis, lacquerware, antiques, carpets and puppets. A major part of the sightseeing includes visiting some of the many shopping areas. The most famous being the Sadar Bazaar, which has the entire list, mentioned above, plus lots of knick-knacks.
Held in October in Jodhpur, this annual, event attempts to showcase the art culture of the Jodhpur region. It ids devoted almost exclusively to song and dances, and the Maand Festival has become a part of this huge region celebration.
Situated in western Rajasthan, the city is accessible from Jaisalmer and Bikaner, at comfortable distances of 300 km and 330 km respectively. The highway connecting these three cities is well maintained and road travel is quite convenient.
How to Reach
Jodhpur has its own Airport and is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur.
The nearest railhead is Jodhpur and is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Kota, Bikaner, Ahmedabad and all other major cities in the country. The Palace on Wheels, also visits this city of Royal splendor.
The state transport has bus services from other cities of the state and interstate services too.
Jodhpur has an extreme climate. Rainfall is scanty and erratic, averaging at 32 cm annually. The minimum temperature in summer is 20°C and maximum temperature varies between 45°C to 49°C. The winter temperatures hover between the mid twenties at the max to 5-6°C at the lowest.
Still run by the maharaja of Jodhpur, Meherangarh, the Majestic Fort, is 5 km. Long, On a 125-meter high hill and is one of the most impressive and formidable structures. The gates, of which there are seven, include the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Mansingh in 1806, following his victory over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner, and the Fatehpol, or Victory Gate, erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his defeat of the Mughals. The final gate is the Lohapol, or Iron Gate, beside which are 15 hand prints, the sati (self-immolation) marks of Maharaja Man Singhs widows, who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843. They still attract devotional attention and are usually covered in red powder. Within the fort, are some of the magnificent palaces with marvelously carved panels, latticed windows and evocative names.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Umaid Bhawan Palace is built of marble and pink sandstone. This immense palace is also known as the Chhittar Palace, because of the local Chhittar sandstone used. Begun in 1929, it was designed by the president of the British Royal Institute of Architects, for Maharaja Umaid Singh, and took 15 years to complete. Probably the most surprising thing about this grandiose palace is that it was built, so close to Independence, after which the maharajas, princely states and the grand extravagances common to this class, would soon be a thing of the past. It is said, that the palace was built as a royal job-creation program, to provide employment for thousands of local people during a time of severe drought. This has been converted into a palace hotel.
Situated 9km north of Jodhpur, Mandore was the capital of Marwar, prior to the foundation of Jodhpur. This ancient capital of Marwa has cenotaphs of the Jodhpur rulers. The Hall of Heroes has fifteen figures carved out of rock, on the wall, which represent Hindu deities. Today, its extensive gardens with high rock terraces make it a popular local attraction and a popular picnic spot. The gardens also contain the cenotaphs of Jodhpur rulers, including the soaring memorial to Maharaja Dhiraj Ajit Singh.
A cluster of royal cenotaphs in white marble was built in 1899 A.D., in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The royal crematorium follows a short distance from the fort and the cenotaph, just off the fort road. Within the fort, are cenotaphs of various Jodhpur rulers. There is some beautiful marble jali (lattice) work and fine views from the terrace, in front of the cenotaph.
Umaid Bhawan Museum
The Umaid Bhawan Museum is well worth a visit. On display, is an amazing array of items, belonging to the maharaja: weapons, fascinating antique clocks, dainty crockery, and hunting trophies.
Balsamand Lake and Gardens
The Balsamand is a pretty lake, built in 1159 A.D. On it’s banks, stands a splendid Summer Palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Idyllic it is a spot for excursions.
The ancient Thar Desert town of Osiyan, 65km north of Jodhpur, was a great trading center between the 8th and 12th centuries, when the Jains dominated it. A 58km oasis in the desert, Osiyan is situated on the diversion, off the main Jodhpur-Bikaner Highway. Osian has 15 beautifully sculpted Jain and Brahmanical temples. The wealth of Osiyans medieval inhabitants, allowed them to build lavish and exquisitely sculptured temples, most of which have withstood the ravages of time. The sculptural detail on the Osiyan temples rivals that of the Hoysala temples of Karnataka and the Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa.
LOCK TOWER AND SARDAR MARKET – The clock tower, is a popular landmark in the old city. The vibrant Sardar Market is close to the tower, and narrow alleys lead from here, to bazaars selling vegetables, spices, Indian sweets, textiles, silver and handicrafts. LUNI FORT – Now converted into a heritage hotel, this fort and its surroundings, are worth a visit. The tiny village of Luni, 35 kms south of Jodhpur, sits in the shadow of the 19th century red sandstone Fort Chanwa, which has been converted to a hotel. MAHAMANDIR TEMPLE – The Mahamandir is a 9 km long temple, built in 1812 A.D. It is a noteworthy temple with 84 carved pillars.
It is the venue for weeklong cattle fair, held in Jan/ Feb every year. Nagaur’s fort palace, temples and havelis enliven the dull stretch of desert. Akbar built a mosque here, and there is a shrine of the disciple of Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. It also has an imposing fort, with beautiful murals. It is now being restored with help, from the Paul Getty Foundation. The fort also has excellent wall paintings and interesting ancient systems of rainwater conservation and storage, ably explained by a very knowledgeable curator.