If I had to choose my favorite city in India, I will right away say Jodhpur. Amazing views, great food, and Batman (The Dark Knight Rises) was filmed here 🙂
If you’re coming from New Delhi or Mumbai, Jodhpur will be a welcome break from all the traffic, chaos and noise from the big cities. Jodhpur is a place which deserves your time to be discovered; a simple stroll through Sardar Market is guaranteed to keep you busy for the day. Jodhpur is also 5 hours from Jaisalmer (the Golden City), another awesome city fully deserving a visit. You can easily get to Jodhpur by air (Jodpur airport is located within 15 minutes from the Sardar Market) or by train (Jodhpur train station is located at 5 minutes from the Sardar Market).
Another HUGE difference from the bigger cities is the feeling that you are finally seeing a piece of the real India. With its more authentic and laidback attitude, Jodhpur will also allow you to leave behind the uneasiness of watching over your shoulder which (unfortunately) comes when visiting any big cities. Its relaxed ambiance and colorful streets will only add to that feeling of authenticity you were probably looking for when you first booked your ticket to India.
My time in Jodhpur was short, 4 days to be exact, and I could have spent twice as many. From my time in Jodhpur, here are 5 activities I did and most enjoyed during my time in Jodhpur:
A DAY IN SARDAR MARKET
What will start as a simple stroll through the shops will easily turn into a full day activity (or two, or more). In the Sardar Market you can find everything from spices and tea, to carpets, sarees (dresses), mojris (shoes with pointy toes), pashminas and handicrafts.
If your intention is to purchase a few items, a better bet is to hit the shops outside of the market, as there is enough of a price difference which make worth the extra walk.
SCAM ALERT: Everyone (absolutely everyone) will swear to their mothers to have “real cashmere”…DO NOT FALL FOR IT. Many vendors will invite you to their shop and perform some tests in front of you (one performed a so-called “water test” which had this vendor pour water on a pashmina which did not go through the material, and somehow this “proved” that the material was real cashmere). Now I do not claim to be an expert in this or any other area…hell, you can sell me a NIKE with the check mark pointing the wrong side and I probably couldn’t even tell I’m getting screwed. So if you’re anything like me, do your research and only shop from actual brand stores; you may be paying extra but you’re sure you’re getting the real thing and your money’s worth.
VISIT MEHRANGARH FORT
If you are a geek like me, there is double pleasure to visiting this fort. Not only is the view of the fort simply mesmerizing from pretty much anywhere in the city, but also (and most importantly for geeky-me) this is where many scenes from The Dark Knight Rises were filmed (YES! RIGHT HERE!!!). To be honest I did not even know that last detail until the place kind of started to look “familiar”, but once I found out that the movie was played here, I became like a teenage schoolgirl in front of her favorite pop-star…goosebumps and all (geeky, I told you).
But Mehrangarh Fort doesn’t deserve your visit only for this reason (even though if it was, it’d be totally understandable). The fort itself is one of the biggest in all of India, and inside you will witness many one palaces as well as beautiful courtyards. There are many spectacular views of Jodhpur in general and of the Blue City in particular from the top. There is also a pretty well stoked museum inside, and you can even see the prints of cannonball hits on some of the walls.
For the most adventurous, there is also a company (Flying Fox) offering zip-lining above the fort, their offices are located inside the fort. The entire ride takes about 1 hour; it is short, but it sort of make you feel like Batman 🙂 In all seriousness, it does offer some views of the fort you would otherwise not be able to see from inside.
GET LOST IN THE BLUE CITY
The old city, or most commonly known as the “Blue City” due to the color of many of the houses in the area, is a place worth visiting and getting lost in. If you’re not comfortable going on your own, you can easily hire a tuk-tuk to guide you through the many streets of this old part of town. As with everything, try to negotiate your price and avoid taking a tuk-tuk right outside of the fort, as they are known to charge extra simply for being outside Mehrangarh.
Through the streets of the Blue City you will see everyday life in India unfold in front of you, locals going around their day and children playing in the streets.
GO ON A CAMEL SAFARI
Although these types of one-day tours are sometimes synonymous with tourist trap (read my Taj Mahal experience to know exactly what I’m talking about), I was extremely pleased with the amount of sights visited and time spent on my one-day camel safari. I booked my safari with the hotel I was staying at, Hotel Haveli (awesome place guys, read my full review at the end of this text), and the cost of the tour was worth every Rupee.
The journey will take you through the Thar desert, on the way stopping at local artisan shops where you can see how locals work clay to make various types of goods (for example, plant pots). You will also have the opportunity to visit a textile shop where they make fabric as well as carpets. Note that you’re free to tell your guide that you want to skip these if you want, and he’ll gladly oblige, thus giving you more time on the safari itself.
Through the route you will see camels, antelopes (the ones with the spiral horns) and other wild animals roaming free. The most rewarding experience for me was sharing dinner and supper with local families, while watching how they cooked. Even though we could not communicate due to the language barrier, sharing the time and meal with them was worth the safari itself.
And finally the camel ride itself. The more I travel the more I have become concerned about animal abuse and the use of animals for tourism purposes. While camels are often used for day-to-day tasks in India and other desert parts of the world, it is still important to ensure that their well-being is a concern for the company you book with. Each of our camels had access to food during the trek, as well as water at their owner’s place. The herd at the pick-up point looked healthy and although the ride itself lasted a few hours, our herd were given plenty of time to rest every hour or so to replenish energy.
RELAX WITH A ROOFTOP DINNER OVERLOOKING THE FORT
After enjoying the many things there is to do in Jodhpur, treat yourself to a nice late night rooftop dinner overlooking the Mehrangarh fort. Many of the hotels past the Sardar Market will have a rooftop restaurant, many with fantastic views of the fort. Some will even have a group of local performers play local music and dances. Some of these are insane enough that I saw a little girl bend over backwards (literally) and pick up a ring with her eye!!! All in all, worth the view and the show.
WHERE I STAYED
Hotel Haveli: Maybe a little bit pricier than average but not really, Hotel Haveli is worth every Rupee spent. The staff is great and gives personalized attention to its guests, and you can book many tours with them. The rooftop terrace is pretty awesome as well, with an excellent view of Mehrangarh Fort.
As you see I fell head over heels for Jodhpur…its colors, its people, its food…there is plenty to love and no reason not to. What is YOUR Jodhpur? Tell us in the comments section 🙂