If I had to choose my favorite city in India, I will right away say Jodhpur.
This city has it all; from amazing food to welcoming people, to one amazing fort, markets and a city worth spending days exploring. There are just so many things to do in Jodhpur.
If you’re coming from New Delhi or Mumbai, Jodhpur will be a welcome break from all the traffic, chaos and noise of the big cities.
Jodhpur is a city that deserves your time to be discovered; a simple stroll through Sardar Market is guaranteed to keep you busy for the day.
Jodhpur is about a 5 hours train ride from Jaisalmer (the Golden City), another awesome city fully deserving a visit. You can easily get to Jodhpur by air (the airport is located 15 minutes from Sardar Market) or by train (the train station is located 5 minutes from 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 laid back attitude, Jodhpur will also allow you to leave behind the uneasiness of watching over your shoulder which comes when visiting any big cities. Its relaxed ambience and colorful streets will only add to that feeling of authenticity you were probably looking for when you first booked your ticket to India.
Here are the best 5 things to do in Jodhpur:
Shopping in Sardar Market
What will start as a simple stroll through the shops will easily turn into a full day activity. In 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: Every vendor will swear to their mothers to have “real cashmere”…DO NOT FALL FOR IT. Although some of them might in fact be selling the real thing, many of them are not. So if you’re anything like me, do your research and only shop from actual brand stores for these pricey products; you may be paying extra but you’re sure you’re getting the real thing and your money’s worth.
Visit Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort is the city’s fort and main view from all over the city. Its location on top of a rugged mountain make sure that its imposing structure can be seen from all rooftops within the city.
The fort itself is one of the biggest in all of india. The inside is adorned with many palaces, a museum, and beautiful courtyards.
The views of Jodhpur in general, and the Blue City in particular, are enough to make a visit to the fort worth the price of admission.
If you are into superhero movies, you’ll be glad to know that scenes from The Dark Knight Rises were also filmed here.
For the most adventurous, there is also a company (Flying Fox) offering zip-lining above the fort, their offices are located inside the fort.
Although the ride is somewhat short (about 1hr of zip lining), it does offer some great views of the fort you would otherwise not be able to see from inside.
Get Lost in the Blue City
The old city, most commonly known as the “Blue City” because of the color of many of the houses in the area, is a place worth visiting and getting lost in. The city is a maze of blue and pink houses from one side of the city to the other. The area is vast and it is easy to get lost inside the Blue City.
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. Do not be surprised if you’re invited by a local to share a cup of tea.
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.
Explore the Thar Desert 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, 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.
Through the route you will see camels, antelopes 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.
Rooftop Dinner Overlooking the Fort
After enjoying the many sights of Jodhpur, treat yourself to a nice late night rooftop dinner overlooking the Mehrangarh fort. Many of the hotels past the Sardar Market have a rooftop restaurant, many with fantastic views of the fort. Some will even have groups of local performers play local music and dances.
WHERE I STAYED
Hotel Haveli: Maybe a little bit pricier than average, but 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.
I fell head over heels for Jodhpur…its colors, its people, its food…there is plenty to love and no reason not to. I cannot wait to go back and visit again. Have you ever been?