When we were first planning our India travel itinerary, Jodhpur was one of the places that I insisted on adding to the list. There are only a handful of blue cities around the world and I wanted to see this one! We gave ourselves a total of 3 days in Jodhpur, which I felt was plenty of time to see the sights, visit the markets and also sample some of the best meals we had in all of India, so today I’m sharing this mini travel guide showcasing some of my favourite things to do in Jodhpur.
Things to do in Jodhpur
Go in search of blue
First up, it wouldn’t be a proper visit to Jodhpur without ditching the map and purposely getting lost in the Blue City. With most of Jodhpur’s buildings and laneways painted blue, wandering around taking photos is an activity in and of itself.
Why Jodhpur is painted blue is still a bit unclear. There are a number of probable reasons like: 1) many Brahmins lived here and blue is the colour of Lord Shiva, 2) the colour blue helps keep homes cool during the summer months, 3) there is evidence of indigo plantations nearby and that would’ve made the colour blue readily available, 4) it would have given the rulers beautiful views from the fort, and 5) it would have attracted travelling traders passing through Rajasthan.
Whatever the reason, it’s a remarkable city you won’t soon forget.
Enjoy a Rajasthani thali
There is one meal that stands out from every other meal I ate in India, and that is the Rajasthani thali set that I had in Jodhpur.
For those of you who’ve never had a thali set before, it’s basically a meal served on a platter with an array of little dishes. Depending on the region where you’re having your thali, the platter will typically have plain rice or some kind of bread in the middle (this could be roti, chapati, puri or naan), and then you’ll have a selection of curries, pickled vegetables, curd, and other items.
The idea behind the thali is that you get 6 different flavours in one plate: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. It’s basically a party for your taste buds, which makes it very fun to eat!
We ate at Jhankar, which is a Jain restaurant that serves up dishes that are strictly vegetarian and egg free.
The restaurant is set in a 500-year-old haveli that oozes history. We ate in their courtyard, which feels like a little oasis. I sank into the wicker chairs and was happy to sip on a lime soda while surrounded by palms and beautiful architecture.
The portions were massive, the food came fast, and every last bite was delicious. The majority of the little dishes in my thali were completely new to me, so it was nice to experiment and get a taste of Rajasthani and Jain cuisine.
If you still have room for dessert after all that food, you can try gulab jamuns, which are fried semolina balls soaked in rose syrup. Those will give you a sugar high!
Tour Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort rises 125 meters over Jodhpur making it the city’s main landmark. The walk itself is a little steep, but you’ll be stopping to take pictures and stare at the grand doorways and balconies so often that you’ll hardly notice the incline.
For something a bit adventurous, you can actually go zip-lining inside the fort! The Flying Fox consists of 6 separate zip lines which fly around the fort, and give you a bird’s eye view of the gardens and the desert lakes. I can’t say I did it myself, but it is one of the most popular activities in Jodhpur.
What I did make time for was food. I ate at Café Mehran, which is located inside the fort and serves up some of the best samosas I had in India. It’s a nice breezy cafe and the walls are covered in portraits of the Maharajas. Another popular restaurant located within the fort is Chokelao Mahal Terrace which only opens in the evenings and offers fine dining with views of Mehrangarh Fort all lit up at night.
If you’re looking for something else to do after you finish touring the fort, you can visit Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. This park sits at the foot of the fort, where you can hike the trails and see some of the local vegetation.
See how the Rathores lived
Once you’re inside Mehrangarh Fort you need to swing by Mehrangarh Museum. While admission to the fort is free, there is a fee to enter the museum (₹ 600 for foreigners), but it’s so worth it because we’re talking about the palace where the Rathores (the rulers of Jodhpur) once lived.
The museum is divided into galleries showcasing various artefacts like elephant howdahs (seats that would have been used to ride elephants), palanquins (covered day beds used to transport the nobility), as well as paintings, turbans, textiles, armour and wood crafts.
It’s a fascinating place, but it also gets packed, so the earlier you get there, the better.
Watch the sunset over the fort
In my opinion, Jodhpur has one of the best sunsets in all of India, which means you’re going to want to find a rooftop to watch the magic happen.
We went over to Castle View, which is a haveli that also happens to have a rooftop restaurant. Reaching Castle View involves navigating a maze of blue laneways and climbing a series of staircases, but once you reach the top, you have Mehrangarh Fort directly in front of you. It was a great little spot to watch the sunset with a drink in hand while the whole city was set aglow.
For something a little more upscale, Indique is a very popular choice for sunset drinks or al fresco dining. This restaurant is located in the Pal Haveli Hotel, which is a luxury property just north of the Clock Tower. This restaurant is a bit further away from the fort, so you don’t get those close up views, but it’s a nice little splurge. The setting is beautiful, the service is impeccable, and they serve a tasty saffron lassi. Just remember to make reservations because it fills up.
Stay in a traditional haveli
For our stay in Jodhpur, we booked ourselves into a traditional haveli.
I’ve already talked quite a bit about havelis in my guide to Jaisalmer, but basically, these are old family mansions that date back several centuries and have been transformed into a mix of luxury hotels and budget guesthouses.
I purposely tried to find havelis while we were travelling in Rajasthan, because it’s such a unique form of accommodation and you can feel the history from the minute you set foot through the door. While each haveli varies in terms of layout and design, you can generally expect dark wooden furniture, hand-painted scenes from Indian epics on the walls, a daybed with silk pillows, shared courtyards and rooftop terraces, and tiny doors that you’ll most likely have to duck your head under.
I stayed at the Jewel Palace Haveli, which had all of the above but catered to a more budget-friendly crowd. It was a property full of character, but my main complaint about this place is that the staff were quite young and easily distracted (we had to remind them multiple times that we needed things like towels, toilet paper and bed sheets); that being said, they are one of the top-rated havelis in the city. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, you can try browsing Jodhpur hotels here.
And that was it for Jodhpur! Our visit was short and sweet, but I’m glad we made time to stop here while we were in Rajasthan. It was interesting coming here right after Jaisalmer, because even though both are fort cities, they each have their own distinct qualities. Jaisalmer was definitely the calmer of the two, but Jodhpur had its own gems hiding amidst the chaos.
Have you travelled to Jodhpur?
Are there any other things to do in Jodhpur you’d recommend?