You have probably scrolled through photos of Jodhpur on Pinterest (ahem… click here to check out my boards) or somewhere else on the web, unknowingly; it’s the Blue City of Jodhpur– all the buildings painted a sky blue, looking incredible in contrast to the dusty desert town.
Update: I have since been back to Jodhpur, 5 years later on the dot, and wrote this post which is a new look at Jodhpur as I no longer travel as a backpacker and more into boutique travel, shopping, cute little hotels (I stayed in a palace that has rooms from $50 a night under the fort!). You can read it here.
When you look down from a high vantage point, it’s quite possibly one of the coolest views you’ll see. The best view is from the Mehrangarh Fort. PS: The Dark Knight Rises was filmed here!
Before You Go to the Blue City of Jodhpur
- Everyone visiting India NEEDS a tourist visa. You can read my whole post on how to get one here, or go straight to iVisa and let them walk you through the process. It’s really easy to get one online. You cannot, however, show up and get one at the airport.
- I would also recommend getting some travel insurance during your stay simply because you never know what may happen with your luggage or health. I swear by World Nomads, as do most travel bloggers I know.
- If you don’t want to get a SIM card, Trabug is a really good alternative, and they’ll deliver straight to where you’re staying.
- I did my own sort of DIY trip, but if you’re weary of traveling alone or don’t want to deal with the hassle of sleeper buses, GAdventures has a ton of awesome trips that will include Jodhpur. If you want smaller day tours, I use Viator.
- If you’re wondering what to wear, check out my post on how to dress in India.
Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan and is called the “sun state” because it has fantastic weather year round. Jodhpur is very much so a place of tradition. The people and the home decor are all bright, vivid colors.
The women are draped in gold, with many large jiggling gold anklets and bracelets. Nose piercings in India are the norm, and the chain from nose to ear is one of my favorite accessories on these gorgeous girls.
Jodhpur is a dry desert city and you’ll feel like you are in [easyazon_link identifier=”B00YMIVLMW” locale=”US” tag=”Hipinhee-20″]Aladdin[/easyazon_link] (I know that didn’t take place in India, but it really looks similar). I am super intrigued with the Maharaja times, and recently stayed in a Raj-like dream tenting while glamping in Goa.
So, the pressing question still lingers: Why is it the blue city of Jodhpur?
It definitely has something to do with the caste system… and the Brahmin having painted their walls blue… but no one knows for sure.
Can’t we just accept that there is a magical blue city in the middle of the desert with a giant fort overlooking it, palaces scattered around, where elephants and camels walk down the street like it’s just no big deal? Moving on…
Top Tips for Visiting the Blue City of Jodhpur
1. Have your sweets before your Rajasthani thali
My favorite place to eat Indian food, in general, is Rajasthan, so a thali from Hotel Haveli is something you have to try. I got this one for 200 rupees and couldn’t finish it all. The thali has all items tweaked to the traditional Rajasthani way, including some veggies/chiles growing in the Thar desert and nowhere else.
Just make sure you order plain chapatti (with no ghee) because if you eat ghee every day you’re quite possibly going to go back home from India with a considerably larger bum. Indians are used to it, but introducing it into a diet that’s never had it is bound to do some fattening up. But what might actually make you fatter is the tradition in this city of eating your sweets before the meal (called Mithi Manohar).
Jodhpur is most known in the food atmosphere and its delicious treats; make sure to snack on them while shopping. You can buy them safely from street vendors. You should try a lassi here as well, but make sure it isn’t “special” aka filled up with drugs.
2. Have dinner overlooking the fort
So many places will have dancers or snake charmers come in and put on a little show for you with traditional dance, flutes, and tambourines. One little girl actually bent over backward and picked up 2 rings with her eyes! It’s great and expected that you can give them a tip at the end as well.
Choose a rooftop place so that you can have a great view of the lit-up fort while you eat. Can it get better than that? actually, YES! Order some ginger honey lemon tea and get up and dance with them when they ask. A benefit of traveling alone- no one has to see that.
3. Where to Stay in Jodhpur
OK, I can’t give you a comprehensive review, because I didn’t do all my homework, but I can say where I stayed. Thanks to a recommendation from Lonely Planet, I chose Gouri Heritage Haveli. It has a fan, large bed, attached bathroom, and A/C. I found that in October A/C wasn’t necessary but was just a nice bonus.
This room was nice, large and there was a courtyard in the middle to have tea in the morning. I spent most of my time away from the guesthouse, so it served its purposes but wasn’t such a great place that I wanted to chill there. I did do laundry by hand in my room and hung it to dry, which they didn’t mind. You can book it here.
4. Orange Sunrise yoga
As with everywhere in India, do some early morning yoga! Rajasthan has a unique orange sunrise that looks incredible with the sandstone buildings in the background. It’s worth waking up early for.
When you come to India and are a little jetlagged, it’ll mean you wake up at ungodly hours of 5 or 6 am. It’s actually the best idea to stay on that schedule throughout your trip and make the most of your days.
I was traveling with a yoga instructor by chance who gave me little private yoga lessons as well!
Loads of people come to India for Yoga Instructor training, so team up with one so they can show you the ropes ;) This is a “quiet little town” as the locals told me, so according to them, this is the best place for yoga. FYI this quiet little town has almost 6 million people in it.
5. Tour the Mehrangarh Fort
Honestly, I’ve seen a boatload of forts, castles, temples, etc. and this one was in the top of the list for sure. The information from the headset was incredibly boring and sloooowww (sorry), plus you can read the same information on the signs around the Fort.
One thing I’ll never be able to forget is that when this fort was doing its best to protect the city, the attackers were using elephants as their weapon. The elephants would charge the doors to knock them down, so the people of Jodhpur put spikes on the doors. I just wanted to barf after knowing that…
Another weird thing- the Maharaja had as many wives as one could wish for over the years, and they were all hand printed for a “wall of fame” so to speak. Their hands were like baby hands.
There is a museum you can shop at, but I hope all my readers know better than that.
There are no extra charges for headsets, but there is a charge for your camera, guide services, and the elevator (seriously). Call 91 291 254 8790 for more information.
the runway for the elephants leading to a spiked door… who could do that!?
one of the elephant carriages & the many wives hands
view from the back of the fort… read on to hear about that palace!
6. Shop in the Sadar market near the clock tower
There are loads of shawls here as well as silky scarves. The silk ones are great because I still needed to be covered and modest. I ended up with a silky pashmina mixture scarf that I actually wore all throughout my trip. I got 2 pairs of comfortable ali baba pants that I somewhat regretted the whole trip when I would see ones that were much cuter! Luckily backpackers are always up for trading.
The prices here were much cheaper than Pushkar and Udaipur (where I also did a lot of shopping). Basically, shopping in India is the BEST, and you’re just going to have to give in and buy another bag to carry. Luckily, they have these striped duffel bags everywhere that are sturdy and have a seemingly bottomless pit.
What is “the thing to buy” in the Jodhpur bazaars? Antique artifacts, wooden furniture (the best here! Hotel staff can help you ship home your bigger items) silver, gold, carpets, scarves, puppets, dyes textiles, and leather shoes and bags.
If you’re SERIOUS about shopping and shipping home decor out of India, check out one of the many export warehouses in the city, and go directly to the source instead of paying tourist prices near the Sojati Gate or clock tower area. One day when I get a permanent home that is where I’ll shop!
7. Don’t stay too long
I only mean this if you have time restraints (tourists visas are typically only 6 months). While a great city with loads of history and fun alleyways to walk and shop through, they didn’t have a lot in terms of activities, like Udaipur did. It got boring here after two days. I couldn’t find a cooking class anywhere, and they wanted 1000 rupees to take a traditional dancing class.
I knew I had camels in Jaisalmer waiting for me, so I set off. Be sure to go “on season” which is around December to March. I got there at the end of October and I actually preferred that because the tourists hadn’t come pouring in and the weather was really nice. The only negative is a lot of classes for tourists hadn’t started yet.
8. Try not to kill a rickshaw driver
Just kidding… Jodhpur was the place I had so much trouble with rickshaws! Like many cities, they won’t use their meter; something that you will have to come to expect. Be ready to haggle with the drivers, but also be ready to be tossed around and lied to about your destination.
I had a horrible time trying to get to the bus stop. I had it written in Hindi with instructions from my hotel, who even talked to the guy. He 100% knew where to take me. He instead drove me around in circles for ages, before finally plopping me down at the wrong one. With only 10 minutes to spare for my bus departure, I told him it was wrong. He said “Okay I’ll take you to the real one for 300 rupees… or you’ll miss your bus.” This was clearly his plan all along.
It’s frustrating, and I didn’t take his rickshaw to the bus stop out of spite; I would have rather missed my bus than give him a penny more. Plus, my bus was barely more than the amount he wanted! That mean old butt-head…
I got another driver who was kind and speedy and made it just in time to sit down and write a 4 page rant in my journal. My new yoga and meditation patience practices hadn’t kicked in yet.
9. There are other attractions than the fort & they’re GOOD
Jaswant Thada is a palace (technically a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singhji) about half a kilometer from the fort by rickshaw. From far away it might not make your jaw drop, but as you get closer and see the detail of the white marble that they ENTIRE palace is made of. It’s like a mini Taj Mahal.
The Umaid Bhawan Palace (aka the Taj Hotel) is just stunning. It’ll cost you a pretty penny to stay there, so start saving. Only part of it is the Taj Hotel (which has branches scattered all over India), while others are preserved… thank Shiva, considering this place took 15 years to build!
The (ex) Mahajara, still called the Royal Family, still lives here. This place was built mainly to give the town residents a job to do during a famine. That’s a nice Royal Family!
10. Eat an omelet
Just outside the bazaar, near the clock tower is the most famous omelet place maybe in all of India. Don’t even think about leaving without eating some eggs from these people! It’ll cost under 50 rupees for two eggs and loads of bread.
11. Getting to the Blue City of Jodhpur
You can take a sleeper bus from Udaipur easily for about 600 rupees. Onward from Jodhpur, my itinerary led me to Jaisalmer, also by sleeper bus. I find buses in India to be safe even traveling solo as a female. Bring your sleeping bag!
The photo is hard to tell. To the left of my coffin is the window. The right aisle has a lovely curtain pulled closed to help suffocate me. You can try to straighten your legs on this bus, if you’re 5 foot tall.