Jodhpur is everything I dreamt it would be. Looming fortresses and rose colored palaces…this was what I had always imagined when I thought of “India.”
After taking an overnight train from Ahmedebad to Jodhpur, I met up with Denise, another AIF Fellow who is placed in a rural village in Rajasthan, at Kesar Guesthouse . It’s a cute heritage hotel right at the base of Merangarh Fort. The decor and ambience had a classic Maharaja era vintagey vibe, reminding me that I was now in the land of the kings.
Breakfast was on the roof. Stepping out onto the colorful tiled terrace, I was immediately struck by a spectacular sight…Mehrangarh Fort. Carved directly into the mountain, this gigantic fort soars hundreds of feet above the old city. It’s impressive to say the least!
My first taste of Rajasthani food was divine. Perfectly spicy and full in flavor. It made me look forward to the Lal Maans, a Jodhpuri lamb stew.
When Tali, another fellow, joined us, we headed up to the fort. It was surprisingly easy to find our way through the narrow, winding streets. I was delightfully surprised to see so many colorful houses, especially the famous Brahmin blue!
Approaching the fort was like a treasure hunt. With every advance came a pleasant architectural surprise. The view from below is intimidating and awe inspiring.
The closer we got, the finer the details became.
Although the fort was imposing and strong, every aspect of the building within the fortress walls were intricately ornate. Perhaps it was this projection of power juxtaposed with intricate details that stirred such emotion. At almost every turn, I was so overwhelmed by beauty that I was nearly moved to tears.
I started speaking Chinese to some tourists and then they proceeded to take turns taking individual pictures with me, then we got a whole group shot! A lady in a beautiful bandhani sari asked for a click too (worked out because I wanted one of her too).
After a day of exploration, we met up with my Ahmedebadi host brother’s friend Naveen. He took us to the old bazaar for some delicious stuffed chili pepper (mirchi bada), the pic on the left that looks like fried fish but isn’t, and some other yummy snacks. Not pictured, rich and creamy saffron (kesar) lassi.
After smelling yummy spices and admiring colorful bandhani textiles, we headed to Pal Haveli for a rooftop dinner, complete with candle light, fireworks from various marriages around town, and echoes of traditional sufi music from the fort.
It was a wonderful day, full of adventure, mouthwatering food, and stimulating conversation about current societal issues.
The next day, Denise and I wandered around town, took a break in the shade of a step well, and paid a visit to the current Maharaja’s palace.
The exhibition in the palace can be done within an hour or less. It’s about 20 minutes from the city, and up a big hill, so factor in at least an hour of travel time (both there and back) when planning your visit.
Naveen kindly picked us up and drove us to a gorgeous temple, surrounded by a lush garden.
I’ve seen a lot of temples in India so far but I found this one particularly beautifu. It’s said that Ravana’s wife from the Ramayana was from here.
Later we headed out of the city towards the desert. In Osiya we stumbled across a Rajashtani wedding!
After waiting out the camel traffic, we checked out Osiya’s temple. From the top you could enjoy views of sand dunes and balmy desert breeze. On closer inspection, this temple had some pretty…active carvings.
Osiya cows and Brahmin blue
Dogs of Jodhpur
Jodhpur is unforgettable. Having a hospitable local host helped a lot in terms of understanding the lay of the land, the local culture, and I feel really lucky for getting to see things we may not have gotten to see otherwise!
Even if you don’t have a local friend, Jodhpur is a must see. It’s very navigable even without GPS because there are signs everywhere pointing you towards the major points of interest. You don’t even really need an itinerary–meandering through the ancient blue lanes, you will find adventure!
Well, this was the first blog post I’ve published in almost 10 years! Little rusty at the moment, but practice makes…better! Hopefully this will at least help jog my memory years down the line, and if others come across this, hopefully some of the things here can be of use to fellow travelers planning a future trip to Jodhpur. I’m sure India will continue to inspire me to make the effort to record my experiences!
- Staying in the heritage guest houses in the old city has its benefits, but some are accessible only by foot, and cars and rickshaws can’t reach all of them, especially the ones that are a bit higher up. If accessibility is a concern, try to get a place lower down the hill, closer to the Sadar Market area where its flatter. Most hotels will still have fantastic, sweeping views of the fort from their terraces.
- Some guest houses are quite cheap! Bhavyam guesthouse where we stayed was only 1000 rupees a night.
- The path up to the fort is steep, but doable. Luckily there are amazing views above and below if you need a break to catch your breath!
- At Mehrangarh Fort, there is an Indian price and a foreigner price. As of February 2017, the foreigner price was 600 rupees.
- There is a sit down restaurant inside the fort. For some reason the western food is better than the Indian options! It’s a cute place to cool down and recharge while you’re exploring the fort in the heat of the day.
- For food, make sure to try lal maans, mirchi bada, and kesar (saffron) lassi!
- Bring sunscreen, a hat, or a light scarf to protect your skin from the blazing sun
- Plan on at least half a day for the fort, and make sure to factor in time it takes to get up and down the hill!
- Rickshaws, Uber and Ola are available
- Because you will most likely need to walk around from place to place, including to and from your car, it would be best to pack lightly (a backpack is easiest when navigating the narrow busy streets and you don’t have to worry about dragging your bags across bumpy pavement and cow/dog droppings)
- Most tourist sights are within walking distance in the old city
- If traveling by train, keep in mind there are two stations–the main Jodhpur one and BGKT, 8 km away from the city.
- If traveling by overnight bus, make sure to use a washroom before you depart! You can never be too sure when they’ll stop for a break
- Make sure to charge your phone and set alarms so you wake up in time to disembark!