As winter turns to spring, we’re dreaming of colorful cities around the world, starting with Jodhpur in India’s state of Rajasthan. Here’s how to spend a perfect day in the Blue City.
Most of the houses in Jodhpur are painted blue, giving this destination in northern India its moniker of the “Blue City.” Domestic and foreign tourists alike flock here in search of these iconic blue hues, especially in combination with trips to neighboring Jaipur (the “Pink City”) and Udaipur (“City of Lakes”). If you have just 24 hours to spend in Jodhpur, here’s our guide to a perfect day in the Blue City.
9 a.m. – Mehrangarh Fort
Located atop a hill, Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest and best preserved forts in India, and is practically synonymous with Jodhpur itself. No matter where you are in Jodhpur, just look up, and you’ll see this majestic fort looming overhead. Construction began in 1459 and continued through the 20th century, reflecting influences and elements from different eras.
Highlights include the Phool Mahal (flower palace), Moti Mahal (pearl palace) and Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace). As you walk from one room to another, stop to admire the intricate details, like carvings on the windows and each of the grand courtyards. The fort also contains a museum featuring various belongings of the ruling dynasty of Rajasthan, from royal palanquins to cradles, paintings, musical instruments, clothing, and more. You will also get a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Blue City from the top of the fort.
11 a.m. – Jaswant Thada
As you make your way down the fort and into the city, you’ll notice an all-white structure known as Jaswant Thada. This stunning monument, carved in white marble, was built to commemorate Maharaja (King) Jaswant Singh II by his son.
You can hire a guide here or explore on your own. Stop to appreciate the intricately carved marble lattice work. Interestingly, the marble used here is of the same origin as the Taj Mahal; Jaswant Thada is commonly known as the “Taj of Mawar” because of this.
12 p.m. – Lunch at Ghanta Ghar
After all the walking and exploring, get your bearings at Ghanta Ghar, or the Clock Tower, located in the middle of the bustling Sardar Market. Here, you’ll find small local eateries, cafés, and restaurants.
Jodhpur is known for its street food, so don’t miss out on fried delicacies like onion or moong dal kachori and mirchi vada, a snack made of chili. Then, cool down with lassi at the famous Shri Mishrilal lassi shop. Don’t miss out on all the different Indian desserts offered here, from ghevar (a disc-shaped cake in sugar syrup), to gulab jamun (a solid milk-based sweet in sugar syrup), rasgulla (a sweet cheese dumpling), or jalebi (a crispy, deep-fried treat in sugar syrup). For a sit-down lunch, visit Indique at the Pal Haveli Hotel, serving up delicious Rajasthani cuisine. The best part, though, is the view of the Mehrangarh Fort from the terrace.
1 p.m. – Explore the blue houses
To get up close and personal with Jodhpur’s famous blue houses, you’ll need to delve into the bylanes of Ghanta Ghar. This might be daunting for first-time visitors, so consider signing up for a walking tour. The knowledgeable local guides can guide you around the nooks and crannies of the old city with ease. If you prefer solo exploration, check out the Navchokiya and Chandpole areas, as well as the street where Suraj Haveli is located, for a self-guided tour of the blue houses.
3 p.m. – Toorji Ka Jhalra stepwell
The Indian state of Rajasthan is famous for its stepwells, a type of public water source. Located just steps away from the Clock Tower is Toorji Ka Jhalra stepwell, built in 1740. It’s free to the public, and you can make your way down the labyrinth of stairs (be warned—it’s deeper than it looks!) or just admire it from the top. If you prefer to admire the stepwell from afar, visit the nearby Stepwell Café to sip on some masala chai and people watch.
4 p.m. – Mandore Garden
The ruins of Mandore, an ancient city, are located just under six miles away from Jodhpur’s city center. Open every day and free of charge, visit Mandore Garden for lush, landscaped lawns and ancient ruins including temples and impressive cenotaphs (memorials) of the old Maharajas of Jodhpur, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Once you’ve got your fill of history, enjoy a picnic on the lawn—but be careful of the monkeys who are notorious for stealing food.
6 p.m. – Dinner & drinks overlooking Mehrangarh Fort
Almost all restaurants and cafés in the Old City have open terraces for an uninterrupted view of Mehrangarh Fort, which is illuminated at night. Check out Hotel Raas, with two restaurants and a panoramic rooftop bar overlooking the fort. Arrive before sunset and grab a seat on the rooftop: as the evening progresses, the tables are lit up with candles, creating the perfect ambience against the illuminated fort.
Or, grab a drink at Raas and head elsewhere for dinner. Khaas Bagh, located 10 minutes away from the Clock Tower is another great dinner spot. It has a lovely al fresco dining area and serves Indian and continental food. Car aficionados will love it here: there’s a large collection of vintage cars on display, from Rolls Royce to Jaguars and Pontiacs.
For a traditional Rajasthani dinner, visit Gypsy, located 10 minutes from the Clock Tower. For those who’ve never had a thali before, it’s essentially a platter of smaller dishes. A thali typically consists of rice or bread (roti, chapati, or poori), a selection of vegetable curries, pickles, and snacks, and sweets. You can also order regional dishes like dal baati churma and gatta sabzi.
Where To Stay
Umaid Bhawan: For a luxury option, stay at Umaid Bhawan. One of the most luxurious palaces in India, it’s been largely transformed into a 5-star hotel, while the rest is used by the royal family as a private residence.
Raas Hotel: Once an 18th century haveli (mansion), Raas is centrally located and marries Rajput heritage with contemporary design.
Ratan Vilas: For a more intimate stay, opt for Ratan Vilas, with its sun-filled courtyards, gardens, and a swimming pool. It’s the perfect oasis from the bustling city on a budget.
Know Before You Go
As of February 2021, fully vaccinated travelers only need to show proof of vaccination status.
The easiest way to get around Jodhpur is to hire a driver for the duration of your trip. Most drivers charge around INR 2,500 (about $30 USD) per day. For a slightly cheaper option, there are also plenty of autorickshaws and tuk tuks located outside most hotels.
The best time to visit Jodhpur is between November and March, since it’s a bit cooler outside. This is the peak tourist season, so hotels tend to be more expensive. You can expect a few deals and discounted rates during summer and monsoon season (July to early September).
Music lovers should visit during February for World Sufi Celebration, where Sufi craftsmen from all over the world host shows, mehfils, qawwali, and artists’ workshops.