In the shadow of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur unfurls in a jumble of medieval streets lined with boxy blue houses. Here’s our ultimate guide to the mesmerizing Blue City, the second largest metropolis in Rajasthan.
What to Do
Built in 1459 by the Rajput ruler Rao Jodha, Mehrangarh (literally, “fort of the sun”) towers four hundred feet above the city. Take the elevator to the fort’s artillery-lined ramparts and get a bird’s eye view of the city. Proceed down to the museum featuring period rooms and galleries that will give you an idea about the royal lives of the Rajputs. The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) is particularly impressive.
It’s easy to get lost in the narrow, labyrinthine bylanes of Jodhpur’s old city—the best way to take it all in is on a private walking tour with a local agency like Jodhpur Heritage Walk, which offers walks themed around heritage, food, and photography. Marvel at the blue-walled houses (originally painted by Brahmins to signal their higher caste), trawl through the bazaars selling clothes, jewelry, and handicrafts, and get a taste of street food, washed down with a steaming cup of chai.
Toorji Ka Jhalra
An 18th-century step well built by a queen, Toorji Ka Jhalra fell into disuse and disrepair until it was restored to its former glory by RAAS Jodhpur in 2016. Get a coffee at the attached Stepwell Café and take in the geometric perfection of its pyramidal sandstone steps descending 300 feet into a pool of clear water.
Souvenir shopping is great, but why not make your own memento to bring back home? Sign up for a workshop with Rajasthan Studio and learn the craft of making mojaris (traditional leather footwear with colorful motifs) from Mohan Lal Gujar, an award-winning artisan whose ancestors have been making mojaris for the royal family for over 300 years.
Where to Eat & Drink
Jodhpur is famous for assorted savory snacks like pyaaz ki kachori (crispy, flaky, deep-fried pastry stuffed with spicy onion filling), mirchi vada (batter-fried green chilies), and samosas—try them at Shahi Samosa. For sweets, visit Janta Sweet Home, Narayan Mishtan Bhandar (which makes mogar kachori with a lentil stuffing), or Moolji Sweets. The latter also makes all manner of must-try sweets like ghevar (disc-shaped sweet fried in ghee and drizzled with sugar syrup) and makhaniya lassi (sweetened, saffron-laced yogurt drink topped with a dollop of butter).
Open for dinner, Mehran Terrace is laid out on the illuminated ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort, with the option of al fresco and indoor seating. Enjoy Rajasthani delicacies like dal-baati-churma (spicy lentil curry served with wheat balls and semi-sweet powder), laal maas (fiery goat meat curry), and more; reservations required.
Located at the heritage Ajit Bhawan Palace Resort, J-Bar is done up in a sumptuous vintage style by designer Raghavendra Rathore. You can’t go wrong with a classic cocktail at the bejeweled bar, but if you’re feeling adventurous, ask for a shot of the Maharani Mahansar, a potent locally made liqueur in two flavors—shahi gulab (rose) and paan (betel leaf).
Built around a 50-year-old almond tree, the chic Almond Grove Café offers great coffee sourced from Chikmagalur in southern India. Grab a seat in the garden patio and choose from a range of Italian, Mexican, and Lebanese plates.
Where to Stay
One of the last great palaces built in India, Umaid Bhawan Palace is the hotel of choice for the luxury traveler. Part home of the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur, part museum, and part hotel operated by the Taj Group, the palace features 70 rooms and suites done in luxurious Art Deco style with original artifacts and modern amenities. An indoor subterranean pool, unique marbled squash courts, and the holistic Jiva Spa are all at your disposal.
Built around the 18th-century haveli (mansion) of a Marwari nobleman, RAAS Jodhpur boldly juxtaposes the old with newly built structures that use local red sandstone and traditional architectural elements. Most of the 40 rooms and suites look out over Mehrangarh Fort and are done in tasteful contemporary style with black and white terrazzo. Don’t miss a sundowner on the rooftop bar followed by dinner at the al fresco restaurant Darikhana, with the illuminated fort looming above.
Tucked away in a residential neighborhood of Jodhpur, The Rohet House is a gorgeous pastel-hued boutique hotel. Housed in a former family home, it exudes intimacy while the carefully chosen furnishing and artifacts lend a tasteful aesthetic. Exquisite hand-painted frescos, pretty chandeliers, and plush linen all add to its quiet opulence. The poolside pistachio-accented lounge is a perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks followed by a bite (Indian and international menus) at the family-style restaurant.
An hour’s drive (26 miles) south of Jodhpur, Mihir Garh makes for a tranquil retreat from the hubbub of the city. Traditional Jodhpuri arts and crafts feature throughout the hotel—from carved wooden furniture to colorful carpets—all handcrafted by local artisans. Each of its nine suites comes with either a plunge pool or jacuzzi. Ask your concierge to arrange for a village safari to a nearby Bishnoi tribal village; you may also spot blackbucks (Indian antelope) on the way.
Where to Shop
What started as a pawnshop nearly 100 years ago is today a treasure trove of genuine antiques, wooden furniture, traditional textiles, exquisite shawls, and ornate carpets.
Known for their intricate kundan polki and contemporary diamond jewelry, Chhatrala Jewels is a favorite haunt of Indian wedding shoppers. Drop in to admire their exquisite designs and perhaps pick up a bauble or two.
There are no international flights direct to Jodhpur; fly to New Delhi and take a connecting domestic flight or fly to Jaipur and rent a car (220 miles). The best time to visit is October–March; being a semi-desert city, winter temperature can dip to the low 40s. Bring a few layers, a scarf (for visiting religious places), and closed flat shoes. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat for daytime sightseeing. In general, dress modestly while traveling in Jodhpur (as in most of India).