Jodhpur is dominated by the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan’s most remarkable citadel, which perches on a sandstone plinth in the centre of the atmospheric old town. The ‘Blue City’, Jodhpur earned its nickname from the practice of painting the houses of the Brahmin people a vivid blue – today you’ll see the majority of cuboid houses have opted to go blue too. Wander the streets that hide in the shadow of the fort to find colourful bazaars and traditional spice markets.
The Mehrangarh Fort towers over Jodhpur from its rocky plinth – built from the stone on which it’s set, the fort appears to have simply grown out of the top. As Rajasthan’s biggest fort, Mehrangarh is one of the India’s mightiest sights and well worth exploring. Within the walls of the fort you’ll find a palace, temples and gardens – the palace, exemplar Rajput architecture, is now a museum displaying armour, textiles, paintings and even royal cradles within its exquisitely decorated chambers.
Stretching out from the base of Menrangarh Fort and confined by city walls, Jodhpur’s old city is a bustling and atmospheric maze of medieval streets. The blue houses that line these narrow roads are built in the traditional style so wandering through them is like taking a step back in time – they are also wonderfully photogenic! Getting lost here is half of the fun; you’ll come across anything from puppet makers to spice markets with plenty of bright sari-clad women going about their business. The clock tower of the Sandar Market makes the centre of the old town. Radiating out from here are a series of markets and bazaars with different areas dedicated to different trades.
Sat on a hilltop watching over the city is one of the world’s largest private residences, Umaid Bhawan Palace. Completed in 1943 this is Rajasthan’s last great palace, designed by British architect Henry Lanchester and commissioned to create jobs in the area during a time of famine. Today the building is split into three parts – the private residence of the Maharaja of Jodphur, a luxury heritage hotel and a museum. For those of us who are not the maharaja the museum, with its collection of clocks and regal automobiles, is the best way to see inside. Alternatively book one of the luxurious rooms and experience the Indian imperial lifestyle.
Head out of the city to explore the rural villages of Rajasthan by jeep. The perfect place to get a more authentic taste of traditional customs and culture, you’ll also find the people wonderfully hospitably. The area around Jodhpur is stark desert – the local women’s saris look particularly vibrant against this backdrop, and you’ll have the opportunity to see people going about their everyday lives – be it at work or at leisure. Keep an eye out for wildlife and more unusual Rajasthani features, such as stepwells.
The Manvar Camp consists of 30 colourfully decorated safari-style tents surrounded by sand dunes. All tents have electricity and attached washrooms with hot and cold water, but facilities are commensurate with the wilderness location giving a more authentic desert experience. The camp is open from mid-September to mid-April.
Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the world's largest private residences and, partially, a luxury heritage hotel, designed by Henry Lanchester and built between 1928 and 1943. Sat on a hill above Jodhpur, this is the place to experience the Indian imperial lifestyle with 64 opulent rooms and suites, two swimming pools and a pampering spa.
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