Jodhpur, the blue city of Rajasthan
Overlooked by its imposing fort (called “the magnificent”), the blue city makes the most of its heritage with a number of top rank cultural festivals. The stunning landscapes of the Thar desert all around and the busy streets of the colourful old town will bring you back to Jodhpur again and again.
Jodhpur, former capital of Marwar and second largest city in Rajasthan, was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput Rathore clan chief.
The city’s many blue-painted houses have earned it the nickname of Blue City. Originally blue indicated that a house belonged to members of the Brahman caste. Blue is also said to repel mosquitoes and protect a house from heat.
The town hosts many festivals of excellent quality. They generally take place in the idyllic setting of Mehrangarh Fort.
Festivals not to miss
Flamenco & Gypsy festival
The festival’s main objective is to promote the link between the Rajasthani folk musicians and the legendary Flamenco and gypsy artists that live around the world
The festival highlights the rich heritage of Rajasthan and the importance of keeping folk music alive, as well as presenting a more contemporary view of desert music and dance.
JFG would like to trace the routes that the nomadic gypsies of Rajasthan and Northern India took thousands of years ago, find artists with a gypsy background and bring them back to their ancestral roots.
World Sacred Spirit festival
The World Sacred Spirit Festival brings together eminent musicians from all over the world to explore the sacred through different forms of art from music and chant to dance and poetry. A festival of Sufi-inspired devotional music set in the magical and prestigious sites of Ahhichatragarh in Nagaur and Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur…
The Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF)
The Rajasthan International Folk Festival or RIFF is held yearly in the Jodhpur fort, at Sharad Purnima, and lasts four days.
It draws considerable crowds of world music fans, both Indian and foreign. The festival, first held in 2007, is organised by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and the Jaipur Virasat foundation. Each year over a hundred acts come to perform. The music to be heard at RIFF is top quality. The festival promotes the art of Rajasthani music while also bringing in international acts…
The festival’s main theme is the music and dance of the Marwar region.
The first day starts with a parade, followed by various attractions such as camel tattooing and competitions for the best-knotted turban or the longest moustache. In the evening there are live shows on a stage at the Clock Tower. The festival’s second day is usually held in Osian, 70km from Jodhpur, on the sand dunes, with camel rides in the day and a cultural programme in the evening. It’s an amusing festival for getting to know the folk culture of Rajasthan…
Follow the guide !
Mehrangarh Fort is undeniably one of the loveliest forts in Rajasthan and is often, and rightly, described as the “magnificent”.
Built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort is situated 410 feet above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards .
Most of the rooms have been turned into a museum. The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. There are a selection of old royal palanquins, of finest examples of Marwar paintings and costumes and turbans galleries, etc.
The fort hosts each year several festivals (see above)
Zipline – Jodhpur Fort
Friendly staff, breathtaking panoramic views of the fort and the town: the zipline tour around the outer battlements of Mehrangarh fort is an unforgettable sight with an adrenaline rush to boot.
Old Town / Clock Tower / Bazars
In Jodhpur as in many Rajasthan towns, it’s great to amble through the old town, wander among the people and just take life as it comes.
The Sardar bazaar is the town’s best-known market, with the Ghantagar tower or Clock Tower in the centre. The tower was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh after whom the market is named.
Kunj Bihari Ji temple
Nearby the clock tower, in the old city, stands the Shri Kunj Bihari Ji temple. One of my favourite places in Jodhpur.
This delicate temple, built in 1847 is dedicated to Thakur Kunj Bihari Ji a form of Lord Krishna also known as Sri Nathji, and belongs to Rama Nandi Vaishnava sect of Hindus.
This structure was constructed by Maharaja Vijay Singhiji in the memory of his son, Sher Singh, who died at a very young age. The shrine has been beautifully built using Makrana stone and Chhitor sandstone.
It has a toran dwar at the entrance and sanctum sanctorum. Atop the sanctum is an intricately carved shikhar, which has a kalash at the apex.
Toonwar ji ka jhalra (stepwell)
This stepwell or jhalra located in the old city is certainly one of the most amazing places of the old Jodhpur.
Many people don’t know about it; I discovered it only after my third visit to Jodhpur!
Recently renovated, it is an architectural marvel built in 1748 under the reign of Maharaja Abhaya Singh by his Maharani, Bada Tunwar Ji Patan from Gujarat. This place is now reemerging as a cultural hotspot especially with the youth. You can find some impromptu music performances happening there in the evenings.
Jaswant Thada is a memorial dating from 1899, when it was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh for his father Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
It is built of white marble throughout and is intricately carved and polished so that the sun’s rays bathe it in a warm glow.
The site also includes the Maharajas’ crematorium.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
This imposing building is the home of the current Maharaja and his family.
It is one of the largest private residences in the world – the construction work lasted from 1929 to 1943.
It is named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, who commissioned it. The only part you can visit is the small museum.
Mandore, 9km from Jodhpur, was once the capital of the Marwar kingdom.
There is nothing special to see in the town except the garden, which contains a group of temples and royal cenotaphs.
Sidnath Mahadev Temple (10km)
Ten kilometres from Jodhpur, surrounded by a wilderness of vegetation, stands the Shri Dada Darbar temple and ashram.
It is said that the place was originally inhabited by a monk called Utang Rishi, and that the existing temple was built by an ascetic known as Nepali Baba, without any help and despite the handicap of having no fingers or toes. Worth visiting for the lovely natural surroundings.
Bullet Baba Temple – Om Banna (50km)
A truly surprising temple, whose presiding deity is a motorcycle!
The story goes that in 1991 a young man called Singh Rathore Om (Om Banna) was heading for Chotila town when he lost control of his bike, a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet, and hit a tree. He was killed outright.
After the accident the bike was brought to a nearby police station but moved by itself back to the accident site. It did this several times. Villagers who heard of the miracle built a temple at the site of the accident.
Travellers stop here to pray for a safe journey. It is even customary to make an offering of alcohol!
Gateway to the Thar desert, this small hamlet takes us back in time to the days when camel trains trudged endlessly along silk road.
Osian (oasis) was known in ancient times as a Vedic centre and in the days of the Gupta kings (320-550 CE) as an important halt for caravans on the silk road.
It became a prosperous trading city under the Gurjar Pratihar dynasty (7th-11th centuries). It was also an important centre for the Jain faith in the 8th to 12th centuries.
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