Residing on the edge of a vast nothingness that is the Thar, The Blue City of Jodhpur is a beautiful fort town in Royal Rajasthan. This second largest city of the Rajasthan is famous for its indigo dyed houses, ocher countryside of Bishnoi community, crafty artisans, imposing Mehrangarh fort and some legendary stories such Om Banna, Khejarli Massacre including notorious tragedy involving Salman Khan.
The walled city of Jodhpur, with its history and heritage, treasures the delightful and colorful charm of medieval era. Its glorious palaces, beautiful havelis, hidden stepwells, old bazaar, heritage buildings, rich cuisines and skilled artisans tell the story of a magnum opus worthy past.
Our self drive road trip to Jodhpur
After a road trip to Jaiselmer and Bikaner, Jodhpur was in our wish list since long. Finally, when we went to Jodhpur via Jaipur, it was one of our best travel experiences. What makes it most special is the fact that this was the first road trip of my little one Shivansh who was just 2 months old then.
This self drive road trip to famed blue city of Jodhpur was a celebration of my professional success as I was awarded highest accolade in my organization i.e. Chairman’s Award for excellent performance and as per award policy it was mandatory for me to take 5 days of compulsory family vacation. A traveling soul cannot ask for more and hence despite the fact that our little one was yet to complete 2 months, we started to plan the trip and finally it the road to Jodhpur via Jaipur in September 2016.
Road Trip to Jodhpur from Delhi via Jaipur
The Route -> Delhi – Jaipur – Ajmer – Pushkar – Jodhpur
We did this in two days with a stop over at Jaipur on day one. On day two instead of going directly to Jodhpur from Jaipur we took a detour via Ajmer and Pushkar. Pushkar to Jodhpur roads are of moderate quality with some very bad patches.
While coming back to Delhi, we took Jodhpur – Jaipur – Delhi Route. This route via N25, NH58 and NH48 was very good with high class road infrastructure all along.
Images of Road Trip to Jodhpur from Delhi
Jodhpur – A brief History
Jodhpur, the capital jewel of Marwar, was established by Rao Jodha of Rathore Clan who moved the capital from Mandore to Jodhpur in 1459. Valor of Rathor clan coupled with the acumen of Enterprising Marwari traders made Jodhpur a wealthy kingdom and thus foes from all directions wanted to capture & conquer it.
Rathore clan built impregnable fort of Merangarh which was a deterrent for other rulers including Mughals and eventually Akbar, The Great Mughal King, was forced to forge an alliance with Rathores by marrying one of the princess. This alliance ensured a peaceful future and thus enabled a prosperity for the kingdom for many many years to come.
Lesser known & interesting facts about Jodhpur: A quick view
- Over the last 5 centuries, it has earned many sobriquets – Blue city, Sun city and The Gateway to the Thar.
- Due to its strategic location on overland route between Delhi which has always been the center of Indian Politics and Gujarat ports serving Arabs and European trader, Jodhpur became a major trading points. Local Businessmen known as the Marwaris flourished with the trade of commodities like Opium, Copper, Silk, Sandalwood, Spices, Dates and Coffee etc.
- Jodhpur is famous for it’s special and rare breed of Horses known as Malani or Marwari. They are in high demand for Race Course and Polo.
- Jodhpur invented special riding breeches which are known all over the world as Jodhpurs.
- Royal Residence of Umaid Bhvan Palace, the one of latest forts of the world, is the largest personally owned residence in the world which also houses world’s grandest luxury Hotel – Umaid Bhavan Palace by Taj.
- Many finger-licking famous dishes have originated from Jodhpur such as Mawa ki kochori, Pyaj ki Kacori, Mirchi vada, Dal ati churma, Makhaniya lassi and many others.
- To showcase the true spirit of Rajputana and its colorful traditions, The Marwar festival and the Nagaur festival are organized every year.
Why are houses in Jodhpur painted in blue?
As soon as you see the old city of the Jodhpur, the very first question that pops up in your mind revolves around the color blue after all its a city with more than 50 shades of Blue. Why one part of old city houses mostly blue colored houses. Its been a tradition here for eons which gives this city an unique identity. In true sense, the color blue tells the story and adds another legend worthy dimension to this grand city. I discussed this with many locals and almost every one gave me three probable and justified reasons.
Three explanations for Blue Color of Houses in Jodhpur:
- When the city was established, right side of the fort was taken by Kshtriyas who are the protector and warriors and left side was taken over by the Brahmin who are the custodians of knowledge and rituals as per Indian caste system. Brahmins of Jodhpur were the worshipers of Lord Shiva and they painted their houses Blue as blue color is associated with Lord Shiva.
- Lime and copper sulphate both were available in abundance in Rajasthan and their mixture gives a rich blue color and the mixture is also a known insect repellent. And later to continue the tradition Lime and Indigo mixture was also used.
- Since blue color reflects most of the heat and hence blue color is used in Jodhpur which is known as the Sun City of India as it receives highest sun power per unit area. So to keep the interiors cooler, blue color was adopted.
Interesting Story of Legendary Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh is a 15th century citadel that overlooks the city of Jodhpur like an observant sentinel rising about 120 m (or 400 feet) above the city. As per the story, Roa Jodha wanted to shift his capital from Mandore to Jodhapur and finalized the vertical hillock Bakhur Cheeria for his fort and to initiate the work he had to displace a hermit and the sole occupant of the hillock. His name was Cheeria Nathji – which means lord of the birds.
Hermit cursed Rao Jodha that his fort would suffer from the scarcity of water and be drought-prone. Though Rao jodha tried to appease the hermit by building a place of worship for him inside the fort but the curse was so potent that still Jodhpur faces drought and feminine every 3 to 4 years.
To avert the consequences of Cheeria Nath’s curse and as per the prevailing ritual of that era of Rajasthan, Rao Jodha had to take an extreme step to bury a young nobleman Raja Ram Meghwal alive in the very foundation . In return, Raja Ram was promised that his family will be taken care by royal family till eternity. In honor of the promise, even today his descendants continue to enjoy a special relationship with the Royal family and Raja Ram Meghwal is revered as a first martyred of Jodhpur.
The materials to build the fortress were chiselled off from the rock on which the fortress stands in such a way that the imposing structure of the fort merges with the solid base of the rocky hillock. Thus came in to existence the great citadel of Mehrangarh to provide military advantage to the kings and inhabitants of Jodhpur.
To feel the true spirit of this fort, plan to visit during one of the three music festivals that are held here: World Sacred Spirit Festival, Rajasthan International Folk Festival or the Jodhpur Flamenco Gypsy Festival.
Royal Family of Jodhpur – His Highness Umaid Singh
Royals of Rajasthan have always attracted history tellers, world explorers and conquerors. The story of their richness, palatial forts, palaces & valour transcended across time and borders. According to Rathore traditions, the warrior caste traces its origins back to the Hindu God, Rama, The hero of the epic Ramayana. Kannauj in UP was the capital of Ratore clan for 7 centuries. In 1193, Kanauj fell to the Afghans led by Muhammad Gauri and Rathores fled to Rajasthan and accepted it as their new land of opportunities.
Royal family of Jodhpur is the custodian of Marwar state since early 13th century when they conquered Mandore from Sisodia clan. Marwar state was founded in Mandore and later shifted to Jodpur by Rao Jodha.
Royal Family of Jodhpur boasts of many Kings who gave their soul and blood to protect and build a prosperous kingdom. Some of the notable names are Rao Ganga Singh who fought Babur along side Rana Sanga, Raja Surender who won Gujarat for Akbar, Raja Jaswant Singh who took Aurangjeb Head on by supporting Dara Shikoh, Sir Pratap Singh who laid the foundation of modern Jodhpur.
Out of so many worthy kings of Rathore clan and other royal families of Rajasthan, one name outshines all in modern history and that is His Highness Umaid Singh who reigned from 1918 to 1947. He was a real visionary who built Umaid Bhavan Palace and invested huge amount in roads and dams under his famed Femine Relief Policy only to ensure employment for his subjects during droughts. During his reign, Sir Umaid Singh reformed the Jodhpur State Forces and introduced structured judicial system, focused on primary education and revised the land revenue settlement.
He was a keen sports man and a supporter of Polo and in his time Jodhpur Lancers beat every team in the world including US Army. His other passion was flying and he was designated as the Lt General Air Vice Marshal by Britishers. Under his command, Jodhpur was under the thick of the action during WWII as RAF and US Air Force made Jodhpur as their base to keep an eye on Burma and East Asia. He was the first royal prince to obtain Level A Flying License and also a shareholder in India’s first airline. All these initiatives made him very popular among the people of Jodhpur and he is revered as the Father of Modern Jodhpur.
Offbeat travel guide to Jodhpur – Top 10 things to do in Jodhpur
Jodhpur has many facets and thus have many more things to see, witness and explore. As usual, I wanted to feel the off beat pulse of this place. During my heavily packed stay of three days, i visited old bazaars, tasted authentic food, tasted opium with Bishnoi families, met local artisans like bangle makers, carpet weavers, pottery makers, bought Bhandhani Sarees, Jodhpur Juttis and Leharia odhnis, bow before God of Sex, paid homage to Om Banna’s Motorcycle and had food with a view. Colors of city offered immense opportunities for photography. after the visit, I was truly a satiated soul. Let me list down 10 experiences that you must have when in Jodhpur.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
A walk through blue city from Chandpole Gate to Clock Tower
Lately, I have realized that best way to explore a city is to walk through its soul that lies in its old bazaars, by lanes of old city and have authentic food experience while chit catting with natives. Old city reflects how culture, tradition and art must have evolved over the years and thus you become one with the city.
To explore Jodhpur on foot, I took the services of Virasat Experiences which has made a name in organizing walks through Jodhpur and Jaipur. My walk guide was Mr. Chauhan (+91 +91 98280 79345) who explained every aspect in detail. We started from Chandpole gate and meandered through the bylanes of blue houses to reach Clock Tower. During this walk, I met spice sellers, tasted Gulab Jamun, witnessed the art of Ghevar making, bought some leather items, saw the entire process of lacquer bangle making, bowed before god of sex, felt humbled before clock tower and much more .
This walking tour offered some great insights into majestic Marwar as I was seeing the buzzing life through the eyes of a local. Trust me, this walk through the walled city would be a total assault on the senses but then you would eventually assimilate with the place and feel fascinated.
I would strongly recommend you to connect with Akshat of Virasat Experiences for City Walks. he can be contacted as +91 9667 200 797.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Meeting the God of Sex
This was the most fascinating moment for me and literally I was speechless seeing the two statues touching the most taboo topic of Indian Psyche i.e sex. When I Juxtapose this with temples of Khajurao, Bhoram Deo or Konark, it confirms the fact that in earlier times, our society was far more open and transperant.
Anyways, I tried to get an answer for their existence but in vain. My guide could tell me onlyonly things that every year Females of the locality assemble to worship the statues and during this ritual men are not allowed.
I believe, it is some extended version of Eloji who is the Folk Deity of Rajasthan and found in every village of Rajasthan. He is depicted as a strong man with manly mustaches exhibiting his long penis. Special songs are sun in his respect specially during Holi Festival praising his sexual prowess and thus seeking his blessings. Men beg him for sexual power and women worship Eloji for a powerful male child.
Do ensure to bow before God Of sex while strolling through blue houses of Jodhpur.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Pay visit to Lacquer Bangles makers of Jodhpur
Lacquer art is a very old art form of Rajasthan. Lacquer or lac is a thick waxy substance excreted by the female of scale insect ‘Tachardia Lacca’ native to the forests in India. The skilled craftsmen known as Manihaars in Rajasthan are traditionally specialized in making bangles by melting and processing lac. Lacquer bangles of Jodhpur and Jaipur are very famous so when you visit Jodhpur, do make sure you meet a Lac Bangle Maker and patiently witness the art of lac bangle making. For centuries, before the advent of Glass, these lac bangle makers filled the life of India females with cheer and joy.
Lac bangles have always been a special to Indian women who flock the markets to shop vivaciously colorful bangles during auspicious festivals like Diwali, Teej, Rakhi, Karvachauth, Holi and on special occasions like weddings etc.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Shop Bhandhani style of wear – A symbol of an once-upon-a-time Hippie Movement
Bandhani or Bhandej is a unique art for based on tie & dye process of coloring the fabric. It is native to west part of India specially Rajasthan and Gujarat and believed to be the oldest fabric art having historic evidences dating back to 5000 years ago. Alexander The Great mentioned about this unique pattern in his texts. In Ajanta Caves, paintings reveals the Bandhani patterns. However, Hippie movement took this art form to America in 1960s and then it became a part and symbol of rebellious times. It became a medium of self expression and thus earned the global appeal through Hippie Movement.
Jodhpur is a prominent place where craftsmen are involved in the art of Bandhani or Bhandej. You will find umpteen shops selling Sarees, Turbans, Tunics with Bandhani Style. In this art form of Bandhani, fabric is tied tightly with a thread at different points in knots before dying. These knots do not let the base fabric catch the color of dye and thus this process produces beautiful patterns such as Lehariya, Chaubandi, Laddu Jalebi, Ekdali etc. So, make sure you check out this ancient art when you visit Jodhpur and buy some for your loved ones.
Where to buy – Go to Sadar bazaar for best bargaining experience or connect with the family of Mohammad Tyeb Khan who have made a name for themselves making colorful turbans and sarees for Royal Family. He can be contacted at +91 9829548786.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Live a day with the Bishnoi Family – The followers of 29 rules
Bishnois, the nature worshippers, are the followers of Hindu Sect founded by Guru Jambheshwar (1451-1536) who laid down 29 principles of life for his followers and hence the name Bish-Noi where Bish stands for 20 and Noi for 9 in local dialect.
The Bishnois are the original Tree-Huggers and live a life based on care towards nature. This could be the only community in the world whose religious rituals are solely based on the principles of conserving nature. In last 500 years, every Bishnoi has lived and many even died following this belief system which can make Greenpeace Volunteers feel humbled.
When I planned my Jodhpur trip, a village safari to Bishnoi VIllage was very high on my agenda. So, i contacted oldest operators of Bishnoi Village Safari – Sodhas of Jodhpur Village Safari. Mr. Pushpendra Sing Sodha (+91 95715 55015) himself became my guide for a half day tour to explore rural Rajasthan. Pushpendra came across as a transparent, affable and knowledgeable person.
The Bishnoi Family we met was very welcoming. The female of the house was beautifully dressed in Bnadhani Saree with golden jewellary and took us to their kitchen, store house and talked in detail about cuisine. The men of the house was elegantly dressed in all white and motivated me with Opium Tasting.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Pay tribute to Original Tree Huggers at Khejrali Village
Khejrali, located at 26 KM from Jodhpur, is a historic place that witnessed first documented green movement of India and probably world, where 363 Bishnois lost there lives protecting the sacred Khejri trees from Royals in 1730 AD.
The Movement started by Amrita Devi who hugged the tree and thus stopped royal team to cut down Khejri trees and meanwhile other elders also requested and then warned royal officer against cutting the trees. Royal officer was adamant and asked villagers to be supportive as wood is required to burn the lime for the construction of new palace. And then Amrita Devi yelled – “Sar sāntey rūkh rahe to bhī sasto jān” (If a tree is saved even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it) which became the slogan of the movement and soon Bishnois from 84 surrounding villages gathered.
With this slogan she offered her head and officer ordered woodcutters to chop off her head and thus the first “greenpeace” movement started which ended after king heard the news of brutality that 363 Bishnois had been massacred and he rushed the order to stop the massacre. King was ashamed of this ruthless brutality and apologize for grave mistake committed by is officer and subsequently issued a decree prohibiting the cutting of trees and hunting of animals in any Bishnoi Village of Marwar State.
I visited the very place where it all happened and paid my sincere tribute to the original tree huggers of Khejrali. In Khejrali, there is a preserved area which houses a memorial commemorating brave Bishnois and first Chipko Movement.
Top things to do in Jodhpur
Pay homage to Om Banna – The Bullet God
Rajasthan is indeed a land of legends and I strongly believe that the legend of Om Banna is unmatchable in stature. I never imagined even in my dreams of anything like this. A legendary legend of Om Banna – The Bullet God. And when I visited this shrine, I was appalled by the devotion of the people. It was quite an interesting experience for me.
Om Banna is a shrine located in Pali district which is 60 KMs from Jodhpur, where followers worship deity Om Banna in the form of a motorcycle, the Royal Enfield Bullet. The motorcycle is a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet RNJ 7773. He is considered as the protector of the highway and if you are crossing his shrine you must stop and pay your respect.
The legend of Om Banna – Bullet Baba
Om Banna was a young motorcyclist who lost his life in a road accident on 2nd December 1991 hitting a tree. Next day, as a routine procedure, Police took the his bike and dump it at Police station. very next morning, Motorcycle was found missing from Police station and when searched it was reported to be at the very site of the accident. Police again took back the bike to Police station, emptied the fuel tank and chained it properly but again same incidence happened and motorcycle reached the site of the accident. When this happened repeatedly, Legend of Om Banna was born and spread like a wild fire. People, eventually built a place to keep the motorcycle and started to worship Om Banna in the form of a Motorcycle and he became famous as Bullet Baba.
Offbeat things to do in Jodhpur
Taste famous Mogar Kachori of Rohat
For me, travelling is synonymous to exploring local food and for this reason Rajasthan becomes my favorite place as it offers something unique and delightful to experiment at every few kilometers. Tasting local delights is a must for me and being a self drive road tripper, I have the freedom to stop at my will and inquire about local delicacies.
While coming back from Om Banna Shrine, my guide Mr. Sodha finally asked me if i would like to try famous Mogar Kachori of Rohat and I nodded assertively.
Rohat is a very small place somewhere between Jodhpur and Om Banna Shrine on NH62. The place is made famous by a shop at bus stand known as Prahaldchand Mangilal who dishes out awesome Kachoris. The Prajapat family started this in 1965 and their Kachori is made of Mogar (Green Gram) and mix of spices. shop 48 KM from Jpdhpur on NH62.
Offbeat things to experience in Jodhpur
Meet the family of Carpet Weavers and witness the art
Jodhur has rich handicraft heritage which flourished primarily for two reasons, first prolonged royal patronage as Jodhpur mostly had a peaceful history which ensured that royals could encourage all art forms and second Marwari Traders who traveled far and beyond trading in art and crafts or spreading the stories around them.
Meeting Carpet weavers or Dhurry Weavers was a part of Village Safari and again Mr. Sodha took me to famous town of Salawas. Salawas has many weavers who have been weaving artistic Dhurrys since many generations. I met the family of Usman Gani who owns Salawas Dhurry Udyog. He patiently discussed the history of his family and also demonstrated the intricate art of weaving carpets, strand by strand, using manual tools. Neither Usman Bhai nor Mr. Sodha pressurized me to buy any thing. They acted as a true ambassador only spreading awareness about the art.
While telling about the hardship they faced, he said an average dhurry of about 8 X 3 feet takes about a month to weave and it fetches them 8000-1000 rupees. While the same peice is available for around 15000 rupees at urban handicraft emporiums. Usman Bhai can be reach at +91 9799184786 or +91 9414132570.
I urge all my traveling friends to meet local artisan when you visit a place not necessary to buy something but essentially to spread awareness around them. In Jodhpur, you have the chance to meet local artisans and handcrafters involved in making of Jodhpuri Juttis, Bandhani fabric, Lacquer bangles, Colorful pottery and Carpets. As and when you can, do buy also to support them.
Top offbeat things to do in Jodhpur
Enjoy roof top dinner with a view of mighty Meharngarh Fort
After my visit to Jaiselmer, where i stayed inside the Fort and had all my meals at roof top restaurants, I was literally waiting for another opportunity to relive the experience. Jodhpur fulfilled the urge, when we had our sumptuous roof top dinner at Indique which offered best in class view of Meharangarh Fort.
Indique is set on the rooftop of ancient Pal Haveli near Gulab Sagar. It offers an extensive Menu to cater your taste buds. It has two decks and I would suggest you book in advance and ask for top most desk which offer the best view of Fort.
Great food, cool breeze and view of fort created a semi-trans effect which was out of this world. This roof top experience is the best way to relish culinary delight and create memories for life. Make sure you book upper deck i advance and reach there just before sunset. Trust me, it would be that once in life time experience.
I always say one thing about Forts that a fort can be appreciated only from outside for it is built for the enemies to assess it to conquer it. Its might, its strength and its grand aura can be felt from a distant and Roof Top Culinary experience offers that very opportunity to have an enemy view of the Mehrangarh and appreciate the reasons of its very existence.
Here ends my story of Jodhpur. I explored some offbeat things and gave a miss to many more things. Whatever i missed, will motivate me to visit this grand old city again.
This city with its tradition, buzzful daily life, colorful shopping lanes and culinary delights offered extreme sensorial extravaganza to me which would further motivate my traveling soul to dream more, see more, feel more and live more.
Would love to know what you think about our story of Jodhpur, please comment below.
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