The Jodhpur Guide: In the Blue City of Rajasthan
Located in the desert state of Rajasthan is the famous blue city of Jodhpur. A friendly and popular place for backpackers and tourists alike, Jodhpur offers up its beautiful rocky landscape, vast royal history, and it’s blue hues to those who decide to wander its streets.
But don’t be fooled it’s still full of chaos, traffic, cows, and trash all mixed together. I personally loved Jodhpur and I would definitely go back, but you only really need 3-4 days to see what it has to offer, yet it’s easy enough find some great places to leave the crowds and chaos behind. If you are venturing through Rajasthan make sure you do not miss Jodhpur and its magic. Here’s our backpacker budget-friendly guide to Jodhpur:
When to go
Peak tourist season in Jodhpur is from October to February. We arrived at the start of April and temperatures were reaching highs of 40 C (104F) on most days. When it’s that hot its best to do your exploring early in the morning and to rest in the afternoon when the temperatures peak.
We thought being in southern Sri Lanka in January was hot but the dryness in the desert state is something else! Make sure you carry around bottles of water with you and hide in the shade or a cafe when it gets too much. All that being said we did manage to cope with the heat and planned our days around when it was at it’s hottest, plus our laundry dried really fast!
What to do
The epic and looming Meherangarh Fort is the main attraction and landmark in the whole of Jodhpur and it’s hard to miss it! Not only is it beautiful to see it lit up from rooftop restaurant in the city below at night but it’s also a great place to visit for a few hours to learn about the history of the fort, life at the court, and the Rajput dynasty.
Travel tip: After visiting the famous Amer Fort in Jaipur I was actually fonder of this one and its educational audio guide.
It can get busy at peak times but the grounds are so vast the crowds quickly disperse. We didn’t get asked for that many selfies either which was a nice change too!
The fort itself is free but getting inside to the museum will set you back 600 rupees but this does include the audio guide. Or you can rent a guide, although we saw (and heard) a guide who had a permanent setting of shouting flying through all the rooms with a group of bewildered tourists skipping quite a lot of what was covered in the free audio guides.
Travel Tip: You will need to leave some form of ID for the free audio guides, although I have no idea what you’d do with an audio guide and a pair of 80’s walkman headphones anyway.. you’ll get to pick it up your ID at the end of the tour.
Inside the museum and the royal quarters are several painted rooms that have been reconstructed to show it’s former splendour. There are also rooms dedicated to traditional Rajput textiles, armour, weapons, and artwork throughout the museum.
I found the history fascinating although I winced at the massive metal spikes on the fort’s door that were set up to deter charging elephants breaking into the fort from enemy armies. Another point that made me queasy was the replica handprints of widowed royal women who would go silently into their husband’s burning funeral pyre to sacrifice themselves; morbid yet factual.
An area of the fort that I loved was the marvellous Women’s Quarter’s that were opulent and had some of the best architecture that visitors can access. The current in-house residents in the Women’s quarters are multiple families of swifts and their nests so you’ll see plenty swooping in and out of the arches in the day. If you fancy braving the heat you can walk along the fort’s walls to a temple, and you’ll see plenty of ‘selfie’ restriction signs by the edge of the wall because clearly, some think dangerous selfies are the best selfies. Whatever you do in Jodhpur, don’t skip the Meherangarh Fort!
Entry fee – 600 rupees per person, audio guide included.
If you want to take pictures they’ve tactfully added an extra 100 rupees for cameras and 200 rupees to film inside too.
To get there flag down a rickshaw and bargain the price. The earlier you go the cheaper the fare.
Travel tip: To get the best and the most enchanting views of the fort at night head to a rooftop restaurant before 9 pm. After this time its lights off for the fort but you can gaze up at the stars instead.
The White Temple – Jaswant Thada
If you look up at the Meherangarh Fort and to its right, you’ll see a marvellous white temple sitting on the hill. This temple was built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh in memorial for his father the Maharaja Jaswant Sign II as a way to commemorate his life and his reign. The temple is set back just behind the statue of Rao Jodha and overlooks a man-made lake. The gardens are perfectly preened and it’s oh-so-peaceful if you need a break from the incessant honking of horns in the city. Inside the ornate structure are the portraits of all the Rajput Maharaja kings and how long they reigned over the city of Jodhpur. It is a beautiful piece of architecture and it is worth a look around. Local rickshaw drivers will take you there for a minimal price.
Entry fee – 30 rupees
Find it here.
The small Sardar Market is alive from 7 am until 9:30 pm, seven days a week. Locals sellers spread out around the Clock Tower in sections offering goods ranging from saris, fruit and veg to jewellery, and plenty of colourful bangles. We picked up lots of sari fabric to bring back as gifts for a low price and the local woman we purchased them from was lovely. Prices at the market are very cheap so it pays to agree to a fair price for the sellers who sit in the baking heat all day, every day, a little bit extra.
I also ended up finally replacing my worn out fake Havaianas that I bought on the Khao San Road for some bright purple plastic things so we’ll see how long these last! Jodhpur is well-known for its spices and we met a chatty local man who sells his spices in Sainsbury’s supermarket in the UK, well I never!
Find it here.
The Blue City
Jodhpur earned its nickname from the range of blue buildings hiding in its streets and its possible to make an adventure out of finding them. We were told the blue paint used to represent the Brahim Hindus or it could have been a way to keep the buildings cool and mosquito-free, although I’m not sure anyone has a clear answer. Regardless of its nickname, not every building, or every other building in the city, is painted blue but it is in certain areas that you’ll find most of the colour.
If you get to see the view of the city from the Mehrangarh fort you’ll see the splashes of colour in pockets of the city but its still worth the trip to see it all. In the Navchokya district is where you’ll find the majority of the blue-painted homes dotted around and local rickshaw drivers can drop you there if you don’t fancy trying to find them yourself. We took a rickshaw and then went on a little wander, just look out for territorial dogs down winding alleyways!
Where to stay
We stayed at the highly-rated, yet cheap and cheerful, Dylan Cafe and Guesthouse close by to the Clock Tower and Sardar Market. It’s a simple yet homely guesthouse with a rooftop cafe and a cool chill out area which gives stunning sunset views of the looming Meherangarh Fort. The owner and all the staff are amazing, friendly, and very welcoming; as well as giving great advice on what do and when.
Their rooms are a colourful mash of classic Rajasthani colours and patterns, and although in some rooms it may induce a mild headache the rooms are clean and the beds are comfortable. Private rooms with a fan or with A/C are offered and both come with private bathrooms. The cafe has a menu of Western meals such as pizza and burgers as well as Indian dishes. The food is good and they can adapt dishes too. At the rooftop, they also have a washing line so you can hang your hastily washed garments. But the staff really do make this place what it is and it is easy to see why they have such high ratings on Booking.com and Agoda. This was one of our favourite stays in the whole of India – book them here.
Where to eat
Among its narrow and congested streets are many options for meat, vegetarian, and vegan food in Jodhpur. It was actually really easy to get plant-based food in several eateries and we loved the food we had. The city has small local food joints as well as fancy (and super expensive) upscale restaurants; although you can get stunning views of the fort when it is lit up at night from many different places that cater to all budgets. These are our top foodie picks:
Jhankar Choti Haveli
A beautiful old building located a short walk from the Clock Tower houses the restaurant Jhankar Choti Haveli. We absolutely loved this place and its ambience. They have a beautiful courtyard downstairs, a lovely rooftop area upstairs as well as a cool air-conditioned restaurant inside. They only serve vegetarian food and the staff understand vegan requests and are more than happy to give advice on dishes and what they can change to suit dietary requirements. Our favourite dish was the Aloo Firdaus; a tomato-based new potato dish infused with cumin and saffron in an ethnic gravy. We loved it so much we went back three times for it and each time it was incredible, I’m still dreaming of it now. They also offer other cuisines from around the world but don’t skip their local dishes.
Prices start from around 200 rupees for main courses.
Find them here.
Cafe Royale sits opposite the Clock Tower behind the local ladies selling colourful saris. Their menu is small and perfect for snacks (or multiple snacks depending on how hungry you are). They have a really good write up on Happy Cow so we decided to try it for ourselves and again we loved this place too!
Mother and son run this cafe and they are well versed with veganism even down to the sauces they serve. Mostly Indian style snacks are offered such as vada pav, pav bhaji, rice dishes etc. We tried their vegan burger and although I can’t remember the name of it it was delicious. They also have soy milk for chai tea! (That was also so tasty too!). The cafe is not that big so they only have a few tables in separate alcoves but they are great spots to spy on the bustling market. The family are also some of the kindest and loveliest people we’ve met in India and they will give out plenty of beaming smiles and will kindly refuse all tips.
Prices start from 70 rupees per snack.
Find them here.
Getting There and Away
Jodhpur is easily accessible via train or bus. We hopped on a train from Mumbai and arrived in the early hours which took roughly around 9 hours. The train station is about a 5-10 rickshaw ride from the Blue City and main tourist area.
We also left Jodhpur via train and headed up towards Jaipur which was a short 4-hour train ride away. There are several tour agents dotted around Jodhpur and we booked from a tour agent/bag shop close by to the Clock Tower.
That was our write-up on whats best to do in Jodhpur. We hope you enjoy the famous Blue City, if you have any other tips or questions please let us know below!
Peace + plane tickets ✈