Jodhpur, India: The Blue City
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan in India and is also known as the blue city because the color gives an indigo aura to it with blue colored houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort. Also known as the Sun City due to its perennial sunny weather, it receives sparse rainfall and is located in the Thar Desert. Jodhpur is a famous tourist attraction and offers myriad places of interest that have significant historical importance. It is also famous for its well preserved forts that are adorned with exquisite intricate carvings and pieces of art. The city is teeming with bazaars and crowded with tourists and is comparatively more populated than other cities in Rajasthan.
The city was founded in the late 1400’s before which it was ruled by a completely different empire called the Gurjara-Pratihara Empire. However, it was overtaken by the Rajputs who took advantage of the trade route between Delhi and Gujarat, making the place a cornucopia of trade and wealth. The city became an integral part of the state called Marwar. The locals, also known as Marwaris, now flourish in almost every part of India and are renowned for their skill in running small businesses. This city saw the arrival of Mughals and became an important fiefdom; however the administration of the city still remained under the Rajputs. Consequently, Mughal influence in some parts of the city is apparent in the pieces of art, carvings, and architectural design.
Jodhpur is connected to almost every major city and town in India by air, railroads, and by roads. Flights can be boarded from Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Jaipur, and Udaipur; Indian Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, and Jet Airways provide regular flights from many of these cities. The nearest airport is just three miles away from the city and is conveniently located to provide easy access to it. The city is also well connected by railways and can be reached from Delhi, Chennai, Banglore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. The approximate cost of an air conditioned coach from these cities can range from INR1000 to INR 2000. The city is also well connected by roads to Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur among many others. However road journeys are best avoided since major cities are located at long distances and it takes almost a day to get there from Mumbai and sixteen hours from Delhi.
The city offers so many attractions that it may take almost a week to absorb the beautiful monuments, forts, and museums that the city is dotted with. The labyrinths of alleyways in the old city are unique to the place and overwhelm a visitor with its bazaars that vend handicrafts, textiles, and other pieces of art. The old city is surrounded by a six mile long wall that has eight entrances and is a good place to wander around and take in the essence of the culture and architecture of this place.
This fort is one of the magnificent pieces of architecture in Rajasthan and offers a stunning view of the city from the top. This fort is located atop a humungous rock and has seven gates that are strategically located in order to make the fort impregnable to enemy attacks. The fort is very well preserved and is one of the ‘must-see’ places in India; the museum is one of the best in Rajasthan and has many costumes, arms, and artifacts on display. The national geological monument located inside the fort is the place where the last igneous activity took place around 4000 million years ago. This place has been declared a National Geological monument to increase Geotourism in India. Other attractions inside the fort include Moti mahal (palace of pearls), Sheesh mahal (palace of mirrors), and Phool Mahal (palace of flowers) which attract hundreds of tourists from India and around the world.
Kaman Art Gallery
This gallery is famous for its exhibitions of contemporary art by local artists; the items on display include paintings with watercolor, pastels, oil on canvas and charcoal. These pieces of art can only be found in this gallery and nowhere else in the world. This makes the place a paradise for art lovers and collectors alike. The paintings are spiritual as well as abstract and provide a stunning glimpse into contemporary Indian art.
Umaid Bhavan Palace
Just a look at the palace from outside is enough to take a persons breath away; the imposing structure with its royal architecture and elegance is mesmerizing and very attractive. The palace is sprawled over an area of one million square feet and has more than 300 rooms. It also houses a luxury hotel and a museum with many rooms with an enthralling décor of exquisite furniture and pieces of art. The palace itself is made of a special stone called Chittar and is designed in order to maintain the temperature at 23 degrees Celsius; an ironical ‘warm’ welcome for tourists from the stifling heat of the city.
The Osiyan temple is located in the town of Osiyan around twenty five miles from the city of Jodhpur. It is home to many ancient Hindu and Jain temples dating back to the tenth and eleventh century. The place is of immense religious importance for many people and also offers architectural delights that are gorgeous with various carvings and the design of the structure itself. Some of the famous temples in Osiyan include the Mahavir temple, Kali Temple and Sun temple. There are many other temples in the town for those interested in religious tourism and ancient religious architecture. The town of Osiyan is accessible by railroad and the journey from Jodhpur takes around an hour.
Other Jodhpur attractions
The city has many natural lakes that provide an opportunity for a simple outing or a picnic. Some of the famous lakes include Kailana Lake, Gulab Sagar Lake, Balsamand Lake and Ranisar Padamsar. The Balsamand Lake has been converted to a resort and can be a good option for staying and enjoying the proximity of cool surroundings. The Ranisar and Padamsar lakes were built five hundred years ago for natural water conservation and rarely run out of water in this parched landscape.
Getting around Jodhpur
Getting around the city is not difficult and buses, taxi cabs, rickshaws and Tongas are available for taking in the attractions that the city has to offer. The old city can be enjoyed by taking a stroll through the twisting alleys; an experience that can be a reminder of the rich cultural and architectural past of this place. Taxis are the best option if you want to explore the new city since the old city is cleaner compared to the new one. Tongas are best for people who want to take a leisurely journey through the city at an economical price.
The tour of the city is perhaps incomplete without shopping and many items can be bought from handicrafts to locally made shoes called Jodhpurs (etymologically apt) which are still worn by numerous Rajasthani people. The handicraft industry forms a major part of the local economy and is made so as to look like antique pieces of art. These are a definite take away that is strongly recommended because of the refinement and traditional hand made methods of production.
Some of the best hotels in Jodhpur are Taj Hari Mahal (Located at Jaipur Tank Highway), Ummaid Bhawan Palace (Tel: (91-291) 251 0101), Park Plaza Hotel (Panch Batti Circle, Jodhpur), City Palace Hotel (32, Nai Sarak), Hotel Rajputana Palace (Panch Batti Circle, Airport Road, Tel: +91-0291-2671672, 2670340, 2671659), and Balsamand Lake Palace (Mandore Road near BSF STC). These are luxury resorts that can cost from INR1500 to INR 5000 for a days stay.