Exploring Jodphur, the Blue City of India
Updated: May 13
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan and is known by many nicknames. To some, it's the Sun City because it's said to have sunshine all year round. For others, it's the gateway to the Thar Desert, while some call it the Blue City because of the many blue houses that characterise the historic centre. This and the beautiful architecture of the palaces, forts and temples have made Jodhpur one of the most visited destinations in India and we loved the place.
Jodhpur is a city steeped in history and has played a pivotal role in shaping India's fascinating history. Jodhpur is home to the thriving Marwari community and captures the essence of the colours, smells and sounds of India. Strategically located midway between the capital and Gujarat, India's most industrialised state, Jodhpur profited from the copper, opium and silk trade in pre-colonial times.
With its sea of bright blue houses contrasting beautifully with the browns of the surrounding desert, Jodhpur is probably the only city in India that holds its blue label firmly. The question is: why are the houses painted blue? There is no concrete reason, except that the colour originally indicated that the house belonged to a Brahmin family (the highest caste in India). But there are also various theories as to why they were painted this colour: Blue is the colour of the god Shiva, blue fights the heat, the bright colour attracts traders or it keeps mosquitoes away.
Where to stay in Jodhpur?
If you're travelling on a budget and looking for a nice place to stay in Jodphur, I highly recommend Hill View Guest House. Not only is the location perfect, being at the foot of the fort and close to all nearby attractions, this family-run guest house also offers friendly service, friendly and fun staff, comfortable beds, stunning views of the city, and great rates. Basically, it's the ideal base for exploring Jodphur!
Exploring Jodhpur, the Blue City of India
One cannot visit the blue city of India without being impressed by the magnificence and grandeur of the Mehrangarh Fort. This fort is the landmark of the city and one of the most imposing in Rajasthan. Impressively, with its 122 metres height, it towers over the entire city and can be seen from far away. Its construction dates back to the 15th century during the reign of the city's founder Rao Jodha. Once at the top, the view of the city and the blue houses is breathtaking.
Legend has it that Rao Jodha had to forcefully relocate a hermit named Cheeria Nathji to build the Mehrangarh Fort in 1459 which ended him up with a curse. The hermit cursed that the fort will always suffer from the scarcity of water. In an attempt to get rid of the curse and appease the hermit, Rao Jodha built a temple and a house for him within the fort.
The fort can be reached on foot from Clock Square, but if you are staying at the guesthouse mentioned above, it's right on your doorstep. Alternatively, you can take a rickshaw (tuk-tuk), which takes about 10 minutes. As with many places, the entrance fee is more expensive for foreign tourists: 600 rupees (~8€) versus 70 rupees for locals (~1€).
The interior of this complex reveals many wonders. After passing through the iron gate of the fortress of Jodhpur, the visit continues with a series of wonders, such as the finely carved red sandstone facades, a magnificent collection of royal objects, beautiful royal courts and palace rooms.
After leaving the fortress, be sure to visit the ramparts, which offer spectacular views of the city. The walk ends at the small temple mentioned above, from where you'll make your way back. Since there was a religious ceremony going on when we visited that day, women and men took different routes to reach the temple, and we were lucky because the girls got to see the rampart with the breathtaking view, but the boys saw nothing! Once we arrived at the temple, we unexpectedly got to see the Maharaja and his family who were attending the ceremony!
All in all, Mehrangarh Fort was one of the most beautiful palaces I've ever seen, and it really matched my idea of Indian culture and architecture. The intricate carvings, the stained glass windows, the marble floors, and the overall atmosphere of the place will always remain in my memory.
Toorji Ka Jahlra, Jodphur Stepwell
Toorji Ka Jahlra also known as Jodphur Stepwell was an unexpected discovery during our visit to the Blue City of India. The stepwell, located just a few minutes walk from the clock tower, is often overlooked and underrated, and although it's rarely mentioned in guidebooks, it's definitely worth a look! It was an amazing place and the architecture of the well is beautiful. It's possible to swim in the water, but of course only if you're a man...
Built in 1740, the stepwell of Jodhpur is one of the few surviving structures that reflect the traditional water management of the city. After being abandoned for decades, the well has been restored to its former glory thanks to volunteers. At the time of its construction, female members of the royal families, especially the queens, were involved in and managed projects to build public waterworks. The queen of Jodphur led the construction of this step well!
The Clock Tower is a landmark for navigating the ancient city of Jodhpur and the Sardar Bazaar. It is the place where artisans' stalls and market stalls line up. Built by Maharaja Sardar Singh about 200 years ago, it is known as the Clock Tower of Rajasthan and is a popular landmark that symbolises the beginning of the old city.
From the top of the tower, you have a panoramic view of Jodphur though we didn't know you could go up! The area around this imposing structure is bustling with locals selling all kinds of goods and services, making it the busiest and largest market in Jodhpur. The markets and the tower are a must-see when exploring Jodphur and will allow you to experience the culture and the city's people.
Exploring Jodphur's blue streets
When exploring Jodphur, a great way to immerse yourself in its culture is to walk through the narrow streets of India's blue city. The indigo houses strung together, the graffiti-covered facades, and the beautiful doorways and archways are some of the main sights to see when exploring Jodphur.