10 Places to Visit in Jodhpur
An enchanting maze of forts and other architectural wonders, eclectic handicrafts markets, charming by-lanes and a mouth-watering local cuisine welcomes you to the magical Jodhpur. Hiding within its fold of countless experiences, Jodhpur spoils you with the choice for sightseeing. The unassuming high walls around Jodhpur gleam with rich, ornate designs, inside palaces and cenotaphs. Blue houses make regular appearances around the fort, which were originally inhabited by Brahmins, interestingly from which Jodhpur’s popular sobriquet of ‘Blue City’ comes from. Once a capital of the erstwhile Marwar state, the city continues to dwell in legacy and tradition, offering travelers an exhaustive array of things to do while sightseeing in Jodhpur. So here are 10 places to visit in Jodhpur:
1. Mehrangarh Fort
This overwhelming fort stands a few hundred feet above the rest of Jodhpur. Centuries rolled by before the imposing structure completed its construction. Diverse influences of varying architectural periods during construction was noted, and Mehrangarh Fort symbolizes the sheer power of the erstwhile ruling dynasty. The Mehrangarh Fort itself stands atop a hill, with towering embattlements reaching up to 36 meters! Seven gates lead you into the fort which is among the largest in India, and houses many palaces, temples, and even a museum. These gates were built by different rulers to commemorate their victories over the invading armies from Jaipur and Bikaner. The most prominent palaces inside the fort are Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Jhanki Mahal and Moti Mahal, while two temples of Chamunda Mataji and Nagnechiyaa Maa have visitors flocking them during Navaratri season. Standing on a perpendicular cliff, the vistas from Mehrangarh Fort are splendid with specks of blue paving the ground beneath.
2. Umaid Bhawan Palace
One of the largest private residences in the world, the humongous Umaid Bhawan Palace has a mind-boggling 372 rooms! The principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family, the magnificent structure was architected by Henry Lanchester and shows a mixture of both Western and Eastern influences. While the massive dome draws from the Renaissance, the high towers on the sides are derived from the Rajput architecture tradition. Sightseeing in Jodhpur is incomplete without a visit to the Umaid Bhawan Palace. Besides the royal residence, there are two other functional parts—a luxury hotel and a museum dedicated to the 20th-century history of the Jodhpur royal family. The museum is one of the highlights, with a vast collection of interesting and quirky artefacts. Stuffed leopards, a wide-ranging collection of clocks, vintage cars belonging to the royal family, elegant miniature paintings, and exotic memorabilia are bound to fascinate you. The Jodhpur sightseeing experience will only get better at the Umaid Bhawan Palace and is best visited during the winter months of October to March.
3. Mahamandir Temple
Built in 1812 and located a mere two kilometres away from Jodhpur, this intricately carved temple complex is one of the prime attractions on the Jodhpur sightseeing tour. The 84 ornately etched pillars are a sight to behold and remain prominent due to the varying postures of Yoga carved onto them. Also locally known as Nath Ji ka Mandir, getting to the Mahamandir Temple through a labyrinth of winding alleys is a tedious experience, one which subsides in the sights of the wonderful architecture. The premises of the temple have several other shrines that date back to the ancient days. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and remains uncrowded and tranquil. After a long day of Jodhpur’s sightseeing packages, this place of worship is bound to soothe your nerves because of the quaint ambience. The 14 main pillars supporting the structure hold unbelievable carvings for you to bask in their beauty, and is open on all days of the week with no entry fee whatsoever. The best time to revel in Mahamandir Temple’s architectural marvel is during the winter months. Located off Mandore Road, the temple is well connected by buses and cabs.
4. Kaylana Lake
The artificial lake constructed in 1872 sprawls over 84 square kilometres and is the best place to unwind in leisure after a sultry day of Jodhpur sightseeing. Palaces and gardens of two preceding rulers had been replaced by Pratap Singh to make way for the lake—which remains a source of drinking water for Jodhpur and its surrounding towns and villages. In winter, tourists flock to Jodhpur and so do a wide variety of migratory birds like the Siberian Crane. An exciting prospect for bird-watchers indeed. The sunsets behind the rocky hillocks at Kaylana Lake take ethereal form, with the skies draped in changing hues with every passing minute. The Kaylana Lake also goes by the name Pratap Sagar and offers boating facilities. However, swimming is strongly discouraged in the bewitching waters. It is said that the lake’s vicinity was full of wild bears, and was a popular secured hunting ground for the members of Jodhpur’s royal family. A short visit in the evenings will accustom you to just the perfect sunsets you have seen in a long time. The placid Kaylana Lake in the desert is a nice way to ponder over the riches of Rajasthan’s second largest city.
5. Arna-Jharna: Desert Museum of Rajasthan
Meaning ‘forest’ and ‘spring’, Arna-Jharna reimagines the experience of visiting a museum and tries to expand the confines of a traditional museum to include the open spaces of the desert. Introducing you to the biodiversity of the place it is situated in, Arna-Jharna attempts to link diverse disciplines. Focusing on a panorama of brooms linked to different cultural contexts, the museum introduces you to the culture of rural Rajasthan. Once a sandstone mine, the crater left behind is filled with water through rainwater harvesting to create a reservoir. A host of birds flock to the place and provides an informative slice of Jodhpur sightseeing.
6. Ghanta Ghar and Sardar Market
The eye-catching clock tower built almost a century ago stands to this day as a prominent landmark in Jodhpur. Built by Sardar Singh in 1880, the Mehrangarh Fort looms as a backdrop. The tower provides beautiful views of the old city of Jodhpur and overlooks a thriving open bazaar adjacent to it. The narrow lanes of Jodhpur start branching out from there. The Sardar Market greets you with triple gateways at both ends and comprises of alleys selling traditional Rajasthani wares. Strolling around the crowded alleyways of the bazaar, which sells everything from handicrafts to spices to silverwares to sweets is a charming way to introduce yourself to the vibrant Marwar culture. The heart of the old city is a haven for foodies. Mawa Kachori, Pyaaz ki Kachori, Mirchi Bada and scores of other delectable delicacies of Jodhpur are sure to leave you reeling, even as you sink into the views of the city. In the evenings, the clock tower is lit and looks fabulous against the lively market and the night sky. Jodhpur sightseeing is lent a certain medieval chaos by the Ghanta Ghar and the Sardar Market, which lies a mere two kilometres away from the nearest railway station.
7. Machiya Safari Park
Less than two kilometres away from Kaylana Lake, and on the way to Jaisalmer is the Machiya Safari Park. An abode of wild animals, wildlife enthusiasts will be excited as it figures on most popular Jodhpur sightseeing packages. Nilgai, desert fox, monitor lizard, deer, wild cat and many other fascinating animals have made the Machiya Safari Park their natural habitat; and spotting them can be a fun-filled affair with family. An assigned bird point inside the park is tailor-made for bird-watching enthusiasts, as a number of exotic birds migrate here during winter. Perfect timing, you must admit. Enclosed within its premises is a fort, which further adds to the disarming nature of the reserve. The sunset from atop the fort matches the resplendent views from other more-celebrated forts in Jodhpur—the Sun City.
8. Rai Ka Bag Palace
Yet another exquisite stop among Jodhpur’s sightseeing places, Rai Ka Bag Palace is very close to a railway station bearing the same name. The palace was commissioned by Hadiji, the queen of King Jaswant Singh I, and has a picturesque lookout. Spending a large chunk of his time at the palace, the octagonal bungalow was a much-favoured haunt of King Jaswant Singh II. Roughly a couple of centuries after its construction, the founder of Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswati arrived in Jodhpur and delivered sermons arranged for the public at the grounds surrounding Rai Ka Bag Palace. It is said that the king himself used to listen to the sermons enraptured. Situated just 15 minutes away from the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Rai Ka Bag Palace is the place to visit if you haven’t had enough of Jodhpur’s captivating forts and palaces. A compulsory-visit on the Jodhpur sightseeing packages. At present, the Rai Ka Bag Palace houses Jodhpur’s income-tax office.
9. Sardar Government Museum
Situated in the Umaid public gardens, the Sardar Government museum provides a glimpse into the royal legacy and tradition of Jodhpur. This government museum ranks on the must-visit list of sightseeing in Jodhpur and exhibits an exhaustive collection of weaponry, terracotta works, thousands of miniature paintings, ancient inscriptions and hundreds of iconic sculptures. One of Sardar Government museum’s most important attractions includes paintings and sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras. A treat for history enthusiasts, a separate section dedicated to military memorabilia has brass and wooden models of the earliest air crafts, tools, and other weapons. Those into coin collecting will be delighted by the vast collection of coins on display at the museum. In the vicinity of the museum lies a zoo, with stuffed animals and birds that are sure to capture the attention of children. The construction of the museum was undertaken by Henry Lanchester—the architect of the famed Umaid Bhawan Palace. Open on all days of the week, except Fridays, a nominal entry fee exists. For an insight into the history of Jodhpur, don’t miss.
Popularly referred to as the ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’, the ancient town of Osian is an oasis in the middle of the Thar Desert. A diversion of the main Jodhpur-Bikaner highway will lead you into ancient ruins of a nest of Brahmin and Jain temples. A cluster of 18 glorious temples welcomes you—out of which the Sun Temple, Sachiya Mata Temple and a temple dedicated to Mahavir are stellar examples of architectural brilliance. The Turkish and Muslim armies of Muhammad of Ghor attacked the town and razed it, following which the town was deserted forever. Dating back to 8th to 11th centuries, the ruins still are a famous pilgrimage site of the Oswal Jains. Once an extremely important trading center on the ancient Silk Route, the town of Osian is a peek into the bygone era of glory. Without exaggeration, the Jodhpur sightseeing experience is wasteful without a visit to Osian. The Harihara and Pippala Devi temples are worth a mention. Camel rides in the evenings, amid sand dunes, are an authentic way of soaking in the life of the most densely populated desert in the world. Explore Jodhpur, the city with best sightseeing places with friends and families to enjoy the essence of life with memorable moments.
Contributor: Shahina Saleem