India

48 Hours to See India’s Beautiful Blue City, Jodphur

Jodphur, the blue city, has a real local charm that leaves many travellers smitten.

Think: tiny alleyways, bright colors, cows in the road, the constant honking of rickshaws, dramatic forts, marble palaces, ladies doing laundry on ancient stepwells, and rooftop chai.

There’s no specific historical evidence to the origins of its nickname, the blue city, but locals often tout historic homes are painted blue for two reasons- to keep them cool & to keep the mozzies away.

I arrived in Jodphur after spending a few days in Jaipur, and couldn’t have been happier to discover it was a much smaller, calmer city.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much a city.

The horn honking you’ll encounter across India is unending in Jodphur, but because it’s smaller than Jaipur, it feels less chaotic, and in many ways, less touristy.

Jodphur gets its fair share of annual visitors, but it’s nowhere near the tourism levels of Delhi, Agra or Jaipur.

Only a short train ride from Jaipur, it’s well worth adding a few days onto your India itinerary to experience.

HOW TO GET THERE

I arrived via train from Jaipur. There are several train options, I took the most direct route, which was about five hours.

My journey was during the day- early morning to afternoon, so I was in CC a/c class, which means seated chair, air-conditioning. You’ll typically find these train classes on trains with journeys that are five hours or less.

Sleeper class would have been more comfortable, but the trains running sleeper made several others stops en route to Jodphur, extending the journey by hours.

You could also drive from Jaipur or Udaipur, depending where you are in your travels and how you’re getting around India.

WHERE TO STAY

Across India, I stayed in Moustache hostels when available. In all of them, I opted for a private room, both for comfort and because I needed to work a bit while adventuring India.

I loved the Jodphur location, the room was massive and beautifully decorated in Indian fabrics and textiles.

My room was ground floor, so there was a ton of street noise (mostly honking), but that’s just India. Bring earplugs and you’ll be fine.

WHAT TO SEE & DO

Spend a half day reveling in history at the Mehrangarh Fort 

The fort is as dramatic as forts come, even in Rajasthan.

Towering over the city, it’s visible from wherever you are. Many of the hotels and guest houses in Jodhpur boast wonderful views of the fort.

The fort is massive, and composed of several parts.

One of them is a museum, filled with treasures from the royals who used to occupy its walls, like howdahs- seats built for royals to perch on top of elephants.

Several of the palace’s old rooms are also open to see- they’re exquisite.

And, the views of the city below and hills beyond aren’t bad either.

Get a headset when you visit, the context is helpful.

Entry fee: 400 rupees for foreigners
How to get there/return: From Jaswant Thada, you can easily walk 10 minutes to the Mehrangarh Fort. And, when you leave, there’s a set of steps behind the parking lot that’ll lead you back to the old town- it’s only a ~10 minute walk. From there, explore or hop in a tuk tuk back to your hotel. There are also tuk tuks waiting at the top of the fort, but the walk down is quite scenic

Ogle the white marble magnificentness of Jaswant Thada 

A white memorial, it’s made entirely of marble and absolutely stunning.

This memorial was built by Sadar Singh for his father.

During the ceremony of the king, a peacock deliberately fell into the funeral pyre and died. As such, there is a memorial dedicated to the peacock.

Jaswant Thada is a serene place, a welcome escape from the bustle of the city below. Don’t miss wandering the adjacent gardens, or relaxing next to the lake with a masala lemonade from the stall nearby.

Entry fee: 30 rupees
How to get there/return: My hostel helped arrange a tuk tuk for 70 rupees to the palace. To get back, you can hop in one of the tuk tuks waiting in the parking lot, or walk to the Mehrangarh Fort and see that next

Take a sunset walking tour for an intimate look inside Old Town 

My favourite part of my hostel?

They run daily sunset walking tours of the historic part of town for only 250 rupees (~$3.50 USD).

The tours are usually 3-4 hours, and a great way to see a lot of the old town, as well as hidden gems.

Our guide regaled us with tales of the town and its history, starting at one of the old city gates.

You’ll see handprints (these are a memorial) all over gates in this part of India. They recognise sati, an ancient Hindu ritual.

It was the practice of a woman burning herself to death if her husband died to join him in the afterlife.

Women with young children were exempt from partaking, but ones who did left their handprints on the city gates as a way to be remembered for their devotion.

The practice was mainly observed from royals at first, but went from being voluntary to mandatory.

In 1987, the Prevention of Sati Act was passed in India, making it illegal for any woman to be forced or pressured into committing sati following her husband’s death.

Despite it passing, there have still been recorded cases of suicide in observance of the ritual.

Our tour wound through the city’s streets, and along the way, we peeked into homes, and even visited a manmade lake. To cap the tour off, the guide took us to a few ‘secret’ sunset spots, where we had panoramic views of the blue city below.

Some people come to Jodhpur, and are disappointed because they think the entire city will be blue. In actuality, it’s only the old quarter, and even at that, only some of the buildings remain blue.

Beautiful, nonetheless.

With how twisty, windy Jodphur is, I would have never found these spots on my own, so taking a tour like this one is something I’d definitely recommend.

These kind of tours are also a great way to meet other travellers. Plus, I preferred walking around India with other people. It was always fine alone, but there’s something to be said for it being easier in the company of men.

Watch locals washing clothes on an ancient stepwell at Toorji Ka Jharla 

This ancient stepwell was constructed in the sixth century AD, and is located right in town.

This stepwell or the ‘jhalra’ was built in the 1740s by a queen of Maharaja Abhay Singh. In Jodphur, it was tradition for queens or royal ladies to help fund stepwells. 

It was originally a drinking source for the city. Now, it’s used as an unofficial swimming pool (when security isn’t present), and a place for people to wash and dry clothes.

I loved sitting here for a while, watching people wash clothes and chat about their days.

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

If you’ve read my Jaipur or Jaisalmer posts, you’ve seen me reference recovering from Dengue Fever, which I didn’t even realise I had until after the fact.

In Jodphur too, I felt so exhausted. Only a few hours of exploring would do me in, so I opted to eat at the hostel’s rooftop restaurant, twice, which was fantastic, and used Zomato (food delivery app) another time to have naan and paneer butter masala delivered.

Even though I didn’t visit many places, I’d recommend the ones I did-

  • Baari Resto: Hostel restaurants can be hit or miss, but the decor of this rooftop is cute and colorful, and the paneer butter masala and naan were both excellent
  • Stepwell Cafe: Located in the heart of town, this cafe has great cakes and refreshing drinks

HOW LONG TO SPEND IN JODPHUR 

I spent two days, one night in Jodphur. Originally, I planned to spend three days, two nights, but upon discovering a train I’d wanted to take was sold out, I had to rearrange my plans.

Despite cutting my time in the city a bit short, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.

I arrived early afternoon, which gave me time to explore before taking a sunset walking tour.

The next day, I woke early and headed to a few of the attractions I wanted to see before taking a 6 pm train onward to Jaisalmer.

There’s definitely more to do- would have loved to spend more time meandering the old town, but on the same beat, I don’t feel as though I missed anything per se.

Two – three days feels ideal, but you can still get a feel for Jodphur in only two days if that’s all the time you have.

EXTRA JODPHUR TRAVEL TIPS

Cash: Always carry rupees with you, street stalls and small businesses won’t accept card payment

Getting Around: As it’s a smaller city, apps like Uber exist here, but it’s harder to find drivers. And, to get around the winding old city alleyways, you really need to be in a tuk tuk. My hostel helped me understand what standard rates should be from place to place, so I was able to negotiate fairly

Conscious Travel: Avoid single use plastic while in Jodphur, and all of India. It’s not hard to see that India has a huge plastic problem, avoid adding to it. Take your own refillable bottle, and either refill at water stations, or bring your own water purification method (such as, a LifeStraw)

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When to Visit: The warm, dry winter months, from early November to February are the best time to visit. Spring/summer are unbearably hot, and early fall brings a brief, but intense monsoon season. Keep in mind winter months will be peak tourism season, and thus, prices for things will be higher than usual across fronts

Solo Female Travel Advice: Rajasthan is a relatively conservative state. It’s uncommon to see many women on the streets after dark, especially outside of the cities. I chose to mostly go out during the daytime and eat dinner at my hostel. If you want to go out, always let someone you trust know where you are going. Stick to well lit, busy areas, preferably with women or families present

Have you ever visited Jodphur? Is it in your list of places you’d like to visit or see in India? 

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