“Jodhpur is the rest leg of a journey through Rajasthan,” said a local resident, “There isn’t much to see here besides the fort and the palace. Having an airport helps reel-in visitors heading to Jaisalmer, a four-hour drive away.” But, Does Jodhpur warrant a visit for Jodhpur’s sake? Undoubtedly so. Come December, the polo season is an enormous draw in the higher echelons, Jodhpur is a prime venue for destination weddings and birthdays, and interior designers and decorators swoop in from all over the world to source the handiwork of over a hundred thousand skilled craftsmen based in the area.
Marwar’s Living Culture
Located at the crossroads of desert trade routes, the marwari chieftains once reaped good earnings from taxes levied on the passage of caravans. Stories abound of armies of fiercely proud, battle worthy Rajput men who defended their kingdom from invading armies, fighting to a man. Their equally proud women preferred dying in the jauhar fires to being captives of the enemy. Gentler scenes prevail today. All over Jodhpur, first thing in the morning, women and children buy bundles of grass from vendors to feed the street cows. Stretches of bandhini and leheriya textiles in screaming bright colours are air-dried as they’re walked back and forth by a person on each end. The word ‘Hukum’ (your command) trips off the lips of the incredibly polite and elegant Rathore men clad in jodhpurs, with traditional studs in their ears.
The lively market, sardar bazaar, near the clock tower on an ordinary evening was like a coral reef with women clad in the most outrageously colourful saris, bedecked in gold. Each woman seemed as though, even years later, she never had the heart to remove her bridal gear.
We were wandering inside the old walled town where many of the houses, especially those belonging to brahmins, were painted blue. From the higher vantage point of the fort, the painted inner courtyards are especially striking, giving Jodhpur its nickname, “the blue city.” The fort and the palace, (Meherangarh fort and Umaid Bhawan) are not just noteworthy, they’re truly spectacular, with every nook and cranny steeped in history and lore.
Plan your trip
How to get there
There are several flights from many cities in India. The approximate flight time from Delhi is 60 minutes.
Best time to go
October to March.
Umaid Bhavan, an Art Deco palace built in the 1930s, part Royal residence and museum, part hotel run by Taj Group. www.tajhotels.com
Raas, an uplifting boutique hotel in the heart of the walled city with views of Meherangarh Fort. www.raasjodhpur.com
Affordable style — Ajit Bhawan and Raanbanka
On the Rocks near Ajit Bhawan Hotel
Hanwant Mahal, an upmarket dining venue with palace views.
Maharani Textiles — several floors of textiles and crafts. Tambaku Bazaar.
Lalji — Acres of stone and wood crafts. Polo Road,laljihandicrafts.com
Rajasthali Cottage Industries — for leheria and bandhini saris
Roberto and Cathy Neidduoffer personalised buying trips that help procure furniture and crafts.