Are you finally ready for India but don’t know where to start? Jodhpur might just be the perfect stop for your bucket list experience; it’s gloriously chaotic, yet still small enough to be easy to navigate. It’s an authentic Indian experience that manages to seem ‘off the beaten track’, despite being full of sights and activities to keep you occupied. Best of all, you’ll find a city full of friendly locals ready to make your stay even more memorable.
Grab an auto-rickshaw and sit back and enjoy the wild ride through the dusty, narrow streets while placing blind faith in the inscrutable Indian system of navigation (try not to question it, it just works). Jodhpur is the perfect place to learn to let go; embrace the relaxed chaos of the city just a little bit and you’ll start to feel like you’ve found a second home in the most unexpected of places.
Of course, the best way of relaxing once you get to the destination is to ensure that you’re prepared beforehand. We’ve got you started with our top suggestions below so take a note of them in your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Visit Batman at the Mehrangarh One of the largest forts in India, Mehrangarh towers above the city, dominating the skyline from almost every angle. More than 550 years old, the fort is as old as Jodhpur itself and is full of fascinating history. The audio guide is a particularly excellent companion to have while you take in the spectacular views of the blue houses below. If it looks familiar, it’s because you may have seen it take a starring role in Batman: the Dark Knight Rises.
Bring the Spice Home Authentic Indian food is one of the best cuisines in the world and can often be tough to find once you get home. You can always learn to recreate your favorite meals by taking a cooking course. The Incredible Krishna Cooking Workshop will teach you how to whip up a taste of Rajasthan in just three hours.
Decorate your Home If you’re not concerned about your baggage weight on your flight back, Jodhpur is an amazing place to buy unique handicrafts and antiques to decorate your home with, giving it an Eastern feel. The city is probably most famous for beautiful, colorful textiles but you can find everything from delicate scarves to chunky, heavy jewelry. Just don’t be afraid to drive a hard bargain!
Zipline Over the Sky If you really want to see Jodhpur from a different angle, try zip lining! Flying Fox Jodhpur consists of six different zip lines that will take you on a thrilling tour of the city above the Mehrangarh fort, lakes, and rolling hills.
Relax at Jaswant Thada Just 1km away from the Mehrangarh, the white marble mausoleum is situated in impeccable grounds and makes for a tranquil oasis from the chaos of the city. Take your time to admire the intricate architecture or the sparkling lake while cooling down in the shade.
Go Camel-Riding in the Desert Situated next to the Thar desert, going on a camel safari makes for the perfect day trip and a chance to experience the rural side of Rajasthan. Despite their grumpy reputation, camels are incredibly safe and steady animals and will bring you safely through the arid desert.
Meet the Locals at the Clock Tower Get a taste of the busy Indian life by exploring the squares and markets all around the clock tower. Smell the spices, try on some traditional Indian dress and get chatting with the shopkeepers over a cup of delicious masala chai. Wandering around the market will bring you closer to the hustle and bustle that fills India with energy.
Paragliding If you’re a thrill-seeker, no visit to Jodhpur would be complete without giving paragliding a whirl with SkyVentures. Their professional team will take you on a tandem paraglide where you’ll reach up to 800 feet above ground level. They’ll also record your experience so you can relive the adrenaline rush over and over again.
Tips & Culture
Haggling is a core part of life here, so don’t be afraid to drive a hard bargain and walk away from vendors if you feel you’re not getting a fair deal. If you’re really interested in the sale, prepare to spend a bit of time chatting over a Chai tea to reach an agreement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, as shopkeepers are often a great source of local knowledge. Try and find the shops yourselves, though; if a guide or rickshaw driver takes you there, they’ll get a commission which will drive the cost up for you.
Jodhpur, and in fact all of India, is all about going with the flow. There is a general lack of visible rules and health and safety regulations that many Western travelers have come to expect. Don’t let your inner control freak win; simply practice common sense when it comes to food hygiene and safety and you’ll come back with incredible stories to tell.
Typical tourist restaurants are few and far between in Jodhpur but that doesn’t mean good food isn’t everywhere. From the cheapest guesthouse to the most luxurious hotel, the one constant is a busy kitchen rustling up the tastiest homemade food you’ll ever experience. Just sit back and let the kitchen surprise you and your taste buds.
While you won’t be short of dozens of varieties of curries, a must-try is thali, a selection of various dishes served up to you on a round platter, almost like Indian tapas. A good thali will offer you six flavors of salt, sweet, sour, spicy, bitter and astringent in one meal. Gypsy serves up a few variations on the dish, as well as a mind-boggling selection of vegetarian curries.
For dessert, enjoy the gorgeous sweetness of lassi, a delicious yogurt drink. It comes in all sorts of flavors but for a full Rajasthani experience opt for the Makhaniya lassi with the warm spice of cardamom mixed with butter.
Drinks & Nightlife
If you’re looking for pubs, clubs, and dancing, it’s unlikely you’re going to find them in Jodhpur. Instead, you’ll most likely spend your nights sipping on local Kingfisher beer or relaxing with a hookah pipe while admiring the lights of the city below your rooftop terrace.
If you simply can’t shake that thirst for a cocktail, you will find a selection at the Ola Lounge attached to the Vivanta hotel. Some of the original creations have a distinctly Indian edge with the inclusion of aniseed and guava juice, but you’ll find a well-stocked liquor bar and all the classics as well.
Luxury You want to be treated like royalty, you say? Then you need to stay at Umaid Bhawan Palace. Previously one of the largest private residences in the world, it was home to the Jodhpur royal family in the 20th century and is now a world-class five-star hotel.
The palace is set in 26 acres of incredibly lush, manicured gardens where you can explore the family museum or spy on the peacocks around the grounds. The hotel itself is decorated in opulent Art Deco style but if you prefer you can spend your time in the renowned spa or availing yourself of its dedicated yoga, croquet or tennis facilities.
Oh and one more thing; expect to be greeted by an actual fanfare when you arrive.
Mid-range Despite being another former royal residence, Ratan Villas is affordable while still maintaining a regal air. Decorated simply yet elegantly in colonial style, you’ll be made feel at home by the warm welcome of their staff who will serve you delicious meals in the courtyard.
It’s very close to all the major attractions of the city, meaning it’s easy to pop back in the midday heat to cool off by taking a dive in the pool. Book ahead and the villa will even organize a free shuttle service from the train station.
Budget Feel at home immediately at the Yogi Guesthouse, a five-hundred-year-old haveli (courtyard) behind the fabulous blue walls that Jodhpur is famous for. Home to one of the highest rooftop terraces in the city, you can munch on the home-cooked food while enjoying panoramic views of the Mehrangarh fort at night and Rajasthani folk music and dance.
It also doubles up as a one-stop shop for travelers, where you can exchange money, book excursions or travel tickets or even call in a doctor.
Jodhpur is a city best appreciated from above. Whether it’s from the spectacular Mehrangarh fort or from the aerial advantage of a zip line or paraglide, nothing will take your breath away like seeing the city from a height. The narrow, dusty streets are transformed into a spectacular blue city shining brightly in the dry desert.
If you fall in love with the city, why not share your snaps and experiences with other travelers on Instagram or Facebook? We can’t wait to hear about it!