Located in the striking and arid landscape of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur – the Sun City – second largest in the state of Rajasthan boasts of imposing forts, magnificent palaces and havelis, architectural temples and exuberant local markets. Founded in the year 1459 by Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan of Mandore, Jodhpur today is a vibrant city and has a lot to offer to its visitors. Tourists from all over the world come here to soak in the city’s architectural beauty and to get the feel of the royal bygone era. When in Jodhpur, here are 15 places that you should not miss.
Built by Rao Jodha around the year 1460, the mammoth Mehrangarh Fort situated on a rocky hillock at a height of 125 m above the city’s skyline, makes for a spectacular sight. Famous for its architectural genius, one has to cross the seven gates to access the fort – the most famous of them being Jai Pol, Fateh Pol, Dedh Kamgra Pol and Loha Pol. Mehrangarh Fort is huge and houses many palaces – Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, and Sheesh Mahal to name a few – all famous for their exquisite carvings and artwork. The fort has now been turned into a museum – one of the best in Rajasthan and it showcases and symbolizes the richness of the cultural history of the Rathore clan. A panoramic view of the old Jodhpur from the fort will sooth your eyes with various shades of blue – a colour that is characteristic of the old city houses – that is the reason why Jodhpur is nicknamed as Blue City.
Among the last constructed palaces in India, the magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace is a unique blend of Western and Indian architectural styles. The foundation stone was laid in 1929 by the then King Umaid Singh, in a bid to provide employment to the famine-stricken locals of the area. The construction was complete by the year 1943. Built with golden coloured sandstone, the palace today consists primarily of three parts. One part is still the abode of the royal family; one is a luxury heritage hotel managed by Taj group of hotels, and one part is converted into a museum that exhibits the history and artifacts of the royal family.
Built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh as a tribute to his father – Maharaja Jaswant Sign II, this cenotaph built in white marble has served as the cremation ground for the royal family. Situated in close proximity to the Mehrangarh Fort, it is one of the sought after architectural landmarks in the city. It is characterized by intricately carved and polished sheets of marble – which dazzles warmly when sunrays fall on it, artistic gazebos, well-maintained garden and a small lake. This is a quiet place if you want to get away from the hustle bustle of the Sun City. From here you can also enjoy a breathtaking view of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort.
Just 5 kilometers drive from the city of Jodhpur on the Jodhpur-Mandore Road is the Balsamand Lake. It was artificially created by Balak Rao Parihar way back in the year 1159 to act as water storage for the locals of Mandore. Later a palace, now known as Balsamand Lake Palace was built on its shores, as a summer getaway of the Royals. Since, Lush green vegetations and tree groves make its surroundings a perfect picnic place spot in a short distance from Jodhpur. It is quite popular among the locals and tourists alike.
One of the most popular lake destinations in the state of Rajasthan, Kaylana Lake – another artificially built lake is located at a distance of 8 km from Jodhpur. Built in the year 1872 by Pratap Singh, this lake stretches over approximately 84 sq. kms. It is said that in order to create this lake, previously build palaces and its surrounding gardens by two other former rulers of Jodhpur, were demolished. Situated on land formations of igneous rock, this lake is home to some rare species of birds. If bird watching and photography is your kind of thing – this place is a much visit. Boating facility is also available for visitors; you can also enjoy some picturesque sunsets here.
Mandore was the former capital of the royals of Marwar. So, its history dates back to the time when Jodhpur was not even established. The Mandore garden is a perfect place to know about the history of Mandore. The garden consists of cenotaphs of Jodhpur’s former rulers – all made in red sandstone with intricate columns and a protruding spire, the ‘Hall of Heroes’ which is dedicated to the various deities and the local folk heroes. Another attraction in the garden is the “temple of the 33 crore Hindu Gods”. As you explore the place and climb up high, you will come to witness ruins of the city Mandore with its erstwhile palace.
Siddhant Shiva Temple
Siddhant Shiv Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located at a distance of around 11 km from the Jodhpur Junction on the Jodhpur-Chopasani Road; it lies somewhere between Kaylana Lake and Takhat Sagar hills. There is an interesting story behind the origin of the temple. It is said that it was built by a handicap saint called Gauri Sankar – he was hailed as Nepali Baba by the locals. He had one finger missing in both hands and feet. He cut and carved the stones to build this temple. One has to climb 1000 steps made by cutting rocks to reach the temple.
Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
Constructed in the year 2006 with the aim to preserve the rocky trail around the Mehrangarh fort, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park is situated at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort. Some special efforts are also being to restore some of the plant species that are unique to the Thar Desert terrain. Sprawling over an area of 200 acres, this park is a delight to anyone who is interested in flora and fauna and is eager to know about the local species of plants. This park has also added to the beauty of the fort with it green cover.
Rai ka Baag Palace
The imposing Rai ka Baag Palace was built by the queen of Raja Jaswant Singh I, Hadiji in the year 1663. It is situated in close proximity to the namesake railway station in old Jodhpur. The architectural magnificence of the palace is clear from the fact that the king too loved this palace so much that he would spend most of his personal time here. The dome style architecture and the intricate carvings attract a number of visitors here who marvel at the architectural splendor of those days. The palace is now used by the government and it houses the income tax office of the region.
The clock tower or the Ghanta Ghar is an important landmark in the city of Jodhpur. This tall, imposing tower was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh during his reign between the years 1880 and 1911. It is located near the most happening local markets of Jodhpur – Sadar Market. No trip to Jodhpur is complete if you have not indulged in window shopping in Sadar market. Be it local artifacts, ethnic clothes, and jewelry or delicious local food, you will find many options in Sadar market. After sunset, the place becomes even livelier with the clock tower lit up with illuminating lights and the shops abuzz with activities.
Masuriya Hill Garden
Located atop the Masuria hill not very far away from the city, Masuriya Hill Garden is a quiet place where you can head if you want to take a break from visiting forts, palaces, temples and the hustle and bustle of the city. The park boasts of a huge statue of Maharana Pratap around which the park is built. You can witness a splendid sunset from here and enjoy some quiet, soothing time amidst the greens of the park. Take a leisurely evening walk around the garden and refresh yourself after a long hectic day. This park is also great for a small picnic during the day.
Sardar Samand Lake
The Sun City also boasts of having quite a few enchanting lake destinations and Sardar Samand Lake is one of them. The serene and tranquil location of the lake is not far from the city and attracts many migratory as well as local birds. Himalayan griffon, Dalmatian pelican, black bucks, yellow legged green pigeon, etc., are some that can be spotted here. It is a great place for bird watching and photography. On the banks of the lake is the Sardar Samand Lake Palace built by Maharaja Umaid Singh in the year 1933. It was used as a hunting lodge by the royal family and boasts of housing a huge collection of African trophies and beautiful water paintings.
Udai Mandir boasts of being another piece of architectural marvel in Jodhpur. Constructed with sandstone, the premise of the temple is on a raised platform. 102 intricately carved pillars support the temple structure. 84 Yogasanas are depicted in exquisite wall paintings inside the temple. Nath Yogis’ pictures in gold also adorn the temple. The Garbh Griha in the temple is partially covered with cloth and has gold pots surrounding it. The finely carved wooden railing surrounding it lends it an exquisite look. If you enjoy fine architectural beauty, this must be on your to-see list.
Sardar Government Museum
Named after the king Sardar Singh of Jodhpur, Sardar Government museum is open to the public since 1936. It is located in Umaid Public Garden near Rajasthan High Court and is a perfect place to visit for those who want to explore the rich history and culture of Jodhpur. It houses an extensive collection of ancient relics – from stone sculptures, inscriptions, miniature paintings, armoury, coins, to portraits of various rulers of Jodhpur, textiles, local art and crafts among other historical things. Exploring the museum will make you take a walk in Jodhpur’s past and revel in its glorious history.
Machiya Safari Park
Situated at about 8.5 kilometers from the Jodhpur junction, Machiya Safari Park is a nature and wildlife lover’s paradise. Anyone making a visit to Kaylana Lake should not miss visiting here as it lies just another kilometer away. It is home to many animals which include desert fox, blue bull, rabbit, wild cat, deer, monitor lizard, monkey and mongoose. The biological park also houses a bird watching point which makes it a great location for bird watching. You can also indulge in an elephant ride here. A fort inside the premises of the park also gives a picturesque view of the setting sun.