Jodhpur Guide : Rajasthan’s essence between luxury hotels and engineering masterpieces
Rajasthan is full of forts. Everywhere you stop there’s always a fort, a fortress, a stronghold or at least a ruin of something that was a fort in the past. As you can expect, it always happens that some zealous guides try to claim these artifacts as the greatest engineering works in the history of humanity, or the internal lime scale as the important murals made by the local Da Vinci. After all it’s India, and we like it!
All this to say that this happens, but not in Jodhpur. Here indeed the Mehrangarh Fort is really one of the greatest engineering work ever built and you can miss all the forts of India, but absolutely not this one. Maybe the exhausting climb to its summit and the struggle for survival against other 20000 tourists in its narrow tunnels is not a challenge for the faints but when you’ll reach the top of the fort, on the spacious terraces, the view repays all hustle. And in front of you the blue city that, I swear, it’s really blue!
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHEN TO GO
The best period to visit Jodhpur is between October and March. The city has a desert climate, with the sun shining almost every day of the year (except July and August, when there are monsoons). Between October and March there are mild temperatures (max 25°C) but with high temperature range (even 0°C at night). On the contrary from April to June temperatures are very high (max 40°C) so it’s not the best period.
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHAT TO DO
Flying fox (www.flyingfox.asia)
You hang from a rope with a hook and you literally fly over the bastions of Mehrangarh Fort, transported by a sort of air rails. You can do the entire circumnavigation of the incredibly long walls of the fort, flying over lakes and lunar landscapes. Book very much in advance because it’s hard to find a lastminute place.
Take a half day excursion from Jodhpur to the picturesque Osiyan village (40 km from Jodhpur), a real oasis in the desert. The beautiful Jainist temples and the tipycal chaos of the village will make you believe you are in India at Forster’s time.
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHAT TO SEE
Take some time to explore the narrow streets of the center with their impressive blue/light blue/violet buildings . Could be an idea to go up to the entrance of the fort by walk. The climb is quite stiff but then you’ll have an idea of the real life of Jodhpur’s inhabitants.
The most impressive fort of the entire Rajasthan, with its massive strength and its treasures inside. It overlooks the city from the highest spot of the area, and you have to take a selfie with the blue city behind your shoulders!
This fairytale palace is nowadays divided into three realities: the house of Jodhpur’s current Maharaja , a 5 star hotel and a museum. When it was finished in 1943 it was the world’s biggest private residence and even today you can admire the Umaid Bhawan Palace in all its splendour. Only residents are allowed to get in the hotel and the gardens, but in India, we know, the password is bakshish (tip).
Built in 1899 as a memorial for the late Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, this white marble building glitters when touched from the sunset light. Moreover, a reason to go is the path that from the back of the building brings you in 5 minutes to the top of a hill from where you have the best view on Jodhpur (and from where you take the best pictures ever).
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHERE TO STAY
Raas Hotel (Ji ka Jhalra, Makrana Mohalla)
The convenient location, in a peaceful area of the city center, at the foot of the fort, with a nice view on it, is just one of the prides of this hotel. The contemporary and somehow futuristic architecture, the excellent service and the spacious rooms do the rest. It has two very good restaurants. This hotel is for sure our best choice for the city. Double room from 380€ per night.
Built by Jodhpur’s Maharaja in 1933 as a hunting lodge, this 9 rooms deco building, overlooking a lake full of ducks, is still owned by the royal family. Hunting trophies hang on the walls everywhere. The atmosphere is very original and elegant. The only flaw is the distance (55 km) from the city center, therefore we recommend to stay here just if you are spending at least two nights in Jodhpur, in order to amortise the hour you need to get here. At night, when you’ll watch the sunset on the lake with a drink in your hand, you’ll be happy of that hour in the car! Double room from 100€ per night.
Legendary hotel, designed in the ‘20s and whose construction took more than 15 years. It has more than 345 rooms and remained for years the biggest residence of the world, then a side of the palace was given to Taj hotels in order to realize a luxury and lavish 5 stars hotel. The Jodhpur royal family still lives inside the palace and another wing is a museum. Here you’ll sleep in history. The hotel, as every Taj hotel in India, is the hotel with the best service and standards of the area: this probably undermines the allure d’antan. The spa is fabulous and the hotel has 4 (each one of them is excellent) restaurants. Even if you don’t sleep here you have to come to admire so much splendour. Double room from 260€ per night.
Samand Lake Palace (Mandore road)
Another former royal residence. This palace overlooks an artificial lake built more than 1000 years ago and was used in the past during the monsoons period, when orchids flowered all over its big garden. The hotel has just 10 luxury rooms, a newly renovated spa and various restaurants shared with the neighbour Semand Garden Palace (nice but not recommended). The promenade around the lake during sunset is great. The pool of the hotel is the best piece, enclosed in a cloister from the XVII century. Double room from 300€ per night.
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHERE TO EAT
Darikhana (inside the Raas Hotel, ji ka Jhalra, Makrana Mohalla)
Go up to the rooftop terrace of this restaurant and it will seem to touch Jodhpur’s fort with a finger. At night, when the city is completely bright and the restaurant is candlelit you’ll find yourself in a very romantic place. The cuisine is high level indian but with light and delicate touches. The special touch of the restaurant are the spices that come from a secret shop: all we know is that it’s in Old Delhi, but if you discover something more, please tell us!
Risala (Umaid Bhawan palace)
This luxury restaurant offers both Indian and international cuisine. The wine list has been for two consecutively years on the “Wine Spectator” (rarity for India). The decoration is sumptuous but not tacky. Indian specialties are prepared following the private recipes of the Maharaja’s family (that remain secret of course).
Sunset pavillion (Umaid Bhawan Palace)
Very expensive but very worth it. Our best choice to dine in Jodhpur. The setting is gorgeous looking, on a terrace with a marvelous view on Umaid Bhawan gardens, with tons of candles and rugs all over the floors(it looks more to be at a private lavish party than in a restaurant). Food is great with a grill selection of Indian and international food.
Latitude (Hari Mahal Hotel)
Informal (but delicious) restaurant. North Indian cuisine and Jodhpur specialties. The design is classic but simple. The kitchen is open non stop form 8 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. so the perfect place for late lunch or dinner.
Indique (Pal Haveli Hotel, Sagar, near the Clock Tower)
Good level restaurant on the rooftop terrace of Pal Haveli Hotel. The kitchen offers Indian cuisine. Not expensive. There is a bar as well, where you can go just for a drink after dinner. Usually there are many foreigners. The restaurant is nice even for lunch when big umbrellas are put on the terrace to shade guests.
Baradari (Raas Hotel, ji ka Jhalra, Makrana Mohalla)
Bar and restaurant inside the garden of the Raas Hotel. Top choice for a lunch with international menu (Caesar salad, club sandwich, pasta and so on). Good and strangely cheap.
JODHPUR GUIDE : BARS AND FUN
White House café (near Mahila Bag School, Gulab Sagar)
This bar/restaurant is perfect for relaxing with a drink after a long day of sightseeing. The place has also a kitchen, although we recommend it just for drinks. It’s very popular among foreigners and tourists, also because apparently the entrance is forbidden to Indians. Just for extreme colonialists.
The Trophy Bar (Umaid Bhawan Palace)
Jodhpur doesn’t have a proper nightlife so this is the place to come for a drink. In this luxury bar you’ll find heads of antelopes and elephant tusks hanging on the walls. So not the place for Green Party members. The place is good for a drink or even for a tea in the afternoon.
JODHPUR GUIDE : WHERE TO SHOP
Maharana Spices (Amar Chowk Makrana Mohalla, near Clock Tower)
The best thing about this tea and spice shop is that the prices aren’t negotiable: so, if you’re in India since a couple of days, you will for sure be very tired of debating about cents. You can smell all the spices that you wish to smell, excellent quality: everyone always comes back so that must mean something.
Ganesh Handicrafts (84-85 Nai Sarak, outside Clock Tower)
Paintings, textiles and antiques showed in an oustanding shop that recalls India’s past marvels. They also sell on Ebay and the price are unbeatable.
Lalji Handicrafts (Village Kuri Bhagtasni, Pali Road)
Here you will find everything: from furniture to shelves, to garden accessories. The quality is unbeatable: the wood and the other materials are carved by the most experienced artisans from all over Rajasthan. Some pieces are also tailor made.