What to Do

Jodhpur is a small place.  After living there for a while, I amassed a fair amount of knowledge about the city. Here are my favorite places and activities:

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1. Mehrangarh: This immense fort is the striking centerpiece of the city. It emerges from a gigantic sandstone plateau and towers above everything else. Still owned by the Maharaja and his family, the fort offers a well-maintained museum with a thorough and engaging audio guide, and the ramparts provide spectacular views.

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2. Jaswant Thada: Just along the ridge from the fort, this marble mausoleum overlooks the city from beside a tranquil pond. It holds the remains of former Maharajas, but rather than a macabre monument to death, it’s more of an intricate medication on life.

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3. Umaid Bhawan: The current home of the royal family and also a five-star hotel, the palace offers a modest museum as well as several options for fine dining. It’s common to spot regal peacocks perched along the outer wall.

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4. Chokelao Bagh: This is technically part of the Mehrangarh complex, but many people often miss it. The lush garden makes a great spot to sit and meditate. It’s lower than the rest of the fort, so the view is more intimate. Learn more about the garden here.

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5. Hiking around the fort: The very best views of Jodhpur aren’t from Mehrangarh but rather from the hills around it. There aren’t many trails, but the terrain is open and fairly easy to navigate. Just watch out for dogs. They may bark at you, but they’ll keep their distance. And you might occasionally run into something worse.

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6. Mandore Gardens: A short bus or auto-rickshaw ride from Jodhpur, Mandore is the former capital of Marwar. After Rao Jodha founded the city that now bears his name, the city was used as the final resting place for the royal family, and the ancient fort fell to ruin. Now it’s a popular picnic spot for Jodhpuri residents from all walks of life. Although the old ruins are neat, I prefer Mandore for the ample people-watching opportunities. Just be careful of other primates eager to get their hands on human food.

Sardar Government Museum

7. Sardar Government Museum: This museum in Umaid Gardens holds a small collection of poorly labeled artifacts, including taxidermy, weapons, and art. It may seem dim and depressing, but it also has a subtle charm. Just don’t expect to learn much.

Baba Ramdev Temple

8. Baba Ramdev Temple: This temple is a gem hidden in plain sight. Atop a thin crag of rock at the western edge of the old city, it honors the Baba Ramdev, the Rajasthani saint who abandoned his privileged life to help the rural poor. Supposedly, his feet are entombed within the stone. Despite its alleged proximity to severed appendages, the temple is one of the my favorites in all of India. Accessible only by a shaky metal staircase, it rewards the intrepid with an unparalleled view of Mehrangahr and the old city.

Masuriya Hill

9. Masuriya Hill: It took me months to realize that this imposing hilltop (once considered as a potential site for Mehrangarh Fort, according to a friend of mine) now contains a very pleasant and accessible park. Look for the statue of Durga Das Rathore, advisor to Maharaja Ajit Singh and savior of the royal family during the Mughal invasions.

Kaylana Lake

10. Kaylana Lake: There’s not much to do here, but it’s the most water you’ll ever see in the general vicinity of Jodhpur. In certain seasons, boats are available for rent. Plus the bird life is pretty neat.

Udaipur

11. Traveling to other parts of Rajasthan: Jodhpur is smack dab in the middle of the state, making it really easy to hop over to any other city for a weekend trip. Jaisalmer, Jaipur, and Bikaner are all very nice, but Udaipur is by far my favorite, a majestic city of lakes, mountains, and palaces.

Maharana Spices

12. Shopping: You can get basically anything at the market around Jodhpur’s iconic clocktower. But if you walk into a shop, expect the full tourist treatment, including bent truths, price mark-ups, chai, and bargaining. Those things come with the territory, and if you’ve got the right mindset, they’re part of the fun. I recommend two shops in particular: Maharana Spices and the Student Shop. They’re run by an extremely affable trio of brothers, the Changlanis, all of whom are good friends of mine. Whether or not you’re buying anything, Kishore, Vicky, and Yogi will be glad to engage you in conversation about any topic imaginable.

Shri Misrilal Hotel

13. Eating: Jodhpur has its share of fancy restaurants, and the cream of the crop is On the Rocks, which is superior to the rest in both taste and ambiance. It boasts charming outdoor seating, great food, and one of of the city’s two tolerable bars (open as late as 11 PM). For a lower key option that’s also very good, try the local favorite Gypsy, on C Road in Sardarpura. Then, of course, there’s street food. Shops and carts all over the city offer kachoris, pakoras, samosas, and other fried fare. And no trip to the clocktower is complete without lassi from the Shri Mishrilal Hotel.

Old City
14. Exploring the old city: This is by far my favorite pastime in Jodhpur.  Plenty of tourists stroll through the city for a couple hours, but it takes months to really do it right.  The old city is a winding maze of ancient streets, lined with Jodhpur’s signature blue houses. It’s almost impossible to find the same route twice. However, with the fort towering over everything, it’s difficult to get seriously lost. The streets of Jodhpur captivated me from day one, and they were the subject of my first blog post.

Places to Avoid:

Rajasthan High Court

1. Rajasthan High Court: If you’re fed up with logic, organization, and common courtesy, then head on down to the Rajasthan High Court, where you can experience Indian bureaucracy at its very worst. I have had many unpleasant experiences in those decrepit, unmarked chambers. People who favor competence and efficiency should avoid the High Court at all costs.

Uncle Sam's Pizza

2. Uncle Sam’s Pizza: The food at Uncle Sam’s is not good. On its own, making bad food is a forgivable offense (I’ve often been guilty of it myself), but when you stamp my country’s name on unpalatable pizza and plaster the walls with grotesque recreations of American patriotic imagery, I take it very personally. This restaurant is an abomination.

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