No1 Budget backpackers guide to Jodhpur
In my post, the No1 Budget backpackers guide to Jodhpur, I will be talking about maximising your time in this great city. There is so much that this place offers. I want my readers to have an insight into how to get the most out of their time while they are here.
Known across the world as the blue city and that place with all the monkeys in it, Jodhpur effortlessly sparks thoughts of the exotic. Actually, neither of those statements are true anymore. All those monkeys have been relocated since they were a nuisance, and as you can see from the picture above, it is not especially blue neither.
Despite a massive drive to restore the town to its former blueness, every time I come here, that is changing. However, one of India’s most delightful towns visit and to go to Rajasthan and not come here is pretty much a crime, or at least it should be.
The old town is full of ornately decorated Havelis, temples, historical monuments, courtyards and timeless market places.
All of that is interlinked with an intricate web of alleyways and narrow roads that are a lot of fun to get completely lost in. There is even a couple of step-wells that youngsters seem to use as a swimming pool.
The towns crowning glory and its most noticeable landmark are the whopping Mehrangarh Fort. It is perched imposingly over the whole city, and you can see it from a mile off, literally!
It is an impressive feat of engineering in any bodies book and is sure to leave you jaw-dropped when you first set your eyes on it.
No other state in India is quite as vibrant and colourful as Rajasthan, and few other cities in this state personify that better than Jodhpur. No one in their right frame of mind would say it is a waste of time coming here.
Jodhpur – the gateway to the Thar desert.
This city has a little of everything, history, a vibrant culture, a healthy dose of wildlife and delicious food. What more can you want from a place to spend your holiday? So there is a lot of things to keep the intrepid backpacker entertained here, but there are three things that really stand out for me. The not to be missed stuff, and now I will go through each one in detail. There is quite a bit to get through, so let’s jump straight in.
Number 1 – Mehrangarh Fort.
You can see this massive fort perched up high pretty much anywhere from the city. Built-in 1459 under the rule of Rao Jodha, this imposing structure must have taken such vision to accomplish. I mean, someone had to have been looking at a big rock in the desert and could see in their head a big fort sitting on top of it. The person who came up with this brainstorm is not remembered anywhere in the pages of history, and that’s a shame as it seems so extraordinary to me.
Mehrangarh Fort is a steep walk up from the old town and gives you a feel of what it would have been like for any enemies trying to capture this place. Today it is an impressive museum and a gallery. It now houses many artefacts. However, only a small portion of the fort is open to the public, and I found that frustrating as I kept wanting to explore, but it is not possible. You are simply herded through a set route, albeit around an incredibly well thought out display.
It costs a hefty 600 rupees to get in; however, that does include a very informative audio guide. There is also a 100 rupee charge for a still camera, and that does include your phone, so just be warned. For history, buffs check out the well thought out Wikipedia link provided as it has the full scoop on the area.
Number 2 – wandering the Blue City.
Some say the old city at the back of the fort is blue because it’s the colour associated with brahmin, a highly regarded caste. Some say it is blue because it keeps the inside cooler in the desert sunshine, and some say it was to ward off termite infestations. Whatever the case blue it is, well, kind of. A walk around here can feel like your stepping into another time (if it wasn’t for the motorbikes that seem to get everywhere.) In all reality, the streets are quite grubby with rubbish and cow poop everywhere. It is, however, wonderful, with stunningly painted Havelis and courtyards on every turn.
It is possible to take a guided tour around the blue city, but it is fun just to get lost and find your way out again. Unless, of cause, you want information on what you see that is. If you do want to learn about the culture and history of the place, Jodhpur heritage walks offer insightful tours to the area.
Sadar market is also well worth checking out. The focal point is the Ghanta Ghar (the clock tower.) It was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh (1880-1911), from whom the market takes its name. This market town has been trading for centuries, and I suspect it will be for many more. It is not really tourist orientated as much as it is for local people keen to pick up the next deal, which adds to the authenticity of The experience. For further information on this place, the Indian Mirror wrote a fascinating article about its history.
Number 3 – Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park.
Rao Jodha was established in 2006, and This adorable little park was set up to protect Rajasthans indigenous flora that is very visibly being overrun by Baavlia (Prosopis juliflora.) A very invasive plant that originates from Central America and now covers a vast portion of the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Once a wasteland, it is now a beautiful place to walk in the shadow of Mehrangarh Fort, offering spectacular views as you walk around the clearly marked trails.
Take the time to check out the link on Rao Jodha and what this park is all about, as this place is way more impressive than you would first imagine. I didn’t bother visiting until the second time I came here and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
Spread over an impressive 70 hectares and hemmed in by the battlements of the fort. It is now a home for 250 species of native plants that will be hard to see elsewhere. Two hundred species of birds, including an impressive number of raptors. Mammal species include the Indian Mongoose, Crested Porcupine, Five stripped Northan palm squirrel and many more.
It is 100 rupees to get in and 200 rupees for a knowledgeable guide, which I thought was well worth the money, to be honest. My guide, Harshvardhan Singh Rathore, knew every inch of the park and could show me where all the good stuff was. In fact, we got n so well we spent quite a bit of time travelling around the surrounding areas in search of more of Rajasthan’s natural wonders.
You can literally walk over the wall and get in for free, but please don’t. It is not a lot of money, and it supports a very noble cause.
There are plans to expand the park even further, and I found the staff’s enthusiasm to be genuine. They don’t just work there. They actually want to work there, and that is refreshing. So do come and show your support for this modest yet important conservation project.
The tiny park also houses a place for ziplining. The company Flying Fox offers a series of high wires across the moats and gullies of the park. While I have never done it myself, many people seem to give it rave reviews. If not anything else, the views would be spectacular. Check the link provided to book online. Many agents in town will book for you, but obviously, you will have to pay them a commission. If not, the office is on the way up to the fort from the old city so that you can save yourself a few rupees.
Getting a bite to eat.
The restaurants inside the blue city tend to cater to tourists and is an excellent place to get pasta and a latte. If that is what you are craving, then you are in the right place.
Outside the old parts of town are some incredible places to eat if you want local food. I found Priya hotel to serve amazing vegetarian food at very affordable prices. Try the aloo paratha, puri or my absolute favourite, Chola Bhature. In all of my years of travel in this country, this hotel sells some of the best food I have ever had, and that is a big statement. To find this place, walk through the south entrance of Sadar market and follow the street down to the crossroads, and it is on the left-hand side.
Jodphur produces some fine lassis, and Shri Mishrilal Hotel is regarded as the best around. It is a small restaurant near the entrance to Saddar market. Served in plastic cups in a no-frills restaurant, it is all about the lassi here. The shop is in the left-hand corner on the south entrance, just inside the market.
Right across from the railway station is a line of grubby Dhabbas that serves delicious vegetarian food that I would recommend. But if it is a meaty curry you want, the more expensive hotels across from the train station usually have restaurants attached. They are geared towards domestic tourists so that they will be making them the Indian way. I recommend paying the extra if you want to eat meat for the slightly more sanitary conditions it will probably be prepared in. Bacteria breed very well in these conditions. For more information on where I have found the best food in India, check out my in-depth post on where best to get fat here.
Getting a nights rest.
Most of the budget accommodation is in the old town, and there are some charming places to stay. My favourite is the Kesar heritage boutique homestay. It is a fancy name, and costs are a little more than some of the others. But it is worth the extra rupees. Some of the rooms, particularly those on the first floor, can feel like a museum.
The price fluctuates greatly depending on the time of year, the room you want, your length of stay and your bargaining skills. There is a vegetarian rooftop restaurant that serves decent tourist food. The truth is if you wish to decent Indian food, I have found you will have to go outside the old city.
If you want to save money, don’t book online as you have more room for bargaining face to face. Unless it’s the high season, then it is better to book ahead to secure a bed as Jodhpur gets really busy. If you need to book in advance, use booking.com.
Getting there and away.
Jodhpur sits on essential railway lines, giving it good connections to cities like Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Dehli, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. There is a railway booking office with a tourist window (that means access to the tourist quota) near the train station. A rickshaw from the clock tower to the train station should cost around 50 rupees. To avoid the hotel hustle (drivers trying to sell you a hotel they get a commission for.) Ask to get dropped at the clock tower and walk around from there.
The government bus stand is a little further away and should cost no more than 130 rupees in an auto. There are fast busses to Jalsamier and Udaipur from there. If you are heading to Udaipur (no trains anyway) and if you want to visit Ranakpur, this bus route is ideal, as you can get off and break the journey up. When the trains are full, the long haul busses will do nicely. You can buy tickets from agents in town, and they tend to be reliable, and they are more comfortable than the public buses.
Summary of my No1 Budget backpackers guide to Jodhpur.
This post was much longer than I planned, but there is a lot to say about the city. I hope you have found this post useful and insightful. If you are coming to Rajasthan, the odds are this city will be on your itinerary, so it is incumbent for me to write an in-depth post for my readers to utilise. If you have any further questions about the area, I have a wealth of experience travelling here to draw from, so do not hesitate to ask. That is all for now, folks, so until next time, my fellow intrepid travellers, happy travels.
Follow me on social media 🙂