Rajasthan – the land of shifting sands, heritage structures, cenotaphs and vibrant handicrafts – has always fascinated me and I was quick to grab the first opportunity to visit Jodhpur, the state’s second-largest city punctuated with palaces where Rajas and Maharajas still reside. The city is a bit of an enigma – a bit of archaism while it retains its intriguing past.
If Jaipur is called the Pink City, Jodhpur is the Blue City known for it blue buildings originally painted in blue to represent the residences of Brahmins. In modern times, the indigo paint mixed with certain chemicals helps to keep the homes cool and also ward off mosquitoes. The old city of Jodhpur is an area of never-ending allure as thousands of craftsmen and their families live in the small lanes and sell their wares in the bazaars.
This formidable fort, on a rocky ridge counted among one of the largest forts in India, is a well-preserved heritage. With canons and antique artillery on the ramparts that offer a panoramic view of the blue city, the fort is also home to a museum of applied arts from the Mughal era. Ideal to engage a guide who will take you through the museum collections and major palaces inside the fort. Don’t miss the Chamunda Mataji Temple and Rani Sar, a tranquil lake below the fort. Just wander around and you will discover many recesses, crannies and observation points missed by almost all tourists.
Bal Samand Lake Palace and Garden Retreat
Our stay at WelcomHeritage Bal Samand Lake Palace in the old capital of Mandore was nothing short of a royal retreat. Bal Samand Lake designed as a reservoir to provide water to Mandore belongs to the royal family. In the 19th century, the beautiful garden inspired Raja Takhat Singh to construct a summer palace, which is set amidst sandstone hills overlooking the lake.
Nature at its best with ancient fruit orchards, lake view, sandstone baradari (pergolas), bawdi (stepwell), 400-year old temple, stables with Marwari horses and squirrels, parrots and captivating peacocks for company make this an awesome property to unwind.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
The most popular place of interest in Jodhpur, it is one of the world’s last great private palace buildings. With a blend of Indian and European architecture, the interiors sport classic art deco style. It has been segregated into three wings – one part run as a heritage luxury hotel, another open to public as a museum and one wing is occupied by the royal family.
With interesting paintings inside the main building, it is a site of royal cremation grounds and cenotaphs. It has a quiet and serene charm to it.
Locally known as Ghanta Ghar, this is a busy area where you can find ethnic items like durries, bandhini fabric and saris, lac bangles and shops selling raj kachori, mirchi pakode and jalebis.
The best place to spot Marwari women shopping for clothes and costume jewellery is Ghanta Ghar’s market place.
Rajasthani Thali consists of gatte ki subzi, ker sangri, panchkuta subzi, churma, bajri ki roti, rotla, chakki ka saag, motiya pulao and tall glasses of chaas (buttermilk). Kebab Korner at Bal Samand Lake Palace serves lip-smacking kebabs and curries in an open-air candlelight dinner ambiance.
Get some retail therapy – buy bandhini dupattas, fabrics & saris, Jodhpuri chappals, woven mats and artifacts from Rajasthan Art Emporium. Handicrafts market and warehouses are meant strictly for wholesale buyers.
Image courtesy: Pixabay and Gita Hari