What is is like to visit Jodhpur, the blues city of India?

Backpacking Jodhpur – The City Blue

The mere mention of Jodhpur brings lasting visuals of blue-colored buildings, brightly dyed clothes, women dressed in mirrored ghaghra cholis, moustached men donning colorful pagadis, and spicy delicacies. Atop the stunning visuals, this fortified town is characterized by equally stunning royalty and grand architecture. Guest contributor Tuhina Verma, with her two besties, went backpacking Jodhpur, the blue city. She recommends to steal a long weekend and a list of things to do.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan

What is the significance of Jodhpur?

Jodhpur, often referred to as the ‘suncity’ of Rajasthan – given its high levels of solar irradiation throughout the year, once served as the capital of the erstwhile Marwar kingdom. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore clan, it quickly gained prominence on the country’s trade map. Today, people from the community, known for their astute business skills and established in virtually every nook and corner of India, are a brand unto themselves. How can a city on the periphery of a desert offer so many distinctions?

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Ultimate 3-day itinerary for backpacking Jodhpur

Day 1 Jodhpur Circuit: Clock Tower-Mandor-Osian

Curious, I strapped my backpack, stepped off the train, and into a Jodhpur city bus to its famous century-old landmark of Clock Tower or Ghanta Ghar. Built by Maharaja Sardar Singh, it serves as an entrance to the Sadar Market – known for its outlets selling textiles, silver jewellery, handicrafts, and other souvenirs. Beware, if you are on a budget, as we were, the market holds few temptations!

The lure with using a city bus is the accessibility of free local guidance! You just have to chat up with fellow commuters, who are eager to help travelers get the best of their city. There’s perhaps no better way to sightsee a new place than to rely on local intel. After the clock Tower, we were tipped to head toward ancient town of Mandor – barely fifteen kilometers north.

The 6th century town was the erstwhile capital of Marwar until Jodhpur took over. The town hosts ruins of a once-splendid Mandor fort with a Hindu temple inside. The sculpted Mandor gardens, on the other hand, boasts well maintained architectural masterpieces such cenotaphs and temples. Legend has it that Ravana’s wife Mandodari was a resident of this town and hence, some local residents consider Ravana as their son-in-law – with even a temple dedicated to him.

Mandor Gardens also hosts a museum displaying archaeological findings from the area and commemorates its rulers and heroes. If you are looking to build an element of peace and tranquility in your day, you must visit this heritage site.

A subsequent 50 kms bus ride took us northwest, from 6th century Mandor to 8th century Osian, spelled alternatively as Osiya or Osiyan. Once a flourishing center of trade and a major religious center for Hindus and Jains, Osian lost much of its sheen after the sack by Muslim invaders in the 12th century. For its heritage of millennium-old characteristic temples, it has been fondly referred to as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan.

Amongst the cluster of places of worship, such as those dedicated to Mahavira, Surya, Harihara, Vishnu or Shiv, the highlight for us was a visit to the picturesque Sachiya Mata Temple (featured). Located on higher ground, the fully functional temple has many statues dedicated to Goddess Sachi, the Real Mother. It got memorable, as we happened to be there just in time for the aarti and witnessed a unique musical instrument that allowed a solo performer to play distinct sounds of jhaanjh, manjeeri, and even drums – all at the same time! Do not miss out on this!

Osian is at the mouth of the great Indian desert and is so referred to as the oasis of Thar. There was no way we were turning back without scaling a sand dune! This is where the most touristy stuff happens – haggle hard to hire a auto-rickshaw, get to the arid desert, haggle again for a short camel safari or a jeep ride to climb up the dune, and spend time absorbing the surreal sunset scenery or enjoy a game of volleyball or throwing frisbees.

Instead of a safari, we chose to hike up and almost collapsed at the top. It took more time than a camel or a jeep, and filled up our clothing and shoes with sand. Given a choice, we would repeat it all over again. It just so much fun to walk on sand!

Day 2 Jodhpur Circuit: Mehrangarh Fort-Jaswant Thada-Ummaid Bhavan Palace

If you are staying inside the fortified blue city of Jodhpur, as we were, chances are you won’t take your eyes off of the fort in the sky. Located on higher ground, the truly majestic Mehrangarh makes for an imposing landmark, and one that completes Jodhpur’s identity. On our second morning, we hired an auto-rickshaw to explore the beauty and grandeur of this magnificent historical edifice. If you sense that I am going overboard with flowery adjectives to describe this splendid fort, you are probably right. Complete with a museum, it remains one of the best forts that I have been to.

Here’s an interesting tip – did you know that some Hindu warriors clans worshiped Goddess Chamundi, a demon-slayer and one of the seven matrikas (mother goddesses)? Before leaving, do not miss to visit Chamunda Mata temple inside the fort. Every part of Mehrangarh commands a story. Instead of reading it all up, I would urge you to plan 4-hours or more, hire a day-guide, visit this marvel and the newly created Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. Oh, and you may book yourself a flying fox / a zip-line ride to end the tour!

We could not brave the sun to enjoy the Desert Rock Park and chose to move to the nearby and calmer Jaswant Thada; a cenotaph commemorating Maharaja Jaswant Singh. A peaceful place, it offers beautiful architecture, silence, and relaxation.

So far in out exploration, our enthusiasm carried us through. To top it, each place that we went to turned out to be splendid in its own right. But we ran out of luck at Ummaid Bhavan – it failed to capture our imagination in much the same way. Part of this edifice housing the erstwhile royal family of Jodhpur is converted into a hotel.

Ummaid Bhavan Palace is perhaps one of the largest private residences in the world, and only a small portion with a museum inside is open to visitors. We were in and out of it within 15 minutes! In hindsight, a private residence is just that. Private. So unless you are splurging to stay in a royal five-star hotel room, you do not need to plan much time to explore this sprawling point of interest!

Day 3 Jodhpur Circuit: Bishnoi Village-Om Banna Temple

After the dampener at Ummaid Bhavan, Jodhpur sprang up yet another pleasant surprise – a story of a community’s love for it’s natural environment, a story of heroism.

This is from a few centuries ago, when a king, to get wood for construction, sent his soldiers to chop Khejri trees. The Bishnois, nature loving people, simply hugged the trees in protest. They stood up against an army and paid for it with their lives. Over 350 people died in that peaceful expression. When soldiers returned with wood, the king was traumatized with news of the incident. Moved, he formulated rules to prohibit harming trees and animals in the community’s villages. That prohibition norm is in force till date and conservation is a way of life here.

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Our hostel suggested and arranged a day trip to visit this incredible Guda Bishnoi village. A guide from the community, driving an open jeep, picked us up from the Clock Tower, narrated anecdotes on the way about their lifestyle and history – including details of the story above, took us around the village, helped spot the endangered chinkaras (blackbucks), before taking us home. His mother, an old lady dressed in ethnic clothes and jewellery, welcomed us with the widest smiles. 

Our guide then offered a traditional opium drink! As we sipped, he demonstrated how to make it too. Soon, the happy drink had us change into Rajasthani clothes and try more of community’s lifestyle – operating a manual flour mill (chakki), witness hand printing of clothes, and roll up our sleeves to make a clay pot – things that left us with achy hands for weeks and memories of a lifetime. You do have the option of buying clay lamps and other souvenirs – something that’s difficult to resist!

Jodhpur’s charms never cease to captivate. On our last day, we felt we could have done with more time here. A chance discovery of another fascinating story led us to Om Banna temple, further south from Bishnoi village. One of its kind – where the deity is a motorcycle! Beat that. Many highway commuters stop by to pay their respect here to a Royal Enfield 350 cc Bullet motorbike. I wouldn’t spill the beans on this one and would urge you to consider hiring a guide for an emotive narration of this local legend.

Shopping tips for Jodhpur

Clothes, crafts, or classic jewellery – Jodhpur has it all. Head out to Sadar Market near the Clock Tower for a choice of sarees, leheriya, bandhani or other local textiles. While at it, explore the clay or marble souvenirs, and ethnic silver jewellery. The only tip here, as anywhere in India, is to bargain wisely.

How to plan your backpacking trip to Jodhpur?

Stay options in Jodhpur

This is a no-brainer – look up a hostel inside the fortified blue city. It is pocket friendly and offers a taste of traditional lifestyle. We showed up without a reservation and found something quaint to retire within 15 minutes of walking the neighborhood. Most guesthouses are family-run, sport a courtyard surrounded by rooms on multiple levels, and a terrace cafe.

Food and drinks in Jodhpur

Street food nourishes the soul. Try mirchi vadas, samosas, pyaz kachoris and other snakcs near Clock Tower. For meals, try the best of gatta curry, ker sangari, mix veg, and other sides, with chapatis at any dhaba (highway eatery). While in the city, you must visit the popular Gypsy restaurant for these and more. For a slightly upmarket experience, try visiting On the Rocks restaurant (NH 65, Ajit Bhawan Palace, Ajit Colony).

For an authentic opium drink, head out to Bishnoi village! Irrespective of your budget, Jodhpur offers enough delicacies to water your mouth!

Getting to Jodhpur

Jodhpur has three national highways passing through, it is the headquarters of the north western division of Indian Railways, and has an airport with daily flights to major cities across the country. As such, getting in and out of the city is no problem at all. For city and suburban commute, use the city bus service or haggle to hire an auto-rickshaw – a private ride. Here’s a tip: For Jodhpur’s relatively compact size, you do not need to research extensively about local transport. Locals are friendly and eager to help. Just ask.

Bonus tip for backpacking Rajasthan!

Here’s a suggestion I want to leave you with – Jodhpur is centrally located in the state and well connected. If you intend to backpack across Rajasthan, it would serve well to make this blue city, as your base. Thank me later!

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Have you been to this indigo marvel of Thar? How was your experience? We would love to hear from you (please scroll below to leave a comment).

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Tuhina Verma

Tuhina Verma strives to travel both – the external world and her internal. She goes solo or with friends (when they turn up!). A public health professional by career, she believes that travel not only brings you to beautiful places, but also helps you grow. She goes by her pet name ‘Ghumakkad’. Follow her awesome blog Tripping Wanderlust!

Disclaimers: (1) Maps, wherever used on this site, serve a representational purpose only. Unakriti does not endorse or accept the boundaries shown, names, or designations used by map providers. (2) This story / article is based on personal opinions of the author. Unakriti is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity and it does not assume any responsibility or liability arising out of use of any information provided herein.

50 thoughts on “Backpacking Jodhpur – The City Blue”

  1. Never been to Jodhpur. After reading your blog feel like going. Great travelogue. Keep writing. ?

    1. Bawdi Ghumakkad Chhori :)

      Thank you 🙂 … Its a must go place… please visit and share your experiences …


  2. I visited Jodhpur just a few months ago, and it was amazing!! Very good article on what there is to see and do!! Keep up the good work!

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    Important + Neat & Clean + Readable Information .. Thanks for sharing .. best wishes

    1. Thank you for stopping by! Actually, Mehrangarh is covered on Day 2. And of course there’s so much more to Jodhpur 🙂

  4. bestregardsfromfar

    Thanks for this extensive and informative article. Love your photographs as well, especially the feautured image that you are using as well for the Pinterest pin that I am pinning to my board. Happy travels! Marcella

    1. Bawdi Ghumakkad Chhori :)

      hey thanks a lot 🙂 glad you enjoyed reading it… i am sure you will love visiting here 🙂

  5. Wow, I didnt really know much about backpacking in Jodhpur before, so this is super inspiring. Only problem is my bucketlist is now getting even longer! thanks!

  6. Love the photos and descriptions in your post. There is so much history there. I’ve been to Jodhpur and enjoyed the food and shopping and sights but never the opium, lol!

  7. On our trip to India we never made it to Jodhpur due to illness but we will definitely be returning on our next trip! thanks for this great guide! x

  8. While I have been to India, I haven’t been to Jodhpur! I will definitely be going – hopefully backpacking!

  9. MC Adventure Blog

    That looks truly amazing! India is on our bucket list and that looks like an incredible place to see. The history note was also interesting as so many of these places have such a colourful past!

  10. Bangali Backpackers

    Jodhpur, and the state of Rajasthan, has some of the most majestic architecture in India. Thanks for this guide to the Blue City. Will visit soon 🙂

  11. thetravellingsociologist

    This is a really useful 3-day guide to Jodhpur. I love that you highlighted all the key elements of trip planning – from finding accommodation to trying local dishes to culturally and historically important monuments. This article is all the more special because you are clearly an expert in Indian culture and can therefore use the right vocabulary and insider knowledge to take your readers on a more in-depth discovery of Jodhpur’s cultural diversity and beauty. Enjoyed reading this!

  12. lifespassionalltheway

    What an incredible place to visit I’ve only ever been to Kerela and really want my next Indian destination can’t wait to visit Jodhpur

  13. Sherrie Fabrizi-Allbritten

    My husband and I have been talking more and more about visiting India, it looks incredible, especially Jodhpur. Very informative article, thank you for sharing!

  14. Have visited Jodhpur multiple times, both as a tourist and a backpacker. Such a lovely place and so many fascinating nooks and allies. You explored this town well. I think I need to make a plan soon.

  15. the cheap eats, cheap sleeps and amazing architecture make this a really interesting destjnation i’d never even considered before. thx for sharing!

  16. Farah Al Zadjaly

    I didnt really consider this place till I read you blog. Its really informative and all sounds like a good experience.

  17. Jodhpur is high on my wishlist for long. I have been to Udaipur in Rajasthan but not to Jodhpur and I can imagine the beautiful architecture of this place. Also, I want to experience the city of blue houses as it must be very photogenic. The local food is also tempting and the colorful Rajasthani dresses are also equally tempting. Apart from historical monuments tour, I would also love to interact with lovely locals of this place.

    1. You are absolutely right! For photographers, there are many fabulous locations and great architecture. Lots to explore.

    1. Ahh! We wish that your dream comes true.. very soon! Happy travels and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  18. I have been visiting Jodhpur often but mostly on work. Never knew about the connection of Madodhari and Mandore – an interesting piece of tidbit that 🙂 Glad that you got to visit the Bishnoi village..they have the utmost respect of the society as such. The way they are protecting Kejri trees and animals is indeed heart-warming. This post of yours has also brought back wonderful memories of my years of stay in various places across the Thar ! Lovely read…

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