To the Land of the Kings 4: Jodhpur

There are no direct trains between Udaipur and Jodhpur, my next stop, so I ride a bus, leaving Udaipur just before dawn and arriving in Jodhpur in the early afternoon without any major hitch.

But as soon as I ride the autorickshaw to the old city, the din of India’s streets greet me again. The driver drops me at the south gate of the busy Sardar Market, where I walk to my hostel just a few meters north. Vendors and buyers all create a steady drone of noise. Cows roam the streets, and pedestrians dodge motorbikes zooming by.

As soon as I get settled in my room, which I share with seven other travelers, I once again climb the rooftop and do some online work while gazing at the Merangarh Fort towering in the distance. Of all of India’s forts, the Mehrangarh Fort is perhaps the most magnificent. Perched on top of a hill, it dominates the city’s skyline; locals and travelers alike are awed by its sheer beauty and history.

The Mehrangarh Fort towers over the city of Jodhpur.
Mehrangarh Fort is one of Rajasthan’s (and India’s) most magnificent forts.
The Mehrangarh Fort can be seen from Rao Jodha Park, which contains a number of flora and fauna showing the natural diversity of the region.
The white-marble structure of Jaswant Thada is a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city center.

Jodhpur is the second-largest city in Rajasthan and is often called the gateway to the Thar due to its location at the edge of the desert. It’s also a historic city, being the former capital of the Kingdom of Marwar before it was eventually integrated into Rajasthan. Today, though, Jodhpur is perhaps more known by its sobriquet The Blue City for the color-wash of the houses at the foot of the fort.

Speaking of the fort, it’s hard to not notice the Mehrangarh with its presence looming over the city. It’s the largest fort in Rajasthan, occupying the top of a 150-meter-high hill. Its thick fortresses have prevented conquests and served as protection for the palace and several temples inside it. It also provides magnificent views of the city below.

The Toorji Ka Jhalra is a stepwell in the middle of the city.
The clock tower in Sardar Market is one of Jodhpur’s most iconic sights.
The blue-washed houses at the feet of the fort has earned Jodhpur’s nickname “The Blue City.”
A number of hotels and restaurants like Panorama 360 offer great views of the Mehrangarh Fort and the city.

Jodhpur is not just about the fort, though. I also make time to explore a couple of nearby sights: the Jaswant Thada and the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. The former is a marble mausoleum around a kilometer east of the fort. The building overlooks a scenic lake and is surrounded by cute little gazebos. It’s worth a visit even just for the great views of the fort the compound provides.

Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, meanwhile, is a sprawling area of ecologically restored desert and arid land vegetation. The park contains walking trails that take me around species of plants and animals (you would need a guide to spot those) to some nice views of the fort. It’s a great way to escape the urban chaos of Jodhpur and introduce yourself to the Thar Desert ecosystem.

Back in the city center, I spend a few minutes at the Sardar Market again before the chaos overwhelms me and forces me to retreat. I find relative peace at the Toorji Ka Jhalra stepwell just a few meters north and at the rooftop dining area of the Panorama 360, a nice restaurant with a commanding view of the Mehrangarh. I take my sweet time having an afternoon snack of a veg sandwich and strawberry lassi before returning to the hotel.

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