JODHPUR- THE BLUE CITY
Jodhpur was our second destination in Rajasthan trip after Udaipur. And since we were coming from Kumbhalgarh fort we reached late in evening, quite exhausted. But the cultural song and dance programme by the local artists in the hotel that we stayed coupled with open air restaurant really rejuvenated our mind.
Popularly called the blue city, Jodhpur's old city is mostly a labyrinthine of winding, narrow passages cramped with colorful street vendors, shops selling exotic spices and people dressed in dazzling outfits.
|Top view of old city|
|Aerial view of city (night)|
|Top view of city (night)|
We embarked the city tour next day and started the day with India's last great Palace, Umaid Bhavan Palace. Constructed between 1929 and 1944, the Palace was originally envisaged as a drought relief measure and the intention was to provide employment to over 3000 people afflicted by consecutive years of drought.
Named after The Late His Highness Maharaja Umaid Singhji, the palace has been the residence of Maharaja Umaid Singhji and his successors. And even today the successor of the royal family resides here. The palace is divided into 3 parts- the first part is converted into a five star property, the second part is where the successor of the family still lives and the third part is converted into museum where tourists like us can visit.
It has an exquisite set of display section, exhibiting arms, furniture, antique clocks and priceless China vases that formed a part the private collection of Maharajas of Jodhpur. The Umaid Bhawan Palace is equipped to cater to all segments of travellers, either it be visitors on business or leisure to the city of Jodhpur.
Then we moved to Jaswant Thada, a royal mausoleum. Built in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, in 1899, Jaswant Thada is a classic example of the Rajputana style of architecture. With an imposing white marble and absolute beauty, it is enriched with its amazing grandeur, beautiful gardens and intricately carved facades.
|Jaswant Thada's interior|
|Jaswant Thada's Exterior|
The Pond of the Gods at Jaswant Thada, serves as the traditional cremation ground for the Jodhpur royals.
The entry to Jaswant Thada is between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm
Then we headed to the most popular place of Jodhpur, The Mehrangarh Fort. Rightly being called as “the work of giants”, by Rudyard Kipling, it stands a hundred feet in splendour on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the sky line of Jodhpur. It is the most maintained fort I have ever seen. There are facilities of currency exchange, restaurant and an elevator for senior citizen and physically challenged people. Before you start exploring the fort, get an audio guide. Highly recommended, the sound effects and commentaries from former rulers of Jodhpur recorded on an MP3 player give a lucid overview.
Dating back to the 15th century AD, The Mehrangarh Fort is perched on the rocks, majestically overlooking the plains of the city. It is surrounded by a thick wall with eight gates and innumerable bastions. As you step inside a series of palaces and courtyards that are linked together by various passages are the backbone of the main structure and what was once the ruling seat of the Marwar Empire. Legend has it that the Rathore chieftain, Rao Jodha laid the foundation of Mehrangarh in 1459.
The fort has a series of seven gates. The most famous of the gates are:
- Jai Pol ("Gate of Victory"), built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory in a war with Jaipur and Bikaner.
- Fateh Pol, built to celebrate a victory over the Mughals in 1707;
- Dedh Kamgra Pol, which still bears the scars of bombardment by cannonballs;
- Loha Pol, which is the final gate into the main part of the fort complex
The Mehrangarh Museum displays a wide range of objects in fourteen display rooms. The museum also includes four period rooms. The displays are being constantly up-graded with due emphasis on lighting, visitor-flow and captioning. It is one of the most well-maintained fort of India and what amazes me the most is its lavishness. We would have got lost in this huge fort, if we would not have taken a guide here.
There are various rooms and they are referred as the Period Rooms.
- The grandest of Mehrangarh's period rooms is The Phool Mahal. It is an exclusive chamber of pleasure; dancing girls once swooned in exhaustion here under a ceiling rich in gold filigree. The Phool Mahal was created by Maharaja Abhaya Singh (1724-1749) and the gold came from Ahmedabad in Gujarat as war booty after his famous victory over the rebellious Mughal governor, Sarbuland Khan. The paintings, royal portraits and the ever popular raga mala, came much later, in the reign of Jaswant Singh II.
- The Jhanki Mahal is the place from where the royal ladies watched the official proceedings in the courtyard. Today it houses a rich collection of the royal cradles. The cradles are decorated with gilt mirrors and figures of fairies, elephant and birds.
- Moti Mahal or The Pearl Palace was built by Raja Sur Singh (1595–1619). It is the largest of the Mehrangarh Museum's period rooms. Sur Singh's Moti Mahal has five alcoves leading onto hidden balconies; it is believed they were built for his five queens to listen in on court proceeding.
Sheesha Mahal or The Hall of Mirrors It is a fine example of a typical Rajput Sheesh Mahal.
Besides the various period mahals there are various galleries ion Mehrangarh Fort
Elephant's Palanquin or howdahs- These were fastened on to the elephant's back. The front compartment, with more leg space and a raised protective metal sheet, was meant for kings or and the rear smaller one for a reliable bodyguard disguised as a fly-whisk attendant.
- Palanquins Gallery- Palanquins were a popular means of travel and circumambulation for the ladies of the nobility up to the second quarter of the 20th century. They were also used by male nobility and royals on special occasions.
- Daulat Khana - Treasures of Mehrangarh Museum- This gallery displays one of the most important and best preserved collections of fine and applied arts of the Mughal period of Indian history, during which the Rathore rulers of Jodhpur maintained close links with the Mughal emperors. It also has the remains of Emperor Akbar.
- Armoury gallery displays a rare collection of armour from every period in Jodhpur. On display are sword hilts in jade, silver, rhino horn, ivory, shields studded with rubies, emeralds and pearls and guns with gold and silver work on the barrels. The gallery also has on display the personal swords of many emperors, among them outstanding historical piece like the Khaanda of Rao Jodhaa, weighing over 7 pounds, the sword of Akbar the Great and the sword of Timur.
- Paintings- It has Folio from the Shiva Purana at Mehrangarh Museum. This Gallery displays colours of Marwar-Jodhpur, the finest example of Marwar paintings.
- The Folk Music Instruments Gallery- There is a number of different types and kinds of folk musical instruments, some particular to a group or community, and some to a region.
Besides these, there are many courtyards and balconies. There are lots of rooms that are kept closed, but I am sure you will be tiered by the lavishness, exotic collection coupled with the traditional Rajasthani music in the background played by the local artists.
- You will need at least 2-3 hours to visit this lavish fort and if you are fond of historical places like me then you might end up spending 4-5 hours here.
- After the long visit there you can replenish yourself at the restaurant or the café. Since we were very hungry we enjoyed the traditional Rajasthani thali served there.
- There are small stalls also where you can shop for the handicrafts and junk jewellery.
- And if you are fond of adventure then do try Flying Fox. Since I am scared of heights I could not try it.
And after all these places to visit, if you are left with time then do visit Kailana Lake. You can enjoy a boat ride there so visit there only in evenings.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN JODHPUR
- Take a walk to the old city, if you exit the Mehrangarh Fort from the back side then you can walk down to the old city. You can see the narrow by lanes and houses painted in blue.
- Rajasthani cuisine is among the most exotic cuisines in the country and can be had to one's heart's content in Jodhpur. Its unique culinary fare like the Makhaniya Lassi, Mawa Kachori and Mirchibada are a must try. If you are a non-vegetarian, then do visit Shaheen Restaurant to enjoy its delicious food.
- And if you are fond of jewellery, then do buy the lac bangles they are simply beautiful.
How To Reach:
By Air: The Jodhpur Airport is 5 km from the city center. Regular flight services connect the city with other major cities in and around Rajasthan. There are daily flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.
By Train: Jodhpur is well connected by railway lines. Trains to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are easily available. The 'Palace on Wheels' also visits this city of royal splendor.
By Road: Another convenient mode of transportation to Jodhpur is by road. The main highway between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer is via Agoli and Pokaran. The highway is well connected with Agra, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur by bus.
The well connected city of Jodhpur has an airport and a railway station that links it with most major cities in the country.
- Chittorgarh- 5 hours (288.7 kilometres)
- Kumbhalgarh Fort- 3 and half hours (171 kilometres)
- Udaipur- 4 and half hours (261.1 kilometres)
- Jaisalmar- 4 and half hours (269.2 kilometres)
- Jaipur- 5 and half hours (328.7 kilometres)
- Pushkar-4 and half hours (212.6 kilometres)
- Ajmer- 3 hours (198.6 kilometres)
- Alwar- 7 and half hours (482.1 kilometres)