Call it by its
many names and they will not do Jodhpur justice. An oasis in
the arid Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the second largest city in
the state of Rajasthan. Representing this colourful city with
shades of blue, Jodhpur has a history that is rich and a
present that beckons strongly to the discerning tourist. Forts
and palaces, temples and havelis, culture and tradition,
spices and fabrics, colour and texture, Jodhpur has them all
and in plenty.
Situated in western Rajasthan, Jodhpur has long attracted both
the domestic and outside tourist. It not only offers
tangibles, in terms of what you can see and buy but also fills
one with a sense of history and the splendours of an era gone
forever. The hospitality of the locals, the demure women, the
colourful turbans -all set against the unmerciful desert is
something to feel, not just see.
Every pore of Jodhpur tells its own tales of heroic tales that
made legends out of kings and soldiers, romances that continue
to warm the heart and a time when epics were lived out on the
streets by everyday man.
Population: About 2,880,777
Climate: Jodhpur is given to extremities in weather.
With temperatures in summer ranging from a minimum of 20░C to
a maximum of 49░C, summers are not the preferred months for
travel. The winters though, with temperatures hovering between
maximum temperatures within mid twenties to 5-6░C at the
lowest are a great time to visit.
Best time to visit: An extensive green cover ensures a
pleasant season during spring and early winter. The best
season to visit the city though remains between October and
Places of interest
Considered one of India's best forts, this invincible
stronghold of the Marwars sits on a steep hill lording over a
wonderful view of its surroundings. It is also a beautiful
fort and undoubtedly, the jewel of Jodhpur. Intricate latticed
windows, elaborately carved panels and elegantly curved
porches speak of beauty and taste. No matter what part of the
fort you are in, its ambience will leave you in awe and your
senses reeling. Take in the sight high up on the rampart where
the second largest cannon in Asia rests, the recoil of which
requires an area as large as a football field!
Umaid Bhawan Palace
If forts can be ornate, this is a palace we are talking about.
The Umaid Bhavan Palace was built in the 20th century as a
famine relief project, providing employment to its people over
a time period of 16 long years. And if the Mehrangarh fort is
the jewel, the Umaid Bhavan comes a very close second. A
fabulous art-deco edifice, Umaid Bhawan is fabulously
maintained and contains within, the museum - a veritable
treasure-trove of memorabilia showcasing the royal past of
Jodhpur. Peek into a little of everything that royalty lived
with - from tea sets and clocks to paintings and royal
apparel. The palace now operates as a heritage hotel, though
part of it is retained as the royal residence.
Close to the fort complex, this 19th century cenotaph was
built in white marble, in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant
Singh II. Rare portraits of Jodhpur's past rulers are also
displayed here. Walk around and savour the intricate work both
on the lattices and the doors. The gardens and water tank
built in front of the cenotaph provide this place the perfect
setting for serenity.
While the shopping centres of Jodhpur may not technically fall
under the category of 'what to see' in Jodhpur, the list would
be quite incomplete without it. Renowned for its tie and dye
textiles, jootis, lacquerware, antiques, carpets and puppets,
make a trip to the Sadar Bazaar, where you will find all of
the above and more. Jodhpur has many a unique thing to
decorate your home and life with. Visit Mohanlal Verhomal's
store for Indian spices, the Umaid Bhawan/ Ajit Bhawan Road to
shop for Antiques and don't miss the Jodhpur Handloom House
for beautiful Bandhni and Leheriya saris.
For those of you that cannot get through a holiday without
sport, the Sadar Club at Ratanada offers a round of golf - Rs
100 for 18 holes plus Rs 50 for equipment and Rs 20 for a
caddie. The club was built by the British about a 100 years
ago and the ambience is wonderful especially if you like a
round of golf.
Travel just 8 kms from the city to visit Mandore, once the
capital of Marwar. There are old cenotaphs of the Rathore
rulers and craggy caves that once sheltered homeless ascetics
here. While the sixteen deities carved out of the rock face
are rather garishly displayed in a niche adjacent to a temple
within the complex, the exquisitely landscaped gardens are
home to a variety of birds and small animals.
10 kms south of Jodhpur lies the royal retreat of Jhalamand.
The 18th century mansion was meant to be a getaway and as a
result, is a dwelling set amidst peace and quiet.
The erstwhile hunting lodge of the royal family now plays host
in its new avatar as a hotel. Austere and extremely spacious,
the modest interiors are a pleasure to stay in. but pay
attention to the sights along the 66km route. Not only is it
picturesque, but also traverses the Bishnoi villages (the
Bishnois are the oldest conservationists in India). Their
typical dwellings will be something you see but if you are
lucky, you just might catch sight of the exquisite Black Buck.
Jodhpur Kite Festival - Jodhpur has
some festivals that are special if not unique to it, the kite
festival of Jodhpur being one of them. What makes the kite
festival unique is the simple fact that it began just a few
years ago, which means no stories, myths and legends that most
other Indian festivals carry.
This desert kite festival is becoming increasingly popular
among kite fliers the world over. It is celebrated on the 14th
of January, celebrated in other parts as Makar Sankranti or
the day of transition of the sun into the Northern Hemisphere.
This day is inextricably related to kites in most parts of
India. People from all ages can be seen with kite and string
with necks straining towards the sky. It turns into a
competition where the aim is to ensure that other kites are
downed while yours soars higher. Everyone is an adversary and
every kite is fair game.
The three-day festival is inaugurated at the Polo Ground, the
venue for some serious kite flying and fighting. There is the
display part of the festival, where Air Force helicopters
release kites from the sky and hundreds of schoolchildren
release balloons. Kites take on a life of their own and the
designs on each of them makes the sky take on hues that have
never stained the skies before.
Then there is the Fighter Kite Competition, where crowds roar
in encouragement and there is poetry in motion. Both the
Display and Fighter Kite categories have prestigious trophies
that people covet and strive to win. The evenings see
participants being provided with dinner at exotic locations.
On the final day, the festival shifts to the exquisite lawns
of Umaid Bhawan Palace, the royal residence of the Maharaja of
Jodhpur. The finals of the Fighter Kite Competition and the
final judging of the Display Kites are followed by the prize
distribution ceremony, the valedictory function, and a
farewell dinner with the Maharaja.
The Marwar Festival - The vibrant and fun filled Marwar
festival is held annually and is a celebration that brings to
life the essence of all that Rajasthan stands for. Jodhpur
celebrates this two-day festival with folk music and dance,
fun and folklore.
The Marwar Festival is held every year in memory of the heroes
of Rajasthan. The festival is held in the months of
September-October and is a joy to behold. Originally known as
the Maand Festival, it features folk music that centres on the
romantic lifestyle of Rajasthan's erstwhile rulers. This
festival is devoted to the music and dance of the Marwar
region and offers a good opportunity to see the folk dancers
and singers who assemble here, providing hours of lively
entertainment. These folk artists provide a glimpse of the
days gone by, of battles and valiant heroes who still live on
in their songs.
The attractions of the festival are compounded by the venues
they are held in. the Umaid Bhavan Palace, Mandore and the
Mehrangarh Fort are hosts to this cultural feast.