48 hours in Jodhpur
A&K travel specialist Catherine Padbury on how to get to know Jodhpur with its bustling markets, incredible forts, zip-wire adventures, and quiet villages in just two days.
Jodhpur is just a short one and a half-hour flight from one of India’s main international hubs, Delhi. Starting the day early is the best way to optimise your time and make the most of the city. As you begin your descent into Jodhpur, look out for your first glimpse of the Mehrangarh Fort and the Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel.
Still home to the Maharaja, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is without a doubt the best hotel that Jodhpur, and perhaps even India, has to offer. Marvel at the dome ceiling as you enter and spend some time exploring the grounds. It’s worthwhile taking a pleasant stroll through the gardens to find some hidden views of the Mehrangarh Fort and to admire the building itself. Should you prefer to stay somewhere more central however, the boutique RAAS Hotel is my top recommendation. It’s in an amazing location and the service is excellent, but namely because of the incredible views.
Swap the peace of the palace lawns for the hustle and bustle of Jodhpur’s busy streets. A trip to India is not complete without experiencing a bumpy tuk-tuk ride through the city surrounded by the bright colours and noise of Rajasthan. Haggle in the markets, try some street food, or simply soak up the excitement of this wonderful city. From holiday trinkets to visiting shops which supply pashminas, throws and bedspreads to some of the best designers in Europe and the US, there’s something for everyone and the potential for a lot of spending.
Late afternoon is a great time to visit the Mehrangarh Fort which dominates the city. Standing at one of its highest parts and looking over the sea of blue walls and rooftops, you’ll truly appreciate why Jodhpur was given the name ‘The Blue City’. Of all the forts I’ve explored in India, this one is a stand above the rest due to the variety, history and the stories it’s walls have to tell. You can easily spend a day and a half exploring its ramparts and museum but, if pushed for time, the rooms and museums are a highlight and certainly give you plenty of reasons to come back.
In the evening, if staying at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, make your way back to the hotel in time for a champagne walk to the palace. Learn more about the history and uncover the art collection. Dinner is often a late affair in India, so perhaps pamper yourself with a spa treatment or enjoy a dip in the pool to pass the time. Later, The Pillars Restaurant on the terrace is a lovely spot for your evening meal with the rose ice cream being a new favourite of mine. True, you may hear helicopters and planes overhead, but it’s a small price to pay for staying in such an impressive place and eating such great food.
If you’re up early, head down to the lawns of the palace and you may see the peacocks dancing in the morning sun. Leave the hotel shortly after 9am and drive for one hour outside of Jodhpur to the Bishnoi villages, watching the life of the locals unfold around you. Journey through small towns and villages, past camels, and down many a dirt track road to arrive in the peaceful Bishnoi community. Here you can engage in a traditional welcoming ceremony and learn a bit more about their way of life, the way they treat the world around them and how they live off the land.
India is made up of a diverse range of communities, and visiting these rural villages is a wonderful way to appreciate another face of this incredible country and the community’s simple way of life.
For lunch, Mihir Garh is a beautiful place to stop. With sweeping views across the surrounding fields, it’s certainly off the beaten track property and excellent for a peaceful getaway with some sightseeing within easy reach.
After a morning in rural Rajasthan, head back to the Mehrangarh Fort for an adrenaline-filled afternoon zip-wiring off the ramparts of the Fort. Make your way through the less occupied areas of the fort to arrive at the start of your zip wire journey. Six lines take you flying over the lakes and hills of the fort – what an incredible way to see the city! When you’ve completed the course, you’ll feel as if you’ve seen the hidden parts of the Fort and a view of Jodhpur that’s not for the faint-hearted.
Finish the busy day by relaxing in the evening at the hotel. For your final night meal, I’d recommend dining on the Roof Top at Hanumant Palace appreciating the views of Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Meherangah Fort. Reflect on the time you’ve had exploring the markets, visiting the Bishnoi communities, enjoying historical walks of the Palace, learning the history of the Mehrangarh Fort and finally flying from its ramparts.
Jodhpur is a fascinating destination guaranteed to provide you with a great snap shot of all India has to offer. You can get a flavour of everything within 48 hours, but, as always with this country, the more time you spend there, the more secrets you’ll uncover.
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