Jodhpur

Nestling within the depths of the Thar Desert, is the stronghold of the Rathore clan - Jodhpur, once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, the second largest city of Rajasthan, after Jaipur . The town was once known as Marwar, which means 'Land of Death', probably, referring to the harsh desert climate. It is an island of marble palaces, cordoned off from the desert by an immense wall, with eight gates facing different directions.

Flanked on its western side by the Mehrangarh fort, and on the eastern side by the stately sandstone Palace of Umaid Bhawan, the monuments, temples and gardens of Jodhpur depict a multi-faceted grandeur. 

Founded in 1459 AD., by the Suryavanshi Rao Jodha, Jodhpur gradually grew around the towering Mehrangarh fort. A flourishing trading centre in the 16th century, Jodhpur is still one of the leading centres of wool, cattle, camels and salt . It showcases some very fine mementoes of its glorious past - palaces, temples and other elegant monuments of architectural and historical value. 

What To See

Mehranngarh Fort

Dominating the city of Jodhpur is Mehrangarh, one of Rajasthan's three great hilltop forts (the other two are Kumbhalgarh and Chittaurgarh). Mehrangarh literally means "Majestic Fort". It is located at the very centre of the city, and is visible from the surrounding area. There are, in all, three gates, each built to commemorate a particular victory, as well as to reinforce the fort. Originally built in 1806, the fort has been added to, many times since. Carved panels and porches, elaborately adorned walls and windows of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana seem to make the medieval splendor come alive. The palaces in this fort were built in an informal pattern over several centuries. They have their own peculiar style, with narrow staircases, serving as the only means of access to the royal residences within. A collection of musical instruments, palanquins, furniture and cannons on the fort's ramparts are well - preserved.  

Mehrangarh appears impregnable, and with good reason. Its battlements soar four hundred feet above a hill, that rises sharply from the surrounding countryside. Mehrangarh has its own architectural appeal, such as brilliant stained glass, that creates vibrant mosaics on the floors, with the passage of the sun through the day. 

Umaid Bhavan Palace

The 20th century Umaid Bhavan Palace, (also known as Chhittar Palace because of the Chhittar sandstone used in building it) was built in a time of peace, and is quite Western in its design. It was built, as a famine relief project, which gave employment to people, for 16 years. Under a dome, the like of which no other palace in Rajasthan can boast of, the Palace contains over 300 rooms. It has its own theatre, eight dining rooms, and a banquet hall which seats three hundred people. A Ball Room had been built, catering to the Westernised royal lifestyle. Much of the interior of the palace is in the art deco style. In fact, it is said to be one of the finest surviving examples of art deco in the world. Deep within the palace is an indoor swimming pool, with a mosaic of zodiac symbols. The palace now runs as a hotel, though, a part of it has been retained as a museum and part as royal residence.  

Jaswant Thada

Close to the fort complex lies this white marble cenotaph, built in 1899, in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Rare portraits of Jodhpur's rulers are, also, to be seen at Jaswant Thada. 

Clock Tower and Sardar Market

A prime attraction of the city, is the Clock Tower and the colourful Sardar Market near it. Narrow alleys lead to quaint bazaars selling textiles, antiques, silverware and handicrafts. 

Around Jodhpur 

Mandore

This former capital of Marwar, lies 9 kms north of Jodhpur. The gardens of Mandore also house the royal cenotaphs or 'dewals' of the Maharajas, including Maharaja Jaswant Singh and, largest and finest of all, the impressive temple-shaped memorial to Maharaja Ajit Singh.

The Hall of Heroes contains 15 figures carved out of a rock wall. The vividly painted figures represent Hindu deities or local heroes on horseback. The Shrine of 33 crore Gods, is painted with figures of gods, spirits and divinities. Regular buses run to Mandore from Jodhpur.

Oscan

Rajasthan's largest group of early Jain and Hindu temples lies on the outskirts of the small town of Osian, 55 km from Jodhpur. Once a great trading centre, today, the town is a desert oasis, home to numerous peacocks. The largest of the 16 Jain and Brahmanical temples is dedicated to Mahavira, the last of the Jain tirthankars. In the same area the Surya temple has fascinating images of Durga, Surya and Ganesh.

The sculptural intricacy of the Osian temples rival that of any of the famous temples of the country, be it the Sun Temple of Konark, or the Hoysala temples of Karnataka. 

Mahamandir

Built in 1812, this is a small walled town, clustered around a 100-pillared Shiva temple.

Balsamund Lake & Palace

Built in 1159, this lake and garden complex lies about 7 kms from Jodhpur. A palace constructed in 1936, looms over the lake. The lake has, now, been converted into a public park and bird sanctuary. This area has turned out to be a popular excursion spot.

Guda Bishnoi

These are immaculately - kept settlements of the Bishnoi community - staunch believers in the sanctity of plant and animal life. 

Festivals 

The vibrant Marwar festival held annually brings to life, the very essence of the magic, that is Rajasthan. 

The Desert Adventure 
Bikaner
Jodhpur
Jaisalmer