Best of the Blues: Jodhpur, India

Amidst the desert dunes of Rajasthan, lies Jodhpur. A city painted with royal charm and famous azure blue. If you happen to glance at popular pictures from India where colourfully clad locals are shot against vibrant blue walls, they are most likely to be shot here. While tourists throng to this city throughout the year, I had the pleasure of visiting during the Jodhpur RIFF music festival.

GETTING THERE

My recommendation is to take the Jodhpur the overnight train, I travelled from New Delhi on the Jaisalmer-Delhi Express & a friend came from Mumbai on the Suryanagari Express.
Train travel in India is really amazing – assuring a journey filled with anecdotes and great food. Of course for those pressed for time flights are easily available as well. Train tickets can be always be booked here, but planning ahead is advisable.

STAY

We stayed the Hotel Haveli located a short rickshaw ride from the Jodhpur train station at the foothills of Mehrangarh Fort. Here the people were warm, the rooms comfortable and the costs reasonable.

Jodhpur has perfect stay options for every budget from the backpackers to the luxury connoisseurs. While we opted to stride the middle path, luxury seekers can opt to stay at Raas Jodhpur, for a boutique experience near the fort or if you want to up the regal ante you can check into the Umaid Bhavan Palace or Ajit Bhawan.

THE FESTIVAL

The Jodhpur Riff was music lovers delight with concerts and festivities from dawn to dusk at the Mehrangarh Fort. The highlights included the moonlit ‘Living Legends’ concerts at the fort terraces, RIFF Dawns and of course dancing in Old Zenana Courtyard to the music of Manu Chao up until the wee hours of the morning. All this accompanied by great Rajasthan food served alongside and seeing Sir Mick Jagger (he is an international patron of the festival). The festival happens every year in October and has gained international recognition for bring together folk legends from all corners of Rajasthan as well as international artists. Highly recommend if you love music, history or new experiences.

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SEE & EXPLORE

While we were not at the RIFF fiesta, we explored the majestic Mehrangarh Fort, a museum in itself and a treasure trove of Rajput tales. Don’t miss the ‘Phool Mahal’ and the panoramic views of the blue city.
The next attraction was the Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower and the bustling Sardar Market, following which we went to see the serene and beautiful Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph a short walk to the Mehrangargh fort.

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The next day was reserved to go to the Umaid Bhavan Palace, which is now a Taj Hotel. This beautiful palace has a museum to visit, but for the additionally curious, I would suggest making reservations to have lunch or dinner at the Pillars restaurant for indulgent plush palace experience.

If time permits, head to neaby locates like Mandore Gardens, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park and the Kailana Lake.

EAT

While exploring the Mehrangarh Fort we stopped at Café Mehran for snacks, refreshments and even meals at different points of time. Here we got our fill of Rajasthani classics like Dal- Bati Churma and Lal Maas. We didn’t have time, but for those who do the Chokelao Mahal Terrace at the fort offers an excellent and rather romantic evening dining option. Reservations recommended.
On our visit to the clock tower we stopped atSri Mishrilal Hotel the creamy desertilicious Makhaniya Lassi.
For a traditional Rajasthani thali we headed to Gypsy in Sardarpura and dined at Indique At Pal Haveli which serves up a meal with a view of the Mehrangarh Fort.
For a sampling of the most delicious snacks and desserts we tried Janta Sweet Home on Nai Sarak. The foods not to miss are Mirchi Bada (chili fritters) complemented by the uber sweet Mawa Kachori.
For indulgent farewell lunch before we left we stopped by Baradari at Raas Jodhpur for again a sumptuous meal with a view of the beautiful fort.

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SHOP

We roamed the maze of Sardar Market near the clock tower, browsing an assortment of goods from bangles, leather bags and accessories, jewellery and even fruits and vegetables. Must-buys here are spices like Mathaniya’s dark & fiery red chili. Walking down Nai Sarak we came across bandhej (tie & dye) fabric and scarves.

Jodhpur has numerous other bazaars like the Mochi Bazaar for beautifully embroidered flat shoes or ‘juttis’ and Sotaji Gate Market was also a great spot for more souvenirs. The National Handloom emporium is a great destination for a variety of goods and the fairest prices. The Museum Shop at the Mehrangarh Fort is another place we picked up souvenirs.

Rajasthan is famous for its handcrafted, intricate silver jewellery, so pick up a few pieces when you get a chance!

 

So that was Jodhpur for me, filling the senses with music, food, sights and some blue magic!

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