Places to Visit in Jodhpur: The Blue City, India
Did you know India had a blue city?
Before visiting India, I had always thought that the "Blue City" was a name exclusively given to Chefchaouen, Morocco. As I was researching an itinerary for my India trip through Rajasthan, I came across Jodhpur, the blue city of India. I immediately added it to my short list of cities to see and convinced my boyfriend to squeeze it into our packed agenda. With only 48 hours in Jodhpur, we managed to see the most incredible sights that left a lasting impression. In this post, I share the top five places to visit in Jodhpur as well as some interesting theories as to why all of these houses were painted blue.
Itinerary at a Glance
We spent just over two weeks in India starting in New Delhi, making our way through Rajasthan and then venturing to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and eventually South to Kerala. This is our fourth post from our India trip and we’ll be adding more soon! Here’s a quick view of our itinerary with our blog posts linked for more India inspiration and planning tips.
DAY 1 & 2: New Delhi
DAY 3 & 4: Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra
DAY 5: Jaipur
DAY 6 & 7: Jodhpur
Day 8 & 9: Goa
Day 10 & 11: Kochi
Day 12 & 13: Alleppey Beach
Day 14: Alleppey Houseboat
Day 15: Athirappilly Falls
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Top 5 Places to Visit in Jodhpur
Sitting high above the city of Jodhpur is Mehrangarh Fort. It was built in 1460 by Rao Jodha, only one year after he founded the city of Jodhpur. The fort is one of the largest in all of India and is definitely worth a visit. Don’t miss the Chamunda Mataji Hindu Temple at the very edge of the fort. It has incredible views of the blue city below.
I recommend planning your visit to the fort early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds. We arrived at 9 AM and spent about two hours exploring. By the time we left, the fort was packed with other tourists.
The fort is free to explore, but entrance into the museum is 600 rupees.
Only a short walk or rickshaw ride from the Mehrangarh Fort is Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. This park was only opened in 2006, but holds volcanic rock that is estimated to be about 750 years old. When you enter the park, you feel like you’ve just escaped into a desert oasis miles from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are a number of trails to explore but I recommend the Green & Yellow Trail. It leads to the wall and has gorgeous views of the fort and blue city in the distance.
The cost to enter the Desert Park is 100 rupees.
Many blogs will recommend exploring the blue city with a tour guide, but I decided to research tour routes and explore the city on my own terms. I was not disappointed with this decision because I was able to take my time walking up and down the streets, turning whichever direction felt right and knowing I’d find my way to my end point eventually.
Start your blue city walk at the Chandpole Gate which leads into the blue city and head toward the direction of the Clock Tower, which will be your ending point. Walk down the narrow streets until you either reach a dead end or find another street that leads deeper into the sea of blue. I first walked to the left, hit a dead end, backed up and went the other way. If you look on the map of Jodhpur below, you’ll notice that a lot of the streets around the Chandpole Gate are dead ends. What you can’t see from the map, however, is that some of these dead ends lead to some of the most magnificent blue houses, or if you’re lucky like I was, a steep ledge that provides a panoramic view of the entire city.
While you’re exploring, you will most likely run into locals, not only people, but cows and dogs. Here are some tips on what to expect.
The children you meet will ask you to take a photo with them...with your own camera. While they will never see these photos, they will still follow you around and ask to take a picture with them. I recommend taking them because they seemed to really enjoy it, but be clear that you’ll only take one photo. Otherwise, you could spend a long time in an unplanned photo shoot.
The locals are very friendly. Some will stare at you blankly, some will wave and smile. Some may even offer to have you come into their homes or on their rooftops for a better view. Nine out of 10 times though, they will ask you for money if you do this. I fell for this during my walk because an elderly woman on a rooftop offered to have me come up. It was a great rooftop, so I said yes. Before I climbed down, she demanded money and I gave it to her. Honestly, it was worth the view, but be prepared for this.
From my experience, cows and dogs wander the streets throughout all of India, and Jodhpur is no different. Both won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. I recommend avoiding feeding or petting the dogs, and creating a bit of distance between you and the many cows you will pass.
You’ll eventually make your way to the Clock Tower and this is where you’re walking tour ends. If you worked up an appetite like I did, I recommend dining at the Indique Restaurant. It’s on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel and the food was delicious.
Sardar Market is a vibrant shopping area spanning the base of the clock tower and the narrow streets surrounding it. Local vendors sell textiles, leather shoes, jewelry, spices and an array of other souvenirs. Sardar is said to have a total of over 6,000 tiny shops and is one of the oldest markets in Jodhpur.
Even if you don’t plan to make any purchases, this market provides the sights, smells and chaos of a truly local experience that you don’t want to miss. I found this Sardar Market guide very helpful and recommend reading it before you go.
Janta Sweet Home has the most incredible Indian desserts including my personal favorite, laddu (sometimes spelled laddoo). These little balls of joy are made with flour, ghee/butter, sugar, nuts and dried raisins. They’re sweet yet savory at the same time and go perfectly with a cup of chai masala. In addition to sweets, Janta also has a restaurant where you can eat a full meal.
Janta Sweet Home is just a few blocks away from Sardar Market so make a pit stop here after you spend time shopping.
Why is Jodhpur blue?
I can't confirm any of the claims below, but I've done a bit of research on why this city is blue and thought it would be fun to share some of the theories out there. Regardless of why the houses are painted blue, I sure appreciate the beauty of them.
Theory 1: Jodhpur was the home to many Brahmins, which is theoretically the highest varna (class) in the Hindu caste system. Some say that the Brahmins painted their homes blue to differentiate their status in the city.
Theory 2: Locals painted their homes blue because they believed it reflected the heat and kept their home cooler.
Theory 3: Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu deities is often associated with the color blue and is shown with blue skin in many visual depictions. Some say that many citizens of Jodhpur were followers of Lord Shiva and therefore honored him by painting their homes blue.
Theory 4: Termites. The least exciting theory, in my opinion, is that the color blue keeps the termites away.
Do you believe any of these theories? Share any other theories you've heard in the comments below!
Where to Stay in Jodhpur
We opted for an Airbnb in Jodhpur that was located in an old Haveli (Indian mansion) and absolutely loved it. There was a rooftop restaurant with a gorgeous view of Mehrangarh Fort. We were walking distance to everything on this list and it was just about $20 a night!