Jodhpur : The city of Forts and Palaces
Famous for its magnificent forts and palaces, Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. The city is situated at the edge of the Thar Desert with Jaisalmer on its west, Barmar, Jalor and Pali on its south, Bikaner on its north, and Nagaur on the eastern side.
Jodhpur was founded by the Rajput chief Rao Jodha in 1459. The city was the erstwhile capital of the Marwar state. A 10-km-long wall made of stone and built about a century after the city was founded, surrounds the old city.
There are about 100 towers in the city, most of which are surrounded by defensive battlements.
Jodhpur has a typical desert climate, dry and hot. The ideal time to visit this place is between November and March. Like the oasis in the vast desert, the city has a variety of thorny shrubs all over the area. It also home to some of the animal species that can survive in an arid and dry environment.
The forts and palaces in the city are the major source of attraction in the city. Exploring the forts gives you a feel of the times when the Rajput might was at its peak. The gates and the walls of the forts speak of the battles they have witnessed. One needs to spend enough time with these historical monuments to fully grasp the grandeur of the Rajput era. Some of the major attractions around Jodhpur are Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhawan, Mandore Gardens, the Government Museum and Zoo, Old Fort Museum and Balsamand Lake and Gardens.
Excursions The places around Jodhpur offer further insight into the regions religious, cultural and commercial past besides being interesting tourist spots in themselves. The desert hamlet presents a picturesque view and the forts converted into heritage hotels provide fascinating places to relax. Some of the major excursions around the city are Osian Dhawa, Nagaur, Rohet Fort and Khimsar.
MEHRANGARH FORT Situated at an altitude of about 125 metres, the Mehrangarh Fort is spread over an area of 5 sq. km in the heart of the city. The fort has seven gates of which the noted ones are the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806; Fatehpol or the Victory Gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh; and the Lohapol or the Iron Gate. The 15 handprints, the sati marks of Maharaja Man Singh/’s widows who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843, can be seen beside the Lohapol. On the wall, one can see the strategically located cannons. Inside the fort, a series of courtyards and palaces greet the visitor. The palace apartments house a splendid collection of the trappings of the Indian royalty. The fort is visited by thousands of tourists every year who come to have a glimpse of the artillery system of the Rajput warriors. One can have a bird/’s eye view of the city from the fort.
JASWANT THADA :- It is a white marble memorial built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant II in 1899 A story goes that Maharaja Jaswant succumbed to injuries in this place while fighting the Mughal king Jahangir.
UMAID BHAWAN Made of marble and pink sandstone, the construction of the Umaid Bhawan started in 1929 and it took 16 years to complete it. It is believed that the palace was constructed to give employment to the famine-struck population of Jodhpur. This majestic building is presently the residence of the former rulers with a part of it running as hotel and remaining part as a museum.
MANDORE GARDENS :-About 8 km from Jodhpur, Mandore, the ancient capital of Marwar, has cenotaphs of the Jodhpur rulers. The beautiful gardens with high rock terraces make it a popular picnic spot. The garden has a gate known as the Ajitpol, which is decorated with paintings of the gods and goddesses of Indian mythology.
GOVERNMENT MUSEUM AND ZOO The Sardar Government Museum, library and the zoo are located in the pleasant Umaid Gardens. The exhibits in the museum include stuffed animals, old weapons and sculptures.
OLD FORT MUSEUM This fascinating museum has palanquins, lavishly upholstered royal howdahs, a golden throne, shoes with pearls, paintings, mirrors, cribs weapons and a magnificently embroidered royal tent among its exhibits.
BALSAMAND LAKE AND GARDENS About 5 km from the city lies the Balsamand Lake and Gardens, a splendid spot for excursion. This pretty lake was built in AD 1159. By the side of the lake stands a beautiful summer palace surrounded by the equally beautiful gardens.
Excursions for Jodhpur
Dhawa This wildlife sanctuary is situated at about 45 kilometres from Jodhpur. The main attraction here is the Indian antelope.
Khimsar Around 92 km from Jodhpur lies the Khimsar Fort which dates back to 1523. This fort has also been converted into a hotel.
Nagaur One hundred and thirty-five kilometres from Jodhpur lies Nagaur, an imposing fort with beautiful murals. Every year in the month of January-February, a weeklong cattle fair is held here.
Osian About 58 km from the city, on the diversion off the main Jodhpur-Bikaner Highway, lies Osian, an oasis in the desert. Fifteen beautifully sculptured Jain and Brahmanical temples dot the landscape of this ancient township. Of these the most outstanding ones are the Surya or Sun Temple, Kali temple, Sachiya Mata Temple and the main Jain temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira.
Rohet Fort :- About 40 km from Jodhpur lies Rohet Fort. The fort has now been converted into a heritage hotel. It is in this village that Bruce Chatwin wrote The Songlines and William Dalrymple began The City of Djinns.
Fact File • Area 78.60 sq. km
• Altitude 230 metres above sea level
• Languages Marwari, Rajasthani and Hindi
• STD Code 0291
• Best time to visit November to March