Spending a weekend in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

A fort, a palace, a memorial, a sunset point, a busy market, a lake, a biological park, royal cenotaphs and spectacular views … yep, that is pretty much a quick summary of Jodhpur, India.  But, to take it all in, you need at least two-and-a-half days.  Here is what we were able to accomplish during a weekend in May.

Day 1 – Travel to Jodhpur, Ghanta Ghar Market and sunset point

Traveling to Jodhpur is fairly easy, although may be a little time consuming.  There is an airport and is  also well connected by road, so getting in and out is not an issue. 

We traveled to Jodhpur via road from Bikaner and it took us about 5 1/2 hours (stopping for a break in the middle).  We started after breakfast and made it in time for a late lunch in Jodhpur. 

Along the way, on the Nagaur-Jodhpur highway, there is an animal hospice dedicated to animals (especially cows) who are being treated for injuries, cancers and deformities.  We stopped there for a few minutes and the kids asked the caretakers quite a few probing questions and found out that animals end up consuming plastic bags and trash littered by people and get sick.  Often abandoned, they end up at the hospice.  It was truly a heartbreaking (because these animals fell sick due to human negligence)  and heartwarming (because volunteers are taking care of the animals and allowing them to recover with dignity) experience.

After reaching Jodhpur, we settled into our hotel and had lunch.  By the time we were done, it was almost 3:30pm.  The Mehrangarh fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace close at 5pm so, we decided to chill in the hotel till evening and then head out to check out other parts of Jodhpur.

Around 5:30pm we headed to the market where Ghanta Ghar is located.  It is an extremely busy market with the clock tower located in the middle.    After taking some pictures and looking around, we headed to Masuria Hills Garden to watch the sunset.

Masuria Hills Garden is a lessor known place but well worth the visit – the views are gorgeous!  You can see Mehrangarh fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace at a distance with beautiful blue roof tops in-between.  Once it got dark, we headed to a Rajasthani diner to enjoy an authentic “thali” dinner before calling it a night.

Day 2 – Jaswant Thada, Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace

Jaswant Thada

We headed out right after breakfast to ensure we were able to visit all of the places before it became too hot (traveling in May!).  Our first stop was Jaswant Thada.  We spent some time here admiring the white marble monument before heading to the fort.  It is a well maintained monument with some nice views of the fort exterior.

Mehrangarh Fort

On our trip, this was a very nice surprise.  Among the forts we visited thus far, this was the only one that had an elevator that allowed senior citizens to explore parts of the fort which would otherwise be inaccessible.  We used the services of a guide which turned out to be a good thing as he explained and showed us the unique parts of the fort.  At the end of the tour, we had an opportunity to spend some time shopping for souvenirs at the Museum Shop.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

It was almost lunch time, so we headed to a hotel nearby for lunch.  After lunch we headed to Umaid Bhawan Palace.  Most of the palace has been converted to a hotel (we did not stay here) but, part of it has been converted to a museum and it was nice to study and understand the history of modern Jodhpur.  We were done exploring by around 4pm.  We headed back to the hotel to chill.

We spent the evening exploring various stores in Jodhpur looking for authentic, traditional fabrics.  We ended up picking up a few (on the more expensive side) before calling it a day.

Day 3 – Temples, Kaylana Lake, Machia Biological Park, Mandore Garden and travel back to Bikaner

After a leisurely breakfast, we checked out a couple of modern temples including a Jain temple and the Jodhpur ISKCON Temple.

Afterwards, we headed to Kaylana Lake to check out the surrounding area.  We chose not to take a boat ride around the lake as it was 10:45 in the morning and the heat was already getting to us. 

Next, we headed to Machia Biological Park and spent about an hour exploring the place.  It was 11:30am and it was pretty hot outside…. so we took the easy way out and went around the park in a motorized vehicle.  Most of the animals were chilling out in the shade as expected.

We then had lunch at a nice hotel before starting our journey back to Bikaner.  Along the way we stopped at Mandore Garden and spent some time exploring the area.  Mandore Gardens (also known as Royal Cenotaphs) have some nice buildings to admire, but, as expected, very few people hanging around at 2:30pm in the afternoon 🙂

We reached Bikaner by around 7:30pm and declared the trip a success!

Reflections

  • In every article I had read about Jodhpur prior to visiting (2018), the trash lurking around everywhere was never talked about.  The city being such a tourist magnet, I suppose my cleanliness expectations were high and so the disappointment was also immense.  After visiting the animal hospice and then seeing all the trash around, the impact was even more profound.  I will definitely try my very best to reduce the amount of garbage our family produces.  I sincerely hope tourists also become more responsible in how they dispose their trash and the city cleans up its act quickly.
  • Visiting the old temples within the city was close to impossible.  Using Google maps was difficult … poor phone signals and no easy access to wifi.  On top of that, most people focus only on the fort and the palace, so trying to find the lessor known places by asking people along the way is just not feasible.  If you are keen on visiting any particular place, I would highly recommend mapping it out at a place with good connection and saving it off-line before heading out.  Even then, chances are 50-50, but don’t give up! 
  • Change – carry plenty of Rs 100 notes… felt like we needed them everywhere, from tips to auto rides to entrance fees!   
  • Food – Maybe it was because we traveled during the off-season, but finding a non-dhaba, decent place to eat on the road was just not possible.  This is one of the reasons we spent time in Jodhpur until lunch time on the last day so that we could eat at a decent place before hitting the road.  Food safety is very important… please be smart about it!
  • Traveling in May – It was definitely hot.  Keeping yourself hydrated is very important.  A nice thing about traveling in the low season was that there were fewer people and it was a lot easier to relax.
  • Finally – Mehrangarh Fort – As a mixed age group with seniors traveling with us, the elevator at the fort was a boon… they were able to enjoy the important parts of the fort with ease.  They could not see everything, but, were able to see enough to feel good.  My resolve to travel as much as I can while I am still healthy has only been solidified further : )

 

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