The biggest problem with Indian tourism is that travellers (especially foreigner) are disturbed by local scammers. These scammers (locally known as Lapkas) forces you to do some shopping at their suggest shops or to hire them as a tour guide to explore a tourist point. In both cases, the goal is to scam the travellers by paying 10 times for the guide service or get 30-40% commission of from shops if the guest has bought something.
Such scams are now visible globally, but for me, it’s a disgrace on India tourism sector, which surprisingly has been 100% demolished in Jodhpur.
The central Rajasthan city of Jodhpur was the capital of Marwar Kingdom which merged with the Republic of India after 1947 (India’s Independence). So the royal family of this kingdom, now no longer had the power to collect tax but they still enjoyed the respect of the locals, as the Jodhpur Maharaja at the time of India’s independence was very popular among its people (Mr Umaid Singh)
Umaid Singh popularity can be read in the creation of Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, which today is rated as the top 5 stars rated hotel in India. Umaid Bhawan is a 347 room hotel, operated by Taj Hotels, owned by the Jodhpur royal family & was built in 1943 (started in 1929).
As per the history of this palace creation, Jodhpur was facing one of its worst droughts & because of that locals were forced to migrate to other cities like Delhi, Bombay etc to earn a livelihood. So, in 1929, Umaid Singh (that time Maharaja of Jodhpur) opened a project with British architect firm to build a huge palace, and generate thousands of jobs for the locals. And because of this more than 3000 families got employed for 2 decades. A palace which could have been build in 5-7 years took 14 years and all the cost was beared by Umaid Singh.
My trip to Jodhpur this year
I have been to Jodhpur twice. First-time last year to collect pictures of all tourist points and then again this year with family, as I was soo much impressed with the attractions & activities in the city and I didn’t see a single tourist scammer in Jodhpur.
The reason that Jodhpur has no tourist scams is that all 4 major tourist attractions:
are owned & promoted by the royal family of Jodhpur & Mr Gajj Singh, which one can say that he is the current Maharaja of Jodhpur.
How to reach Jodhpur?
You can reach Jodhpur by train, road & Air. Jodhpur has a busy airport which is well connected with cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai etc. Jodhpur also has a railway Junction and you can also book a train ride to Jodhpur. And finally, you can reach Jodhpur via road, as I did from Jaipur and visit some amazing on-route sites like Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Pushkar lake etc. You can check Rajputana cabs Jodhpur Car Rental to hire a car for Jodhpur.
Accommodation in Jodhpur
In Jodhpur, you can book some of the best luxurious accommodation at Umaid Bhawan Palace, which will cost around $500 per night, or you can stay in a 300-500-year-old mansion, which uses to a residence for the accountant of the Jodhpur Maharaja, like check out Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli.
In my 2 visits of Jodhpur, have stayed in Ranbanka Palace (a boutique hotel) and Indiana Palace at Jodhpur Cantt.
24 Hour in Jodhpur
You need at least 1 full day (or maybe 2) to explore all 4 major tourist sites of Jodhpur. Then on day 2, you can enjoy some shopping experience, which will not disappoint you.
Start your day with a tour of Mehrangarh Fort. Mehrangarh Fort was established by Rao Jodha at 1460 AM as he wanted to set a new capital of his kingdom, on a hilltop. Since the 15th century, this castle has protected the Rathore Rajputs (clan name of Jodhpur royal family) from the attacks of neighbouring kingdoms, and more than 1 dozen kings have ruled here (of the same family).
The entry tickets for this fort is less than $2, and a tour guide can be hired from the ticket counter for $10. Inside the castle, you will see sites like:
Memorial of Soda Kirat Singh Jagmolat: a memorial of a warrior who died at the gates of Mehrangarh Fort, against the armies of Jaipur.
Seven gates of Mehrangarh Fort: A total of 7 gates are built inside the fort, to stop an army with 10 times in number to enter the main palaces & rooms of the fort.
An ode of Human sacrifice: A man name Raja Ram Meghwal sacrificed his life so that this kingdom see a bright future (Similar to what you see in the History Channel TV Series Viking).
Musicians singing local songs: Enjoy the chines of musicians sitting near the 7 gates, all hired the fort authority and singing local songs. Check out this video made by us:
All these 4 points are just from the entry gate to the first room of the castle. So, be ready for some walking, or you can skip all these by catching a lift which will straight away land you at Shringar Chowk, the 1st part of the castle.
Here you will find presentations of Elephant Howdah, which is a sitting platform on Elephants, beautiful collection of Palanquin along with a Golden Palanquin which was gifted the Maharaja of Gujarat, traditional Jodhpuri hookah (a weed & it’s bong), collections of arms, ammunition of 15th century Jodhpur & swards which were gifted by the Mughal kings of Delhi, all this is presented in a room called as Daulat Khana.
As all the Jodhpur royal family is Hindu, so they developed an art school to presents paintings from famous Hindu epics like Mahabharat & Ramayana. A collection of these paintings can be seen at Marwar paintings room, just next to Shringar Chowk.
The next room which is a floor above is the Sheesh Mahal, that use to be one of 4 palaces built inside the fort. All these palaces were the courtroom & residence of the Maharajas of Jodhpur.
At Sheesh Mahal, you will find golden thread carpets, & a small palace room, which looks more like a dining hall. Here are two images from this part of the fort.
Along with Mehrangarh Fort, one should also visit sites like:
Jaswant Thada: A memorial of Marwar Kings (Jodhpur royal family) from 12th to 20st century.
Mandore Gardens: A garden full of temples build on the names of Jodhpur kings.
Umaid Bhawan Palace: The home of current Jodhpur royal family and a 5-star hotel run by Taj group.
But still, the tour of Mehrangarh Fort, and later shopping at Jodhpur streets is rated as the must-experience sites in the city.
The months from September to March are rated as the best to visit Jodhpur, as the weather is quite calm in these months, though you can visit the city in summer to avoid the crowd.