by Juhi Bansal
I have been on countless trips to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer while growing up and have extremely fond memories. I even called Jodhpur home for a bit (while I was in Pune) when my parents moved there for a couple of years. It’s always fun to take the husband and Iy to these places and show them around and relive some of my childhood memories.
This time was even more special because we had my in laws along who were visiting both cities for the first time plus a whole lot of cousins in law. Needless to say it was quite fun (and so so cold!).
God bless these direct flights. I remember driving to Jodhpur for 8 hours or taking the overnight train but the sub 60 min flight from Ahmedabad (to both Jodhpur and Jaisalmer) is Godsent!
So, here are my top recommendations on what to do in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer for a quick trip. I have culled out my best experiences in these cities over the years to make you this list.
Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace
Lets get these out of the way. If you are visiting for the first time (or the 100th time like us), a visit to the Fort is a must. I have always loved the view from the top (blue houses wherever your eyes go!), the café, the folk musicians playing in the alley and the colourful pop up shops.
The Palace unfortunately is not open to public aside from a couple of rooms but do visit by all means to see the grandeur.
Clock Tower area
There is so much to do in the Clock tower area whether you’re doing a heritage walk, local food tour, blue city tour (the story behind people in Jodhpur painting their houses blue- it was largely the caste system!), flea shopping, browsing designer stores or just spending your evening at a cosy café. The clock tower looks resplendent in the evening!
We combined the heritage walk, food tour and blue city tour. You could use google or a service provider. We used Thrillophilia to curate this walk for us more so because I just didn’t want to eat the usual stuff like mawa kachoris and makhania lassi. Some of my top recommendations for you to try are palak kachori, pyaaz kachori, mirchi vada, doodh fini and gulab jamun (and I am just getting started here!).
There is so much to shop from the local shops. I would particularly recommend picking up some indigo fabric/ outfits. Go with some time on your hand so you can browse at leisure and shop to your heart’s content. (Not expensive at all!).
Toorji ka Jhalra
An 18th century step well, a stone’s throw away from the Clock Tower, you can visit it to burn off some of your kachori calories and get a quick lesson in Jodhpur history. Also, I guarantee you cannot not visit Toorji ka Jhalra without getting pulled into one of the beautiful designer stores or enticing cafes around the stepwell.
Cafes and eateries with a view
Oh my God there are so many! Whether it’s the cafes overlooking the Blue city or the Fort or the cafés inside the Fort- each view is better than the last. Do take time out every evening for a quiet night cap with a book or with good company!
Some places we tried (and loved!)- Jharokha 360 degree (right after our Toorji ka Jhalra escapade), RASA for drinks (won’t recommend the food), the Mehran café in the Fort, Café Baari for some fun food, On the Rocks for some food and drinks and Gypsy for a lip smacking full fledged Rajasthani fare (even things like gulab jamun ki sabji, papad ki sabji and pachkuta- things even I haven’t had in ages but miss dearly!).
Jodhpur is a shopping haven whether it is tie and dye, tribal jewelry or traditional juttis. You can get a whole range of homeware from drapes and bedsheets to wall hangings and tapestries to beautiful furniture both traditional and contemporary. My top go to places are Ghanta ghar area for clothing and jewelry (you’ll find both designer and small time shops there) and Artlivo for furniture. They are available online but I would recommend visiting their factory to see the sheer range of collection (and once you recover from the initial shock) shop to your heart’s content.
Don’t forget to haggle at the roadside shops and DO NOT ask your autowallah for recos!
While there is Uber in Jodhpur we went in December which is peak season, getting an Uber proved extremely annoying. We hired an auto for 2 days and I think it was the best decision ever. It cost us about Rs. 1000 a day (there were 5 of us) and he took us around the whole city. The weather was really nice so the auto ride was fun as well especially for Iy!
Again because we visited during the peak season, almost all good properties were either sold out or prohibitively expensive but I would definitely recommend staying at one of the heritage properties if you can book in advance. The other option is to stay at one of the nearby properties (mentioned below) and then doing a day trip or two from there to Jodhpur. It works perfectly!
We have visited Jodhpur each time for a very different kind of stay. My top picks for an overnight trip from Jodhpur are Osian, Rohetgarh and Bishnoi Village not in any particular order. Choose one on every trip to make the most of each of these places.
Rohetgarh is perfect for a staycation. The property (House of Rohet) is gorgeous and you’re about an hour’s drive away from Jodhpur. I would suggest taking a break for a day or two and then driving to Jodhpur for a couple of nights for the best experience.
Bishnoi Village is an eco village. If you’re looking for an authentic village experience (complete with a hut and charpoi) look no further. The food is extremely authentic and tasty. Kids love the experience because there is a lot to do from camel rides to black buck safari to folk dance to magic shows. I would recommend staying a couple of nights. Jodhpur is just 30 mins away!
Recommended place to stay: Bishnoi Village Camp and Resort
Osian is the closest desert from Jodhpur. If you’re in a time crunch and Jaisalmer is not on the cards, do an overnighter to Osian. You can do a desert safari, visit the Osian Mata Temple and do a dinner in the dunes amidgst folk music and dance. Stay atleast one night. Jodhpur is about 90 mins away.
Recommended place to stay: Reggie’s Camel Camp– beautiful property! Huge layout and the tents are all worldclass!
If you have a couple of more days I suggest adding Jaisalmer to your itinerary or you could do a completely separate weekend trip (now that there is a direct flight from Ahmedabad to Jaisalmer as well!). It’s about 5 hours away from Jodhpur. You can make a pit stop at Osian on your way.
Here are my top picks for Jaisalmer:
The Fort is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It stands majestic atop a circuitous path which means it’s a long walk to the top but the views are absolutely gorgeous. The alleys in the fort are reminiscent of Santorini and we even found a blue door! Take your time, walk around and window shop!
This turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The 14th century lake is gorgeous and so are the several jharokhas. Don’t forget to have coffee at the cute little café on the lake. (It was closed when we visited so missed it!).
Sam Sand Dunes
The Sam desert is beautiful beyond words. Ofcourse, over the years it has deteriorated, it’s mightiness a far cry from what it used to be decades ago- it still is mesmerizing! Whether you choose sand dune bashing in a 4X4, lying down on the sand while you watch the sun go down or doing a camel safari- don’t forget to spend an entire evening in the desert.
An important part of the whole experience is staying in the desert in a tent. It’s as close to the real experience as it can get. I have done it several times over my childhood. The tents are basic but the experience really worthwhile. There are a host of tents dotting the desert. You can choose one which fits your budget (check out makemytrip). There is a whole range from Rs. 3000 a night going upto a lac a night.
When we did a desert night in Wadi Rum a couple of years ago even the modest tent felt like glamping after all my years of roughing it out in Indian tents :D. Jokes aside, I think it’s an experience you do not want to miss.
PS: It gets extremely cold in the desert so make sure you go well prepared!
It’s always fun to shop in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer is no different- from colourful bags to juttis, to stoneware to tribal jewelry- the roadside vendors have everything you’re looking for and it’s all a steal!
It’s about a couple of hours of drive away from Jaisalmer city and you will need a prior permission so make sure you apply for one in advance. While you are there don’t forget to visit the Tanot Mata temple as well.
Hope this article helps you plan your trip to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer better. I am just one comment or message away if you need to ask anything. Happy Tripping 🙂