The Blue City, the second largest city in Rajasthan, is a mesmerizing sight to behold as hundreds of indigo boxes drift into the distance. No one really knows exactly why Jodhpur has chosen this distinct colour, but theories such as paying respect to Lord Shiva (blue skinned God), use by the Brahmin priests, its reflective properties against Sun’s rays and use as an insect deterrent are the most popular. No matter the origin, the Blue City presents an eccentric and wise nature through all of its wonders. One can explore the many temples, quirky shops and elegant Jharokas for an eternity, the city provides never-ending excitements. The Blue City is also the great “Walled City” and small parts of this great structure can still be seen if sough out for. This is especially the case for the six great Pol gates which still stand in their full glory. Finally, the Blue City is simply not complete without the great Clock Tower market and the many charming rooftop restaurants scattered through the city.
There is so much more to see than just blue houses; the town is a jumble of old and new and the fun is in spotting stunning detailing, finding tiny courtyards, hidden temples, mosques and untouched havelis in the middle of the buzz of the city.
In spotting an ancient Deodi entrance to a new ordinary house, an intricately carved over-hanging Jharokha window-balcony, an exquisite Jaali frieze in the famous rose-red sand-stone, a Chowk square blessed by a 300 year old sacred Peepul tree, the crumbling remnants of an elegant red sand-stone wall. In fact, the entire old city was completely walled in till the 1950s with the six monumental Pol gates closing up from dusk to dawn. The walls have all but been absorbed; the gates still stand.
Clock Tower Market
Exploring the city is also a great opportunity to investigate Jodhpur’s shopping scene. The clock tower market is often touted as the premier shopping area of Jodhpur and whilst it’s worth a quick visit for trinkets or fruit and there is an amazing samosa shop at the south-gate, the gems of Jodhpur shopping can be found elsewhere.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from these opulent gem shops, is Sarafa Bazaar, the city’s silver and jewellery market. Completely non-touristy, silver jewellery is sold by weight, at a price that varies with the stock exchange in Mumbai. Unlike the Circuit House road jewellers, they sell jewellery entirely catered to the local market, so head there for traditional, very affordable styles and the opportunity to chat with the jewellers themselves.
Bibaji Churi Wale
For a more sedate shopping experience try taking the road east out of the north gate of the clock tower. Past all the bamboo sellers, you get to a stretch of shops dedicated to bangles. The uninitiated could assume that there is little variety in bangle styles, but sticking your head into any of these shops it becomes obvious that they are an art form in themselves. Bibaji Churi Wale, the furthest from the clock tower, is a perennial favourite. The tiny, cave-like shop is reminiscent of Ollivander’s wand shop; stacked floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes, each one opens up to unique and stunning bangles. Plain glass, carved bone, jewelled, in every colour and shape and size under the sun, each one is a marvel.
There is an unwritten rule surrounding Jodhpur’s restaurants and bars: that an evening not spent on roof terrace, under the watchful eye of Meharangah, is an evening wasted. So you’ll find the area around RAAS is cluttered with restaurants, all boasting a roof terrace in one form or the other. If you fancy a change of scene from Darikhana or Baradari, Pal Haveli has a lovely candlelit rooftop that affords a view of the clock tower market and beyond. The restaurant is famous for its incredible Rajasthani food and the Laal Maas is to die for. Closer to home, the step well is also home to Fortitude, a gorgeous rooftop restaurant that straddles the roof of three different havelis. One of the best examples of panoramic views of the fort and Umaid Bhawan it also has an incredible view down into the step well, it serves amazing Indian BBQ and tapas, alongside continental and Indian food.