Within our walls we have a heated swimming pool, ila spa and ‘Gem Palace’ shop, so there is plenty to do. Beyond that, we pride ourselves on our incredible central location; many of the best sites in the city are within walking distance, or a quick tuk-tuk away. We have collated a list of must-see places, presented as daylong itineraries, to give you a taste of the range of amazing activities available in Jodhpur. Take a look at our Curated Experiencess for more details about great places to go, see, eat, drink and shop. To arrange any excursions in advance please get in touch with our front office at fom@RAASjodhpur.com.TOP
Without a doubt Mehrangarh Fort is the site to see in Jodhpur and it is worth making a day of it. Though it's open from 9 to 5, the fort itself is best to see first thing in the morning, when it's coolest, maybe after some sunrise yoga on the rooftop of Baradari. The walk up is ten or fifteen minutes winding uphill, so front office can always arrange a tuk-tuk. Once you get there we highly recommended getting an audio guide with your museum ticket (600Rs). The history is simply fascinating, a blend of elephant battles, Mughal sieges and political machinations.
The fort is in such good condition because Jodhpur's royal family lived there until the 1950s! Indeed the fort museum has a beautiful collection of the families' most extravagant paintings, palaquins and even cribs, which continued to be used well into the twentieth century.
From the top rooms of the museum the view of Jodhpur is incredible, so bring your cameras (the camera fee is worth it!).The fort’s shop is well curated and is the source of some lovely books and paintings and, should the mood takes you, the palmistry shop is always well-received.
For the more adventurous types, the Flying Fox Zipline is definitely worth doing. Six different zip lines crisscross the top of the fort; shooting around Mehrangarh on zip cables is exhilarating and you get fabulous views of Jodhpur whilst doing it. It is extremely safe and secure but can get booked up in high season so make sure you reserve a spot (1900sRs a person) while you can.
After the heart-racing ziplines, Jaswant Tharda, the white stone cenotaph, is a lovely place to cool off. Sit in the gardens and take in the beauty of the memorial, or try and spot kingfishers in the small lake. It is a lovely place for a picnic. Inside, you can explore the amazingly carved white marble screens, so thin they seem to glow in the sunlight.
Make sure you head down to Chokelao Bagh, the garden which nestles at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort. The route to the gardens lets you explore more empty parts of the fort, so it's good to take your time looking around, on the way there. The 18th century Rajput garden has recently been restored with its traditional flowers and designs. For only 30Rs., it is a lovely place to visit at night; the Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) is designed to be especially magical under the stars. It is filled with the white flowers of chandni (Tabernaemontana coronaria) and the sweet smelling kamini (Maurya exotia), great for a romantic walk. Afterwards, the Chokelao restaurant, on the upper terrace of the gardens, is the perfect place for an atmospheric dinner, you can get no better view of the fort and Jodhpur and the food is great.
THE ROYAL TOUCH
Umaid Bhawan is the monumental palace built in the 50s when the royal family of Jodhpur moved out of Mehrangarh. Their living quarters take up half of the palace and the Umaid Bhawan Hotel takes up another quarter. As such, not much of the palace is accessible to the public, but the few rooms that are open, as part of the palace museum, are worth a visit, particularly if you are in the area. Indeed, for a taste of true opulence our concierge can try and book you a table at the palace restaurant. It is not always possible as the restaurant is exceptionally exclusive, but the experience is the pinnacle of Indian luxury.
Under the eye of the palace are some of the best gem shops in Jodhpur. Though we would definitely recommend our own RAAS branch of the Gem Palace, which hails from the jewellery capital Jaipur, these boutiques are definitely a must for the serious shopper. Along Circuit House Road lies several gorgeous jewellery shops, including the (unadventurously named) Gems and Jewels Palace. Here you can find a mixture of traditional Indian and contemporary Western styles, all beautifully executed and reasonably priced.
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.
Sarafa bazaar is one of Jodhpur’s many markets dedicated to one specific type of good. Alongside the silver market you also have the 'Kapron ka Bazaar' (Cloth), the 'Dhaan Mandi' (Grain), 'Mirchi Bazaar' (Chillies & Spices) and Betel Nut Lane. More informally, Circuit House Road is also home to a concentration of Jodhpur’s best antique shops and they are an absolute must-visit. The city is famous for its antiques, and rightly so. When shopping, the boutiques filled with old doors, windows and architectural detailing are incredible, but it’s worthwhile to note that this ‘architectural salvage’ is sourced by ripping heritage havelis apart for their detailing (similarly there are charges for exporting particularly old objects). More ethical to purchase are the smaller pieces and antiques and there are certainly plenty of places that sell them. Lalji Handicrafts is deservedly the most famous of these shops. Entering, there are no rules are to what you can find. Everything from axes to old wedding photos to chess pieces to cut crystal martini glasses, the shop is a treasure trove of trinkets and curios. They will ship anything you buy, so no need to lug that elephant-shaped footstall across India and it’s lovely to have something tangible to remind you of the opulence of Jodhpur when you return home.
A quick tuk-tuk ride away from the RAAS is the oldest (and bluest) heart of Jodhpur. The blue houses were traditionally owned by members of the Brahmin caste, who painted their houses with indigo. Now everyone has taken up the practice, as it is thought to cool houses and repel insects, and blue has become Jodhpur's signature colour. The best way to explore the winding (and wholly illogical) streets of Jodhpur is to get completely lost, which is inevitable at some point. If that’s not your scene, why not try a walking tour of the old 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.
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.
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.
Jodhpur and the surrounding area is famous for amazing and unique natural life and you should definitely take a day to explore it. First stop is the Rao Jodha Desert Park, a striking expanse of volcanic rock below the fort walls and home to a variety of flora and fauna. Untouched for years and only inhabited by some particularly obstinate weeds, the Desert Park was carefully constructed in 2006 and traditional plants nurtured in what was once a barren wasteland. Early morning guided wildlife tours can be arranged which last for around 2 to 3 hours, although routes are flexible. The expert guides will describe the history of the area to you, help you spot some of the more cleverly camouflaged animals and explain the culinary and medicinal uses of the plants in the area. Entry is 100Rs. per person and a group tour guide costs a further 400Rs.
For the bigger adrenaline junkies, paragliding is now available 40km outside Jodhpur. It is an amazing way to see area around Jodhpur and its surrounding wildlife and a really great bonding exercise. At 7000 Rs. for two people, it is optimal for couples.
The Bishnoi villages are a must-see for any budding environmentalists. They are a tight-knit desert community united by their religious practices, which place great emphasis on the protection of the environment. It is, for instance, forbidden to kill animals, fell green trees or use the blue dye produced from bushes. Members of the community are required to make sure that any firewood they use is devoid of insects and often just resort to burning dried dung instead. The Bishnoi villages are scattered just a 45-minute ride away from Jodhpur, where water is scarce and many use sand to clean dishes and utensils. Khejarli, one of the main settlements, is well-known as the place of the Khejarli massacre, a striking act of self-sacrifice on behalf of the Bishnoi to protect their local flora. When a royal party arrived in the village to fell trees sacred to the community for use in the construction of a new palace, many protested by hugging the trees and giving their lives in defiance of the official order; 363 of them were slain.
The religion of the Bishnoi also strictly forbids them the use of any drugs or alcohol, however, this rule is not usually adhered to: they are the only people in India who are still legally allowed to consume opium for religious purposes, which range anywhere between wedding celebrations and welcoming travellers. The drug is usually consumed in the form of a brew made from various parts of the poppy plant’s head, such as poppy seeds or the dry pod itself. This tea is served ritualistically at so-called opium ceremonies, where the host pours a small amount of mixture into their cupped hand and the guest licks it off their palm. While it is possible to extract some quantity of opiates with this method and there is, indeed, an addiction problem among the Bishnoi, these ‘opium teas' are usually very mild and are unlikely to have any perceivable effect if consumed. We would recommend a half-day excursion, available for 1500Rs. per person, which includes a jeep ride out the city and a guided tour round several of the villages where you can watch traditional craft activities, like pottery and carpet weaving, as well as one of the traditional opium ceremonies.
Horse riding is another amazing half day trip located a 40km (1 hour) drive away. We wouldn't advise that complete beginners book this riding experience as it typically lasts between 2 and 3 hours. Efficient guides are provided and the routes wind through beautiful Rajasthani countryside and include views over the nearby Thar Desert. This is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy an outdoor adventure alone or with the whole family. These trips are subject to availability and are often only possible during the period between August and April. Therefore please inform RAAS if you are interested and they will be more than happy to make some enquiries and arrange a bespoke experience for you.
For those looking for the peace and quiet of a village outside Jodhpur, our excursions to Osian are perfect. We can arrange half-day trips to the town, an oasis in the Thar Desert, which is about an hour and a half’s journey away. Osian has some of Rajasthan's oldest Hindu and Jain temples, which are well worth the visit alone. The Sachiya Mata Temple overlooks the town centre from its hilltop position, but can't compare with the nearby Mahavira Jain Temple (10Rs), which is well-maintained and has myriad alcoves and 28 pillars radiating out from its beautifully carved central shrine. Wander from here around the other temples, which have some interesting features; look out for the projecting stone elephants of the Peeplaj Temple.
Camel treks are very popular at Osian, and these trips are best done in the afternoon, as the day cools. Though trips can be a little cheesy at times, the experience is great and sunset dinners on the dunes are unmissable. Traditional folk dances also happen in the village, and are a great spectacle. Speak to the concierge, who can organise everything for you, though prices for camel treks will vary with the season and can be difficult to do in monsoon periods.
Temples of Old and New
If you are RAAS Hopping over to Devigarh you should definitely make the most of the transfer to Udaipur. There are several sites on the route that provide a great opportunity to stretch your legs are some the best off-the-beaten-track gems of Rajasthan. We are more than willing to provide guides and picnics, and we would really encourage you to use the opportunity to explore these treasures.
If you fancy a trip to one of India’s strangest pilgrimages sites, stop Om Banna, about an hour outside the city and literally on the side of the road.
The temple there houses a Royal Enfield motorbike, affectionately known as 'Bullet Baba'. The story goes that a man crashed his bike by the side of the road and his bike was taken into police custody. Yet each night the bike returned to the place where it crashed, without anyone touching it. The story turned to legend and the bike gained a mythical status of its own. Now hundreds of pilgrims come each day to visit the bike and get good luck in their travels.
If you're willing to take a more scenic route, you can make a day of it and take a detour to the incredible temples of Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh. About three hours from Jodhpur is Ranakpur and the drive, through the Rajasthani countryside and the Aravalli hill range, is beautiful. Ranakpur is famous for having the most spectacular of Jain temples in the area. Non-Jains can only visit the temples after noon, so we advise you not to leave from Jodhpur too early. Jainism is one of the ancient religions of India, which holds at its core a belief in non-violence. This extends to a specific diet, Jain vegetarianism that, among other things, excludes root vegetables because to eat them requires the killing of the plant. It also means that leather objects cannot be taken into their temples. The complex is home to many temples, the largest of which, Chaumukha Mandir, is a complicated series of 29 halls, 80 domes and 1444 individually engraved pillars. The intricacy of the structure is a testament to the 65 years that it took to build. The place is also famous for its large population of monkeys that live in and around it. Once you have explored the site, a further one-hour drive will take you to Kumbalgarh Fort.
One of Rajasthan's most important forts, Kumbalgarh was built under the reign of Maharana Kumbha, who was highly passionate about art and architecture and in whose memory an annual 3-day music and dance festival is held at the fort. In the surrounding villages many legends circulate about Kumbha’s construction of the fort; after several unsuccessful attempts to lay the foundations of the wall, a spiritual advisor suggested that a voluntary human sacrifice was necessary for the building works to commence. Even now, the main gate houses a shrine and temple in commemoration of the beheading. Within the Fort itself there are 84 smaller fortresses and over 360 temples, mostly Jain and the rest Hindu. The Fort, 38 km long, is the world’s second longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. The view from the top is spectacular: the flourishing vegetation of the Wildlife Sanctuary stretches out below the Fort and on a clear day you can see as far as the sand dunes of the Thar desert. The Sanctuary is over 600 km2 in size and is home to many of India’s endangered species, and birds like the Kingfisher. Foot tracking tours and horse safaris leave regularly from the Fort, where in addition to panthers, bears and hyenas you might even encounter lions, which are presently being reintroduced in the region as part of a country-wide wildlife conservation project. From there, Devigarh is two more hours' drive.
There are plenty of activities for all age groups here in Jodhpur. Here in the hotel, the converted stables provide lovely shaded alcoves; equipped with a plethora of board games and books, they provide shaded seclusion and a great place to chill out as a family.
Flying fox is a repeated favourite with children, although there is a height requirement, which it’s good to check beforehand to avoid disappointment. For a spot of shopping, try Sambhali Boutique, who have a beautiful range of brightly coloured and embroidered stuffed animals. Better still, everything in the shop, including beautiful jewellery, is produced by rural Rajasthani women's groups, and helps funds female empowerment projects in the most poverty-stricken parts of the state.
Cookery courses are hugely popular with families, we can open up our kitchens to you and our head chef will help you craft a set of recipes for you to cook and then devour for dinner. A really fun way to spend an afternoon, learn about local Rajasthani delicacies and get a sneaky look behind the scenes at the RAAS. In fact, our head of food and beverage also loves to arrange culinary tours; he’ll take you around the grain, spice, vegetable and pulse markets, showing you where all the food at our restaurants is sourced and giving you a taste of how fresh your dinner is! It is a lovely way to explore the city, accompanied by an old hand who knows all where all the best food is to be found.
Indeed, RAAS has plenty to offer for the food lover, but if you want to explore beyond our walls for a light lunch or some delicious coffee, try the Stepwell Café, just next door. Three-stories high, it has incredible views of Jodhpur’s largest Stepwell, which used to provide the local area with fresh drinking water. Architecturally stunning, it now provides the local boys with their own swimming pool and from the café you and the family can keep an eye on the daily competition to see who can jump from the highest step. RAAS was at the heart of the stepwell restoration project, which took several months and we are very proud that the ancient architectural marvel of the Toorji Ka Jhalra (stepwell) has been returned to its former glory and become a new community space.
If you fancy some parental alone time, we have a wide selection of DVDs and pizza available for in room dining, which will keep the kids well occupied with a film night if you fancy a dinner without children. Moreover, for a special occasion, RAAS will create an exclusive private dinner in our stunning landscaping garden or at serene poolside. Enjoy a specially tailored menu as you gaze at the beautifully-lit Mehrangarh Fort from your own private oasis.
Step Well Square
Toorji Ka Jhalra (Toorji's Step Well) was built in the 1740s by the Queen (Maharaja Abhay Singh's Consort). Interestingly, this Tanwar (Toor) Rajput Princess hailed from Patan in Gujarat, home to perhaps the finest Step Well in the country. It was an age-old tradition that Royal women would build public water works. Indeed, for women, fetching and storing water was, and remains for many, one of the principal house-hold chores.
The construction of a Step Well never really stopped; as the steps follow the fluctuating water table down, to provide easy all-year round access. Submerged for decades, its recent drainage, clean-up and restoration has uncovered over two hundred feet of hand carved treasure in Jodhpur's famous rose-red sandstone; intricate carvings of dancing elephants, medieval lions and cow water-spouts, as well as niches housing deities long gone. The well’s original system consisted of a Persian Wheel driven by a pair of bullocks circling the platform on top, which drew water up to two different access levels and a separate tank. TKJ formed a part of the Walled City's complex system of water collection, now sadly most of which is in a state of disrepair and neglect.