Jodhpur

Nestling within the depths of the Thar Desert, is the stronghold of the Rathore clan, Jodhpur, once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, the second largest city of Rajasthan, after Jaipur. The town was once known as Marwar, which means 'Land of Death', probably, referring to the harsh desert climate. It is an island of marble palaces, cordoned off from the desert by a 10-km-long wall made of stone with eight gates facing different directions built about a century after the city was founded. There are about 100 towers in the city, most of which are surrounded by defensive battlements.

Flanked on its western side by the Mehrangarh fort, and on the eastern side by the stately sandstone Palace of Umaid Bhawan, the monuments, temples and gardens of Jodhpur depict a multi-faceted grandeur.

Founded in 1459 AD., by the Suryavanshi Rao Jodha, Jodhpur was and still is a flourishing trading centre that began its existence in the 16th century, as one of the leading centres of wool, cattle, camels and salt. Jodhpur's fascinating history is replete with sagas that tell the tales of proud kings, brave warriors, court intrigues and colourful stories of valour and romance. Even today, Jodhpur retains much of its medieval flavour and ambience that instantly bring to mind the grandeur and glory of another era. Dotted with palaces, havelis, temples and houses washed pale blue, the city and its people live under the watchful gaze of the imposing Meherangah Fort.

Jodhpur's heart beats in its crowded bazaars, in the maze of jumbled lanes, in the warmth and hospitality of a hardy desert people. The city's piece de resistance is undeniably the magnificent art noveau and art deco style Umaid Bhawan Palace, residence of the royal family and now a heritage hotel.

From Jodhpur, travellers can explore rural Rajasthan and its desert villages, where the rare black buck, an antelope indigenous to the region, is protected by the Bishnoi people, a local tribe renowned for their environmental concern. In desert dwellings, visitors can taste traditional foods and purchase Bishnoi handicrafts. Also near Jodhpur is Rajasthan's largest group of early Jain and Hindu temples on the outskirts of the small oasis, Osian. No matter what your reason for visiting this blue city, you are sure to fall in love with the romance of the place.