Old City Jodhpur Rajasthan India Streets With Painted Blue Buildings And Mural Of Indian Woman In Pink And Green Sari

The Architecture of Jodhpur, India’s Blue City

In the hot, dusty stretches of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur may appear more vision than city. Its mighty fortress grows right out of a mountain, over 400 feet straight up from the scrubby plain. At its base, a wash of buildings echoes the sky by day and lights up with blue pinpricks at night. It’s hard to conceive of mere mortals creating this place.

Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort View From Old City At Night With Lights And Blue Buildings

Understanding Jodhpur requires diving into the streetside currents of cobalt. The shades not only mitigate blazing heat, they also compliment green plants and jewel-toned saris, providing a respite from the bazaars’ chaos. Over the course of several days, we alternated between Jodhpur’s monumental architecture and the everyday world of its blue walls and breezy rooftops. All sites are marked on our Google map.

Jodhpur Blue Buildings In Old City Woman Wearing Long Pink Veil And Sari Walking Next To Motorbike Rajasthan India
Jodhpur View Of Blue City From Mehrangarh Fort Towers Rajasthan India
Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort Looming Over Blue City Houses Rajasthan Thar Desert Rajasthan India

Jodhpur Blue City Mansion Haveli Ornate Balconies With Faded Paint And Hindi Script Rajasthan India Architecture

Toorji Ka Jhalra Stepwell Jodhpur Old City Eighteenth Century Indian Well With Person Swimming And People Sitting On Steps Indian Architecture
Built by an 18th century queen, the stepwell descends 300 feet (90 meters).

Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort Exterior View Of Palace Built Into Rock Rajput Architecture
The walls of Mehrangarh Fort measure up to 120 feet (36 meters) high and 70 feet (21 meters) thick.
Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur Rajasthan Facade Of Palace Museum Rajput Architecture

The Rathore dynasty ruled from 1389 to 1949, and lived in Mehrangarh until 1943. By the time Indira Gandhi abolished royal allowances 30 years later, the fortress was inhabited largely by bats. Maharaja Gaj Singh II began funding for the monument’s restoration by selling the bat droppings to chili farmers as fertilizer.

Jodhpur Jaswant Thada Cenotaph Complex Exterior View Of Memorial For Maharaja Jawant Singh II White Marble Facade Rajasthan Architecture

Mandore Gardens Jodhpur Cenotaph Interior With Sandstone Columns Rajasthan Architecture

At the gardens’ rear, remains of a fort and temple date to the sixth century, with traces of an even older settlement. Waves of invasions eventually prompted a relocation to the relative safety of Mehrangarh, but the maharanas continued to use Mandore for cremations until the end of the 19th century. A former summer residence for the queens now holds exhibits of paintings as well as ancient sculptures from the area.

The Mehrangarh Fort’s website has visiting information for the fort (including the museum and gardens of Chokhelao Bagh) and Jaswant Thada.

Rudyard Kipling’s dispatch from Jodhpur focuses on the city’s mania for horses during the Raj. We stayed in the equestrian-themed Pal Haveli hotel, in one of the rooms designed to house a former owner’s beloved horses.

Episode 6 (‘Cities’) of the documentary series Planet Earth II features the langur monkeys of Mandore Gardens.

For more color-coded architecture in Rajasthan, see our posts on pink Jaipur and white Udaipur.