Home > Best Places in Jodhpur
Updated: September 12, 2020
The Best Area to Stay in Jodhpur
Although not as large and accessible as the Rajasthan capital, Jaipur, or as renowned as the romantic city of Udaipur, Jodhpur is still utterly captivating. Built in the 15th century on the edge of the desert, it’s nicknamed the ‘Blue City’ because of the several homes, guesthouses, and shops painted in shades of blue. On a rocky hilltop dominating the medieval-looking Old City – a rarity in India – is the extraordinary Mehrangarh Fort.
It makes a lot of sense to stay within walking distance of the fort and the markets and other attractions within the Old City. This allows maximum time to soak up the remarkable history and evident ambience, explore (and get lost within) the labyrinthine lanes, and admire the breathtaking fort from a rooftop café/bar. A highlight of any visit to Jodhpur is staying at one of the numerous havelis (guesthouses) spread across the Old City. Usually only a handful of rooms in a family home, most have been attractively renovated and many are centuries old.
There are three main areas to stay within the Old City, each a little different: (1) the oldest and most chaotic area near Sardar Market also offers jaw-dropping views of the fort from numerous rooftop cafés; (2) the more spacious area around the Stepwell pond and town square is surrounded by classy bistros and boutiques; and (3) Navchokiya in the west offers the broadest views of (and closest access to) the fort. (Before deciding to stay in the Old City, however, read the special section below.)
To avoid the dirty and overcrowded alleys and the narrow (and often) claustrophobic guesthouses in the Old City, perhaps stay in the more spacious areas in the inner south: Ratanada and Defence Colony nearby. Unlike the Old City, these suburbs have streets that are pleasant for walking with far less pollution, crowds, noise, and cows (and dung).
The Best Places to Stay in Jodhpur
Best Area in Jodhpur for…
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Sightseeing: Navchokiya (Old City)
Jodhpur’s overwhelming attraction is the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. This can be explored for hours during the day; admired at night, when it’s illuminated beautifully; and visited for lunch or dinner at one of the cafés within the walls. The main vehicle entrance to the north is really only accessible by auto-rickshaw, but a far more convenient entrance is only a few minutes’ walk, past a lake, from all the guesthouses in the Navchokiya section of the Old City, just west of the fort.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Shopping: Near Sardar Market (Old City)
Dominated by the landmark Clock Tower, this market is very quiet, clean, and hassle-free compared to those just about anywhere else in India. Without pushy salesmen and intrusive traffic (and horrible noise and fumes), it’s a pleasure to shop for gemstones, traditional-style jutti shoes, leather goods, puppets, tie-dyed fabrics, and the ‘genuine fake’ antique reproductions for which Jodhpur is renowned.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Families: Defence Colony
While the Old City is certainly captivating, there are two significant reasons why this area may not be appropriate for children: (1) the very narrow alleys are often unpleasant and, sometimes, dangerous to wander about because of auto-rickshaws and motorbikes; and (2) the older-style guesthouses have steep and narrow steps, precarious balconies, and undersized rooms unsuitable for sharing as a family. Far more spacious hotels – rather than just guesthouses – along shady streets with genuine sidewalks and bearable traffic can be found in the inner southern area called Defence Colony.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Food & Restaurants: Near Stepwell (Old City)
Stepwell is an ancient pond and town square just 300m east of the fort walls. This renovated area is now sprinkled with surprisingly chic boutiques and bistros and includes the only resort-style hotel in the Old City: RAAS Jodhpur. Several adorable cafés/bars overlook Stepwell, a busy area whereas many locals as tourists stop to admire, take photos, and chat. Inside the incongruous modern high-rise opposite Stepwell are several stylish eateries, including one on the roof (the highest in the region). On top of most guesthouses in this region are cafés/bars offering stunning views of the fort, which looks particularly romantic after dark.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Transport: Ratanada
The major train and bus stations and the airport are easy to reach from anywhere in Jodhpur – although only auto-rickshaws can enter most of the Old City. The most convenient area for transport is Ratanada, an inner southern suburb. It is within 4km of the airport, train terminal, and bus station, and only 10-15 minutes by auto-rickshaw from the Old City.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Nightlife: Near Stepwell (Old City)
Much of the area surrounding the ancient Stepwell pond and the town square is surprisingly upmarket. Some places to eat, drink and shop could genuinely be called ‘chic’ and are as refined as anything in the posh suburbs of Delhi. However, there is very little to do after dark in Jodhpur other than enjoying a meal and/or drink at a rooftop café/bar while oohing and aahing at the magnificent views of the fort. Also, look out for the local festivals, the only time that bands or DJs regularly perform.
- Best Area in Jodhpur for Vibe & Culture: Near Sardar Market (Old City)
Unlike almost all other markets around India, the Sardar Market is a wonderful place to shop or just soak up the ambience and history. Within walls inaccessible to most traffic and dominated by the iconic and century-old Clock Tower, the market is also surrounded by cafés. These are ideal for escaping the heat and inevitable noise while watching traders and buyers ply their skills just across the street.
- Most Romantic Area in Jodhpur: Navchokiya (Old City)
The Old City is one of the most fascinating places anywhere in India, and the fort dominates the meandering alleys like nowhere else in the country. Particularly intimate and welcoming are the small family-run guesthouses, many in beautifully converted and centuries-old buildings. The majestic fort is wonderfully illuminated for a few hours after sunset, so one of the most romantic places in India to enjoy a meal and/or drink is a rooftop café/bar in Navchokiya, which offers the broadest views of the fort in the Old City.
- Best Areas in Jodhpur for First Timers: Ratanada and Defence Colony
The crowds, pollution, traffic, and poverty found in all Indian cities can still overwhelm those who have traveled to the country many times. The Old City is enthralling to wander about, but less appealing to stay in. The extremely narrow lanes are clogged with motorbikes and auto-rickshaws, and almost all accommodations are in narrow guesthouses, many with dark rooms and most facing noisy streets. To appreciate Jodhpur without all the hassles, stay in the inner southern areas of Ratanada and Defence Colony nearby. Pleasingly convenient to the airport, train terminal, and bus station, these areas also provide the sort of sidewalks, spacious hotels, and clean(ish) air not remotely possible in the Old City.
- Safest Areas of Jodhpur: Ratanada and Defence Colony
There is nothing particularly unsafe about Jodhpur, but like all Indian cities, the main danger is the relentless traffic. Always remember: pedestrians do not have the right of way in India, except (usually) at a red traffic light. Paradoxically, the traffic is even more potentially dangerous around the Old City, where the winding and very narrow lanes – without sidewalks – are full of maniacal auto-rickshaws and motorbikes (and wandering cows). So, it’s safer to stay in the inner southern suburbs of Ratanada and Defence Colony. With broad streets, real sidewalks, and far less traffic, there are also fewer people, reducing the chances of any possible opportunistic petty crime.
The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Jodhpur for Tourists
Staying in the Old City
Excellent reasons to stay in the ancient part of Jodhpur are proximity to the fort; the history and charisma of the lovingly-renovated and centuries-old guesthouses; and the breathtaking views of the fort from rooftop cafés, which is especially romantic and photogenic after dark when it is illuminated.
However, the Old City is claustrophobic. The narrow lanes are jam-packed with drivers of motorbikes and auto-rickshaws who care nothing whatsoever about pedestrians – foreign or local. With a complete lack of any sidewalks, and abundant cows (and dung), walking around the Old City is challenging at best and, often, quite unpleasant. Auto-rickshaws can drive down most lanes and alleys or will drop passengers off at a junction near a guesthouse, but no taxi or car can enter most parts of the Old City.
With a few notable exceptions, there are no large hotels in the Old City – only quaint, family-run havelis (guesthouses). Rooms are usually compact, bordering on cramped, and often noisy from the street below and from neighboring guests. No guesthouse has a lift, and most rooms are up to six floors above street-level and only accessible by steep and, often, rickety steps. Built long before the tourism boom, rooms in these guesthouses have few windows, so views and natural light are limited. These guesthouses are not suitable for the infirm and young children.
The oldest part of the Old City is the most charismatic, but also the most chaotic and unattractive. Unnamed alleys lead in all directions, so getting lost at least once a day is inevitable – and watch out for piles of fresh cow dung! The overwhelming attraction is proximity to the omnipotent fort. Most guesthouses feature a rooftop, often with a café/bar, offering jaw-dropping views of the city and fort (which is especially romantic after dark).
In the eastern part of the Old City, around the ancient Stepwell pond and town square, is a renovated area of tempting bistros and chic boutiques. Many of the lanes are wider and less confusing to wander about here. There are also plenty of appealing guesthouses – and even a resort-style hotel on the periphery (RAAS Jodhpur), which offers gardens, car access, and extras that can’t be offered elsewhere in the Old City, such as a spa and pool.
In this western part of the Old City, many buildings are at least 300 years old. Most havelis (guesthouses) have been beautifully renovated, brightly-painted shades of blue, and converted, offering a rooftop café/bar with sublime views of the city and fort. Another definite advantage of this area is that all guesthouses are within a few minutes’ walk of the fort’s secondary non-vehicle entrance, which is near a picturesque lake. So, visitors can explore the fort without needing a ticket until reaching the museum at the main entrance, some 500m further inside the walls.
Best Luxury Hotel: Rani Mahal Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Jewel Palace Haweli • Singhvi’s Haveli
This inner southern suburb – and the adjoining area of Defence Colony (see below) – provides a more spacious and, for some, more pleasant option than the Old City. With shady streets and real footpaths, everything is also far less crowded and touristy. Hotels in Ratanada can also provide things rarely (if ever) seen in the Old City: spacious gardens, rooms with views, and even a swimming pool. This area has the added benefit of being within 4km of the airport, bus station, and railway terminal, as well as the magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace, which would be the number one attraction in most other Indian cities.
Like the adjoining suburb of Ratanada (see above), this area also offers wide streets, real sidewalks, interesting shops, and cafés and bars with gardens. Unlike the Old City, in Defence Colony, the streets are more enjoyable for walking, foreigners are rare so locals are friendlier, and the vibe is more residential than touristy. With more mid-range and top-end hotels than guesthouses, the area is close enough to see and hear roaring jets from the nearby air-force base that is also used as the airport, and near the magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace.
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