Jodhpur, the second largest city of Rajasthan, at the edge of the Thar Desert was once the capital of the Marwar state. The city dominated by the massive Mehrangarh fort on a rocky hill is charming with its wealth of historic attractions and colorful markets which specializes in antiques. It is still one of the leading centers of wool, cattle, camels and salt. As all the houses are painted in blue, the city of Jodhpur is known as the Blue City. The magnificent Umaid Bhawan is another of the city’s landmark. Its museum contains many artifacts of the royal times of Jodhpur.
History of Jodhpur
Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodha whose clan claim to be descendants from Lord Rama. According to history, Nayal Pal established a kingdom at Kannauj that remained the Rathore bastion for more than seven centuries, till they were ousted by Mohammad Ghori. The then ruler Jai Chand died while fleeing and his son Shivaji later founded the Rathore kingdom at Mandore by defeating the Pratiharas.
Rao Jodha's father Rainmal was killed as a result of Court intrigue and Rao Jodha was forced to flee. Later he recaptured his lost kingdom, when a hermit advised him to set up his capital atop a sandstone hillock on the edge of the boundless gold Thar sands.
Though set in a waterless barren land, royal blue Jodhpur flourished with regal elegance. Jodhpur was situated on a famous ancient silk trade route that connected India to different parts of Central Asia. Jodhpur was thus a land of limitless riches and regal splendor.
The Mehrangarh Fort was near invincible and therefore Jodhpur was almost immune to enemy attacks though the Mughals and Marathas had their eye on this region. The history of Jodhpur took a glorious turn when the Mughal Emperor Akbar became a political ally of Jodhpur.
In the later years Jodhpur signed a treaty with the Marathas and later with the Britishers to be able to maintain its suzerainty.
The eighteenth century saw many bloody battles between Jodhpur and the other princely states in Rajasthan, Jaipur and Udaipur. Ajit Singh's successor Maharaja Abhai Singh captured Ahmedabad and later in 1818, Jodhpur signed a treaty with the British. The treaty ensured the kingdom relative peace and prosperity.
The last Maharaja before Independence - Umaid Singh after whom the Umaid Bhavan is named - is the grandfather of the present Maharaja Gaj Singh.
Geography of Jodhpur
The walled city or old Jodhpur has eight gates, of which Jalori Gate and Sojati Gate on the south are the most important - the busiest commercial centers surround them. The new city expands to the south and east of the old city.
Jodhpur Railway station lies to the southwest of Sojati Gate along Station Road. Outside the station three main roads fan out from a statue of a horseman. Olympic Cinema Road to the far left, leads to the telegraph office. The road directly in front of the state leads to the Jalori Gate, which is the best way into the old city. Station Road, leading off to the right towards Sojati Gate, is lined with cheap hotels and restaurants. High Court Road is the main east-West Avenue, running from Sojati Gate past the Umaid Gardens and the Tourist Reception Centre to the distant Raika Bagh Railway Station, just opposite the bus stand, where it bends north towards Paota Circle. Trains from the east stop at the Raika Bagh station, which is before the main station.
Nai Sarak, or New Road, leads through Sojati Gate to the biggest shopping thoroughfare and then to the market area, Sadar Bazaar, at the base of the deck tower that marks the centre of Jodhpur. The magnificent Meherangarh Fort (above the city) and Jaswant Thada can be seen from almost everywhere.
Tourist attractions of Jodhpur
On a tour of Jodhpur one can visit the famous Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Mahamandir, Mandore Gardens and Bel Samand Lake and Palace among other tourist attractions of the city.
One of the finest and most formidable forts in India, the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort is located on a steep 125 m high hillock, graciously overlooking the city. Spread over an area of 5 sq. km, the Fort has seven splendid gates to enter into. Standing as a mute spectator to the splendors of an era replete with chivalry, glory and grandeur, the Mehrangarh Fort houses a number of beautiful palaces like the Phool Mahal, the Moti Mahal and the Sheesh Mahal. The Fort also houses a Museum.
Located at 2 km southeast of the Jodhpur city at the top of a hill, Umaid Bhawan Palace is another major landmark of Jodhpur. Commissioned by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1929 as a famine relief scheme, the impressive rose sandstone and marble palace was built between 1923 and 1940, providing employment for 3,000 famine-stricken people. Now a famous hotel, the Palace also houses a Museum.
The 19th century royal cenotaph of Jaswant Thada is located north of the Mehrangarh Fort. The memorial is made of white marble and dedicated to Jaswant Singh II (1878-95), one of the most famous kings of Jodhpur. Inside, the reverent ambience is framed with several portraits of Jodhpur royalty.
Located at just 9 km from Jodhpur, Mandore is famous for its sprawling gardens, massive cenotaphs, temples, ruins and sculpture. A popular picnic spot, the gardens are famous for its manicured lush green lawns, rock-carved sculptures, all from a single piece of stone, and a small museum displaying sculptures and ivory and lacquer pieces.
Located at just 2 km from Jodhpur on the Mandore Road, the Mahamandir Temple is famous for its 84 intricately carved pillars, ornamented with detailed carvings of yogic postures.
Balsamand Lake and Palace
Located at only 7 km from Jodhpur, the beautiful Balsamand Palace is the erstwhile summer palace on the embankments of a serene and calm Balsamand Lake.
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