Think last-minute trips are always expensive? Travel enthusiast Neha Bajaj breaks the myth and shares tips from her personal experience of travelling to Jodhpur on a shoestring budget.
It’s a mundane day at work. You’re busy submitting proposals, attending meetings and tick marking your to-do list for the day. And then suddenly there is this strong urge to rush home, pack your bags and just leave.
This was the exact scenario when the thought of planning a trip to Jodhpur from Ahmedabad. But then the thought of expensive hotels, last-minute hiked up costs etc led me to put a break to my impromptu plans.
However, I am glad I went ahead with the trip since it turned out to be a big myth-breaker. Yes, it is possible to find budget hotels, travel inexpensively…in short have a budget holiday! Here are my tips to plan an economical trip to the Blue City.
How to reach
Jodhpur is at a convenient overnight journey from Ahmedabad (450kms from the city); trains are the most convenient and economical way to reach the city.
Budget: Rs 620/- Round fare in sleeper class or you can opt for 3AC for Rs 1500 round trip.
Budget Hotels in Jodhpur
Whether you are travelling alone or in a group, the best way to keep it economical is to opt for hostels on sharing basis. The city has a number of budget hostels but I would personally recommend Zostel since I recently lodged there. To my surprise, the dorms are well kept and quite clean. They provide you all the basic facilities like internet, food on order, kitchen, AC and a common room with some fun board games, a guitar to play and a TV to watch the finals of world cup (got emotional here).
Although, the internet is not quite 4G but hey it’s not bad when you are paying just 350/- per night for all these facilities (Cursing those 3-star hotels that you have been booking for Rs 2000?)
Usually the hostellers look for company to share the travel mode and expense within the city and food to cut down the cost on travelling and dining. So sharing is the first rule for any budget trip and meanwhile you get to meet awesome new people, listen to their travel stories learn about their countries and eventually make friends round the globe.
Perks of budget trip!
Budget: 350/- for one night and 2 days stay.
How to travel
Jodhpur is a small city and hence everything is almost just a few kilometres away. Although, I would recommend walking and skipping the wheels, you can get local bus service just opposite to Zostel or catch a rickshaw on sharing basis. Usually any trip will not cost you more than Rs 30-40 one way per person. The city surprisingly has a good Uber service as well, but I would suggest avoiding it and keeping it minimalistic.
Budget: Rs 30 one way. On an average, Rs 150 per day on transport.
Best Places to See in Jodhpur
Popularly known as “The Blue City”, Jodhpur is one of the major tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The brawny Mehrangarh Fort mounted at the hill top of the city is the largest and most spectacular Indian fort. Also called as “the citadel of sun”, the fort has 7 major gates and each of the entrance will leave you baffled with its daunting beauty and architecture. The structure is made with red sandstone and each section of the fort is like a history ride of different architecture styles that evolved over the period of time. The abrupt transition is what makes it so remarkable. Made by the mighty king Rao Jodha, the fort was further renovated and extended by Maharaja Man Singh in the glory of his victory over Jaipur and Ajmer region.
The fort has one of the well-stocked museums in India. Ranging from prestigious palanquins, pottery, currency, tapestry, flamboyant royal attires and the famous armoury displaying the most unique and attractive collection of arms. The collection certainly drifts you back to the 20th century and urges you to imagine the lifestyle of the royals.
Although, you can see the blue patches from the top, but the city is hardly blue today. With time the famous blue cubes, which were marked the residence of Brahmins, have been painted with modern colours.
The fort also has some souvenir shops and a café at the foot hill. I do not recommend shopping from here as it is a bit over price, but the café is definitely worth a coffee. Perfect spot for enjoying the sun slowly settling down of the fort.
The fort is open for entry from 10am to 5pm. I would recommend a visit the fort at around 4 PM and enjoy the sunset and the view of the city from the top.
Entry fee for the Indians is nominal Rs 60 and for the foreigners Rs 500.
Budget for this visit: Transport to and fro: Rs 60, ticket: Rs 60, snacks: Rs 150-270.
Umaid Bhavan Palace
This is another must-see place in Jodhpur. The view of Umaid Bhavan from the terrace courtyard of Mehrangarh fort is so majestic and grand that you need no persuasion or motivation to visit this palace. Completed in the year 1943, this palace was then the largest royal residence in the world. 347 rooms under one roof is an architectural marvel to ogle upon.
One must think and question the functionality and tenacity of such a grand residence but the actual purpose behind this venture was to provide employment to more than 1000 farmers during the draught period. Well, true kings do look after their people!
Part of the palace is converted into museum, a part of it is run by Taj Hotels and the major area is still the royal residence of the current king Maharaj Gaj Singh. It is said that the hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
How would it be to live in a hotel like this! Well, dreams don’t cost anything even on a budget trip!
If you are obsessed with vintage cars, this trip might just give you an adrenaline rush as the palace displays a huge collection of the royal vehicles since 1917.
Budget: Entry fee Rs 60; and transportation: Rs 80/- to and fro.
Must See: Little Greece in India
While the city is blessed with mighty forts and splendid palace, the blue side of the city is amazingly photogenic and if you are a lens lover, it will be a crime to miss this spot.
Hidden in the alley of Navchokiya, this shaded blue cityscape is one-of-its-kind in India. I like to call it the Indian Greece. In the heat of the city, this blue cityscape is like a mint cooler to the eyes. Blue flushed walls with intricate carving, the jharokha style windows and the green lofty doors is a sight you will not find anywhere else in the world.
You will need to walk and explore between the alleys as there are only a few lanes and houses that still have this phenomenal elevation and that’s what makes it even more special.
The best way to reach here is to catch a rickshaw from the clock tower. You can use Singhvi’s Haveli as a landmark reference.
Budget: Rs 80
Things to Buy from Jodhpur
Like any other Rajasthan town, the bazaar area is colourful and vibrant and crowded. Every corner of the market pretty much screams India. Traditional clothes, Indian spices, bargaining foreigners, typical Indian sellers, sweet shops, snack shops, ethnic stores and what not.
Since the market area is too crowded and could get too confusing, here is a small list of genuine shops that you must try.
MM Spice – Amazingly interesting tea flavours like banana, ginger lemon honey, guava, litchi and of course all the famous Indian spices. The best part is you get air tight packets with a recipe pamphlet. This time skip the regular souvenirs and take a little bit of India.
Bohemian Blue: For all the ethnic and traditional attires and home décor items.
Mahi silver jewellery: You might have to walk a little to find this place but you will find amazing traditional silver and gold jewellery at genuine price.
Places to Eat
Delicious sweets, Rajasthani thali, dal baati churma, gatte ki sabzi….there’s so much to eat! But to name a few (budget food), you must try Rajasthani thali at Priya restaurant near Clock Tower. I recommend the Makhani Lassi. I cannot even describe how delicious it is. Just try it!
Another historic place to try food in Jodhpur is the omelette shop at Ghantaghar Market (near Clock Tower). The place is running since last 30 years. The owner/chef of the joint is extremely hilarious and will keep you entertained with the anecdotes about the city while he serves the omelettes. The place has an elaborate menu to suite everyone’s taste. Ideal for morning breakfast and late night snacks. I recommend the delicious Spanish omelette.
Of course, it is our moral duty to take back home some sweets and I must say there is nothing better than Janta Sweet Home. There is a wide range of Indian sweets, mixture and snacks but skip the routine and take Malai Ghevar or Bundi laddoo, the traditional Rajasthani desserts. Apart from sweets do try spicy and intense Pyaz Moong Kachori. I bet you will go for round two.
Some of the other places that you can try are Gypsy restaurant and Pal Haveli.
Budget: Rs 100-150 per person per meal.
In the end, take a little time, visit the fort at night and behold the beautiful twinkling view of the city. You surely will think and promise yourself to come back as it is experience like this that inspire you to live larger than life.
To sum it up:
The trip deserves a cheer and your pocket won’t mind a couple of beer.
Ohh! Mind the calculation: You have just spent Rs 4000 and you still have a thousand left for the next trip. Keep travelling!