Jodhpur is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. After its population crossed a million, it has been declared as the second 'Metropolitan City' of Rajasthan. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many palaces, forts and temples, set in the stark landscape of the Thar desert.
The city is known as the "Sun City" for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all the year round. It is also referred to as the "Blue City" due to the vivid blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The old city circles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. However, the city has expanded greatly outside the wall over the past several decades. Jodhpur lies near the geographic centre of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists.
According to Rajasthan district Gazetteers of Jodhpur and the Hindu epic Ramayana (composed up to 4th century AD), Abhiras (Ahirs) were the original inhabitants of Jodhpur and later Aryans spread to this region.
Jodhpur was also part of the Gurjara Pratihara empire and until 1100 CE was ruled by a powerful Barguja King. Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of the Rathore clan. Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state which came to be known as Marwar. As Jodha hailed from the nearby town of Mandore, that town initially served as the capital of this state; however, Jodhpur soon took over that role, even during the lifetime of Jodha. The city was located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.
In between 1540 to 1556, Afghans were in control of most of North India. Rajasthan born Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, popularly called Hemu, who started his career as a supplier of various types of merchandise to Sher Shah Suri empire, held various positions in capital Delhi as 'Incharge of Food Affairs', 'Minister of Internal Security', 'Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army' with Islam Shah Suri and Adil Shah, who ruled north India from Punjab to Bengal at that point in time. Hemu, who took as the military commander of Afghan army in 1553, crushed the first rebellion, killing the Governor of Ajmer province Juneid Khan and appointed his own Governor in Rajasthan. Hem Chandra won several battles (22) throughout North India against Afghan rebels and twice against Akbar at Agra and Delhi, before his coronation at Purana Quila in Delhi on 7th Oct. 1556 as a 'Vikramaditya' king. Hemu lost his life in the Second Battle of Panipat on 5 November 1556, and the area came under Mughal king Akbar.
Early in its history, the state became a fief under the Mughal Empire, owing fealty to them while enjoying some internal autonomy. During this period, the state furnished the Mughals with several notable generals such as Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Jodhpur and its people benefited from this exposure to the wider world: new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across northern India.
Aurangzeb briefly sequestrated the state (c.1679) on the pretext of a minority, but the rightful ruler Maharaja Ajit Singh was restored to the throne by Veer Durgadas Rathore after Aurangzeb died in 1707 and a great struggle of 30 years. The Mughal empire declined gradually after 1707, but the Jodhpur court was beset by intrigue; rather than benefiting from circumstances, Marwar descended into strife and invited the intervention of the Marathas, who soon supplanted the Mughals as overlords of the region. This did not make for stability or peace, however; 50 years of wars and treaties dissipated the wealth of the state, which sought and gratefully entered into subsidiary alliance with the British in 1818.
During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur had the largest land area of any in Rajputana. Jodhpur prospered under the peace and stability that were a hallmark of this era. The land area of the state was 23,543 sq mi (60,980 km2) its population in 1901 was 44,73,759. It enjoyed an estimated revenue of £35,29,000/. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished without let or limit and came to occupy a position of dominance in trade across India. In 1947, when India became independent, the state merged into the union of India and Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan.
At the time of partition, ruler of Jodhpur Hanwant Singh did not want to join India, but finally due to the effective persuasion of Sardar Vallab Patel, the then Home Minister at the centre, the princely state of Jodhpur was included in Indian Republic. Later after State Reorganization Act, 1956 it was made part of the state of Rajasthan.