The Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park was developed in 2006, with the aim of restoring the natural ecology of a large rocky wasteland area next to the Fort. Neglected for many years, it was overrun by an invasive thorny shrub. After the shrub was eradicated, over 80 native species of rock-loving plants from the Thar desert were grown there. The Park extends across 70 hectares (around 200 acres) of rehabilitated land and has a walking trail. It’s interesting to explore at different times of the year, as its foliage changes with the seasons.
How To Reach
Where to go at Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
This should be the start of any tour of the Park. Buy tickets here and browse or buy field guides, gifts or just refuel in the outdoor café at the Visitors Centre, housed inside a historic gateway to the city.
From the Visitors Centre, steps take you down into an ancient stormwater aqueduct hewn out of sheer rock. This is the start of the Gully, a rocky canyon that gradually opens up to reveal Mehrangarh Fort and the Blue City at the far end of the Park.
The end of the Gully is intensely planted up to give you a sense of the diversity of rock-loving plants here. At the end of the Gully, choose any of three Trails that all lead back to the Visitors Centre.
Rao Jodha Park is mostly about plants from the Marwar region that are adapted to rock but we wanted to have one small plot – one ‘room’ in our outdoor museum, if you like – to show you a very different suite of plants that thrive in salty sand.
A section of 26 hectares of the Park sprawls near the marble Memorial and gardens at Jaswant Thada. Devi Kund lake attracts a lot of birds, especially winter migrants, and you can stroll around the rocky margins of the lake at your leisure.
The Plants Nursery
Plants grown mostly from seed collected from the desert are grown in our Nursery situated behind the ‘Piao’, on your way down from the Fort. You are welcome to visit. We hope one day to be able to offer plants for sale.
Around the year at Rao Jodha Park
Rohido (Tecomella undulata) or desert teak comes into fragrant orange bloom at a time when most other trees in the Thar are still dormant in late winter or early spring.
Thhor (Euphorbia caducifolia) or leafless spurge is a reliable indicator of rocky substrates in the Thar and one of its emblematic plants. The curious flowers are splashes of bright scarlet.
Missi (Striga gesnerioides) or cowpea witchweed is a parasite on the roots of thhor but does it no harm. Its pretty pink flowers are elusive but delightful early in the rains.
Kheer kheemp (Sarcostemma acidum)
or rambling milkweed dispenses with leaves altogether but puts forth beautiful, scented white flowers at the butt-ends of its succulent twigs.
Flowers at dusk
Vajradanti (Barleria acanthoides) or spiny white barleria has pure white, long-tubed flowers that open at dusk. You will find them lying flat and spent when you see them in the morning.
The changing seasons
July to October – these are special months because of the rains and the explosion of grasses and desert ephemerals.
October to February – the dry season sets in after October and the Park
has a gaunt, spare beauty through to February as the grasses dry up
and turn golden. This is the best time to walk in the Park because the
weather is pleasant.
April to July – it’s very hot during these months but early mornings are lovely.
Timing,Entry Cost And Location
Location: At the foot of Mehrangarh Fort. Enter from the Visitors’ Center, 800 meters from the Fort’s main gate.
Entry Cost: 30 rupees for adults, 10 rupees for students.
Opening Hours: April to September – 7am to 7 pm
October to March – 8am to 6pm