According to the Hindu epic Mahabharat (composed up to the 4th century AD), Ahirs were the inhabitants of Marwar and later on the Rathore clan established the Marwar Kingdom. There may have been small settlements before Rathore rule.
The Jodhpur city 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 kingdom 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, sandalwood, dates and other tradeable goods.
Early Modern period
After the death of Rao Chandrasen Rathore in 1581, the kingdom was annexed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, Marwar thus became a Mughal vassal owing fealty to them while enjoying internal autonomy. The mother of Emperor Shah Jahan (builder of Taj Mahal) was a Princess of Jodhpur. 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 as new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across northern India.
View of the Rajasthan High Court, Sardar Museum in Umaid Park and upper right is Jodhpur fort in 1960.
Aurangzeb briefly sequestrated the state (c. 1679) after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, but the prior 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 the help of the British and entered into a subsidiary alliance with them. There was a major revolt in 1857 by some Rathore nobles of Pali led by Thakur Kushal Singh of Auwa, however the rebels were defeated by the British army under colonel Holmes and peace was restored.
British Colonial period
Street Scene of Jodhpur in 1906
During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur had the largest land area of any in the Rajputana. Jodhpur prospered under the peace and stability that was a hallmark of this era. The land area of the state was 93,424 km2 (36,071 sq mi) its population in 1901 was 44,73,759. It enjoyed an estimated revenue of £3,529,000. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished 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 largest city of Rajasthan. At the time of division, the ruler of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh, did not want to join India, but finally due to the effective persuasion of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Home Minister at the time, the state of Jodhpur was included in Indian Republic. Later after the State Reorganisation Act, 1956 it was included within the state of Rajasthan.
Panorama view of Jodhpur, with the Mehrangarh Fort to the right, and the city centre below.