If you are looking to experience India at its exotic and colorful best, the state of Rajasthan is the best option. The state has numerous palaces, forts, a vast desert and plenty of camels and elephants. Rajasthan even has its fair share of snake charmers.
If you are visiting Rajasthan now or in the future, here are the top ten places that must not be missed.
Renowned worldwide as the Pink City, Jaipur is part of the Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit. The city is famous for its majestic forts and gorgeous palaces. Their elaborate architecture and the stunning views that they provide have made them a major draw for tourists all over the world. Jaipur also provides reasonably priced accommodations. Many of these are former palaces converted into hotels and inns. Staying at one of these heritage properties is the most authentic way to experience regality first hand.
Udaipur has the enviable honor of being the most romantic city in India. It is famous for its old palaces and vast lakes. The lovely City Palace Complex is the most famous landmark in Udaipur. It occupies much of the eastern shore of Lake Pichola. Parts of the palace are still occupied by members of the royal family of Udaipur. The City Palace Museum houses rare family photos, personal possessions of the erstwhile royal family and other memorabilia. Visitors can also find accommodation in the City Palace.
A sandstone city, Jaisalmer rises magically from the sparkling sand dunes of Rajasthan’s expansive Thar Desert. There is something magical and surrealistic about this place. The ancient fort built in AD 1156 looks mesmerizing even today. The fort houses five exquisite palaces, several lovely temples and some havelis (old fashioned mansions) and shops and other residences. Jaisalmer is a real feast for the eyes. A lot of tourists also enjoy camel safaris into the desert.
The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur is famous for its blue painted buildings that lend it the name ‘Blue City’. The imposing Mehrangarh Fort is the chief attraction in the walled old part of the city. It is large and well-maintained and provides excellent views of the town. There are several exquisite palaces and a museum inside the fort. Jodhpur provides inexpensive accommodations with brilliant views of the fort. Just relax on their rooftops gazing at the horizon.
Pushkar is a quaint desert town that attracts a large number of hippies and backpackers throughout the year. The tourist inflow increases manifold during the annual Pushkar Fair held in late October or early November. That is when this sleepy little town really comes alive. The event has both commercial and religious significance. The main activity during the first few days of the fair is the exhibition and trading of camels. Tens of thousands of camels are brought to Pushkar for the camel fair.
The Pushkar Camel Fair is an old-fashioned Indian festival famous for its colors, sounds and vibrancy. The last fews of the fair around the full moon day in the Hindu month of Karthik is meant for taking a holy dip in the waters of the Pushkar Lake. The Pushkar Fair is organized in October or November. If you would rather avoid the crowds, visit Pushkar during other times of the year. And while you are there avoid scammers especially beggars and priests who insist on getting huge donations for giving you a blessing. The Pushkar market is a great place to enjoy some good shopping.
6. Rathambore National Park
Once you have had enough of Rajasthan’s famed palaces, head to the Rathambore National Park to see wildlife up close and personal. The Rathambore National Park is famous for its population of tigers. It is easily accessible and because of this reason, it gets a lot of tourists. The park also houses the huge Rathambore Fort built in the 10th century. It has three temples and several monuments and pavilions most of which are in a ruined state. If you are a history buff you will enjoy walking around the Rathambore Fort. It has witnessed several wars and seen the rise and fall of many dynasties.
7. Shekhawati Region
If you are into history, art or architecture, the Shekhawati Region is well worth your time. It is not as popular as other tourist destinations in Rajasthan and that is exactly what makes it so serene and joyous. The place is devoid of the usual trappings of a tourist location. This unique region has every right to be called the largest open air art gallery in the world. Its havelis have walls adorned with intricate paintings. The best part is that these mansions also provide accommodation.
Bikaner is a delightful desert town in Rajasthan. It is not as touristy as Udaipur or Jaisalmer. The main attractions are the Old City and Fort. Camel safaris are a popular acidity with tourists. Bikaner also has a quirky side to it. The town has a temple for rats. The Karni Mata Rat Temple also holds a festival to worship the rats there. Every January Bikaner also plays host to a camel fair.
Bundi is an emerging tourist location in Rajasthan. The place is famous for its lakes, temples, busy markets and blue houses similar to the ones found in Jodhpur. The imposing Bundi Palace which sticks out of the hillside is the main attraction of Bundi. Wander through the winding roads of this ancient city to get a feel of the area.
10. Rural Rajasthan
Places like Bishnoi and Pali are highly recommended for tourists who would like to go off the beaten track. Rural tourism is flourishing in Rajasthan and for good reason. Rajasthani villages have a unique identity of their own. They are unlike anything you would find in other parts of India. Bishnoi is about 45 minutes from Jodhpur. It is a small community of people who worship nature. Pali is farther away.