Rajasthan is the largest and one of the most popular states in the country. Situated in the northwest of India it is a region full of enchanting royal splendour and with an overabundance of captivating towns and cities. From the sweeping dunes of the Thar Desert to the stunning landscape of the Aravalli Hills to some of the worlds finest forts and palaces, it is a place fit for a King and worthy of it’s Maharaja and Rajput heritage.
The state is split into two distinct regions, being the rolling countryside hills of the southeast and the mass sprawl of the Thar Desert in the northwest. With its sheer size and amount of attractions, dedicating time in Rajasthan can be somewhat troubling for the overly organised traveller. To the south of the state lies the magical city of Udaipur, with its stunning Lake Palace, then further north is the blue city of Jodhpur and the imposing Meherangarh Fort. Travelling west from Jodhpur, the road leads to Pushkar, one of the countries most religious towns, and continues on to the state capital, Jaipur. Then, way out to the west sits Jaisalmer, the gateway to the Thar Desert, complete with its own majestic sandstone fort.
Rajasthan has plenty on offer besides its historical sites. Shopping is an integral part of the culture and the intricate bazaars lining the streets of Jaipur and Jaisalmer play host to a feast of rugs, immaculately embroidered blankets and bedspreads, typical mirror work pieces, woodcarvings, stone statues and more. With each town and community specialising in something different, don’t hesitate to buy, no doubt with some bargaining involved, as the same piece may not surface again.
Being an extremely colourful state, the vibrancy is displayed in the people, arts, architecture and culture. However, the true colours of Rajasthan are often revealed in the wealth of fairs and festivals. These take place throughout the calendar year and include, the Pushkar Fair, the world’s biggest camel fair, the International Kite Festival of Jaipur, which fills the skies with a feast of colours, and the Elephant Festival of Jaipur. All such events bring together the communities and serve to showcase the wide range of arts, cuisine, and song and dance present in the regions.
Rajasthan is easily accessible from the rest of India and is served by excellent transport links to neighbouring states. Entering from the south, regular train and bus services run from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and towns of Gujarat. Heading north and east, trains and buses frequently depart from Jaipur for Delhi and Agra. Travelling around the state is easiest by bus, with many government and private companies arranging journeys between all major towns. Domestic flights to most major cities depart from the airports at Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.
With many destinations on the famous Golden Triangle circuit and enough attractions to keep you occupied for months, Rajasthan is a traveller’s paradise. The intriguing blend of tradition, religion, heritage and modern day life never fails to grasp the attention and provide experiences and memories to treasure for a lifetime.
Things to do in
Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur - A formidable fort, dominating the skyline of the Blue City, and still run by the maharaja of the city. Become mesmerised whilst wandering around one of India’s finest architectural masterpieces and feel part of the history with the use of the audio-tour.
Old City, Jaipur - Affectionately known as the Pink City and the focal point of the city, the area is partly surrounded by a now run down wall. Small avenues, all home to varying crafts, lead the way to a feast of spectacular palaces, monuments and bazaars.
Jaisalmer Fort - Dominating this historical city is one of the world largest forts, and a village of narrow sandstone alleys. The fort, with its 99 bastions, is like a living museum, with the daily life of the locals unfolding before the eyes. Often referred to as the “Golden Fort” due to its changing of colour with the sun.
Desert Camel Safari - Most visitors to Jaisalmer find themselves, at some point, taking a camel tour into the Thar Desert. A fun and relaxing way to experience the life of the desert, sleep under the stars and visit the nearby villages.
Udaipur - Relax in arguably Rajasthan’s most romantic city, epitomised by the enchanting Lake Pichola and unsurpassed beauty of its Lake Palace. Unwind in one of the many welcoming guesthouses overlooking this historic city and out into the Aravalli countryside.
Pushkar - A picturesque and enchanting town built around a lake believed to have been created when a lotus flower fell from the clutches of Lord Brahma. One of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, marvel at the 52 ghats and hundreds of ancient temples, including one of only a few Brahmin Temples in the world. Home to the Pushkar Camel Fair.
Bundi - Discover the historical heritage of this unassuming town, with a feast of palaces, temples, havelis and a tranquil lake, all surrounded by the peaceful Aravalli hills.
Budget Hotels Rajasthan
Karni Niwas (Jaipur) - Family run hotel with large rooms, many with a balcony, at reasonable prices. All rooms come with air conditioning, TV and 24-hour hot water. C5 Motilal Atal Road (behind Hotel Neesham). Tel (91) (141) 2365433.
Hotel Golden City (Jaisalmer) - This family run hotel has a number of well-decorated rooms with TV and balconies. The swimming pool and rooftop restaurant are ideal for relaxing after a day in the city heat. Opposite SBI Bank. Tel (91) (2992) 251664.
Hotel Navratan Palace (Pushkar) - Straight and simple hotel with well-priced rooms. The excellent swimming pool and garden are the selling point and you’d be forgiven for forgetting you are actually in India. Close to Brahma Temple. Tel (91) (145) 2772981.
Dream Heaven Guest House (Udaipur) - Popular hotel in typical Udaipur fashion, with chic furnishings and rooftop restaurant. Hanuman Ghat. Tel (91) (294) 2431038.
Midrange Hotels Rajasthan
Hotel Madhuban (Jaipur) - This hotel, housed in a heritage home, is run by the family of the ancient state of Patan. All rooms are impeccably decorated with the finest Rajasthani furniture. D-237 Bihari Marg, Bani Park. Tel (91) (141) 2200033.
Hotel Jaisal Palace (Jaisalmer) - Located in the heart of the city, this hotel has clean rooms, some with balconies overlooking the fort, and rooftop restaurant. The in-house travel team can arrange camel safaris. Tel (91) (2992) 252717.
Hotel Goyal Inn (Pushkar) - Well managed and conveniently located hotel with an assortment of rooms, complete with all modern amenities. Welcome 12pm checkout time. Near Guru Dwara, Ajmer Road. Tel (91) (145) 2773991.
Hotel Baba Palace (Udaipur) - Spotlessly clean hotel opposite the Jagdish Temple and with magnificent views of the city from the rooftop restaurant. 155 Jagdish Chowk. Tel (91) (294) 2427126.
Luxury Hotels Rajasthan
Rambagh Palace (Jaipur) - A hotel housed in the former home of a Maharaja. Elegant rooms, swimming pool and bar are major selling points. Bhawani Singh Road. Tel (91) (141) 2211919.
Hotel Heritage Inn (Jaisalmer) - Ultra relaxing hotel with accommodation in the form of quaint, garden facing cottages. Excellent swimming pool, multi cuisine restaurant and bar. 4 Hotel Complex, Sam Road. Tel (91) (2992) 250901.
Jagat Singh Palace Hotel (Pushkar) - Luxury hotels in Pushkar are few, however this one has it all. The hotel offers splendid rooms, fantastic pool and views across Snake Mountain. Jagat Palace. Tel (91) (145) 2772226.
Lake Palace Hotel (Udaipur) - For those wanting to splash out on the ultimate in luxury, this hotel has it all, from swimming pool to lotus ponds to silk decorations. Tel (91) (294) 2428800.