Rajasthan Holiday

 

Rajasthan Holiday: Places To Visit

Rajasthan, located in the northwest part of India, is the country’s largest state. Most of the area is covered by the Thar desert. The rich culture, magnificent palaces, massive forts, exquisite temples, vivid fabrics, soulful folk music and great cuisine create a rich kaleidoscope of experiences. This is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations.

The courageous Rajput clans ruled Rajasthan and they were as famous for their bravery as they were for their incredible wealth. You will glimpse their treasures and get an idea of their opulent lifestyle as you visit their palaces and forts. Apart from palaces, a lot of the old havelis – traditional residences which are often ornately carved – have been turned into heritage hotels and if you can, you must stay in one of them. Udaipur hotels, including the Lake Palace hotel, are as much tourist attractions as they are luxurious hotels.

Incredible handicrafts, block print fabrics, jewellery, carved furniture etc. make Rajasthan a great place to shop. Things are also inexpensive and tourists, whether local or foreign, flock to the busy markets.

To really appreciate everything the state has to offer, your Rajasthan holiday needs well over a month but there are some wonderful Rajasthan holiday packages of shorter duration that you can choose for your holiday travel.

Best time to visit Rajasthan: October to March

Listed below are the top destinations that should be part of your Rajasthan holidays.

Jaisalmer

The sprawling 12th century Jaisalmer fort sits atop Trikuta hill and dominates the city. Built entirely out of yellow sandstone, the fort rises above the desert below and shimmers with a golden hue and looks breathtaking at sundown. Also called the Golden Fort, life goes on much as it did hundreds of years ago with the exception of motorcycles that can be a nuisance when walking through the fort. It is the only medieval fort that’s still inhabited. You will find many wonderful temples and havelis inside the fort. Many of the havelis built with yellow sandstone have been converted into hotels and guesthouses so you can even live within the fort and enjoy wonderful views of the city and the desert below. Alternatively, accommodation is available on the plateau from where you can gaze up at the fort.
Jaisalmer is located in western Rajasthan in the heart of the Thar desert. So it’s the perfect place from where to go off on a camel safari and spend a night or two in a desert camp. The area around Jaisalmer can also be explored on the back of a camel.
Jaisalmer is an unforgettable experience and you should plan to spend at least two days here.

Jodhpur

Arguably India’s most impressive fort, Mehrangarh, rises above a steep 125-meter high hill and towers over the city of Jodhpur. The impregnable fort has walls that rise to a height of 36 meters in some places. A good audio guide is available free with your entry ticket to the fort.
The fort’s museum is a must-see as it gives you an insight into the superb artistry that went into building the palaces of the kings and also the decadent lifestyle they led. Don’t miss the Moti Mahal (palace of pearls), Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors) and Phool Mahal (palace of flowers) which have gold ceilings, royal palanquins, silk paintings, costumes, musical instruments, a throne… You will need at least a couple of hours to see the museum.
The fort offers gorgeous views of the city below. Many houses in the old city are painted indigo blue and the reason behind the blue colour is unclear. Some claim that only the Brahmin houses were painted blue while others claim that it was to repel termites. Whatever the reason, it is the reason why Jodhpur is called the blue city. The old city is a labyrinth of narrow alleys dotted with shops selling everything from spices to handicrafts.
The 347-room Umaid Bhavan palace is at the other end of the city from the fort. It is one of the largest private residences in the world. Work on the palace commenced as late as 1929 and one of the reasons for building such a grand palace was to provide employment to the poverty-stricken and drought hit residents of Jodhpur. It took 15 years to build the palace which is today divided into a hotel, a private residence and a museum. If you can’t stay at the hotel, go there for tea or a meal and visit the museum.
Modern Jodhpur is a bit of a disappointment and it’s best to skip it.

Udaipur

After the desert landscape of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, Udaipur comes as a surprise. It is a city of lakes and palaces with the verdant Aravali hills as a wonderful backdrop. Several palaces, temples and havelis dating back to the 16th century dot the lakes. It is called the city of dawn because it is at its most beautiful when the early morning rays fall on its cream and white structures.
The city has a serene feel and is often called the Venice of the East. Udaipur was voted ‘World’s Best City’ by the readers of ‘Travel + Leisure’ in July 2009. The choice came as a surprise to some but none can doubt its charm and beauty.
The City Palace is one of the largest palace complexes in India as it houses 11 separate palaces. Of particular note are Moti Mahal which is encrusted with mirrors, Manak Mahal or Ruby Palace, Krishna Vilas and Zenana Mahal. The City Palace sits on the shore of Lake Pichola overlooking the Lake Palace.
Lake Pichola has two islands: Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir. The romantic Lake Palace, now a heritage hotel, entirely covers Jag Niwas island. It is the most famous of Udaipur hotels and probably the most photographed hotel in India. Do have a meal here and enjoy the glorious views of the City Palace and its surroundings, that is if you can’t stay here. Jag Mandir also has a palace called Gol Mahal where the young prince Shah Jahan is said to have sought refuge when he was plotting to overthrow his father, Emperor Jehangir.
The other places to see around Udaipur are the Eklinji temple complex where the maharaja of Udaipur prays on Mondays if he’s in town, the 16th century Kumbhalgarh fort, the intricately carved Ranakpur temples and the 7th century Chittaurgarh fort.

Read about the best Udaipur Hotels.

Jaipur

The capital of Rajasthan and its most visited city, Jaipur is a bustling, chaotic city and not as charming as some of the other cities in Rajasthan. The colourful bazaars, grand palaces and hilltop forts though give you an idea of Jaipur’s grandeur. It is called the pink city because the buildings and walls of the old city were built out of reddish pink stone.
The five storeyed Hawa Mahal has intricate latticed windows and was built so that the royal ladies could observe the activities on the street below without being seen. Jantar Mantar is an observatory with an enormous sundial and was built in the 18th century. The City Palace has some fine buildings and artifacts. Amber, or Amer, fort sits on the outskirts of Jaipur on craggy hills. It is an imposing edifice and has some lovely palaces inside.
Jaipur is ubiquitous with shopping so keep aside time to browse. From blue pottery, linens, home furnishings and handicrafts, to rugs, hand printed fabrics, leather footwear and gems and jewellery, you will be overwhelmed by the choice. The prices are reasonable and a bit of bargaining is almost the norm.

More travel ideas and places to visit in Rajasthan: The white marble Jain Dilwara temples in Mount Abu and Ranthambhore National Park to spot tigers in the wild.

Posted by on November 15th, 2009

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