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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Filed under Rajasthan Holiday | 2 Comments »

The Best Udaipur Hotels

Udaipur is one of Rajasthan’s most charming cities which has many lakes and palaces and part of the charm of staying in Udaipur is to experience a bit of royal living. Many grand palaces and havelis (traditional residences) have been turned into heritage hotels. Their wonderful architecture, antique furniture and turbaned stewards give you a peek into how Rajasthan’s royals lived their lives in opulent splendour. If you are lucky, a member of the royal family may be in residence and a chat may reveal some great tales of their ancestors’ and the city’s colourful history.

Below are our pick of hotels in Udaipur to help you make the most of your Rajasthan holiday travel.

Top End

Taj Lake Palace

The picture of this 250-year old white marble palace floating on the tranquil Pichola lake epitomizes the romance and beauty of Udaipur. The palace was built by a playboy prince in the 18th century and is probably one of the best locations for any hotel anywhere in the world. Octopussy, the James Bond film, was shot here.
The Lake Palace has a total of 83 rooms and suites and the hotel occupies an entire island, covering an area of 4 acres. Lily ponds, terraces and gardens create a romantic and serene setting. The views of the lake and the Aravali hills from the suites and terraces are breathtaking and the service is impeccable. The décor is opulent but in an understated way. Silk furnishings, antique furniture and paintings, wonderful frescoes, window and door arches inlaid with glass create a fantasy setting. You can even enjoy a candlelight dinner on an antique barge as it sails across the lake.

The Taj Lake Palace is one of the most beautiful hotels in Udaipur and you should stay here if possible.
Note: The lake is frequently dry in summer and the hotel loses some of the charm of its location. It is best to go just after the monsoon.

Oberoi Udaivilas

This luxurious hotel spans an area of 30 acres and is located on the banks of Lake Pichola. It was built to resemble a traditional Rajasthani palace and succeeds in capturing the opulence and majesty of a bygone era. Lawns, fountains, courtyards, pools and gardens surround the palace.
The luxury suites have private pools and terraces, personal butlers and glorious views of the lake. The architectural details have been faithfully reproduced and you will see beautiful domes and walls with inlaid mirrors throughout the property. The décor is stylish and some of the rooms have frescoes. The Udaivilas has a two-storeyed spa which offers a variety of massages and treatments. A visit to the spa is recommended.

Devi Garh

Here’s a hotel with a difference. It’s an 18-century fortress palace that has been turned into a 39-suite heritage hotel. The difference is that instead of the traditional carved wooden furniture and ornate artifacts, this hotel sports a minimalist look for its interior although the flooring is expensive white marble and semi-precious stones have been incorporated in the design. The juxtaposition of 18th century architecture and the best of contemporary Indian design creates a stunning effect.
The suites are large and spacious with great views and some of them have private pools. The hotel’s spa offers great Ayurvedic treatments and its restaurants serve delectable food amidst great settings.
Devi Garh is located 28kms northeast of Udaipur and is surrounded by the Aravali hills on three sides and overlooks the Delwara village. The temples of Eklingi and Nagda are nearby and are worth a visit.

Fateh Prakash Palace

This was built by Maharana Fateh Singh as an exclusive venue for royal functions and you can see this in its grand Durbar Hall. Fateh Prakash is one of three palaces that are still in use in Udaipur’s City Palace complex. The other two are Shiv Niwas – another heritage hotel, and Shimbhu Niwas Palace, where the Mewar royal family lives.
Fateh Prakash is located directly opposite the Lake Palace on Lake Pichola so the views of the lake and the city are absolutely stunning. Make your way to the Sunset Terrace restaurant at sundown to appreciate Udaipur’s beauty and have a drink.
For the best views and décor, stay in the Dovecoat wing which actually is a more recent addition to the palace. The old palace wing has bigger suites but the décor sometimes feels a bit stuffy. There are loads of period artifacts and furniture and the hotel oozes with old world charm.
Fateh Prakash has no pool but you can use the pool at the bigger Shiv Niwas Palace for free.

Also check out the Leela Palace Kempinski – an opulent hotel built like a sprawling Mewar palace.

Mid Range

Jagat Niwas Hotel

Two 17th century havelis have been joined to create this warm and charming hotel on the banks of Lake Pichola. The hotel is in the heart of the old town and next to the City Palace, making it easy to explore the city. The lake facing rooms have excellent views and it’s worth paying a little extra for them. Its 29 rooms are situated around a central courtyard and each has a unique décor with carved wooden furniture. The lake facing rooms have wonderful window seats to enjoy the view.
Jagat Niwas has a rooftop restaurant set on two levels with incredible views and delicious food. The service is good, the location excellent and the tariff reasonable for a heritage hotel.

Amet Haveli

This 350-year old haveli has been lovingly restored and turned into a 20-room hotel. It is located on the western banks of Lake Pichola and has fantastic views of the City Palace and Lake Palace. The suites are incredibly spacious. All the rooms are clean and the décor is traditional but not exceptional.
Its restaurant, Ambrai, is right on the banks of the lake and offers the best views. The setting is romantic and the food is tasty. A meal at the restaurant will definitely be one of the highlights of your stay. The garden located behind the hotel is a nice place to sit, read a book or simply observe Udaipur.

Read more about the places to visit in Udaipur and Rajasthan for more travel ideas.

Posted by on November 15th, 2009

Filed under Udaipur Hotels | No Comments »