What comes to mind when you think ‘Incredible India’? Chances are it’s ‘Rajasthan’. Travelling across this vibrant state leaves you with the distinct impression that, way back in the mists of time, an artist accidentally tipped his palette and drenched this desert region in dazzling and indelible hues. Nothing else explains the flamboyant turbans and flowing skirts, the coloured stone used to build homes, and jaw-dropping tapestry that unfurls like a painted canvas wherever you go.
Rajasthan is also clearly the land of maharajas (‘raja’ means ‘king’; ‘sthan’ means ‘land’). From the sprawling magnificence of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, to the golden sands of Jaisalmer, gorgeous mansions of Shekhawati, exquisite Lake Palace in Udaipur, the mighty and imperious Amer Fort in Jaipur, abandoned villages in Kuldhara, haunting cenotaphs and ruined bastions… the legacy of a rich and royal past quite literally litters the bewitching landscape.
Not far from the cities, stumble upon beautiful mirages that appear too good to be true. Blink again, and you realise they’re real. Ancient towns, painted havelis, charming villages and golden dunes cast a hypnotic spell on travellers who invariably vow to return. Why, in Tonk near Jaipur, tucked away seemingly in the middle of nowhere, is a mansion polished in gold!
The watchword in Rajasthan is definitely ‘royal’ and it seems every nook and cranny has a nugget waiting to be discovered. You can tease them out of tour guides, knowledgeable locals, or even your guest house owner, who will oblige with tales of intrigue. For the best of Imperial Rajasthan, visit Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur. If exotic birds and animals are your thing, there are many wildlife reserves you can visit. Top billing among these are Ranthambore, Bharatpur, Sariska and Keoladeo.
Although tourism earns top dollar in Rajasthan and the locals are tourist-savvy, the region has retained its irresistible charm. Its cities are no more than large towns, and the hospitality is unmatchable. Rajasthan promises travellers the moon, and it delivers every single time. So when visiting the desert state, set aside enough time to soak it all in. If tour operators tell you it can be done in a week or even ten days, they’re bluffing. And if time is short, pick only a few destinations and savour them forever.
In this land of fables and fairytales, time stands still – it’s waiting for you.
Need To Know
Very safe, including travelling after dark.
Dress Code :
Locals are conservative, so defer to their sentiments and dress accordingly.
Getting Around :
The main cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur are well connected by air, road and rail. Jaisalmer does not have an airport but is well connected by road and rail. For local travel within each city, autorickshaws are abundant but remember to bargain.
For a comprehensive experience of Rajasthan, visit all four major cities – Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur. Each one offers a uniquely different experience and is by no means representative of the others.