Visiting Rajasthan is almost every traveller’s dream and mine became a reality one fine morning…

December 2016, Bangalore, 6:35 AM

“Once again welcome aboard Air Asia flight I51720 to Jaipur and thank you for flying AirAsia!”

Looking around, the incessant chatter and joyous laughter I heard, lifted my spirits, making me realise the winter holiday season had finally set in.

With Christmas and New Year round the corner the long weekend had gathered mad crowds at every airport in the country, but as suggested by a friend we decided to take a chance and travel during the same time.

As we soon learnt, November- December is indeed the best time to travel to the Desert State Of Rajasthan.

Our round trip was mapped after careful planning in the best way possible- Jaipur –>Bikaner —>Jaisalmer —>Jodhpur —>Ajmer & Pushkar and Back to Jaipur.

As we arrived at the Jaipur International Airport, my thoughts wavered as a huge pink canvas of a city came into view.

And there began a wonderful journey…

Trying to decide on where to go and where not go, what food to eat, what to do and the other gazillion questions which normally haunt you during a planned vacation, especially to a place like Rajasthan can be a bit overwhelming.

So although I can’t really pinpoint to a particular place for the best experience with every town having its own rich cultural history, I have tried listing the some of the best places to visit and a few things to definitely try out while you’re in Rajasthan, India.

Let us walk it through!

Places to visit in Rajasthan

1Jaipur – PINK everywhere!

The famous Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, Rajasthan. a day in jaipur
The famous Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Pink city is PINK! This is pretty much the only word that can be used to describe Rajasthan’s capital city of Jaipur. There are many places to visit in Jaipur. At the centre of this is the Jaipur Palace, standing tall in all its beauty and grandeur. The architectural style is an amazing combination of Rajasthani, Mughal and European architecture.

2Amer Fort – Mirror mirror on the wall

forts in Rajasthan

This wonder fort sits majestically on Cheel Ka Teela (a hilly terrain). Elephants transporting tourists up the ridge to the main entrance is a common passage but climbing the steps also you gives you an edge for viewing the spectacular landscape below. This is one among the many places to visit in Jaipur, don’t leave without it. 

From tastefully decorated state-rooms to precious jewel inlaid Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), the site is a treat to the eyes. Witnessing the entire hall getting brilliantly lit up with a single candle WILL be one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever come across the entire journey.

Sitting under the starry sky, the rich history with some stories of the battles and formation of the entire Kachua clan is narrated during a night show video in an open amphitheatre which is unforgettable.

3Bikaner – Home to the ship of the desert

A street food stall in Bikaner, street food from Bikaner is extremely popular

Rising temperatures and dry desert are all of Rajasthan right?

Of course not!

How wrong was I to assume the same!

The green forests with thick vegetation on either side of the national highways make for a wonderful road trip from Jaipur to Bikaner. The stretch especially to Bikaner and to Jodhpur is nothing less than incredible.

Two places cannot be missed:-

4Karni Maatha temple (No kidding  – it’s the Rat Temple!)

The place is famous for the number of rats that run around the place and are allowed to breed since they are worshipped here. So don’t be surprised to see people playing around with these tiny mammals and making it look like it is no big deal!

5Junagarh Fort – Royalty Sinks In

It is a massive edifice built in the late 1500’s which includes a number of other small palaces like Hawa Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, Badal Mahal, Ganga Mahal and so on.

Architectural enthusiasts will especially love the designs and science behind the structures.

6Camel Farm

Being the biggest camel farm in India, it hosts innumerable breeds of camels, each distinguished by numbers tattooed on their skin – some wild, some tamed.

Pro tip: Planning your visit around January will be an extra bonus, for you will get to witness a fashion show for camels which attracts throngs of tourists from all over the world annually.

Honestly, who would want to miss such a spectacle?!

7Sun City – Jaisalmer – The cherry on the cake

The famous Gadi Sagar in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Sun in the eyes,

Sand on the sides,

The best road to ride.

Even if you can’t visit any other part of Rajasthan, do not miss out on this one.

You just can’t afford to. Period.

The entire city is built around the Thar desert.

Desert camps are located 2 hours away from the main city, at striking distance from the India-Pakistan borders.

In close proximity to the borders, a defence museum is built with tankers and weapons. The gift shop in the museum will help you shop for some really interesting souvenirs.

The thrilling high-speed open jeep safari rides on the sand dunes at freezing temperatures at night, or the jumpy super fun camel rides just before sunrise, where you get to spot desert foxes and deer – the experience of it all is inexplicable. It cannot be contained in words. It is something that ought to be experienced.

8Jodhpur – The Blue city awaits your arrival

The blue city of Jodhpur as viewed from Mehrangarh Fort

As much as we hated packing up from Jaisalmer, we had to move on towards Jodhpur.

Guess we weren’t done with the coloured city just in the form of Jaipur.

This time the colour was pretty blue in Jodhpur.

9Mehrangarh Fort

Trust me when I say keeping almost a full day just to explore this colossal monument will be worth it. The splendour and grandeur will knock you off your feet as soon as you set your foot inside the monument and that is really no exaggeration. And this is a place that makes to every list of places to see in Rajasthan, an icon not to be missed while in Jodhpur.

The sprawling gardens with colourful flowers, blossoming out in the winter sun, courtyards the size of a mansion, classic vintage cars of the royal family and some real aeroplanes once piloted by an aviator king are kept out to welcome you.

These unique artefacts and the entire place, in general, have been maintained so well, you’ll be shocked to know everything is at least a few centuries old!

10Ajmer and Pushkar – Twinning with the Twin Cities

Sacred Lake, Pushkar

The annual cattle fair, the holy lake, a handful of adventure activities, and endless emotions to capture on camera — Pushkar has it all for any avid traveller. Pushkar’s Brahma temple is the only place in India where Lord Brahma is worshipped contradicting age-old traditions and beliefs and hence is very popular.

The interior pillars or a mosque in Ajmer - visiting Rajasthan
Mosque in Ajmer

Ajmer on the other hand predominantly has a large number of dargahs and mosques with a history of the origin of very famous Sufi poets.

An emerald oasis, Ajmer lies in a valley encircled by the ancient Aravalli Range in the state of Rajasthan makes for a great scenic tourist spot.

Also read: Experience the best of Holi, the festival of colours in Udaipur

Two More Things not to Miss while in Rajasthan

11Shopping in Rajasthan

Rajasthani footwear
Traditional Rajasthani jootis (shoes) and belt

Shopping in Colours!

Millions of glittering bangles blinded us with their mirrored shine.

The jingles from their clanks with each breeze were music to our ears.

Rajasthan is all about handcrafted jewellery, block prints with organic inks on hand-stitched cloth and ethnicity all the way through.

The best place for out-and-out shopping would be Jaipur.

Women shoppers will be especially delighted to see the variety of traditional juties (footwear). The kind shopkeepers will also let you in on some secrets for sampling mouth-watering sweets and amazing local food.

12Rajasthani food

Best restaurants in Udaipur
Rajasthani Thali

Thali it up! Food for the foodies

Rajasthani Thali (an entire plate of mixed food) will leave your soul craving for more!

Even without the thali, trying assorted parathas (Stuffed tortillas) like Aloo Paratha (potato), Gobi paratha (cauliflower), palak paratha (spinach) are yum when they are served with yoghurt.

This is, in fact, the best bet for your body during the journey, to keep up with the crazy temperature fluctuations.

Pro Tip: Ghewar sweet from Rawat sweet stores anywhere in Rajasthan is a must try for the way it will melt in your mouth will send you into a sugar coma!

Also read: 13 Mouth-watering Rajasthani dishes you must try on your visit to Rajasthan

Where to stay in Rajasthan?

All the hotels are decent but TWO amongst those are really worth mentioning.

If you are in for some relaxation time during your vacay, you might want to check in at Hotel Red Fox in Jaipur.

The rooftop swimming pool, spa facility with foot massage options are top notch and the multi-cuisine food options that are provided to guests are exemplary!

For the best adventure camping in the desert, Mama’s Resort in Jaisalmer is really one-of-a-kind stay in places. From amazing ingenuity seen during their really cool puppet shows to folk dancing with the resort dancers along the bonfire, the friendly staff never ran out of ideas for entertaining ALL their guests.

Things to keep in mind while visiting Rajasthan

Temperature Drops faster than that Bass!

Even if you don’t carry your medicines, you will survive.

But do not forget to take at least 4 pairs of socks, 5 jackets and 6 pairs of clothing to tolerate a single sitting in any night outs while visiting Rajasthan. Exaggeration much? Maybe a little!

But all jokes apart the 45-degree temperature in the morning drops by 9 times by 7 pm.

Apart from staying hydrated, make sure you carry the right pills to prevent the weather from wrecking your wonderful trip.

Need more reasons for visiting Rajasthan?

Western beauty – Wonder why?

It could be the drive across the national highways with government calibrated cars at a maximum speed of 80Km/Hr. It could be the elephant and camel rides through the palaces and deserts. Or it could be the overwhelming feeling of travelling through a patch of thick green vegetation and suddenly hitting a desert within a distance of 100 kilometres.

Oh, and how could I possibly forget?!

It could be watching a movie at Raj Mandir in Jaipur with a humongous 3 floors seating capacity of 1100, with brightly lit in orange lights.

The warmth and happy eccentric vibe of the entire place will leave you with an overwhelming sense of happiness on seeing the charm of the Rajasthan! Visiting Rajasthan was a dream I got to fulfil, when will you fulfil yours?

Need a bit more poking to visit? Watch the video below!

Need more reasons for visiting Rajasthan? Here are 11 of them!

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