Steeped in history and romance and drenched in fables and color—to experience the majestic land of Rajasthan is to experience the ultimate Indian dream of mighty maharajas and medieval forts.
The history of this incredible north Indian state echoes around the walls of its astonishing array of atmospheric forts, palaces and old cities. Your senses will be well and truly bombarded in a world of incense-heavy bazaars, grandiose palaces, sophisticated cuisine, flamboyant festivals and gracious people. Here are just a few of our favorite highlights from the magical Land of the Maharajas…
In Jaipur you’ll marvel at the elegant City Palace, which is still home to the former royal family. Located in the very heart of this petal-pink city, you can’t fail to be amazed at its breathtaking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. You’ll also be overwhelmed at the sight of the Palace of the Winds, Hawa Mahal, a honeycomb-style building that was built in 1799 so the ladies of the royal household could watch the world outside without the risk of being seen. And the sight of Jal Mahal, an inexplicably romantic building that appears to float dreamlike on the waters of Man Sagar Lake, will leave you speechless.
But it’s the timelessly beautiful Amber Fort, which lies high on a hill just outside the Pink City, that truly reflects the magnificence of Rajasthan’s illustrious past. This fairy tale palace complex adorned in sandstone and marble was built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh over a period of around two centuries. Peaceful and picturesque, it was main residence of the Rajput maharajas until their capital was moved to Jaipur in 1727.
Don’t Miss: Jaipur is a foodie’s paradise and its signature dish is the sweet and spicy Dal Bati Churma. Baked bati balls are served up with dal and crumbly churma to make your mouth melt. You’ll definitely regret it if you don’t take the opportunity to try this Rajasthani delicacy.
With its warm, sandy-colored walls that appear to rise out of the desert, Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort is a bustling urban city that is home to some 3,000 people. Lose yourself in its winding lanes, smell the incense rising from its 12th century temples, stumble upon its intricately-carved havelis and watch the world go by at Dashera Chowk—the city square that was founded by the Rajput leader Jaisal. And to see the sun set over Jaisalmer is to see the Golden Fort shrouded in the mystical, warm hues of desert sands.
Don’t Miss: If you want to throw yourself into a quintessential Jaisalmer experience, plan your visit for January or February, so you can attend the Desert Festival. Many Rajasthani traditions are celebrated at this annual event, from camel racing and acrobatics, to puppetry, folk dancing and games of camel polo.
In Udaipur, the fantastical City Palace is a symphony towers and cupolas that reflects its beauty into the cool waters of Lake Pichola. The construction of Rajasthan’s largest palace dates back to 1599 and the city’s founder, Udai Singh II. Today this unspeakably romantic complex is made up of 11 palaces, beautiful temples and peaceful hanging gardens. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Jagdish Temple, which was built back in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh I. This Indo-Aryan-style temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and with its lovingly carved pillars and painted walls, it is the most famous temple in Udaipur.
Don’t Miss: While you’re in Udaipur, order some kachori for breakfast. These crispy treats are dipped in yogurt and tamarind chutney and washed down with a hot cup of chai. It’s a great way to start the day in the Venice of the East.
In Jodhpur the star of the show has to be the mighty ‘Fort of the Sun’, Mehrangarh Fort, which towers over the blue cubes of Jodhpur’s famously azure-hued Old City and 16th century city walls. The sight of Mehrangarh standing proud 125-metres above Jodhpur’s blue skyline is truly unforgettable. Founded by Rao Jodha in 1459, it’s home to the Maharaja’s Palace, several temples and some beautiful grounds—and it’s all incredibly well-preserved. The astonishingly intricate Sheesh Mahal, with its mirror-adorned walls and ceilings is especially beautiful to behold.
Don’t Miss: Witness some living culture at Mehrangarh’s Chamunda Mataji Temple. It’s said that Chamunda Mataji was the favorite goddess of Rao Jodha, who founded Jodhpur in 1459, so he arranged to have her idol was bought to Mehrangarh. The locals still worship Chamunda Mata today and the goddess remains the Isht Devi (adopted goddess) of the royal family.
Do you dream of seeing Jal Mahal floating on the waters of Jaipur’s Man Sagar Lake? Of ordering mouth watering kachori for breakfast in Udaipur? Of seeing the sun set over Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort? Yes? Then come with us to Rajasthan. Not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, but you will have a sophisticated itinerary that has been lovingly-created by Indus’ India experts. To find out more about our tours to India, please feel free to contact us at any time.
About the Writer: Vickie Sam Paget
Vickie is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not creating dynamic travel or tech content, globetrotting or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.