Rajasthan is possibly the most dreamed about, romantic and mysterious of the Indian states. It is the Land of Kings and boasts a beauty that will indeed make you feel like in a dream. Its cities tell of the splendour of ancient times, while outside the city gates the bare desert lies unchanged and evokes pictures of camel caravans carrying precious goods on their trade routes.
Taking a camel safari in Rajasthan is an unrivalled adventure. These ships of the desert take you to remote villages and ancient sights and you will spend the night under the stars in the desert. This is the best way to see Rajasthan and get fully immersed into nature and landscape. Or how about a trip on one of the world’s most luxurious trains to take you to the ancient cities of the Maharajas?
The gateway to Rajasthan is Jaipur, the Pink City.
The Palace of Winds is the most striking landmark of the city – a five storey building of pink honeycomb. The splendid Rajputana architecture still speaks the glory of the royal family and blends perfectly with glimpses of Mughal architecture, making it stand out from other Rajputana architecture. The palace was built in 1799 for the royal ladies, so they could watch the royal processions without being seen.
The Amber Fort in Jaipur is the most beautiful example of Rajasthani forts. Feel like a Royal when ascending to the fort on elephant back! It is set in picturesque and rugged hills and consists of a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Enjoy the marvellous view of the city down below. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1952 and completed by Sawai Jai Singh I the fort is built from red sandstone and white marble. The forbidding exterior hides an inner paradise with a beautiful fusion of art and architecture.
Don’t forget to visit the City Palace, which forms one of the most famous tourist attractions and a major landmark in Jaipur. It is a huge complex of buildings, courtyards and gardens, dating from different centuries.
Jantar Mantar is the largest stone observatory in the world and contains a remarkable collection of architectural astronomical instruments. It was built between 1727 to 1733 by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
Jaipur is world famous for its textiles and jewellery, so don’t forget to visit one of the bustling bazaars to take a look at them!
Bikaner is a 500-year old town that seems to have stood still in time. The rulers have built beautiful forts that echo of opulence and images of monsoon clouds in this dry land. The wealth of its architectural heritage lies in its forts, palaces and temples – magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone.
The Junagarh Fort has a 986m long wall with 37 bastions, a moat and two entrances. Its most unusal feature, however, is that it was built at ground level instead of elevated. The fort and its palaces are elaborately defined with magnificent stone carvings.
Lalgarh Palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in memory of his father and with its overhanging balconies and delicate latticework a grand sight. Within the Palace you will also find the museum, which will evoke the time of maharajas in your mind.
The fort of Jaisalmer crowns the 80m high Trikuta hill like a giant sandcastle. It once was a wealthy city, due to its position on camel train routes. It was founded as early as 1156 and merchants over the time built magnificent havelis (mansions). In the 17th century the city rose to wealth a second time, more palaces were added to the splendid architecture.
About a quarter of the old town’s population today still resides within the fort walls. The intricately carved trellises, doorways, wall niches, steps and staircases are a testimony to the expertise of the stone carvers of the region. From the fort walls you can have a very fine view of the old city and surrounding areas.
As you move out of the fort, a short walk takes you to the narrow lanes dotted with a number of beautiful havelis built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer. Visit the Jain Temples, a complex of seven beautiful temples from the 12th to 16th centuries. Gadisar Tank, just outside the city walls, features many small temples and shrines around it.
Visit Meherangarh Fort, which is considered the most impressive fort in Rajasthan and one of the largest in India. It is sprawled atop a perpendicular hill, 5km above the main city, and provides a spectacular view of the old 10 km long city wall. The new city has rapidly grown around this fort.
Jaswant Thada is an architectural landmark found in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial, built in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The whole monument is built from intricately carved sheets of marble. These sheets are extremely thin and polished, so that they emit a warm glow when the sunrays dance across their surface.
Jodhpur is also home of the famous Marwari warhorses with their distinctive ears.
There is no place in Rajasthan, which appeals more to the imagination of poets and painters, travellers and writers than Udaipur: an oasis in the desert state of Rajasthan. It is one of the most romantic cities in Rajasthan and also known as the city of lakes. The marble palaces, beautifully laid out gardens and the lakes make Udaipur seem like a mirage in the desert.
Visit the City Palace, poised over Lake Pichola, iridescent with tile and mirror inlay. You will also explore the town by walking through the narrow, colourful winding lanes. The light reflected by the golden sands engulfs a land renowned for its vibrant colours, bright clothing and beautiful jewellery. See the towering fort and palaces, that rise from the desert sand like a mirage, making Udaipur one of the most distinctive cities of Rajasthan.
Photographs on this page courtesy of Honza Soukup.
Rajasthan treks and tours
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