While you are planning your perfect itinerary to India, you might be thinking about visiting Jaipur, the pink city. It’s a well known must-see city in India and it is often recommended to visit as part of the Golden Triangle tourist trail. You will be then entering the colorful and vibrant state of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is not just about Jaipur though; it is a jewel of India where you can explore some of the best cities in the country. From the Golden city, to the White city and the Blue city, here are the top 15 destinations to make you dream about the cultural and historical gem of India: Rajasthan.
Also known as the pink city, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. It is most likely going to be your first step into the state, except if you are coming from the south. In other words, It’s your introduction to Rajasthan. Be ready to see colorful and historical buildings, busy streets and chaotic bazaars. The Old City will probably be your favorite part; this is where the impressive city palace is. Enjoy the Old City by taking a walking tour, which might take you between three to five hours, and don’t forget to make a stop to the famous Amber Fort where it is your best chance to see elephants in Rajasthan. Jaipur is also the perfect place to buy souvenirs, handicrafts, jewels and gems.
Jodhpur is normally referred as the Blue City and you will quickly understand why: the buildings are beautifully painted in blue. The main fun in Jodhpur is to loose yourself in the narrow streets and to explore around by foot. It’s a colorful delight for the eyes. On your itinerary, plan to stop at Mehrangarh Fort, one of the most stunning Fort in India, and take walk in the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park. Antiques shoppers are also going to be pleased in Jodpur as it is the perfect place to buy antiques in India.
Udaipur has all the names; the White City, the City of Lakes, the most romantic city in India, the Venice of the East… name them all! It is one of the best places to relax in Rajasthan. The Old City has this little something which is going to remind you of Europe, with cute white buildings and narrow streets. You can walk around very easily and it is also a great spot to do some of the best shopping in Rajasthan, including traditional puppets and small paintings. The lake views and the numerous palaces are you going to charm you. Of course, don’t forget to include the majestic City Palace in your itinerary as well as Dharohar, your best chance to see Rajasthani traditional dances and puppet shows.
Now, here is the Golden City, your number one destination to see the Thar desert in India. Jaisalmer is a dream looking place, with a spectacular Fort, the Jaisalmer Fort, a must-see in Rajasthan. The best way to experience the Jaisalmer is definitly to book a camel safari into the desert. You can either decide to do a one day tour, but one can also decide to stay the night in a tent. To plan the perfectsafari, visit one of the many tour agencies, and book a package deal tour.
Not too far from Jaipur is the very unique city of Pushkar. Pushkar is very famous for being a Hindu pilgrimage town, but it’s much more than that. The views over the holy lake, the Pushkar lake located in the center, as well as the mystic surroundings will enchant you. Make a stop to the collection of Shiva Temples, not too far from the main town, and relax nearby the holy bathing ghats. If you are around during the month of Kartika, you might have the chance to see one of Pushkar’s most famous attraction: the Pushkar fair, where around 50000camels are being traded as well as horses and cattles.
Get off the beaten track and make a stop to Bikaner, a less tourist city in Rajasthan, but just as colorful and as vibrant as the rest of the state. You will have the chance to see the desert landscapes you are looking for, but without the hustle you may find in Jaisalmer. This place also attracts travellers for being a good destination for camel safaris in the Thar desert. Among the main sights, you may want to see Junagarh Fort and Bhanfasar Temple. Don’t forget to make a stop to the medieval scene of the Old City.
7. Mount Abu
Rajasthan is not just about deserts, palaces and forts. There is also one beautiful hill station with green forests, clement weather and high mountains : Mount Abu. Very different from the rest of the state, and not too far from Udaipur, Mont Abu is a unique destination in Rajasthan. Also appreciated as a honeymoon destination in India, it is also one of backpackers’ favorite. Enjoy the Nakki lake views, the beautiful sunsets from the Sunset Point and don’t dare to miss the Delwara Temples, the famous attraction of Mount Abu.
8. Ranthambore national park
You may have heard that India was a great place to spot wild tigers and this is well true, but to do so, you have to head to the best destination, which is happily located in Rajasthan: Ranthambhore National Park. Many safaris are taking place in this famous park so that you can spot your favorite wild animals. Plan in advance through a tour agency, but remember that spotting a tiger is a hit or miss, which means it’s a matter of luck. To reach the park, you’ll first have go to the town of Sawai Madhopur (accessible by train).
If you are looking for a more relaxing place, far from the chaotic scenes and the busy streets, head to Bharatpur where you will find the Unesco-listed Keoladeo Ghana National Park. You will certainly adore this destination if you are a nature lover and if you enjoy birdwatching. Indeed, the park has been listed as the world’s most important bird breeding and feeding grounds. Try to go between October to February. Apart from the park, it is also a great place to see some historical buildings such as the Lohagarh Fort.
Another hidden town in Rajasthan is Bundi, located in the south of the state. Take a tour around the Old City and be amazed by the great hills, the busy bazaars and the lakes. The beautiful temples are all worth a visit, but the main sights in Bundi include Taragarh Fort, the Bundi Palace and, of course, the numerous baoris (stepwells).
Not too far from Bundi is the large commercial town of Kota, a nice destination to enjoy some peaceful boat rides on Chambal river, your chance to spot wild crocodiles in India. Far from the busy city, this attraction in Kota is going to charm you with green vegetations. This is the main reason to go to Kota, as well as the many festivals and fairs which are going to immerse you in the best of Rajasthani culture.
The largest Fort complex in Rajasthan and in all India can be found in Chittor. Indeed, Chittorgarh Fort is quite impressive. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Fort is impossible to miss! You will certainly be amazed by its grandeur. The complex includes temples, towers, one palace and the Gaumukh Reservoir. Reach by train from Udaipur, Jaipur or Delhi.
Just when you thought Rajasthan couldn’t get more beautiful, here is Kumbhalgarh, a spectacular Fort not too far from Udaipur. Many reasons make this place one of the best destinations in Rajashan, including the historical buildings, the romantic vibe and the Light & Sound show around the Fort at night. But truly, the main sight is the Fort itself, also listed as a World Heritage Site, and this is what’s going to leave you speechless.
Considered as one of the oldest kingdoms in Rajasthan, Alwar is a good place to get away from the touristic hassle as well as enjoying some family time. It holds a lot of history which you can feel all around the town, through the buildings and the imposing Bala Qila Fort. If you are thinking about spotting wild tigers during your trip in India, you will also be happy to know that Alwar is the gateway town to Sariska Tiger Reserve. Reach Alwar by train or by bus, from Delhi or Jaipur.
Although Ajmer is more chaotic than its neighboring cities, the Ana Sagar lakes and the Aravalli Hills makes it a good place for travelers to visit while in Rajasthan. One the most interesting part of the city though are the many Islamic sites. Indeed, Ajmer is home of Khwaja shrine which is considered to be one of Indians most important pilgrimage centers for Muslims. A stop to the Golden Temple (Nasiyan Temple) is also worth a visit.