The Land of the Kings, Rajasthan is the most popular tourist destination in India for good reason. It has stunning palaces, haunting forts, stark deserts and a colorful population. There’s so much to see in Rajasthan alone, it can be hard to narrow down the best destinations. Here’s our selection of the top 5 places to visit in Rajasthan.
At almost any time of the day, the city of Jaipur glows resplendent in shades of pink. Whether you want to experience history, science or just go shopping, Jaipur has it all. No visit to the Pink City is complete without seeing the latticed balconies of the Hawa Mahal, where princesses looked out onto the world, carefully hidden behind the facade of their palace. Nearby, the City Palace is a beautiful example of Rajput and Mughal architecture, and for those with an interest in science, Jantar Mantar (the observatory) is essential viewing, housing some of the most incredible astrological instruments, including the world’s largest sun-dial.
Also famous for its jewelry, it’s almost a crime to visit Jaipur without at least trying to bargain for some magnificent jewels.
From the Pink City to the Blue City, Jodhpur is famous for its vista of blue rooftops that signify Brahmin households. Stand near the canons on the ramparts of the Mehrangarh Fort and look down over the golden desert as it turns into sapphire. The fort is by far the biggest attraction in town, but also visit Umaid Bhavan, not only a palatial royal residence, but also a luxury hotel and museum. For a spot of shopping head to Sadar Bazaar where you can purchase everything from jewelry and jooti slippers to sparkling mirrored skirts, and maybe even a turban.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Jodhpur in winter, do try and catch a game of polo. After all, the traditional uniform for the game wasn’t named after this city for no reason.
Made famous by James Bond in Octopussy, the Lake City of Udaipur isn’t a place for thrills but rather a city for romance. Brilliant palaces, detailed havelis and sparkling lakes, make this the place to escape to. Lake Pichola is the highlight of Udaipur, and its crowning glory is the fantastical Lake Palace that sits in its center. Set amidst the Aravali Ranges, this town’s beauty is hard to resist. . Visit the palace, explore the temples, window shop for miniature Rajasthani paintings, or just sail on a boat lakeside and enjoy the tranquil view of Udaipur.
Off the beaten track, near the Pakistan border, the fort town of Jaisalmer rises out of the desert like a golden sandcastle. Made of sandstone, this is a living fort. Within its narrow lane ways, people go about their daily business, selling their wares or just sitting in the shade escaping the heat of the day. About 3,000 people call Jaisalmer Fort home and this is what now lends it such charm. Within the walls of the fort are shops and the famous Jain Temples that were built by the rich merchants who passed through this trading town as early as the 12th century.
Surrounding Jaisalamer are some of India’s most impressive havelis (old family homes), and of course the desert. Jaislamer is one of the best places to visit the Thar Desert and experience the sheer joy (or terror) of riding a camel on an open sand dune.
Most famous for its annual camel fair, there is so much more to see in the small town of Pushkar. A famous pilgrimage town, devout Hindus flock to Pushkar to bath in its holy ghats and pray at some of its 400 odd temples including an unusual one dedicated to Brahma. You can literally just stop and listen to the sounds of prayer by the lake, and the mesmerizing tones of chanting that fills the air. Of course if you do visit Pushkar in the autumn, you should try and time it to visit the fun camel fair. It’s considered by many to be the best place in India to watch a good camel trade in action.