Avid world travelers know that India is a truly breath-taking and mind-expanding locale. Outside of main tourist areas (like the Taj Mahal and the capital, Mumbai) are lesser-known, but equally as inspiring, destinations. On that note: Rajasthan, India (Rajasthan meaning the Abode of Kings) is truly as prestigious as it sounds.
Teeming with massive strongholds and extravagant palaces, this western Indian state transports you into a golden era of royalty. With its overwhelming glory, heritage, and pride, Rajasthan is a jewel in India’s crown. It is a colorful concoction of oases and desert, featuring an eclectic food scene, hidden handicrafts, and lively festivals.
Each city of the historic area reflects colorful characteristics in their titles:
Jaipur, the Pink City
Udaipur, the White City
Jodhpur, the Blue City
Jaisalmer, the Golden City
Things to do in Jaipur
via @jaipur’s Instagram
Jaipur is home to a variety of palaces. A tour across the Pink City unveils Amber Palace, City Palace, Sambode Palace, Raajmahal Palace, and Jal Mahal. Perhaps the most famous landmark of Jaipur is Hawa Mahal. Constructed with red and pink sandstones, the palace is known for its ornate windows or jharokhe. The regal city is also dotted by traditional tourist spots like the cultural village, Chokhi Dhani. For the intrepid travelers seeking an adrenaline rush, Jaipur offers high-energy activities such as jeep safaris, hot air balloons, and rock rappelling.
Located 109 kilometers, approximately 68 miles, from Jaipur is the Ranthambore National Park, the sanctuary where Indian tigers roam free. Visitors hop in a jeep to trek through this open environment and enjoy the mesmerizing cats.
Things to do in Udaipur
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Enclosed by lakes, Udaipur is the Venice of the East. It is the home of Rajasthan’s largest palatial estate: the City Palace. Boasting a colossal façade 100 feet high and 788 feet wide, this palace itself is a one-day tour. Other picturesque attractions in Udaipur include romantic cruises on Lake Pichola, a regal garden stroll in Saheliyon Ki Bari, classic Bagore Ki Haveli, and temple of Karni Mata, or the Rat Temple. The ornate Haveli, or mansion, is of 18th-century architecture and has been converted into a museum. If you’re looking to recline in the lap of luxury, Udaipur offers options of unimaginable beauty, such as Taj Lake Palace.
Sited 52 miles away from the city is the Kumbhalgarh Fort: a structure that boasts the second-largest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China.
Things to do in Jodhpur
via @imperial.rajasthan’s Instagram
This sapphire city of Rajasthan, India is known for its magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Perched atop a hill, this stronghold presides over the entire city. Enclosed in gigantic 410-feet walls, the citadel is replete with several mini castles and zenanas. Other Jodhpur attractions in Rajasthan include the cenotaph of Jaswant Thada, or Taj Mahal of Marwa, ruin-laden Mandore Garden, and the last grand palace of Umaid Bhawan.
Things to do in Jaisalmer
via @aanxka’s Instagram
Nicknamed the Golden City and home to the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is simultaneously ornate and rustic. The city is distinguished by its yellow sandstone architecture. Flanking the city and dominating its skyline is the eponymous Jaisalmer Fort. Behind the protective walls of this bastion dwell the affluent Maharaja’s Palace and intricately-carved Jain temples.
Many splendid attractions in Jaisalmer are the intricately decorated building façades of Salim Singh Ki Haveli and Nathmal Ki Haveli, as well as the Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer local bazaar, and the Indo-Pak border.
Since the city is edged by the desert, visitors are offered an array of sporting activities. The Great Indian Desert hosts camps, quad biking, SUV dune bashing, and camel safaris. Many tour providers also offer aero sports such as parasailing and paramotoring in Thar.
Rajasthan, India is far more than just its palaces, forts, Havelis, and lakes. The former princely Indian state is also known for its spice-infused cuisine which is just as rich in flavors as it is in colors. Try the 56 bhog thali: a platter with 56 varieties of typical Rajasthani dishes. When in Jaipur, do not miss sampling the laal maas, or Rajasthani meat curry, at rooftop Peacock Restaurant at the Pearl Palace Hotel. Another great place to sample authentic Rajasthani cuisine is the striking resort of Chokhi Dhani. The resort is located in Jaipur, in addition to another location in Jaisalmer.