From the Sands of the Thar, to the Glory of the Rajputs; Rajasthan will never lose its charm.
The royalty and splendour of Rajasthan is well known. Every region in Rajasthan is stunning in its own way. The mahals, deserts, havelis, colourful dresses and amazing culture; they all add to the ravishing beauty of the Royal Rajasthan. Of all the amazing places in Rajasthan, the crown jewels of Rajasthan are Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
All these three cities add their own flavour to the typical Rajasthani ‘cuisine’. Desert safaris, sandstone structures, living forts, lakes and much much more! With lots of awesome stuff to do for a lifetime, these cities will quench all your wanderlust.
Ummm, sounds like a lot of fun, right? Let’s go!
Ah, The Blue City! With its characteristics blue houses and picturesque lakes, forts and palaces all vying for your attention, Jodhpur will leave you captivated and wanting more throughout your visit. Leaving the Blue City will make you feel the blues (sorry for the terrible pun).
There are so many things to do in the blue jewel of Rajasthan. It has no shortage of the tradition, history and culture that you would expect of Rajasthan – and a lot more. Be it shopping, sightseeing or food, Jodhpur will make you go “Wow”, “Yummy” and “Wow once again”!
If we were to write down all that there is to Jodhpur, even a book the size of a Dictionary wouldn’t be enough. But let us summarising it down to the best things to do and give it a go, eh?
Places to visit in Jodhpur:
- Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort is part of the very fabric of the Jodhpur city. Its imposing presence over the city adds to the astounding allure of Jodhpur. The Fort is well preserved, so a mere visit will imbibe all of its history and culture into you.
Being one of the largest and most popular forts in India, does it surprise you that Mehrangarh also possesses an outstanding display of royal memorabilia? The museum in Mehrangarh Fort contains historical artefacts, Maharajas’ personal collections, costumes and an art exhibition for the art that thrived under Rajput rule. You should also attend the cultural performances that take place daily for another great experience.
Oh, and don’t forget to catch a sight of the blue tinted Jodhpur city from the heights of the Fort. Even words cannot describe the beauty of that sight.
- Bishnoi Village Safari
The real Rajasthan, just for you!
It is in the Bishnoi Village that you will find some of the truest Rajasthani culture. The trips to the village are organised by Chottaram Prajapati, a weaver, showing you the traditional village and tribal life, culture, vegetation and the indigenous arts and paintings crafted by the locals.
The Guda Lake near the village is the oasis for the nearby region, so don’t be astonished that the Lake and its surroundings are full of flora and fauna. Guda Lake acts as a refuge from the dry Thar environment for all the animals including blackbucks, antelopes, cranes, migratory birds and many more.
Be sure to enjoy the wonderful heritage, culture and handicrafts of the Bishnoi village; the villagers will treat you with warmth and hospitality like their life depends on it.
3. Ziplining and Paragliding
“I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky.”
Well, no need to just believe anymore, you can touch the sky with Flying Fox Jodhpur. Situated in Mehrangarh Fort, these ziplines will take you above the city giving you lot of memorable views for your lifetime. The longest zipline is 300m, imagine zipping through the sky for that distance! Oh the adrenaline!
Another awesome adventure for you in Jodhpur is paragliding. This adventure sport is thrilling but not too scary; as you slowly glide through the air taking in the panoramic view of the Blue City with the green hills providing the backdrop to the picture perfect scenery.
- Mandore Gardens
The offbeat garden that will increase your heartbeat – Mandore Gardens! An old fort, a collection of exquisitely illustrated temples and cenotaphs, a small government museum; all with the finishing touch of the beautiful garden and landscaping, that’s Mandore Gardens for you!
A trip to the Gardens will take you back in time with the ruins of the Fort and cenotaphs from as far back as the 1400s waiting for you to explore them. The garden is also peppered with stone carved temples where you can worship any god. The “Hall of Heroes” commemorating Rajput heroes and “Hall of Deities” donning the statues, sculptures and paintings of various gods worshipped by the Rajputs are two more main attractions in Mandore Gardens.
This garden is also a great spot for family picnics and taking an evening stroll through the Mandore Gardens is one of the most romantic things to do in Jodhpur.
- Kaylana Lake
Kaylana Lake is ideal for a relaxing outing where you just want to take a chill pill while revelling in the beauty of the blue-green expanse of water in front of you. The cool breeze coming from the lake will also replenish your energy and energise you. The Lake looks even more stunning in the early morning or late evening with the rising or setting sun illuminating the waterbed giving it a surreal looks. This is easily one of the best picnic spots in Jodhpur, if not Rajasthan.
Food in Jodhpur
Jodhpur will truly expose the foodie within you! From the sumptuous Thalis to the spicy meats of Laal Maas, Jodhpur has too much to offer. Imagine dipping your favourite sweet into a delicious curry, what do you get? Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi! Yes, the Shandar Restaurant of Jodhpur does exactly that, and to what incredible results. Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi is a very tasty and unique blend of flavours that is found only at this particular restaurant in Jodhpur.
Other popular Jodhpur delicacies include Daal Batti, Kachori, Laal Maas, Pachkutta, Khadi and Kaju Draksh ki Sabzi. This is just the tip of the iceberg, mind you. Jodhpur has so many more yummy food to try. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.
Shopping in Jodhpur
Shop your heart out in Jodhpur, even your mind won’t find it unreasonable. Jodhpur is full of busy, bustling and great shopping streets. The Clock Tower Market, by the Clock Tower, is the most popular in the city and is known for its diverse varieties of spices including the elusive Mathaniya’s Red Chilli. The colourful and intricate handicrafts of Tripolia Bazaar are another thing you must buy in Jodhpur. Mochi Bazaar for Rajasthani Jhootis (shoes), Umaid Bhavan Palace Market for antiques and Sojati Gate Market for handicrafts, souvenirs and a wide variety of other items are some more shopping hubs of the city. All in all, Jodhpur is a place to be for shopping.
Want to go to Venice? Is it too far and infeasible? No worries, we’ve got the Venice of the East, Udaipur! Set on the banks of the Ayad River and the idyllic Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lakes, Udaipur is a dreamworld for a holiday of all capacities.
The backdrop of the soaring, rugged hills surrounding the city, lavish palaces, intricate temple, whitewashed houses and tranquil lakes makes Udaipur one of the most romantic cities in the world. The royalty, authentic cultures and lively bazaars of the city won’t be lost on you. Whether you are travelling with your friends or your family or be it a solo trip, you WILL enjoy Udaipur to your heart’s content.
There are all sorts of places to see in Udaipur for every type of people. Here are the places in Udaipur that should be on the top of your list for you to feel all its quirks and intricacies.
Places to visit in Udaipur :
- City Palace
India is a democracy, but when in Rajasthan you would be excused for thinking you are still in the age of kings and royalty. The City Palace of Udaipur is an exemplar of all these attributes associated with Rajasthan.
Built on a hill on the east bank of the Pichola River, the City Palace is made in a great blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture. This complex of Palaces and is the largest in Rajasthan dates back to almost 500 years. The ornately decorated Mahals and temples of the Palace complex with their big corridors, terraces, pavilions and gardens built in granite and marble will wow your senses.
Once you are through the Bara Pol (main gate) of the Palace, it is just one huge buffet for your eyes. This is easily one of the top places to visit in Udaipur.
- Pichola Lake
“Time wasted at a lake is time well spent.”
Looks like your time is going to be spent really well in Udaipur, ‘The City of Lakes’. Out of all the lakes in Udaipur, Pichola is arguably the most famous. Flanked by lofty hills, a trip to the Lake will offer a total different perspective to the city.
No visit to Pichola Lake is complete without taking the customary evening boat ride. At sunset, seeing the entire place turns gold and the stunning background of the sun setting beyond the bustling city, palaces and hills; with its reflection shimmering off the Lake is a once in a lifetime experience.
Another unique feature of the Lake is the Jag Mandir Palace, perfectly perched right in the middle of Pichola. This Mahal is yet another example of the amicable relationship between Rajputs and Mughals, as it is built in a mixture of both styles of architecture.
In the end, Rudyard Kipling sums it up best, “If the Venetian owned the Pichola Lake, he might say with justice, `see it and die'”.
- Eklingji Temple
History buffs, architecture geeks and devotees of Lord Shiva, prepare yourself, Eklingji Temple is your ideal destination for a holiday!
Initially established in 734AD by Bappa Rawal and again reconstructed in the 14th and 15th centuries, this temple’s architecture and design is on another level. Made of marble and granite, similar to the City Palace, the main temple is 65ft high and has a huge ornate mandapa, under the canopy of a huge pyramidal roof composed of hundreds of knots and crowned by a tall tower. In the inner sanctum is the divine four faced Shiva carved from black marble.
There are many more idols, illustrations and carving all throughout the temple, its walls and its entrances. One of the highlight of the temple complex is the silver Nandi, welcoming you into the temple. Apart from the main Eklingji temple in the temple complex, there are myriad other temples dedicated to Gods like Pataleshwar Mahadeo, Vidhyavasini Devi, Arbuda Mata and Rathasan Devi.
- Kumbhalgarh Fort
Welcome to The Great Wall – of India? After The Great Wall of China, Kumbhalgarh Fort is a UNESCO site possessing the second longest continuous wall in the world! Said to be originally settled by a Jain Prince in 2nd century BC, this grand fort was built by Rana Khumba in the 15th century AD. Perched atop the lofty Aravallis, the Fort is a commanding presence in the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The Fort contains over 360 temples of Jain deities and within Kumbhalgarh there are three palaces at three levels, with the Badal Mahal taking the top berth. However, the time when the Fort relives its full glory is at sunset and afterwards, when the Fort’s structures are evocatively illuminated. As soon as it gets dark, the sound and light show begins. This is a spectacle not to be missed as the flamboyant performances showcase the rich culture and history of Kumbhalgarh Fort and its Maharanas. If you want to explore an unconventional yet amazing attraction, then Kumbhalgarh Fort should be on top of your list. Located just a couple hours’ drive from Udaipur, this is one of the best offbeat places to visit near Udaipur.
- Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary
It’s time to wander into the wild!
In the outskirts of Udaipur lies the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary. It is full of wildlife and greenery, and blessed with animals such as hyenas, panthers, antelopes, jackals, snakes and more. You can partake in many incredible treks from the Gorilla Point to the Tiger Lake. There are also wildlife safaris that help you become one with the nature.
Amidst the wildlife sanctuary is the Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace, regally overlooking the city. It offers panoramic views of Udaipur, the beautiful Fateh Sagar and the Pichola Lakes and the forests surrounding it. Located high in the Aravallis, the Palace looks particularly stunning in the night when the whole area is illuminated with lights.
Food in Udaipur
Yummy! Only thing you will be saying while eating in Udaipur. From your conventional Rajasthani food to food that is unique to only Udaipur, this city has it all.
One of the spectacular and distinctive dishes that will satiate your hunger in Udaipur is the boiled egg burji. A curry made of tomato, onions, mysterious spices and eggs (duh), a plate of this version of egg burji will dry up you salivary glands. Then there is the Falooda, this desert made of an assortment of flavours. Mini Mirchi Badas, Kachoris, Bread Pakoras, Daal Baati and Dabeli are all great options for street food in Udaipur. All in all, you can’t go wrong with chaats in Udaipur.
Now that I am writing about Rajasthani food; excuse me for a minute, I HAVE to get myself some chaats and falooda…..
Shopping in Udaipur
Every nook and corner of Udaipur is vibrant and colourful. So it is only natural that Udaipur is a utopia for shoppers. It is time to unleash the shopper in you!
For folk arts and handicrafts go to Hathi Pol. Bada Bazaar is the place to be for vivid Rajasthani traditional costumes, jootis and jewellery. The government emporium of Rajasthali is probably the best place to buy Rajasthani handicrafts of all types from wooden craft items like jharokas to sarees to the customary blue pottery of Rajasthan.
Nonetheless, the best shopping experience overall will be in Shilpgram. You will wonder whether you really are in a traditional Rajasthani village. All the shops are set up in in wooden and mud huts usually found in rural Rajasthan. You will find anything under the sun Rajasthani in Shilpgram. Be it handcrafted and leather goods or jewellery or paintings or even the tastiest Rajasthani cuisine. Sounds so cool, right? Get the shopaholic in you ready for Udaipur!
A city that seems to be made completely out of sand, completely fitting in the golden desert canvas, is suitably called The Golden City. Beauty, culture, heritage, adventure, history and even horror, is any trip to Rajasthan even complete without visiting Jaisalmer?
On the western edge of the country, only 85km from Pakistan, you will think that Jaisalmer is in another world entirely. The way the city just blends into the Thar Desert with its sandstone structures and with the majestic Jaisalmer Fort overlooking the vastness of the Thar, Jaisalmer is the dream mirage come to life.
The golden jewel of Rajasthan has the platter full for tourists; even the longest holiday won’t suffice for you to cover everything Jaisalmer throws into the mix. So here are the best places to visit while in Jaisalmer out of the lot.
Places to visit in Jaisalmer :
- Jaisalmer Fort
Is this a fort or a city by itself?
The only living fort in India (over 4000 people still live inside the Fort!), Jaisalmer Fort is also one of the oldest in India, built in the 12th century. The Fort arrogantly rises above the rest of the city, giving you the spectacular feeling of being in the world’s largest and grandest sandcastle, literally (the Fort is made of sandstone).
Within the Fort are houses, restaurants, handicraft shops, hotels and many more of the commercial things. Just taking a relaxing stroll all through the Jaisalmer Fort and the Dusserha Chowk, Raj Mahal, Desert and Heritage museums and the numerous Jain temples built between the 12th to 16th centuries within the Fort will calm your soul.
The sight of the Golden City from the heights of the Fort is something to behold. Jaisalmer Fort will completely change your perception of what a fort should be like. Jaisalmer Fort should be on top of your bucket list in Jaisalmer.
- Desert Safari and Camping in the Desert
Adrenaline junkies, prepare yourselves!
Just going into the desert, revving up the engine and riding the dunes in your car are a mood of its own. If you choose to go dune bashing, a whole new and thrilling off-roading experience awaits you. On top of that, playing with the sand in the middle of the desert will bring out the child in you.
Another way to travel around the desert is by camel. Climbing the camel itself is an experience that should be enjoyed and the way the camel seamlessly drifts through the desert sand makes it even more fun.
After an exhilarating day in the desert, what is a better way to end it than staying overnight right there. The calmness of the desert is peaceful and energising at the same time. Away from all the city lights and pollution, you get an ethereal and unobstructed view of the stars, universe and beyond.
There are many desert safari and camping tours arranged by various dealers; you can go with any of them or you could even travel solo to truly feel the remoteness of the desert. However it is, it would be criminal to not go on a desert safari when in Jaisalmer.
- Kuldhara Village
Rajasthan is known for many things, one among them being haunted castles. But what about a haunted village? Yes, Rajasthan has that too, in the form of Kuldhara! This is the place to be in Rajasthan to have a rendezvous with ghosts.
Just 15km from Jaisalmer is the abandoned village of Kuldhara. Once a thriving and bustling town, legend is that this village was abandoned overnight. The legend follows that the minister of the ruling kingdom was forcing the village chief to give up his daughter in marriage, so to protect the dignity and honour of the chief and his daughter, the entire population of Kuldhara decided to leave their village. Upon leaving, the inhabitants placed a curse that no one will live in this Kuldhara again. Hence, it is said that many paranormal activities are experienced here.
A cursory glance around Kuldhara will also prove that along with being brave warrior, the Rajputs were great civic planners. The streets are wide and beautifully designed. Earages, step wells, temples and other structures were all built in abundance. The whole village is just aesthetically pleasing. Despite being in ruins, the planning of Kuldhara is genuinely better than many Indian cities.
Visiting Kuldhara is one of the spookiest and best things to do near Jaisalmer.
- Gadisar Lake
Life is better at the Lake.
This is certainly true at the picturesque Gadisar (also known as Gadsisar) Lake. Built to provide water to Jaisalmer by Raja Rawal Jaisal, it was the cities only water supply until 1965. There are innumerable Hindu temples and ghats surrounding the lake making it a pleasant and relaxing escape.
Boating is popular in Gadisar Lake, and for good reason. Dawn and dusk, when the twilight lights up the lake in orange, are the best time to do boating across the lake as the Lake and the Fort in the background look stunning in the orange hue. The lake is also full of catfishes that love to be fed and if you visit in the winter, you get a chance to spot the migratory waterfowl and other birds.
Take a trip to Gadisar Lake at your own peril; there is a serious chance of you falling in love with the place.
- Tazia Tower and Badal Mahal
This palace is aptly named Badal Mahal, for once you are inside it, you will truly be on cloud 9. The Badal Mahal has a gorgeous cloud like appearance and is a cluster of structures with characteristic carvings all over the wall. From the Badal Mahal rises the Tazia Tower, giving an illusion of a structure rising from a cluster of clouds.
Built by Muslim craftsmen, this tower is a replica of the mausoleums of various muslim imams with each of the 5 storeys having its own individual and fashionable designs and intricate carvings. This tower is entirely different from the usual Rajputana architecture of Rajasthan and the entire structure has an Islamic touch to it. Tazia Tower is a beautiful amalgamation of architectural splendour and the rich tapestry and shows the skilful execution of Muslim artisans.
The Mahal and its Tower perfectly exemplify what India is all about: Unity in Diversity and the beautiful mingling of different cultures. The beauty and magnificence of the Badal Mahal and Tazia Tower is a result of this.
Food in Jaisalmer
If food is your god, Jaisalmer is heaven.
With streets full of life and street food that will tingle your taste buds, Jaisalmer is a true haven for foodies. The most popular snack in Jaisalmer – and Rajasthan is pyaaz ki Kachori served with green chutney. Don’t miss it for your life in Jaisalmer. Gatte ki Sabzi, made of besan flour and curd cooked in a spicy curry, is amongst the most popular Rajasthani dish and you can get an amazing version of it in Jaisalmer. The customary Dal Bati Choorma is also found in abundance in Jaisalmer. Ker Sangri, made of desert beans and capers, is locally and almost exclusively found only in Jaisalmer.
In the desserts arena, would you think a city in the desert would disappoint? Of course not! The Makhania Lassi is thick, creamy and filling that it is eaten with a spoon. For the daredevils (or those who just want to get high), you have to try the Bhaang Lassi or the Bhaang cookies; made from locally grown cannabis, there are a few government authorised shops selling these delicacies. The final great desert of Jaisalmer is Kesaria Thandhai. It is an incredibly drink made out of dry fruits such as almonds, pistas, rosewater and saffron.
As you can see, Jaisalmer is oozing with deliciousness. So be ready to have a feast and put on some weight whilst in Jaisalmer!
Shopping in Jaisalmer
Shopping in Jaisalmer is a whole new and unique experience. With no high end boutiques or shopping malls, most of the shopping will be on the streets giving it a rustic charm only possible in the Golden City.
There are quite a few shopping streets in Jaisalmer with one of the most popular and oldest being Bhatia bazaar, famed for its silk, fabrics, souvenirs and sarees. The Sadar bazaar is another popular market, and is as enchanting as Jaisalmer gets. It is known for its paintings, carpets, jewellery and many other things; it is also the place to go for leather goods. Manak Chowk is your shopping destination if handicrafts, ethnic jewellery and textiles are what you want to buy. Pansari bazaar is yet another market for handicrafts and traditional Rajasthani puppets.
Wherever you go and whatever you buy, one thing is for sure; in Jaisalmer, the shopper in you is going to have a busy day.
Along with these three gems of cities, there are a plethora of cities, towns and regions to visit in Rajasthan. Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer may be the cream of the crop but the rest of the state is in no measure lesser than these cities.
However, now that you know all about the three Jewels of Rajasthan, it is time for you to pack your bags and hit the road right away! So go on your well deserved vacation, tell us all about your experience and most importantly – have loads of fun!
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