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ROYAL RAJASTHAN: A Memorable Visit!
A visit to Rajasthan is an awe-inspiring journey through Moghul monuments and Rajput forts and palaces with a sprinkling of divine temples, all steeped in centuries old history!!
I hope to give you a glimpse of what awaits you. There are a lot of tours of the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra & Jaipur but to cover the highlights of Rajasthan, ideally you need at least 8-10 days.
You have to fly to Delhi and then on to Jaipur either by plane or car to start the Rajasthan trip. It is a good idea to hire a reputable car & driver from Delhi and keep him for the entire journey.
Of course there are lots of tours on offer but if you have 3-4 people in your group, it is well worth it to do a personalized tour. Our recommendation is given below. He was very professional and informative. He was trustworthy because my cousin’s in-laws use his services 13
Bhag Singh Mobile: 9958954924; 9212024463 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org All our hotel bookings were done online thru Expedia or Agoda after researching reviews on trip advisor and checking google maps for the proximity of things to the hotel locations. They all turned out great except the one in Jaisalmer. It is best to get personal recommendations from friends & family.
1. Entrance fees at all monuments are significantly more for NRI’s and foreigners. Most of them also charge for using a camera and/or video camera.
2. Every monument including temples, have huge numbers of “so-called” government approved guides who pester you to no end. It is best to avoid them. Instead, opt for audio tours wherever they offer them. They give correct information and guide you thru the sights with numbered signs.
3. Shopping was not on our agenda but Jaipur and Jodhpur are great for shopping.
4. Best time to go is November thru February. Nights get very cold. Nothing is centrally heated. Hotels give extra blankets and small electric heaters which, for safety reasons should not be kept on during the night. We used thermal underclothes at night.
5. Also, pack enough clothes for all the days (especially underclothes). Clothes do not dry unless you stay somewhere for 2 days and are able to hang clothes in the sun. Sadly with the one bag rule, that leaves no room for shopping!!
6. Dress conservatively so as not to stand out as a “foreigner” and consequently become a target for cheating and scams. Unfortunately, that is the sad part with so many people trying to make a living.
The following itinerary makes a circuit and brings you back to Jaipur from where you can fly to other major cities in India.
Jaipur: Being the tourist capital of Rajasthan, it has many American chain hotels.
Things to see: Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal Places to eat: The Royal Treat on the main road into Jaipur; Choki Dhani is famous for a taste of Rajasthan culture & food.
KONKANI EXPRESSThings to see: Pushkar, less than an hour’s drive from Ajmer has the only Brahma temple in India and a Ranganathji temple where you can witness a beautiful aarti similar to Tirupati!
Also, Ajmer has a recently built gorgeous Shirdi Saibaba Temple and a Shiva temple. The murti is carved out of a single stone with Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, Karthikeya and all their “vahana’s” together. Only one of its kind in India. Absolutely gorgeous. Also, Lake Ana Sagar is a beautiful place for a stroll.
Udaipur: Drive via fabulous Chittorgarh. History will come alive! You will have to leave Ajmer very early, see Chittorgarh and arrive late at Udaipur.
For accommodation there is the super luxurious and pricey Lake Palace or for a reasonable option there are several converted havelis with views of the lake and rooftop restaurants. Some of them even cook your food to order (no ghee or fried stuff).
Things to see: Jagdish temple – it is a treat to wake up to “Jai Jagdish Hare” at dawn.
City Palace is fabulous – allow all day and do the audio tour.
Don’t miss the evening program at Bagore Ki Haveli – all kinds of traditional Rajasthani dances in an old haveli. Go half hour early for best seats.
Sahelion Ki Bari – beautiful gardens I recommend that you add a couple more days here to visit Kumbhalgarh about 2 hours away and also visit Mt. Abu.
Jodhpur: On the way to Jodhpur, definitely do a side trip to see Ranakpur Jain temple. It is absolutely fabulous. There are 1446 stone carved pillars, no two are alike. The place has an aura that makes you want to just stay there and meditate.
Accommodation: Again, there are several chain hotels but we had tried a home stay at Jagat Villas at 25 Rai ka Bagh run by Mr. & Mrs. Devender Singh.
Tel: +91 291 2513131; mobile +91 9929706962 The lady is related to the Maharaja and inherited the haveli and converted it to a B & B recently. They made us feel at home and even cooked dinner when we arrived late at night.
It was a different experience with very basic but more than adequate facilities; very reasonable at $40 including food.
Things to see: Umali Bhavan, Mehrengarh Fort with beautiful vistas of the “blue” city, Jaswant Thada
KONKANI EXPRESSJaisalmer – Famous for being the last big city near the Pakistan border.
Accommodation: The fort is a Living Fort and supposedly has havelis now being run as hotels.
Because of the poor sanitation around the fort, several areas are quite filthy but a reliable guide should be able to show you the key areas.
Places to see: Gadhisar lake, Patwon Ki haveli (absolutely beautiful), Bada Bagh (out of the city but worth a visit), Kuldhara old village (don’t waste your time, it’s a tourist trap), Sam Sand dunes sunset camel ride into Thar Desert (lovely but too many tourists have ruined it with litter) In hindsight, we would skip Jaisalmer if not for the lure of the Thar Desert.
From Jaisalmer, you have a long drive back to Jaipur for your onward flights. Alternatively you could drive back to Udaipur and fly from there but there are fewer flights.
In conclusion, this was a wonderful vacation and for me it brought alive the history learnt in school and a sense of pride for what Rajasthan has to offer visually & spiritually!