Rajasthan earns its reputation as India’s royal state with an array of historic forts and palaces to marvel at. Some of the most picturesque and magnificent to visit include Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace (Jodhpur); Amer Fort, City Palace, Jal Mahal and Hawa Mahal (Jaipur); City Palace and Kumbhalgarh Fort (Udaipur), Chittorgarh Fort (Chittorgarh), Junagarh Fort (Bikaner), Jaisalmer Fort and Patwon ki Haveliyan (Jaisalmer). These forts and palaces are popular among tourists, not only because of their architectural grandeur, royal aura and glorious past, but also for the impressive panoramic vista of the area.
Though Rajasthan is associated with deserts, the state also boasts some picturesque lakes that provide panorama boat tours, leaving visitors in awe with the spectacular vistas of the temples, ghats and palaces along its shores, and lush green hills in the backdrop. Some of the most breathtaking ones include Lake Pichola (Udaipur), Man Sagar Lake (Jaipur) and Pushkar Lake (Pushkar).
The royal state is a sort of spiritual hub, dotted with numerous temples, each with a unique history and architectural charms that date back to the 8th and 11th centuries. This religious architecture draws people in their thousands, every year. Some of the most notable ones that you don’t want to miss when visiting include Brahma temple (Pushkar), Dilwara temple (Mount Abu), Eklingji temple kailashpuri (Udaipur), Govind Dev Ji temple (Jaipur), Mehandipur Balaji temple (Dausa) and Karni Mata temple (Bikaner).
Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts are spoilt for choice in Rajasthan, as one of the state’s highlights is its beautiful sanctuaries and national parks that are teeming with a diverse and incredible wildlife. Some of the best locales to take in the diverse flora and fauna, and experience nature include Ranthambore National Park (Sawai Madhopur) that is known for its tiger population, Sariska Tiger Reserve (Alwar) known for its great population of Royal Bengal Tigers, and Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur) which is home to a large number of migratory birds. There are organised safari tours on offer in these parks, so tourists can sign up and get up close and personal with the amazing creatures.
You can’t come to Rajasthan and not visit the holy shrine Ajmer Sharif, which is the resting place of Sufi Saint, Moinuddin Chisti. This sacred shrine is wrapped in the aura of spirituality, serenity and harmony. People from all faiths and religions visit the shrine to seek blessings and peace of mind. Architecturally speaking, the interior is enchanting with a series of huge silver doors leading to the courtyard, where the gold and marble plated tomb of the Sufi saint is nestled.
Rajasthan has plenty to offer the adventurers. Some of the famous adventure tourism activities in the state include speed boating in the Fateh Sagar Lake (Udaipur), trekking in Alwar and Mount Abu, hot-air ballooning in Pushkar and Jaipur, dune bashing in Jaisalmer, elephant ride at Amer Fort (Jaipur), and zip lining in Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur). However, those with a little extra time should go cycling around the Pink City of Jaipur. Taking a tour of the city’s historical and cultural treasures, along with exploring the rural pockets is a wonderful experience. There are several tour operators providing the cycle tour, such as Cyclin’ Jaipur and Le Tour De India, just sign up for the best!
Venturing off-the-beaten-path will reveal some beautiful hidden treasures that will enthral you with their unparalleled beauty and intriguing tales of a bygone era. Some of the must-visit offbeat destinations include the 13th-century Barmer town that is famed for its rich craft; Banswara that is enveloped in tribal folklore; the 17th-century fortress of Rawla Narlai; Mahansar that is known for its 18th-century built haveli, complete with golden leaves and beautiful paintings; or villages Pali and Bishnoi that promote rural tourism.
A trip to the royal state of Rajasthan is incomplete without relishing its authentic cuisine. And, the best place to do just that is Chokhi Dhani that not only serves proper Rajasthani fare, but also provides traditional entertainment, such as folk dances, cultural performances, acrobats, etc. The warm hospitality and regal vibe make for a truly special atmosphere.
When in Rajasthan, don’t miss out the colourful shopping experience. Every city in Rajasthan is teeming with bustling bazaars that lets you experience the local life and culture as well as buy authentic, traditional items at affordable prices. For classic Jaipuri ornaments, check out the Johari bazaar (Jaipur); for traditional wears and souvenirs, hit up the Sadar Bazaar (Jaisalmer); for bandhani fabric and traditional jewellery, check out Bada bazaar (Udaipur).
If you’re looking for a place where history and culture are celebrated throughout the year, Rajasthan is for you. There’s always an interesting and vibrant festival or fair going on that provides an insight into the rich cultural heritage that make the state tick. Some of the must-attend include the International Kite Festival held in January around Makar Sakranti (Jaipur & Jodhpur), Pushkar Camel Fair in November (Pushkar), Elephant Fair in March (Jaipur), Urs festival held from the 1st to 6th day of Rajab (Ajmer), and Magnetic Fields Festival in December (Alsisar).