Aptly named the Land of Kings, Rajasthan is on every travellers wish list. The realm of the maharajas who brought their lavish temples and palaces to this part of the subcontinent has long been a place to come to marvel at golden shrines, join in the celebrations at one of the many glittering festivals and see some of India’s most revered artists and cultural heroes come to life.
Jaipur is known as the gateway to Rajasthan, this capital city bathed in a pink and red glow welcomed Prince Albert and Queen Victoria in 1883, but owes its regal surroundings to the original Maharaja Sawai Nai Singh, who had the city’s first forts and palaces built in 1727. Also known as the ‘pink city’, Jaipur can be crowded and noisy, but hey, that’s just India for you.
Skimming the banks of the Chambal River the ancient city of Kota is famous for its paintings, most of which can be seen at the various temple sites. City Palace is the most spectacular of them all, its architecture reflecting the glory days gone by.
This lake city is known as the Venice of the east and is one of the most beguiling sites in Rajasthan. Lake Pichola is surrounded by hilltop fortresses built by Maharana Udai Singh, but the real gem lies in the lake’s centre – the lake Palace is now a hotel, and probably one of the most romantic in the world. Explore the winding cobbled streets of the old town and find your way to the Mughal style fortresses and palace on the riverside. There are a range of tour operator guides like audleytravel.com – for holidays to India.
If getting away from it all is more your style then Bundi is a must on the Rajasthan list. This small and rustic town is known for its decorated forts and palaces, often depicting the battles and triumphs of their former rulers. There’s a picturesque lake in the centre of town.
Known as the golden city, Jaisalmer was founded by the Rao Jaisal in 1155, whose love for Jain temples is evident on top of Trikuta Hill, with an intricately decorated filigree palace shimmering gold in the sunshine. More information here.
Perched on the edge of the Ranthambhor national Park where tigers roam freely in the day, and thought they may not be the king of the jungle (we’ll let the lion have this one) they are nonetheless an incredibly moving sight. If you’re unlucky spotting tigers there are over 264 species of bird flapping around.
This sleepy town attracts a lot of hippies and backpackers; it’s a mecca for holy festivals and pilgrimages. In October and November Pushkar really comes into its own, when the camel fair comes into town. It might sound like an odd choice but this is a great way to see a traditional India festival.
The kings and maharajas of Rajasthan shine down from the many decorated, filigreed temples and palaces. It can be a barren land, surrounded by desert, but like with much of India, the surprise pockets of lakes and rivers glistening in the sunshine make this majestic city one of the most revered on the traveller circuits.