Rajasthan – The Incredible State of India

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Hey guys 😀 My Rajasthan travelogue is on the way…! Hang on a bit though, won’t you? 😉 Because I have decided to add in a brief introduction to Rajasthan. It’s more like a small sample of the big surprise ahead 😉

So, let me take you on a short discovery trip through this incredible State of India… Rajasthan 😀

Rajasthan – the “Land of Fairytales”… There is a haunting air of romance in this Abode of Kings, one of the most exotic locales for tourist world over. The land of legends charms every soul with its rich history, majestic monuments, colourful culture, lively festivals and adventurous getaways.

A land of superlatives, everything in Rajasthan is breathtakingly beautiful, impressive and fascinating. Be it magnificent latticed havelis, ornate palaces or intricately-carved temples, Rajasthan has it all.  Each part of this incredible state narrates spellbinding tales of Rajput valour and chivalry, grandeur of its erstwhile rulers, royal extravaganza, rich traditions, etc.

Rajasthan, named as ‘Rajputana’ during the British rule, is not just a tourist destination. It is the land, where several major Rajput clans such as Rathod, Chauhan, Parmar, Solanki and Sisodiya rose to power and continued to wield their authority for ages, fighting against the attacking armies from the North West. It is the land of colourful Aravalli Mountains, of exquisite Hindu art and architecture, and more importantly, a thriving cultural legacy.

Located in the westernmost region of India, Rajasthan is the largest state in the country in terms of area, much of which is desert land.

Tourism accounts for almost 15% of the state’s economy. To promote its growth, several travel circuits have been developed…

 

Dhundhar Circuit: Jaipur-Samode-Ramgarh-Dausa-Abhaneri

The state capital, Jaipur is the gateway to Rajasthan and its many treasures. This historical city has everything that a traveller looks for… amazing sights, rich culture and traditions, great food, shopping paradise, vibrant environment and more.

 

Braj – Mewat Circuit: Alwar-Sariska-Deeg-Bharatpur-Karauli-Ranthambhore

Alwar was once part of the Matsya kingdom. Ancient temples, medieval forts and palaces, gardens and wildlife make it an interesting travel destination.

 

Hadoti Circuit: Bundi-Kota-Jhalawar-Baran

Steeped in history, beautiful ancient temples, forts and palaces abound this lesser explored region, located to the South East of Rajasthan. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gagron Fort and the Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary lie in this region.

 

Mewar Circuit: Udaipur-Rajsamand-Chittorgarh

The Mewar region, replete with annals of valour and chivalry is an oasis in this arid landscape. The region abounds in superlatives with magnificent hills, azure blue lakes, breathtaking forts and palaces and vivid landscape. Udaipur, the beautiful ‘City of Lakes’ is an enchanting city with many sightseeing places around.

 

Vagad Circuit: Dungarpur-Banswara

Undulating green hills, forest thickets, the valleys and lakes make this an ideal region for nature lovers. A stronghold of the Bhil tribe, this region boasts of natural beauty and cultural identity. It is also called the bamboo region. Bamboo once grew in abundance here.

 

Godwar Circuit: Mount Abu-Ranakpur-Jalore

The State’s only hill destination, Mount Abu, is located in this region, at the south western end of Rajasthan. Mount Abu is famous for its temples, the most noteworthy being the Dilwara Temples. The other famed attractions include the temple complex of Ranakpur and the ancient Jalore Fort.

 

Desert Circuit: Jodhpur-Barmer-Jaisalmer-Bikaner

The magnificent forts and palaces of Jodhpur and Barmer in the Marwar region, and in the desert city of Jaisalmer are popular tourist destinations, not forgetting the Thar- Great Indian Desert. And of course, Bikaner and the nearby Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, home to blackbucks and a variety of birds.

 

Merwar-Marwar Circuit: Ajmer-Pushkar-Merta-Nagaur

Situated in the heart of Rajasthan, the ancient city of Ajmer was founded in the 7th century AD and remained the seat of power of the Chauhan kings until 1193, when the legendary Rajput hero, Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi and of a major part of Northern India, lost it to Muslim invader, Mohammad Ghori. Today, it is a sacred centre of pilgrimage for both, Hindus and Muslims. Pushkar, the sacred town of Hindus is close by. Merta has a 400-year-old temple and some historic ruins, while Nagore is famous for its splendid fort.

 

Shekhawati Circuit: Sikar-Nawalgarh-Dundlod-Mandawa-Fatehpur-Jhunjhunu

Shekhawati is a magical land of frescoed havelis. It has the greatest concentration of painted forts, chhatris (cenotaphs), temples and havelis in the country. As a matter of fact, this is the largest collection of murals in the world. The imposing mirage-like fortress of Mandawa is today a luxurious heritage hotel.

 

Rajasthan epitomizes all that dreams are made of. It is a rich mosaic of heritage and cultural diversity. Architectural memoirs built with studied detail, effervescent colours, stunning handicrafts, glittering gems, throbbing towns, wildlife sanctuaries, camel and cattle fairs, pulsating festivities and touching hospitality.

‘Jaipur’ the pink city, ‘Ranthambhore’ the famous tiger national park, ‘Chittorgarh’ the symbol of sacrifice and bravery, ‘Udaipur’, the city of lakes and palaces, ‘Jaisalmer’ the jewel of desert, ‘Jodhpur’ the sun city and ‘Bharatpur’ with its lively bird sanctuary… From enchanting Shekhawati frescoes – a feast for the art connoisseurs, to piety at Pushkar, the famous Jain temples of Mount Abu, Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, where blackbucks – one of the most beautiful antelopes in the world – greet you in the open fields, the archaeological ruins of Indus Valley Civilization at Kalibangan – the location of the earliest ploughed agricultural field dating back to 2800 BC… There’s always so much to discover in Rajasthan 😀

 

Magnificent forts and palaces dot the state’s picturesque landscape. Six extensive and majestic forts of Rajasthan: ChittorgarhKumbhalgarh, Ranthambore Fort, Gagron Fort, Amber Fort and Jaisalmer Fort are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Keoladeo National Park (also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) and Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.

A trip through Rajasthan is like a story-telling session where each place, monument and celebration has a story to tell, be that historical or mythological. Celebrating these events, laced with pomp and gaiety, festivities are an integral part quintessential way of life for the people here. Colourful dances, soul-stirring music, processions, traditional art, lovely ornaments and high-spirited people form the soul of this land’s art and culture. Wherever you go, you will find people enjoying festivities with gay abandon. At traditional fairs, you will also find Rajasthani men proudly showing off their moustaches.

These can be fairs dedicated to gods and goddesses, celebrating events of mythological or historical significance, cattle fairs or simply crafts bazaars. The festival of colours, Holi is celebrated with grand fervour here.

Other well-known fairs and festivals include the Desert Festival of Jaisalmer, Pushkar fair, Gangaur festival of Jaipur, Marwar festival at Jodhpur, Camel festival at Bikaner, Mewar festival at Udaipur, etc.

Rajasthan is the land of epicurean delights. If there is the ubiquitous lal maas and ker sangria, there’s also daal-baati-choorma, gatte ki sabzi, papad ki sabzi, mangori, alu methi, hot jalebi, kachori and dahi bara. There are various daals and rotis available even in the smallest of eating places. Bajra ki roti, makki ki roti, jau-channa ki roti, besan ki roti, baati, paratha and puri. Each region has its own special food item that is identified with the town or city. Regional delicacies include the special ghewar of Jaipur, mawa ki kachori, laddoos and mirchi badas from Jodhpur, malpuas from Pushkar, rasgullas and namkeen bhujia from Bikaner, sohan halwa from Ajmer, dil jani from Udaipur, mawa (milk cake) from Alwar, til papdi from Beawar. A visit to Rajasthan is incomplete without a traditional Rajasthani thali.

For shopping, Jaipur is a major hub for the numerous Rajasthani arts and crafts which include bandhani (tie & dye); block printing; stone carving and sculpture; taarkashi (inlay of fine flattened wire of brass, copper or silver in wood); zari (fine gold or silver thread) embroidery; gota applique work (wherein a strip of gold or silver or various other coloured ribbons of different widths are woven in a satin or twill weave); and zardozi (or metal) embroidery; silver jewellery; precious and semi-precious stones; kundan (jewellery with gold foil between the gemstones); meenakari (enamel metal-craft); miniature painting; blue pottery; ivory carving; shellac craft; leatherwear; and patwa craft (jewellery made with gold and silver thread). The bustling lanes of local bazaars in Rajasthan offer a large variety of traditional arts and crafts which are a reflection of royal legacy.

Beautiful palaces and gigantic forts are inherent gifts of royals that your eyes can treasure. You can opt for a royal stay in selected palaces which presently serve as hotels.

Adrenaline-rushing activities include trekking in the heights of Mount Abu – Rajasthan’s only hill station; sightseeing from the sky in hot air balloon; royal elephant ride at Amber Fort; jeep safaris at places like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Shekhawati; paragliding in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer; dune bashing in the Thar Desert; and of course, the most popular must-do activity…a camel safari 😀

Or maybe, just a camel ride or a camel cart ride through the sun-kissed dunes to watch the desert sunset 😉

Watch my video: The Thar Desert

 

Two luxury trains, departing from New Delhi, offer a memorable experience of Rajasthan.

The exquisite and exclusive Palace on Wheels, one of the ten most luxurious trains of the world, offers a memorable royal experience through Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur before proceeding to Agra and back to New Delhi. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels travels through Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur and Jaipur before proceeding to Khajuraho, Varanasi, Agra and back to New Delhi.

A list of suggested itineraries from New Delhi…

Information Source: Rajasthan Tourism Department Corporation (RTDC)

 

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Coming to my travelogue, I travelled through Rajasthan on a 10-day tour from 23rd November to 2nd December 2015. My trip started in Jaipur, from where I went to Jodhpur in the Marwar region; then to the desert city of Jaisalmer, taking in the beauty of Thar – the Great Indian Desert, travelling right up to the border with Pakistan; before going down south to Udaipur in the Mewar region; and back to Jaipur.

So, visit me soon for the first part of my Regal Rajasthan travelogue, where I will introduce you to Jaipur:-D Till then, take care 😀

 

Coming next # Regal Rajasthan (Part I): Jaipur

 

 

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