I just returned from a trip to Rajasthan and got a fair idea of what places to visit and what to not.
Almost every city in Rajasthan has historical significance. With the gamut of beautiful places like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Bikaner, Ranthambore, and Chittorgarh, a traveller may be perplexed with which places to visit and which to leave. At the end, it comes down to one’s taste.
If I were to go to Rajasthan again, I would pick the following places.
Though not in Rajasthan, Agra is a place not worth missing, especially when it shares the same aura with Rajasthan and is only 3-4 hours away from Jaipur.
I would visit the Agra Fort in the morning. Agra Fort is very similar to the Red Fort in Delhi, only being more accessible and better preserved and the Red Fort. I would then visit one of the seven wonders of the world. The grandeur architecture of Agra Fort and Taj Mahal spells the magnificence of the glorious Mughal empire. The intricate carvings reflect the skill of the artisans of that era. If time permits, I would watch the sunset from the Mehtab Garden, which lies opposite to the Taj Mahal across the Yamuna.
I would not miss Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur. I would also explore the markets in the pink city and have a delicious Rajasthani Thali.
(View from the fort)
The best way to explore all the forts is by hiring a guide, who will take you back to historical times and narrate the tales and architecture associated with the forts. Alternately, the audio guide is also a good option.
There are other nice places to visit in Jaipur like Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Birla Mandir, Rambagh Palace, Sheesh Mahal and Albert Hall Museum.
Jodhpur is a city much more than the forts and history; a heaven for history buffs, foodies, and street shoppers. I would start my day with a lip smacking breakfast in the famous Janata Sweet House. For a moment, stop thinking foods in terms of calories!
(Mirchi Vada, the characteristic snack of Jodhpur with ghee-fried, crispy and sweet Jalebi, and thick creamy Lassi)
Then I would visit the Umaid Bhawan Palace and Mandore, an ancient town 15 km from Jodhpur, which was the capital of Rathore clan until Rao Jodha shifted the capital to Jodhpur. It’s a very underrated tourist destination with a surprisingly low number of visitors.
I would spend the evening around GhantaGhar (Clock Tower) exploring the markets and shopping (if I find something really interesting).
Next day, I would cover the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, and Rao Jodha Desert Park.
The Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph which serves as the burial ground for the rulers of Marwar. The mausoleum is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble.
(Mehrangarh Fort from Jaswant Thada)
Mehrangarh Fort amazes you with its sheer magnificence.
Standing on top of a megalith, this monument is a perfect combination of beauty and resilience.
(Intricately designed Sheesh Mahal)
(The iconic view of the Blue city from Mehrangarh Fort)
I would go ziplining over the Mehrangarh Fort organised by Flying Fox (Number 1 of all outdoor activities in Jodhpur on Tripadvisor) and walk through Rao Jodha Desert Park in the evening.
Jaisalmer city was a disappointment for me. There is nothing very special about the city itself. Jaisalmer Fort is a lot different from the Agra Fort, Amer Fort, and Mehrangarh Fort. Jaisalmer Fort looks grand from outside but there are residential houses inside the fort, and hotels, restaurants, and shops. This is the reason why Jaisalmer Fort is not much accessible. Shopaholics wouldn’t be disappointed at all.
The interesting thing about Jaisalmer is that almost every house in Jaisalmer is made of sandstone with beautiful carvings.
(Golden City from Jaisalmer Fort)
There are amazing places to visit outside the city. I would love to go to Jaisalmer again, but with a different plan. I would visit Khuri and go to the sand dunes on a camel. I would cook my Rajasthani food in the desert and spend the night in the sand dunes. A person named Badal Singh from Khuri organizes such experiential tours.
I would visit the Tanot Mata temple near the India-Pakistan border, not for the temple but for the amazing journey through the Thar desert. On the way, I would stop by Kuldhara, the haunted village which was destroyed mysteriously in a single night.
Udaipur and Mount Abu
I really regret not visiting Udaipur and Mount Abu. I heard from the fellow travellers that Udaipur is the most beautiful city of all the places in Rajasthan. I didn’t visit Udaipur, so I can’t give specific details on the places to visit in Udaipur.
From what I heard and read, some good places to visit in Udaipur are City Palace, Lake Pichola, Monsoon Palace, Jag Mandir, Bagore ki Haveli, Lake FatehSagar, Lake Palace and Jagdish Temple.
Places not worth visiting
- Ajmer/Pushkar- I found these places to be the most overrated in Rajasthan. Unless you have any religious inclination, there is no point in visiting Ajmer or Pushkar.
- Sam sand dunes (Jaisalmer)- Sam sand dunes is the most popular place around Jaisalmer. Most people actually like the place. The place is highly commercialized and touristy. Tourists flock in large numbers and spend the night drowned in alcohol dancing to loud music. I would rather choose to be in a place away from the loud crowd enjoying the nature. That’s why I find Khuri to be a better alternative.
There are a lot of places to explore. You can make a plan depending on your age, taste, budget, time, and whom are you travelling with.