When people think of India, the images they conjure up are often from this part of the country. Grand palaces, beautiful scenery, opulence of the old kingdoms and as ever, great food. Rajasthan (meaning “Land of the Kings”) is the home of the Rajputs, famed for their honour and warrior like resistance to Mughal invasions. Amar is lucky enough to have some Rajput blood flowing through his veins (also we can only guess what the old kings would think of his boring office job now!).
We spent the week in three amazing places – Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer (leaving Jaipur for our trip to the Golden Triangle later on).
The “City of Lakes” has been called the most romantic spot in India and was a great place to come to after the hustle and bustle of two of India’s largest cities. We were lucky enough to stay one night in the Taj Lake Palace – the best hotel we’ve ever been to – where we could enjoy the scenery from the heart of the lake.
⁃ Boat ride on Lake Pichola – one of the main attractions in the city offering stunning views of the city palace, the Taj and Jagmandir (where you can stop off for a few minutes)
⁃ Exploring the City Palace – the other main attraction and home to the Mewar dynasty who set up camp here while running away from invaders (a common story!)
⁃ Fateh Sagar Lake – the other major lake within Udaipur offering more amazing views of the scenery as well as Nehru Garden and the Solar Observatory.
⁃ Saheliyon Ki Bari – we couldn’t come to Rajasthan and miss seeing the gardens that were built by the kings!
⁃ Jagdish Temple – near the city palace, this temple was also built by a king – Maharana Jagat Singh I
⁃ Monsoon Palace – a must see! Built originally to monitor monsoon clouds, the palace now offers the most spectacular views of the city. Watch out for the monkeys though – thieving bastards.
“The Blue City”, named so because of the colour of the houses which are painted blue. Some say to keep the houses cool and others say to represent the Brahmin following of Lord Shiva. Either way, it looks amazing and is probably the reason why Jodhpur has appeared in so many films over the years (including the Dark Knight Rises – our tour guide said he met Christian Bale on set while helping with the filming!)
⁃ Mehrangarh Fort – the Rajputs (and Amar!) love a good Fort don’t they. Mehrangarh is the city’s most famous and home to most of the historical artefacts as well as great views of the city. The Fort was said to be cursed by the previous occupant and could only be lifted if a boy was sacrificed. To this day, the family of the boy – Raja Ram Meghwal – are still treated well as thanks for the sacrifice made.
⁃ Walking tour – we love doing these as it always seems to be the best way to see a city. A morning walk through the Rao Jodha Desert Rock park followed by a wander of the streets of the blue city ending at the house of a local who cooked us a local breakfast. Would highly recommend! (https://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g297668-d11805945-Reviews-Bluecity_Walks-Jodhpur_Jodhpur_District_Rajasthan.html)
⁃ Jaswant Thada – a beautiful building near the Fort, built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh by his son.
⁃ Umaid Bhavan Palace – the current residence of the royal family and probably most famous at the moment for being the venue for Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding!
⁃ Mandore Gardens – home to the old kingdom of Rao Jodha, the founder of the city. A bit out of the way of everything else but well worth it!
The “Golden City” and famous for being in the heart of the Thar Desert. The sand of the desert as well as the sandstone used to build much of the city gives it the distinct golden colour that it is now famous for.
⁃ Jaisalmer Fort – told you they love a fort around here! This one is the second oldest in Rajasthan and is one of the few “living forts” in the world today as many still reside in the area. The Fort came under the control of the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khiji for a period and during the siege, the women of the Fort committed “jauhar” – suicide in order to preserve their honour rather than be raped by the invaders. Something similar happens in the Bollywood film Padmavat – Rajput honour knows no bounds!
⁃ Gadisar Lake – a beautiful place to go for a boat ride. The lake is surrounded by shrines and temples and is probably best visited at sunset.
⁃ Camel Safari – a must do in Jaisalmer! The trip started with a visit to a lake and an abandoned village in the Thar Desert and the main event was the Camel ride over the sand dunes during sunset. It was an amazing experience. Dinner under the stars was the perfect way to end the day.
⁃ Rajasthani Thali – on a side note, we couldn’t leave without trying some traditional Rajasthani food. Ker Sangri was our favourite, finally some vegetables!