Rajasthan is a state in the northwest of India. It is mainly arid and its western border is adjacent to Pakistan. The main attraction for travellers is the vast Desert of Thar and one of the oldest mountain range in the world - Aravalis - and the Rajput heritage which is apparent in the forts, temples and palaces established by the Rajput Kings like Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga and Rana Pratap.
- Jaipur - the state capital
- Bikaner - famous for its sweets
- Bundi - fort city off the beaten track
- Jodhpur - the Blue City, site of the spectacular hilltop Mehrangarh Fort
Most people speak Rajasthani dialects, Hindi and sometimes broken English. In tourist places like Jaipur and Jodhpur, you will find trained English and French guides too.
Rajasthan is one of the larger Indian states and distances are long, making planes a fairly good option for getting in. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur all have airports with direct links to many major cities, though if coming from a smaller city, one has to go via Delhi.
Overnight trains from Delhi and Mumbai reach most of Rajasthan's major cities. For points further out, like Jaisalmer, you'll be looking at a second day on the train as well. The Shatabdi and Rajdhani express are excellent trains and have excellent service.
Another option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through Rajasthan.
The National Highway 8 which runs through Rajasthan is excellent and connects Delhi to Mumbai. Though Mumbai may be too far away, this is the most popular way to travel to travel to Jaipur from Delhi as the road is in excellent condition and the drive can easily be completed in under 4hrs.
All the cities have public transports in form of buses.Also available are jeeps on hire. Beware of jeep drivers who charge a bomb from tourists. Otherwise from Delhi various private travel agencies organise trips to Rajasthan but they are rather costly. But if you do not travel alone, it is better to hire a car with a driver (for example a car from Delhi International Airport to Neemrana Village costs 4000 INR for five persons). Besides these government tourism department runs luxury buses to a couple of cities in Rajasthan. The buses originate from Dr. Ambedkar Terminus in the Old Delhi region.
Railways can be the better travel mode as it is quick and the service on most trains is excellent. But in Rajasthan, road may be more enjoyable for short distances as the sights of the desert with the hills to be seen are beautiful and the roads are but bearable. A popular road drive is from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, which is because the flight takes longer overall and the road is excellent.
A very popular option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through interiors of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destination to observe Indian heritage and royalty closely. A fortnight should suffice to be able to glimpse the splendor of the state. It has a lot of natural and man made tourist destinations, which include:
- Amber Fort in Jaipur
- Camel fair in Pushkar
- Chittorgarh Fort - A massive structure with numerous gateways, the fort is an outstanding example of Mauryan architecture.
- Mehrangarh Fort - Located in Jodhpur. Set on the hill top, Mehrangarh Fort is a humongous royal mansion.
- Junagarh Fort in Bikaner
- Pichola Lake in Udaipur
- Bundi Fort in Bundi
- Jaisalmer Fort - Located in Jaisalmer. This fort is constructed with sand stones and is an important landmark of Jaisalmer city.
- The Desert landscape in Jaisalmer
- Jal Mahal in Jaipur
- The Pink City in Jaipur
- Umaid Bhawan in Jodhpur
- Wildlife Sanctuary in Ranthambhore National Park
- Many of the cities and towns in Rajasthan offer a chance to do a camel safari.
- Another great experience is to explore Rajasthan on horseback. Beginners can go on shorter rides while experienced riders can join horseback safaris running from a couple of days up to 3 weeks.
- Lady travelers can get brilliant, intricate henna patterns done on their hands and/or feet.
- Visit the bird sanctuary at Bharatpur and the wildlife park at Ranthambore. Make sure you take the tiger safari at Ranthambore.
- Shop at the bazaars(local markets) located in most cities in narrow alleys and lanes. You can pick up traditional puppets, tie-and-dye clothes/apparel, kota(also a place) textiles, accessories.
- Visit fairs arranged for traditional festivals, where you get to see the locals in traditional finery;watch camel races;enjoy traditional folk music.
- Go on a jeep safari, night safari or a nature hike in the Aravalli Mountains visiting some of the interesting wildlife sanctuaries there such as Sita-Mata, Kumbhalgarh or Jaisamand.
- Hot Air Ballooning, . 3. A breath taking experience of hot air ballooning over the heritage sites and seing a totally different perspective of Jaipur.Mesmerising should be the word for the entire 3 hour experience. You just can't have anything better to than Hot Air Ballooning at Jaipur... A MUST DO !!!10000.
Avoid shopping at outlets guided by the local auto/ricksha drivers or even with the local tour guide you may have hired as these outlets all claim to have some assosiation with the Rajasthan government or the actual artisans which are generaly fabricated claims and you end up paying anywhere between 20-40% above the actual price (including a hefty commission parted by the shopkeeper to the guide/auto driver). The guide is more keen to show you all these shops rather than the places you have travelled to see.
Food is generally very spicy - to be enjoyed in moderation for first timers. Dairy based sweet products are very popular in this part of the country. Restaurants are mostly vegetarian. Finding restaurants serving good non-vegetarian food could be difficult, and in general, non vegetarian stuff in road side eateries should be avoided. Bread - both leavened and unleavened is readily available.
A typical Rajasthani fare would include daal-baati-churma. Daal is lentil curry;baati is round balls made out of wheat flour and baked in charcoal fire;churma is a dessert made out of crushed wheat balls rolled in jaggery/sugar and topped with ghee.
As always, be careful when traveling alone, and avoid venturing out late at nights and beware of touts. One of the safest way to travel around Rajasthan is by having a driver who know their ways around Rajasthan.
Spitting, urinating and dumping garbbage at public places and streets is very common and you need to watch out for this. Also beware of traffic coming in from the wrong side of the street when walking/driving.
There are many clinics and hospitals in major cities which provide quality treatment at affordable prices. Also health tourism is on the upswing.
This page was last edited at 14:20, on 27 March 2009 by Wikitravel user Vidimian. Based on work by Ryan Holliday, Yogesh Mankar, Ute Tonia and Rahul, Wikitravel user(s) Episteme, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.