Jodhpur is probably the least interesting of Rajasthan’s towns but it does have a grand fort, Mehrangarh, the largest in India and home to an excellent museum of military trivia and Maharaja’s toys, as well as an outstanding view over the blue houses. The Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel will provide a brilliant experience for glitterati travellers. Jodhpur is also on the route from Pushkar or Udaipur to Jaisalmer so it’s an obvious stop.
Pushkar is one of the five most sacred sites in the Hindu religion, so gets far more Hindi pilgrims than tourists. Tourists will mainly travel to Pushkar to soak up the religious sights such as the frenzy around the Brahma temple and pilgrims bathing in the sacred lake. Around November Rajasthani folk and their camels arrive for the Pushkar Fair which is a big draw.
Chittorgarh Fort. Photo by Satoshi Namby.
– Bikaner is another remote desert city but easily accessible by train from many Indian cities. Jodhpur is about 5 hour’s drive away. Bikaner offers tourists Junagarh Fort and museum, a couple of fine temples, a beautifully converted luxury hotel called the Laxmi Niwas Palace and a lot of sand, so camel trekking is an inevitable activity.
– Chittorgarh Fort, one of the most famous Rajput forts and the scene of several mass suicides as a result of hugely destructive battles between Muslim and Hindu armies. It’s 112 kms from Udaipur.
– Ranthambhore National Park wildlife sanctuary is one of the best places to see tigers in the wild, though sightings are never guaranteed. The 400 sq. km. of park is also home to other animals such as jackals, mongoose, sloth bears and leopards.
– Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary near Bharatpur city is a 30 sq. km park and World Heritage Site that is a transit point for over 300 species of birds. The best time to visit is October – February when migrating birds are stopping off there.
– Mount Abu, Dilwara Temples.
Just to be clear, India and Rajasthan have a not-pretty side too. In fact, quite a lot of it!