Rajasthan, India

Rajasthan Map, India

Rajasthan Map

Why visit Rajasthan?

Rajasthan is quintessential India, priority viewing, a magical, historical region the size of France loaded with extraordinary forts, extravagant Rajasthani palaces, monster moustaches, red saris, orange turbans, yellow deserts, blue homes, camel and elephant transport systems, fantastic shopping created by artisans imported by Rajput princes and amazing bedrooms owned by the same royalty but occupied now by tourists. There’re even some wildlife safari possibilities round the east side at Bharatpur and Ranthambhor.

Just west of Delhi, Rajasthan is easy to get to and hard to leave.

Rajasthan’s Top Attractions

For those on a short leash Udaipur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer should be the prime targets, though the latter is a long way and demands solitude, but you will not be alone. . . nor should you expect to leave poverty behind.

Wildlife seekers have their best chance – though it’s not a good one – of seeing a wild tiger in the Ranthambore National Park, near Jaipur. Keoladeo NP, near Bharatpur and en route for Agra is the place for those twitching for birds.

an Udaipur palace, Rajasthan, India

Udaipur, Rajasthan, the ‘White City’

Udaipur is the most romantic of Rajasthan’s four great towns and doesn’t require transport. This is a fine town to simply wander the streets admiring buildings old and new – that can be quite untidy but will never as noisy, crowded or polluted as New Delhi or Jaipur. Lake cruising is a must-do (which can be as simple as hiring a rowing boat if you are on a low budget) and to visit one or both the palace hotels for a drink and a chance to gawp at the magnificence.

Jaipur, the Pink City street, Rajasthan, India

Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’.

Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, is one corner of the famous tourist Golden Triangle, along with Delhi and Agra. The city’s many attractions include the opulent City Palace complex, the water-cooled Jal Mahal summer palace, the celestial observatory of Jantar Mantar, the brilliant Amber Fort and its sparkling interior. That being said Jaipur is also noisy, dirty and crowded!

Jaisalmer city walls, Rajasthan, India

Jaisalmer, the ‘Golden City’. Photo by Karin Van Der Laan.

Jaisalmer is the most remote of Rajasthan’s main cities, which is part of it’s attraction. Once there interest lies in exploring the old walled town, the Royal Palace, some interesting temples and very old ornate merchant’s houses, and taking a camel tour of the desert – for a few hours or a few days.

Jodhpur, blue Brahmin houses, Rajasthan, India

Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’

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 woman, town and lake view, Rajasthan, India

Pushkar, the Sacred City

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, India

Chittorgarh Fort. Photo by Satoshi Namby.

Other tourist destinations in Rajasthan

– 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.

Cows eating trash in jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Just to be clear, India and Rajasthan have a not-pretty side too. In fact, quite a lot of it!

A typical Rajasthan tour itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Udaipur from Delhi/ Mumbai, half day sightseeing plus boat excursion on Lake Pichola.
Day 2: Leave for Mount Abu, visit Dilwara Jain temple, Nakki Lake and Sunset Point.
Day 3: Drive to Jodhpur, visiting the Ranakpur temples en route.
Day 4: Spend morning at the fort of Jodhpur. After lunch, drive to Jaisalmer.
Day 5: Morning tour of Jaisalmer fort and Havelis. After lunch, leave for Khimsar.
Day 6: Early morning visit to the village, and then leave for Mandawa. Afternoon, sightseeing in Mandawa.
Day 7: Drive to Jaipur. In the afternoon, take a tour of the City Palace, and other attractions.
Day 8: Sightseeing at Amber Fort, and then continue by road to Delhi.

Rajasthan Best Seasons

The best time to travel around Rajasthan is in winter, October – March, when average high temperatures in cities listed on this page will be a pleasant 22C/72F-28C/82F and rainfall will be negligible.
The worst time to be there is July – September when either the monsoon rains drench the area or high temperatures rise to over 40C/104F, or both, along with an oppressive humidity. And if you don’t know what doing touristy things in a 40C heat is like, we earnestly suggest you try never to find out!

The National Highway 841 from Udaipur to Ahmedabad, India

The National Highway 841 from Udaipur to Ahmedabad.
For some reason there are no cows on the road. Shurely shome mishtake?

Getting there/around

Flights: the bigger Rajasthani cities such as Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur have airports with flights to/from Delhi, Mumbai, and other points in India.

Rail: Trains run through almost all Rajasthan towns.

Bus: Buses are the people’s transport so they will go everywhere, more cheaply but less comfortably than trains.

Car/Taxi: Travelling by car into Rajasthan is easy in terms of distance, with New Delhi only 260 kms from the capital of Jaipur and Agra nearly the same. However, getting to Jaisalmer, one of Rajasthan’s must-dos, is 645 kms from Jaipur so will require quite a lot of driving if your time is short.