Rajasthan is one of the most visited states in India. It's not surprising because it shows India at its most colorful and exotic best. All the things that come to mind when you think of India can be found in Rajasthan -- palaces, forts, desert, camels, elephants, and snake charmers. These top tourist places to visit in Rajasthan shouldn't be missed.
The "Pink City" of Jaipur forms part of India's renowned Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit and is one of the Rajasthan's most popular destinations. It has many famous forts and palaces, with most of them boasting stunning views and elaborate architecture. Staying in Jaipur is particularly enjoyable. Accommodations are reasonably priced and many have been converted from heritage properties, giving guests a very regal experience!
Udaipur is often said to be the most romantic city in India, as it's filled with expansive lakes and old palaces. The exquisite City Palace Complex, which stretches along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, dominates the city and the royal family still lives in part of it. Many personal royal heirlooms, family photos, and other memorabilia are displayed in the City Palace Museum, giving Udaipur a very regal feel.
A remarkable sandstone city that rises magically from the sand dunes of the Thar desert, Jaisalmer looks like it's straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. Its mesmerizing ancient fort, built in 1156, is perched high on a pedestal overlooking the city. Inside, the fort is alive and spellbinding. It houses five palaces, several temples, and some exquisite havelis (mansions), as well as shops and other residences.
Affectionately known as the "Blue City" for its blue painted buildings, Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. The walled old part of the city is presided over by looming Mehrangarh Fort, which provides the best outlook across Jodhpur's blue buildings. It's one of the largest and most well-maintained forts in India. Inside, there are a number of ornate palaces and a museum. One of the appealing things about Jodhpur is that there are many inexpensive yet characterful places to stay with views of the fort. It's great to do nothing but relax on their rooftops and soak up the atmosphere.
For most of the year, Pushkar is a sleepy little holy town that attracts a lot of backpackers and hippie types. However, it really comes alive for a couple of weeks in October or November, when the Pushkar Camel Fair hits town. It's a peculiar sight, and a great opportunity to witness an old traditional style Indian festival. Pushkar is worth visiting at any time of year though if you want to chill out. Unfortunately, it's not like it used to be though. These days Pushkar is becoming much more westernized and tourist-focused. The priests by the bathing ghats (steps) are known to be very forceful in demanding donations too.
Ranthambore National Park is one of the best places in India to spot a tiger in the wild. In contrast to many national parks in India, Ranthambore is also really accessible and easy to get to. This makes it very popular (and, unfortunately, it's been facing a lot of tourist pressure). As well as nature, the park is home to the formidable 10th century Ranthambore Fort. It's a huge structure that contains ruined pavilions, monuments, and three Hindu temples. The park is full of history, having witnessed many battles played out on its land, and the rise and fall of many rulers.
If you're an art lover, or even someone who's into architecture and history, the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan is well worth including on your itinerary. Located in the triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner, many people overlook it in favor of more popular destinations in Rajasthan. This makes it delightfully free of tourists! This unique region is often referred to as the world's largest open air art gallery, with old havelis (mansions) having walls adorned with intricate painted frescoes. Don't miss staying in one!
The delightful desert town of Bikaner receives less tourists than many other prominent destinations in Rajasthan. It's a less-commercialized place to go on a camel safari, as an alternative to Jaisalmer. The main attractions are the atmospheric walled Old City and fort. Bikaner is also renowned for the infamous Karni Mata rat temple nearby. The Karni Mata Festival, held to worship the rats there, is one of the quirkiest festivals in India. A Camel Fair is also held in Bikaner every January.
Although increasingly popular with travelers, Bundi also often gets overlooked as a tourist destination in Rajasthan. Yet, it's a captivating place to visit, with its lakes, markets, temples, and blue houses similar to Jodhpur. This relatively laid back town is dominated by the extraordinary and imposing Bundi Palace, which protrudes out of the hillside. The ancient, winding lanes of the Old City are fascinating to wander through. Bundi also has around 60 step wells and a ramshackle fort above the palace. The Folk Tales specializes in rural travel and offers an interesting Rustic Charms of Bundi Itinerary.
Rural tourism is growing in Rajasthan, with Bishnoi and Pali becoming sought after destinations for getting off the beaten track. Bishnoi is a community of nature worshipers around 45 minutes from Jodhpur and can be covered in a day trip, while Pali is a bit further out and needs at least an overnight stay. Bishnoi Village Safari organizes trips and also accommodations. You'll find village life to be fascinating. You can even attend a shepherds' morning opium meet.
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