Rajasthan: the Land of Kings
Rajasthan means ‘land of kings’, which is in line with all the big forts in it’s cities. With it’s rich culture, Rajasthan is very popular among travelers visiting India. It’s capital and largest city is Jaipur. Other important cities are Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Kota and Ajmer. We have been to 3 cities. In this post we write about the highlights of Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur. The best time to visit these cities is during the winter season, which starts from November and ends in mid March.
Rajasthan is located on the North Western side of India and is the largest state of India. A big part of it’s area is dessert. In the month of December the days can be still very hot, but the nights are cold for sure. In the summer months (April to June) it can be too hot as temperatures can rise up to 48 degrees.
Rajasthan has a total population of 68 million people of which most are Hindu (89%) and Muslim (9%). Hindi is the official and most widely spoken language in the state. These are total statistics and can be very different per city.
You can travel by bus or train between the cites of Rajasthan. Although the train is more comfortable, both take round 5/6 hours.
Best things in Udaipur
With it’s beautiful lakes Udaipur is one of the most romantic places of Rajasthan. It’s lovely to see the sunset from one of it’s bridges. Udaipur is also called ‘city of lakes’ and ‘Venice of the east’. When visiting this city make sure you take a hostel near Lake Pichola with a lake view terrace. These hostels are not too expensive. Don’t expect much of them but you get an amazing view from the top.
City Palace of Udaipur
The city palace is located at the lakeside and you get a very nice view from the inside as well as looking at it from the outside.
The Lake palace is located on an island in Lake Pichola. It is a luxurious hotel, nice to look at from the shore. This is just nice to see but nothing more.
Gulab Bagh Garden
One of the places we did enjoy was the Gulab Bagh Garden. This is very very nice big park in the middle of the city. There is a wide variety of plantation and has some nice buildings in it. For us this was a relaxation place, removed from the honking vehicles in the city. It was quite empty, just a few people. We did get to chat with some locals (we asked for translation at a Ghandi statue as nothing is written in English).
Near the lake area it’s hard to find cheap but nice street food. There are more restaurants with a la carte options. But if you take the effort and go more outside the touristic area, you will be rewarded with local dishes for local prices. One place where you can find the small food cars is near the Gulab Bagh Garden.
At the vehicle exit of the city palace, there is a big Tibetian market. You can find everything in here, food, clothes and what not. Might be nice to go for a round.
Next to this there is always something going on in the city. We witnessed a wedding on the street with drums and a white horse. This was amusing to watch.
If you are interested in vintage cars, you might want to visit the Vintage car museum, it’s near the Gulab Bath Garden.
Udaipur is nice to just walk around at your own pace. However you might get bothered by shop
owners who try to lure you in their small shops. We noticed that they look at you as ‘walking cash’. Another thing we experienced was that we booked a guesthouse 1 day before our arrival and when we arrived after a long journey of 22 hours, the owner opened the door and told us that he doesn’t have a room available. So you might want to make a plan B just in case.
Best things in Jodhpur
Known as the ‘blue city’, Jodhpur is very colorful in every aspect. Especially in the old city, it feels like you have taken a trip to the past. Its enormous fort is visible from every corner of the city. It almost gives you the feeling of ‘Disneys Alladdin’. Most of the hostels have a rooftop. At night you can enjoy a good view and rest after a day of walking in the active city.
The amount of motorbikes and Tuk Tuk’s can be overwhelming, as it makes the streets so noisy. But don’t get this withhold you from exploring and getting lost in this old city.
This is one of the largest forts in whole India. The gigantic walls are mesmerizing. There are 7 gates. After a visit to the fort, you can reach the blue city area (area where you see most of the blue houses) easily from the main exit.
Sardar market and the clock tower (Ghanta Gar)
In the middle of the city a big market place is located at a big area surrounded by walls. With the clocktower at it’s center you can find different vegetables and fruits as well as clothes and kitchen equipment sold from stalls which get build and decomposed every day. If you walk past the stalls near the walls several small restaurants and cafes can be found. You can enjoy a nice ‘Lassi’ (famous yoghurt drink) or have a good cup of coffee. Next to this ‘omelet shops’, as mentioned by Lonely Planet, can be found for breakfast (we didn’t find them special, but you can check them out).
Navichokia area (blue city area)
This area is the best for taking your selfies. There are a lot of narrow streets covered in a blue color. Allow yourself to get lost while seeing these houses and the people in their daily routines. You can easily spend a few hours wandering around.
Toorji Ka Jhalra Step well
Near to the clock tower and Gulab Sagar Talap (lake), there is a step well. It is almost hidden as we found it by coincidence and didn’t read anything about it before. This is a secret treasure, as you will get amazed by the details of the construction. Also it is very deep and therefor maybe scary if you look at it for too long. It’s a nice place for peace and a little bit of relaxation.
There are a lot of places where you can eat Samosa (small fried snack with potatoes and dough). These are nice, but make sure you eat it from a clean place. Other dishes you can try are Mirchi Vada (fried dough with peppers inside) and order Paratha (which comes with additional dishes to dip them in such as Daal (lentils) or spacey garlic chutney).
Best things in Jaipur
Once you enter Jaipur, you immediately understand that this is the largest city of Rajasthan. Jaipur even has it’s own subway. The new parts of the city look very modern. But if you are looking for a cultural trip, the old town is where you need to be. Jaipur is also called ‘the pink city’. This is due to the bricks which are used for the old buildings.
This is an old fort contracted in Hindu style elements. It’s made of red stone and marble. Amer Fort is set on a hill with a nice view over the Maota Lake. It is located at the north of the city. If you want to visit the fort, there are busses you can take from Hawa Mahal.
This monument with 953 windows, constructed of red and pink sandstone, is a major tourist attraction in Jaipur. It means ‘palace of winds’. The structure was build in 1799. We think it’s nice to see, but to be honest there is much more to see in Jaipur than this building.
Especially when you go walking towards the famous Hawa Mahal, you will see a lot of the old ‘pink’ side of the city. There is a lot going on. You can buy anything you can think of. Silk, food, jewels and souvenirs. Spend a few hours looking around and stop here and there for some freshly made Chai. The street food is nice as well. We liked the Poori very much. This is a kind of bread which is being fried and saved with spicy mixes to dip in. It’s very cheap and tasteful. And while your at it, try the Lassi in Jaipur as well. They serve it in a disposable clay cup. You simply drink and throw it away.