When it comes to India you will experience nothing short from exotic. The food leaves a lasting memory, the people leave a smile on your face, the culture is everlasting. These are my favorite places to visit in Rajasthan, India.
Waking up at your hotel, going to the roof and watching the sunrise as the sun shines over the fort in the distance, while sipping on a warm cup of coffee is a perfect way to start your exploring day in Jaisalmer.
The City of Jaisalmer, also know as the Golden City. Jaisalmer is located in the western most part of Rajasthan. The city was named after the King Jaisal Singh Maharajah who founded the city in 1156 AD.
The city’s most iconic attraction, Jaisalmer fort is located on a hill and can be seen from anywhere. The fort and the city below are both built with yellow sandstone, During sunset the whole city glows a golden yellow color, giving it the name “Golden City”.
The Fort was built in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal. At the time the whole city lived inside the fort, today a quarter of the city’s population still lives inside the fort. The fort is surrounded by 15ft walls forming all the way around the fort, the fort is 1,500 ft long and 750 ft wide.
There are several main attractions inside the fort. The Raj Mahal palace built with the typical Rajput architecture, overlooks the whole city and the whole Thar desert.
Jain heritage is deeply filled in Jaisalmer’s roots. There are several Jain temples inside the fort, seven to be exact. The most famous being the Lodhruva Jain Temple, known for its extremely detailed architecture and work of art.
All the temples and carvings are also built with the unique yellow stand stone found all over the city. The picture above is the ceiling for one of the many Jain temples. Handwork carved centuries ago is preserved and maintained to this day.
Gadsisar Lake is located in Jaisalmer, it was built in 1367. Take a short rickshaw ride to center of the cityet off on the street and it’s a 5 minute walk to the lake.Once upon a time the lake was the only source of water in Jaisalmer. The lake is surrounded by small temples on its banks.
Enjoy a boat ride on the serene waters of the lake. One can find themselves at peace just sitting by the lake. One of my favorite things to do was watching the sunset, it is so surreal.
Walk across the water on some rocks to get to one the domes in the lake. They are scattered all over the lake. The picture on the left is of one of them. Just make sure not to slip on the rocks.
Shop at the local stalls for some souvenirs. Everything from authentic pagdis(traditional head gear) to intricately carved statues of all sizes. Bargaining is a tool that can come handy, as locals tend to charge more if you look like a tourist.
Bada Bagh is a memorial garden located 6 km north of Jaisalmer. Kings and Queens are commemorated at this peaceful place. Every King to this day that has ruled Jaisalmer, has his own chattri(centopah) along with his wives. Some had one wife, some had eleven, no that is not a typo, eleven wives.
The biggest chattri belongs to the first king of Jaisalmer, Jai Singh II. After that there was one build for every king of Jaisalmer, the latest one is from the 20th century build for King Jawahar Singh. Distant relatives also get a chattri as they are considered part of the royal family.
The picture above shows the centopah with the king’s tombstone in the middle. I am so grateful for sights like these and how they are well preserved for generations and for generations to come. Walking around different centopahs is literally like taking a stroll through the history of Jaisalmer. I couldn’t recommend this place enough.
Ok, i am just going to say it, this was my favorite part of traveling Rajasthan. You have to do it, just do it. If you do end up doing the safari please leave a comment below and tell me how it was.
There are many cities that offer Safari’s, Jaisalmer by far gives you the best bang for your buck.
The company will pick you up from your hotel on a jeep. The Sam Sand Dunes are about 10km, enjoy a drive on the back of the open jeep.
The jeep will drive around the sand dunes up, down, sideways for a while. After the jeep ride, enjoy a camel ride while watching the sun dip into the dunes, if you feel adventurous go ahead and do the camel race for about 200 rupees, a small price to put on fun.
After the camel ride, the jeep will pick you up and take you back to their camp. When you walk in to the camp the first thing you want to do is grab a couch, this will give the best seats in the house for the traditional music & dance performance. Treat yourself with some snacks and drinks, everything is already included in the safari package so you don’t have to worry about pulling out your wallet.
Exploring the Blue City of Jodhpur
The city of Jodhpur is the largest in Rajasthan with a population of 1.5 million . The city was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha. Before visiting I had seen thousands of picture on Instagram of Jodhpur, something that i am trying not to do much. I takes away from the experience. Anyways…
So why is it named the Blue City of Jodhpur?
There are many reasons for the color blue. The Thar desert brings in record breaking heat every year, locals paint their homes blue to keep them cool during the summer months, the city is filled with a high population of Brahmins(priests) and blue is also the color of Lord Shiva, it’s not uncommon to see a Brahmin covered in blue walking around the city.
If you want to know everything there is to know about Jodhpur and its history, i suggest starting by visiting the Mehrangarh Fort in the center of the city. Mehrangarh Fort stands tall on a hill over looking the entire city. It is one of the oldest forts in all of India. When I walked up to the fort I kept asking myself, how did they build this place with no machinery, no modern tools and no electricity; It leaves you in awe.
There is a admission fee of 400 rupees, also if you plan on taking a camera just know there is a fee of 100 rupees.
Take an elevator ride 120 feet up to the top of the fort. Fun fact the elevator was built completely by hand and no machinery was used. At the top you get a marvelous view of the city, you can see the whole city covered in blue houses.
For being the one of the largest forts in India, it contains some of the most preserved artifacts in its museum. Everything from weapons, paintings, and original garments worn by kings and queens.
The picture above is of a Dolly, this is how the King and Queen would travel, If they needed to go anywhere in the city or 100 miles away. They would be carried on shoulders of 6 men, 3 in the front and 3 in the back. Must be nice to be carried wherever you want to go.
Wait there is more….
Before leaving don’t forget to go check out the historic museum in the fort. The museum is towards the end of the tour, it offers a variety of souvenirs. Everything from clothing, fabrics, to jewelry, hand made marble coasters and much more.
Food, food and more food…
I know what you are thinking, if I am going to be exploring all day, where am I going to eat? When it comes to Indian food, Rajasthan is on the top of the list.
If you have never had a “Thali” before, specifically “Rajasthani Thali”. Get ready for a culinary ride of a lifetime. A Thali is a steel plate, with small steel bowls about 5 to 6. Something for every palate, sweet, spicy, sour, creamy.
Gypsy Pure Veg Family Restaurant in Jodhpur serves a traditional Rajasthani Thali, everything from Dal Batti to various vegetable items to rotis(indian flatbread) and its is all you can eat, they will keep serving you until you tell them to stop. The food is so good you are not going to want to stop eating. Don’t forget to order a lassi to wash down with your food , a popular traditional yogurt-based drink.
Ghanta Nagar & Toorj Ka Jalhra
Okay so you checked out the forts , the lakes, you even got a taste of Rajasthan delacies. Take a short drive through Ghanta Nagar, most famous for the historic bell tower and shops.
Ghanta Nagar in Jodhpur is filled with people and local street vendors, if you are walking through expect to get stopped by a local trying to sell you something. I got stopped by a guy who was selling flutes and ended up buying one.
A hidden gem you must visit…
Walking through the streets of Ghanta Nagar, in a residential area lies a hidden gem. Just ask any local to point you towards the Toorj Ka Jalhra, a local step well used to store water in ancient times and now a popular tourist attractions and swimming hole for local kids.
I had seen this place on Instagram and just like any other tourist, when I got there I started snapping away on my camera to try and get the perfect picture. Something I hate doing, usually I like to take in the moment and appreciate the place but this place was so photogenic. Be sure to walk down the steps to the water (don’t slip on the algae) or you can just sit back and relax on the steps.
Udaipur, City of Lakes
Udaipur, otherwise know as “City of Lakes” is located in the southern part of Rajasthan. The city was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II.
The City Palace over looks the city on one side and Lake Pichola on the other. The palace being the newest among all of Rajasthan, is well taken care of and very tidy. My favorite part was seeing the hotel in the middle of the lake from the palace balcony.
Lake Pichola, was artificially created in 1362 AD. Like many lakes around Rajasthan Lake Pichola was used as a storage unit to supply drinking water for the locals. In the middle of the lake, is a hotel, Yes a hotel. The Taj Lake hotel is a luxurious icon of Udaipur, it was originally built for the king as a vacation home right across from his palace, a bit odd if you ask me. But i guess since you can’t leave the city if you are the King of it.
Get your shopping fix on…
After checking out the palace, get your shopping done at Jagdish Temple Street . It is walking distance from the City Palace. There are various shops on both sides of the street that sell authentic fabrics, pashmina, shawls, traditional clothing & fabrics, leather goods like bags, belts, shoes. While you are at it try a refreshing lime soda from one of the street vendors, just make sure to tell them to use mineral water.
So that was it, my trip to Rajasthan, India was one for the books and hopefully I can make it back there soon. I hope you enjoy every moment, sunset, sunrise, dish, camel ride and appreciate what this beautiful desert oasis has to offer.
Do you recommend any other places to visit in Rajasthan? Are you going to Rajasthan? Let me know in the comments below.