Rajasthan has been one of my favourite travel destinations. Culinary, shopping, architecture, nature, or a variety of other reasons, this colourful state has so much to offer.
After making several customised itineraries for friends, here is a reference article for those who wish to plan a trip to Rajasthan
From how to plan, what and where to eat, where to shop and which cities to visit, this article aims to provide complete pointers to perfect royal getaway.
Ideal season to visit Rajasthan : November- February. No better to visit this state in winters, to enjoy the culinary delights, excellent for photography and best to sightsee.
Alternate season: July -October. Monsoons provide a unique perspective. Lakes are glistening with water and road tripping across lush green fields is a delight.
While there are many off beat destinations , including Deeg and Alwar, the more popular circuit for first timers includes Udaipur- Jodhpur- Jaisalmer- Jaipur- Ranthambore.
Day 1: Udaipur
Fly to Udaipur from your city.
The trip kickstarts with Udaipur, the city of lakes. A quaint city with bustling markets, ancient temples, Mewari architecture and glistening lakes.
After a quick breakfast, head to the City Palace, a photographer’s paradise. The City palace has museums, an exquisite blue room, windows with intricate mirror work and outstanding views of the city.
Touring this will take about 3 hours. The nearby Jagdish temple is a must visit for its sheer ancient architecture.
A definite must do is strolling in the markets near City Palace and soaking in the beauty of this wonderful city.
What better place to dine for lunch than the Upre, with glorious views of Lake Pichola.
Overlooking the Lake Pichola, is a fabulous palace with Jharoka windows, textured walls and ornate doors. Part of the Fatehprakash palace is open to Visitors against a fee.
The beauty is in walking past the minarets and enjoying the blissful views of the lake in the backdrop.
As the sun gets ready to drown into the lake, hop on into a boat for a boat ride in Pichola.
It is a delight to float by houses and hotels built in water. The boat hovers around the famed Jagmandir, known for its architecture. No wonder, this city is rightly called the Venice of the East.
End the day at Natraj known for its famed thali.
Delectable, Delicious and worth every penny. A thali at Natraj is a definite must do when in Udaipur!
Day 2: Udaipur
Start early with a half day excursion to the ancient temples of Eklingji, approximately 30 minutes from Udaipur.
The drive to the temple is scenic, amidst mountains and valleys. This is the road that goes straight up to Nathdwara and also Jaipur.
There are so many mini temples made up of rocks and granite in this complex. After strolling about and gorging on some piping hot moong dal vadas, get back to Udaipur to spend the afternoon shopping in the colorful markets. From mojris to meenakari jewelry to Rajasthani quilts and handbags!
For those who wish to sneak peek into the lives of the Rajputana queens, a visit Saheliyon Ki Badi is a must.
The Gardens of the Queens ( Saheliyon ki Badi) gives a glimpse of what leisurely lives the queens led. With minarets, fountains and beautiful gardens, the place brings alive the regal nature of the historic past of the Mewar Kingdom.
Head to Fatehsagar Sagar lake for another sunset by the lake. The views from Chetak Smarak are awesome. It is a memorial built for the horse of Maharana Pratap on top of a hill.
Watch the contours of the sky change as the sun sets, gloriously over the shimmering lake as you bid adieu to this colorful Mewari city. Read more about experiences in Udaipur that explain the city’s yoga and art scene.
Day 3: Ranakpur and Jodhpur
Drive through the majestic Aravalli hills and forests of Kumbhalgarh to reach the Jain temples of Ranakpur.
Intricate marble carvings, blissful silence and awe inspiring architecture. The Ranakpur temple is perfect example of exemplary artwork.
Keep at least 3 hours for this gorgeous place if you are a photographer. Even if you are not, take the time to marvel at the ceilings crafted to perfection and the pillars with stories etched in every detail.
Ranakpur is also famous for its durries/ carpets. make sure to visit any carpet maker’s house to witness the precision with which carpets are weaved.
Reach Jodhpur,the blue city in the evening.
Homes drenched in blue, tiny lanes, quaint windows and doors, turbaned men , ladies clad in colorful bandhnis.
This is the Marwar region of Rajasthan, the gateway to the Thar desert. Also the hub of great, lip smacking street food!
Head straight to Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) where most of the sweet meat shops are. The hot, delicious Mirchi Badas at Janta Sweets are highly recommended. Another favorite is the Pyaaz ki kachori!
The area around the clock tower is also where the quaint Bazaars of Jodhpur are.
One needs to reach the clock tower and then proceed to Nayi Sadak. All these tiny Bazaars are accessible by foot from Nayi Sadak. Most of these are in narrow alleys so be prepared to walk through the chaos.
Here is my list of must visit Bazaars in Jodhpur:
- Lakhara Bazaar: A market full of wholesale bangle sellers. One can get a variety of colors and colorful stone studded Lac bangles at dirt-cheap prices.
- Tripolia Bazaar: Bustling with lehriya sarees and dupattas, one of the most reasonable cloth markets in the state.
- Mucho ki Gali: Cobblers street for Jodhpuri shoes.
- Wooden handicrafts: Jodhpur is famous for its handicrafts. Shops selling traditional wooden chests, cupboards, and colorful Jharokas can be found near Umaid Bhavan.
Day 4: Jodhpur
A visit to the blue city is incomplete if you don’t visit the mighty Merangadh Fort. A fort like no other and one of my favorite forts in India, without a doubt, Mehrangad is huge!
Take an audio guide while you explore this fort, marveling at the Marwari architecture, its symmetry and the beautiful Jharokha windows.
Keep 3 hours to explore this magnificent beauty, with jaw dropping views of the blue city from the terraces. There are various rooms to explore, with mirror work, spiral staircases and a museum to re live the royal era.
There are also a few shops inside the fort selling handicrafts , a small temple and musicians playing Rajasthani Folk songs at every bend.
While climbing up the fort, at almost every bend you will see the blue spread of houses below.
Adventure lovers can also indulge in Zip lining across the fort for an adrenaline rush with a view!
Spend an hour at Jaswant Thada ( bang opposite to the Mehrangad) and head to Gypsy to relish a Rajasthani Thali with local favorites, Daal Baati Churma, Rajasthani Gatta Sabzi and more.
Day 5: Desert camps
It is now time to head to the dunes of the Thar Desert.
Tucked away off the Jodhpur- Jaisalmer highway, is the Manwar Desert Camp. A cluster of luxury tents right in the middle of the desert, surrounded by dunes all around.
And if you thought these were make shift tents, you will be amazed to know that these are cemented tents, with attached bathrooms and the best amenities!
Spend the evening in an exciting tour of the desert in a safari. Drive past remote tribal villages, seeing desert fauna.
End the day with grandeur dining by the bonfire, with the tunes of Rajasthani folk songs and the visuals of traditional dances.
Day 6: Jaisalmer
Watch the sun rise over the dunes, watching the terrain and experiencing the distinct silence of the infinite stretch of sand.
After a quick breakfast, head to for the golden city of Jaisalmer which is just an hour away. Explore the Sonar Killa, over 900 years old, but definitely not as well maintained as Mehrangad, the fort has locals residing within its premises.
Jaisalmer is famed for its intricately carved Havelis. These ancient Havelis are rustic, but provide a great insight into the lives of the Rajput kings.
The Patwo ki Haveli is one such haveli with gorgeous jaali work. Walk through the lanes and see how meticulously the hovels have been made. Visit the Gadisar lake nearby, nothing fancy about it but it is a serene lake, good for a quick visit.
Spend the evening exploring the Sam dunes watching the sun set over the desert. Later head to Suryagarh Palace, for a sumptuous Rajasthani dinner.
Day 7: Pushkar – Ajmer
Leave early morning for Puskhar, the holy town of Lord Brahma. Pushkar is a street photographer’s delight. Do not forget to throng the bazaars that lead to the Brahma temple.
The lake is another place for great shots. Once you explore Pushkar on foot, you will realize that the famed camel fair is just one aspect of this beautiful town.
On your way to the lake or the Brahma temple, the streets have many shops selling bangles, apparel, Rajasthani juttis (shoes) and traditional tie and dye Pagdis (turban). You will also get the traditional ‘bhor’ worn by Rajasthani women and anklets in many shops here.
After this, head to Ajmer, 30 KMs away. The route is picturesque with rose fields and mountains. From the calm of Pushkar enter the Chaos of Ajmer. Walk through the bustling, colorful markets and reach the Dargah. The place is magnetic and the vibes are electrifying.
The lanes leading to the Dargah sell a variety of things. From aluminum ware to silk stoles and the choicest ‘Itar’ fragrances. Very crowded, but one can get some really reasonable deals here.
Reach Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan , the pink city at night.
Day 8: Jaipur
Start your day with exploring the Majestic Amer fort. One of the grandest forts in Rajasthan, the Amer fort can easily take a few hours to be explored.
Later reach the hub of all activity, the road that leads to Hawa mahal, to tour the City palace and Jantar Mantar.
Post lunch at Natraj Thali, spend the shopping at the countless Bazaars of Jaipur.
Here a few Bazaars to explore in Jaipur:
- Bapu Bazaar: From bangles to Handmade Mojris, puppets to colorful apparel, Bapu Bazaar on MI Road, has it all. Not only is it famous for being a shopping haven, but also for its street food stalls selling delectable local Rajasthani Street food. Open on all days except Sunday.
- Johari Bazaar: The name gives it away. A market full of jewelry shops selling not just gold jewelry but also precious and semi-precious gemstones. The jewelers in this market have shops here since time immemorial and one can buy gorgeous traditionally designed gemstone jewelry here. Jaipur is famous for its “Kundan” jewelry which is available at many old shops in this market. The Bazaar is Partly closed on Tuesday and Sunday.
- Kishanpole Bazaar: Known for its handloom textiles and wooden furniture, Kishanpole is famous for its Bandhani textiles.
- A narrow street from here leads to “Khazane Walon ka raasta” which is famous for marble statues. A few Kms from Jaipur is Sanganer, famous for its handmade paper products.
Day 9 and 10: Ranthambore