Howdy all and today it’s time for another itinerary for you that you might like to consider if your destination was the incredible Rajasthan, the dusty and dry and often pretty hot north-western state of India, that being Rajasthan. It’s possibly the most amazing region in all of India, full of history, forts, palaces, amazing landscapes and amazing architecture. It could easily I guess be a country of its own, because it does feel like its culture and identity is something very unique and special.
Today we will loop around Rajasthan and we will start and end in the capital of the state, the Pink City of Jaipur. The main reason for that is simply that it’s the capital which means it has international connections by air, which means if you wanted to avoid first flying into Delhi, you could. But it’s also well connected domestically if you were wanting to fly in from elsewhere in India. On top of that trains and buses will connect you to the Indian capital of Delhi and indeed Agra, the home of Taj Mahal.
Day One – Jaipur
Jaipur is a brilliant city and one you could spend plenty of time in. It has magnificent city gates, and an incredible palace. The Jantar Mantar is opposite – a giant sort early observatory. On top of these, you have the Royal Gaitor, the Monkey Temple, the beuaitful building that is the Hawa Mahal, you can leave the city for a couple of hours of two to the famous Amber Fort, going past the palace in the lake that is Jal Mahal. And this is the tip of the iceberg. An awesome city with so much for the visitor.
The last time I was there I stayed at Shapura Guesthouse, which was really one of the best places I’ve stayed in India. You can read my review here – The best Place I’ve Stayed in India?
Day Six – On to Pushkar
Five days should be enough in Jaipur but you could easily spend a week. But we move on to Pushkar for a couple of nights. It’s only a few hours by train to Ajmer if that, and then a 30 minute bus journey to the beautiful Pushkar.
Pushkar is a hold city for Hindu pilgrims, and has some of the most beautiful ghats you can see in all of India. It’s also a backpacker haven, and certainly caters to a certain type of traveller – the ummm… well hippy (?) for want of a better world. There’s a market as well and plenty of places to hang out. I actually went to Pushkar as a day-trip from Jaipur the last time I was in Rajasthan, but staying there for a few nights to chill – it’s small and you really never need to take an auto-rickshaw – is not a bad idea.
Ajmer, where you’ll get off the train, is an attractive looking place which I have never explored too, and you could stay there and visit Pushkar or more likely vice versa.
Day Nine – To Udaipur
There is a direct train or two from Ajmer to Udaipur, in the south of Rajasthan. Trains are faster than they were 20 years ago – the quicker trains now take around five and a half hours. Longer trains take more like nine and a half to ten if you want to do an overnight (as I did in 1999) and save on a night’s accommodation.
Udaipur is famous for it’s Jagmandir Palace, on the lake which today is, if you have the money, a luxury PLUS hotel. I stayed at the Lal Ghat Guesthouse. That was 1999, it was simple but clean and a great place to stay back then. The Palace mentioned was the location for filming the James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ back in the 1980s, and the town even today lives that occasion up. In 1999 many restaurants and bars would play the film over and over again. Do they still do it today? I reckon some would.
There’s also a City Palace, and the streets are mostly narrow passageways which are fun to explore and if you’re feeling brave, hire a scooter to scoot along! I would recommend Udaipur as a place to crash for a few days and soak in some atmosphere because it’s quite chilled – not Pushkar’s standards, but still, and also it’s not a bad place for a few decent restaurant meal.
Day Fourteen – To Jodhpur
The interweb tells me there is a train as fast as four and a half hours to Jodhpur from Udaipur, and if you take connections, there’s an option that takes over 12 hours. The longer trains are leaving from Udaipur station though, others leave from nearby places to Udaipur but I don’t know how easy they would be to get to.
Jodhpur is simply incredible, the ‘Blue City’ as many building exteriors are painted blue. It has a stunning fort – Mehrangargh Fort – overlooking the city, with amazing views but also an amazing bunch of buildings to explore. There’s a market in the middle of town, and also a clock tower to climb, there’s the beautiful Jaswant Thada (mausoleum), on the hill next to the Fort, oh and the Umaid Bhawan Palace. A friendly city, again with loads of narrow passageways to explore, great eating and more.
I stayed at the HP Heritage Haveli, a great little place to stay, a mid-range (by Indian standards) option.
Day 18 – Jaisalmer
Take the train to Jaisalmer, the city in the west of Rajasthan and now we are in serious desert territory. It’s a cool place to visit, very different from say Jaipur, because mostly of the environment and its remoteness. The fort there is a must-see, a really interesting place with amazing views and there are a few historic houses in the centre of town well worth the price of admission.
But in Jaisalmer you want to do a ‘camel-trek’ into the Rajasthani desert. Maybe for a couple of nights. I was hesitant initially because frankly, camels are not my favourite of animals, but I enjoyed it even though it was only night. Desert cooked meals, and sleeping under the stars. It’s a pretty special experience.
Day 22 – to Bikaner
Okay, so I have included this stop in Bikaner because I know people do like to visit because of one thing there, and that’s the Karni Mata Temple – better known as the ‘rat temple’. I haven’t visited it or Bikaner but loads of tourists do (a reason to not go there!!) but on the off chance you would like to have holy rats running over your feet, perhaps a stop here before returning to Jaipur is something that appeals?
Day 24 – Jaipur
Trains Bikaner to Jaipur vary from six and a half hours to over 12 hours. Of course, the long journeys means you sleep on the train and save a night’s accommodation, if that’s what you want to do. I prefer the day-time trains these days because I like to see where I am.
You are now back in Jaipur, and on Day 25 you can fly out or hop a train (or bus) to your next Indian destination.
Just writing this post I realise what an incredible region Rajasthan is, so rewarding and fulfilling! If I was to recommend one part of the country to the uninitiated it would certainly be Rajasthan. What have I missed out though, because I know that Rajasthan as even more! Thanks for reading today, take care – and May the Journey Never End!