In the realm of Maharajas
THE northern state of Rajasthan in India has always held the epic setting of valour, chivalry, contrasted by imposing landscapes and architecture. It also brings to mind revelry, glittering jewellery, dazzling handicrafts, colourful attire, folk music and dance.
All these with the backdrop of forts and palaces, rolling deserts and camels. With its heritage and culture, Rajasthan is a “must visit” destination.
South-west of Jaipur is Ajmer – a popular pilgrimage centre for Muslims as well as Hindus. Famous for the Dargah Sharif tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, it is equally revered by the Hindus and the Muslims.
Ajmer offers the perfect opportunity for a shopping spree to purchase the many items representing Rajasthani culture and style.
Pushkar is a popular destination, which is situated on the edge of the desert and separated from Ajmer by the Nag Parbat or The Snake Hill. It is world-famous for its Cattle or Camel Fair, held in the Hindu month Kartik around October or November.
Besides its vibrant shopping in the Pushkar Fair with its wide range of handicrafts, the city also offers the grand sight of the giant Taragarh Fort which stands guarding the city; and the Man Mahal, built by Raja Man Singh-I of Amber to be the largest royal house, now a hotel, in Pushkar.
Bikaner is one of the three main destinations in the desert circuits. It is a royal fortified city with reddish-pink sandstone forts and palaces and lies north of the desert State. Its lanes, bazaars and cheerful folk make Bikaner an exciting experience.
More often called the camel country, the city is distinguished for one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world.
Jaisalmer is a centre of culture with harsh climatic conditions — both of which leave a lasting impression.
Jaisalmer Fort, known as the Golden Fort, is the essence of Jaisalmer and is entered through First Gate, which is a burrow of narrow streets with Jain Temples and old palaces.
Jaisalmer has several sights and events that will capture any visitor’s attention.
The three-day Desert Festival is colourful, full of music and festivity.
Jodhpur stands at the edge of the Thar desert and was the citadel of the ancient Marwar kingdom. This bustling desert city is the second largest in Rajasthan after Jaipur.
Visitors to Jodhpur will no doubt be awed by the Mehrangarh Fort, situated over 120m above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. The Umaid Bhawan Palace has chiseled sandstone blocks manually put together in an interlocking fashion without mortar binding.
Other sights include the ancient town of Osian; Rajasthan’s only hill station and a major pilgrim centre, Mount Abu; the Dilwara Jain Temples, one of the finest Jain temples renowned for its architecture and marble stone carvings; and Achalgarh Fort with its beautiful and historic Jain temples.
Venice of the East
One of the most romantic cities in all of Rajasthan, Udaipur is better known as the City of Lakes and is often called the “Venice of the East”. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas) located in the middle of Pichola Lake is the finest example of architectural and cultural history.
The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake, along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above, enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, crafts and is famed for its miniature paintings.
Lake Pichola itself is an artificial freshwater lake created in 1362. Lake Fateh Sagar, on the other hand, is the the pride of Udaipur. The Fateh Prakash Palace, the grand heritage palace hotel, represents royal luxury at its best.
The Lake Palace is located on Jag Niwas Island and covers the whole island in the middle of the Pichola Lake.
Rajasthan has always held an epic setting of valour, chivalry, contrasted by imposing landscapes and architecture.