In the realm of Ma­hara­jas

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INDIA TOURISM -

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.

Camel coun­try

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.

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