Why is Rajasthan so fascinating? The answers are as multiple as what it has to offer... Here we enter a world apart, of breathtaking richness and astonishing diversity. The desert has always shaped men there, the past is expressed with force in an exceptional architectural heritage, ancestral beliefs and religion still mingle, as if indifferent to the rest of the world.
The main cities – the blue Jodhpur, the pink Jaipur, the white Udaipur and the golden Jaisalmer – are scattered in increasingly arid landscapes towards the west, towards the Thar desert.
Of course, in Rajasthan, as elsewhere in India, poverty exists... Then, by visiting the incredible string of sumptuous palaces and impregnable fortresses, we gradually unravel the skein of overlapping centuries...
To discover Rajasthan is to travel through its history: quarrels and rivalries between maharajas, marriages, betrayals, vengeful wars. It is also to let yourself be carried away by its magic and its poetry... Where else, other than in Rajasthan, is it possible to sleep in a royal residence without being a millionaire or maharaja? And then, the Rajasthanis exude an elegance and a disturbing aesthetic sense of naturalness, sublimated by their colorful costumes.
So many superb images mixed with dust, camels, sacred cows, cob villages, marvelous temples, and houses with walls carved with a thousand stone illuminations. Here are the tops places that you should not miss during your tour in Rajasthan.
The pink city of Jaipur
The pink city of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, was founded in the 18th century. Built inside high ramparts, Jaipur, populated by 3.1 million inhabitants, is a harmonious city with ocher and pink colored houses. There are beautiful monuments there: a superb palace, an astonishing astronomical observatory, and flourishing crafts in bazaars teeming with life. Only one black point: car traffic, hellish as in the rest of India.
The blue city of Jodhpur
Second largest city of Rajasthan, the blue city ofJodhpur (1 million inhabitants) has two opposite faces: the old city with blue houses with its labyrinthine alleys and the modern city with its wide avenues. Old Jodhpur is nestled at the foot of a fortress of unequaled majesty, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and imposing in India. Jodhpur is one of the sunniest cities in India. It is also the largest city close to Pakistan: 10% of its population is made up of soldiers.
The golden city of Jaisalmer
In the middle of the Thar desert, the golden city ofJaisalmer offers the astonishing spectacle of a yellow-colored fortress, surrounded by a 5 km rampart, emerging from a flat and semi-arid desert. From this little “Carcassonne of the desert”, you can go for camel rides in the Thar. Jaisalmer has a crazy charm.
The white city of Udaipur
The white city of Udaipur (500,000 inhabitants) is one of the most marvelous cities in India. It is an ancient city with narrow and lively streets. The backpacker can only be seduced by its whitewashed houses, its incredible palace, its very mild climate and its calm. Udaipur retains all the strata of past centuries, without forgetting a very famous craftsmanship.
Shekhawati is a region located in the center of the Bikaner-Jaipur-Delhi triangle. Bordered to the east by the Arawellimountains, the Shekhawati consists of a plain halfway between the rich lands of the Ganges valley and the Thar desert. A land of sand and clay, quite hard, very dependent on good monsoons.
Mandawa, Shekhawati is the most important city in region: it was the first to open up to tourism. Mandawa has many havelis and quaint frescoes, not to mention a superb castle. Some of the famous havelis that should not be missed during your Rajasthan tour are Jhunjhunwala Haveli, BansidharNewatia Haveli and Sneh Ram Ladia Haveli.