Best Places to visit in Rajasthan, based on 100+ trips Part 02

Simply the best Places to Visit in Rajasthan – Part 02.

In terms of Places of visit in Rajasthan, this is the part 2 of the article. If you haven’t read the part 1 read it here first else this part may be incomplete.

One could stay for more nights in Jaisalmer and do everything at a slower pace, but what has been discussed in part 1 is enough if you have limited days at hand.

From Jaisalmer your journey would take you on to Jodhpur, the first part of the route till Pokhran is pretty much the same and offers nothing new. Many People make the mistake and choose to spend only 1 night in Jodhpur, avoid doing this as you need a minimum of 2 nights to fully enjoy the city.

Manvar

60 Kms after crossing Pokhran is an Oasis called Manvar. If you are someone who has always dreamt of spending a day with the locals and in serene environment then Manvar may be just for you.

It has 2 offerings for a traveller, Manvar Resort and a Desert Camp. Both are excellent experiences, however having had the privilege of experiencing both. I tend to tilt towards the Desert Camp.

The camp is Located 6 kms from the resort in the midst of the wilderness surrounded by the sand dunes. The beauty is breathtaking and the feeling of viewing a sunset in the midst of the sand dunes is hard to describe.

They have 30 colourfully decorated, safari-style tents arranged in a semi-circle around a central ‘Durbar Hall’ (Courtiers’ Hall).

Manvar also has 10 Luxury Tents situated about 400 meters away from the main camp aimed at those who seek a more privacy and the luxury of absolute solitude.

I have often stayed a night here and enjoyed this experience.

Whether you stay here or choose to give it a miss from here its only a couple of hours on excellent road to Jodhpur, also known as the Sun City of India.

Jodhpur

Located on a hill 410 metres above the city, the Mehrangarh fort would become visible much before you enter Jodhpur. Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and another excellent examples of architecture and Rajasthani culture.

If you have arrived here in the early afternoon, the best things to do would be to head over to Jaswant Thada the Cenotaph built out of white marble in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh and then onto the Mehrangarh fort.

One could either climb up the Ramp (usually takes 10 minutes steep uphill walk) or take an elevator which opens right in the heart of the fort, the elevator is located right next to the Ticket booth at the entrance. Jodhpur fort which one of the most impregnable forts of India was also the former residence of the Maharajas.

The founder of Jodhpur, Rao Jodha has shifted his capital from Mandore to the spot in 1459 to build an impregnable fort and Mehrangarh is certainly one.

From Mehrangarh fort, since it would be later afternoon walk down the ramp to the clock tower and experience the old city of Jodhpur. This narrow, sometimes steep winding path takes you in the middle of everyday life of the locals.

The walk down culminates into the clock tower which is how the bazaars used to be in this part of the world in the olden days. Walking around this bazaar is something which is bound to present multiple photo opportunities.

The second day should start for you with a visit to the Bishnoi Villages which are located around 40 Kms outside the city of Jodhpur. This is truly an authentic experience which everyone who has the time should experience. Best done in open 4 X 4 Jeeps.

The afternoon can be well spent by you visiting Mandore gardens which was the former capital of the Marwar region. No matter which part of the city you are in you would not be able to miss the impressive Umaid Bhawan palace.

The Largest residential palace, commissioned by the Maharaj to provide employment to the locals during drought, with one part today being a hotel and one the private residence. If you are not staying there you can only visit one small part of the Palace, the Museum.
For your evenings head over to Hanwant Mahal a private restaurant located just at the foot of Umaid Bhawan, If the weather is nice, enjoy the magnificent view of the city from the terrace while sipping your drinks and eating your dinner. (I have a more detailed article mentioning all the Places you can visit in Jodhpur here)

Dilwara Temples Mount Abu.

From here on you should ideally move towards the Aravalli hills and would be spending a full day in your car / bus travelling to as 90% people do Udaipur. However I would suggest to bring in another stop in your Itinerary before you visit Udaipur. This stop is a place called Mount Abu.

Mount Abu is the only Hill station in the State of Rajasthan, but you should be visiting this on account of the Dilwara Jain Temples and take the hill station as a Bonus.
Dilwara Jain Temples are the finest example of craftsmanship that exist. PERIOD.

My travels have taken me to many countries and i have been privileged to experience India in a way that few can. No where have I personally seen more exquisite architecture and craftsmanship than inside Dilwara Jain Temples.

Dilwara Jain temples are located around 2.5 kms outside the city and as with all Jain Temples, one should be properly dressed and not have any leather items on person. This includes Leather belts, wallets and Bags.

Built between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, They are famous for their use of marble and intricate marble carvings. The intricate stone carving on the marble pillars and ceilings is truly awe-inspiring.

The temple displays a lot of images from the Hindu and Jain Mythology. The profusion of petals, lotus buds, and flowers carved on the ceilings and pillars lend a distinctive look to the temple. Carved corridors, courtyards, arches, and porticos are other distinctive features of the temple.

The temples are open daily from 0600 to 1800 for the Jain Devotees, for Tourists the timings are from 1200 to 1800 hours and Photography is not allowed inside.

The other places to visit in Mount Abu are Nakki Lake and Toads rock. Both are located close to each other. Where Nakki lake is the perfect place to enjoy Boating and Sunset, Toads Rock (It looks like a toad about to jump into the water, hence the name) is located nearby on a hill and also offers excellent views.

Ranakpur Temples.

From Mount Abu your next stop would be Udaipur via Ranakpur jain Temples, Like Dilwara Jain Temples, Ranakpur Jain Temples are also excellent example of craftsmanship and a must visit since you are already in that area.

A three hour journey would bring you to the Ranakpur Jain Temples, Spread over an area of 4,500 square yards and consisting of 29 halls, the temple is one of the most important of the five major pilgrimage centres of Jainism. 

Local legend has it that Dharma Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction of the temple in the 15th century following a divine vision. The temple honors Adinath, the first Tirthankar of the present half-cycle (avasarpiṇī) according to Jain cosmology.

As is the case with Dilwara, no leather articles are allowed, but unlike Dilwara you can pay for using the camera, so photography is permitted here.

The temples open at 1200 for tourists and take about an hour to hour and a half to visit. Have a Leisurely lunch here in ranakpur while enjoying the beautiful landscape and head over to udaipur which would take around 2 hours.

Udaipur.

Udaipur also known as the city of Lakes, dates back to 1553 is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the State of Rajasthan. Surrounded by the Aravalli mountains, City of Udaipur enjoys excellent weather round the year.

However the months from October till April are the preferred months to visit when the weather is at its best.

(There is a more detailed Article covering Places you should visit here)

Your Sightseeing here should cover the largest Palace complex called City Palace, which has 2 parts to it, one being the Museum and the other is private palace where the family of the Maharana lives.

From the City Palace Museum you should ideally walk over to Jagdish Mandir, the temple dedicated to Vishnu and once again an excellent example of craftsmanship.

In terms of other places to visit in Udaipur, Take a boat ride on the Lake Pichola and visit the Island of Jag Mandir. Lake pichola also houses the Lake Palace which is a Super Luxury Hotel in the middle of the Lake.

Visit the Royal Gardens of the Maidens called Sahelion ki Bari built around the Fateh sagar lake, one could also enjoy a boat ride on Fateh sagar lake and visit the Nehru gardens in the Middle of the lake.

Towards the evening, the drive around Fatehsagar lake becomes a food court, with stalls selling Indian Savories and snacks.

For me personally the best part of being in Udaipur has been to walk around the city and spend time at the Lal Ghat area. Having travelled as a Trip Leader and also on my own, I have experimented with lots of Hotels.

My personal favorite when on a Budget have been Kankarwa Haveli & Jaiwana Haveli. Location

Both are on Lal Ghat, which has also multiple restaurants and even though in the heart of old city, offers peace and quiet.

If you are not looking for one of the many star hotels, but staying in the heart in an excellent hotel / Haveli. These 2 are recommended. Of the two I am a bit biased towards kankarwa Haveli.

If you have the time then a day trip from Udaipur would bring you to chittorgarh which was the erstwhile capital till Udaipur was founded. One of the most Majestic Citadel in the country, witness to many a battles. Every stone of Chittor has a story of Valor to tell.

If you plan to visit Chittor make sure you take a Guide with you. Without a guide you will only see Buildings and its not the Buildings that matter in Chittor but the Story.

Pushkar Fair -www.pushkarfair.eu [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pushkar Fair & Pushkar City.

From Udaipur your Journey should take you in the general direction North, recommended stop being Pushkar. Once a year Pushkar becomes a celebrity town when we have the largest camel fair which takes place.

Every year thousands of Livestock and Camel Traders descent down to this sleepy little town during the Hindu Months of Kartik on a Purnima(full Moon) which is the 15th lunar day in the Kartik Month. Usually November.

With a growing attendance of over 200,000, Cattle, camels and other live stock being bought and sold, people dressed in their traditional colourful attire. There is no place which is more Instagram friendly than this.

Even otherwise, Pushkar town makes for an Interesting visit, being the only Brahma temple in the country, and one of the few places where Hindus come to pray for the peace of the departed souls on the banks of Lake pushkar.

The town has lots of character, is extremely interesting to walk around and explore. Just be careful of Religious Scams. Best thing to do, hire a guide on your first trip out of the hotel, make him tie a thread on your wrist which is also called Pushkar passport and you would be left in peace.

Close to Pushkar is the holy city of Ajmer, where Pushkar is important for Hindus, Ajmer is for Muslims. However a huge Hindu population also frequents the Tomb of Ajmer Sharif. Ajmer Sharif is the tomb of a muslim wise man who was called Sufi sufi Moinuddin Chishti. If visiting here, be careful and don’t fall prey to scams again.

It doesn’t matter where you go in India, there is always some kind of a religious scam somewhere. From asking for donations to wanting you to make offerings. The best way to avoid these is to not be polite and say No Thank You, don’t say anything at all. Just turn a deaf ear to people calling out to you and keep on walking.

Jaipur.

From Pushkar head to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Also known as the pink city, Jaipur is a vibrating, pulsating city which has a lot to offer. (Read the detailed Article on Jaipur here)

Built in 1727 on a grid system .

Build in 1727 on a grid system similar to a chess board, it the first well planned city of India. 

The city has some of the most interesting landmarks which are famous World over, the most popular one being hawa mahal (Palace of the winds) A facade which was built for the women to be able to enjoy the happenings in the city.

Hawa Mahal is best visited in the morning when the Sunshines on it. From here continue to visit the Amer / Amber fort located outside the city of Jaipur. Amer was the capital till 1727 when the Sawai Jai Singh decided to shift the capital to a new location.

Amer fort is a majestic fort which showcases the amalgamation of Hindu andMughal Style of architecture. From Amer fort you would head over to City Palace which is part museum and part private palace of the royal family and right next to it the Astronomical Observatory called jantar Mantar.

There are 5 such Observatories in India and the one in Jaipur is considered to be the finest one. From the Observatory you could enjoy the Old city which has 2 main squares, the Badi Chopar (Main Crossing) or the Choti Chopar (Small Square, also where the Hawa Mahal is)

Towards the later part of the day head over to Bapu Bazaar if you are in the mood for some Shopping. Jaipur is very famous for Jewellery, Hand Block printed bed sheets, Carpets and traditional camel Leather shoes called Mojaris.

Just opposite the Walled cities new gate is the Memorial called Albert hall, it houses a museum today and was built to commemorate the visit of prince Albert.

Located about 10-15 minutes away from Albert Hall is the Birla Temple, a relatively new temple, it is built entirely out of white marble and offers beautiful architecture.

Ranthambore National Park.

The Last stop with regards to Places to visit in Rajasthan, based on the itinerary that we have followed would be a Wildlife Sanctuary, and not just any but one which has one of the highest Tiger Sighting records, called Ranthambore National Park.

Located around 4 hours from Jaipur, this is a must visit if you are into Wildlife. Ranthambore or Sawai Madhopur as the town is called was the former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur and this is also the place where some of the most famous shoots have taken place.

With the establishment of Project Tiger in 1973, Ranthambore national park was formed as a reserve to prevent more killing of Tigers and create a sanctuary where the Tiger population could grow. Ranthambore boasts of a significant tiger population today numbering appx 71 in all.

All Safaris are controlled by the Forest department and once can pre book the safaris online there by being assured of your Safari slot. There are 2 timings to go into the park. Early morning and afternoon. There is no preferred slot / timing as I have seen tigers during both the Morning as well as Afternoon Safaris.

The routes issued in Ranthambore national park are also controlled by the park officials so there is no way to influence this and the Sightings are purely based on the mood of the tiger/ tigeress. No route is good or bad.

Ranthambore national park also houses the formidable Ranthambore fort which dates back to the 10th century. Today this fort is partially in ruins but can be visited. A steep climb up would brings you to various observation points which overlook the National park itself.

These are the places in Rajasthan which in my opinion and experience a must visit, whether you choose to do these in 1 visit or many. Having travelled over 100 times through this state and having seen some of these practically every time and some a little less, I feel that if the opportunity presents itself one must visit these.