Rajasthan – the Jewel in India’s Crown

If your mind wanders to an India of regal maharajas, grand palaces and mystical temples, then it’s Rajasthan you’ve been dreaming of! It is the literal ‘The Land of the Kings’, a landscape long fought over by rival Rajputs and remains a place of pride and rich tradition to this day.

The third corner of the famous ‘Golden Triangle’, home to cities of pink, blue and gold, on lakes and of pilgrimage, to festivals of kaleidoscopic colours and a fabled opulence that contrasts starkly with the austerity of vast stretches of desert. Packed full of wonders, it comes as no surprise that this most regal of Indian states is such a prominent feature in the daydreams of many and the itineraries of many more.

Read on to discover more of about the wonders of Rajasthan and why they should feature on all the holidays to India.

Jaipur

Forming one corner of India’s Golden Triangle (Delhi and Agra making up the other two), the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur is home to a treasure trove of historic buildings and sites dating back to the 18th century. Built to the specification of the ruling royal family, the city is home to an astonishing array of palaces, temples and architectural extravagance. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Amber Fort outside of the city, towering over the surrounding countryside.

Jaisalmar

Jaisalmer Fort rises like a fabulous mirage out of the sands of the Thar Desert. The impressive contours of its 99 bastions are softened by the amber hue of the stone that much of Jaisalmer is built from, earning it the moniker the ‘Golden City’. In medieval times, Jaisalmer’s entire population lived within the fort and to this day thousands of people still reside here, making it India’s only living fort. Royal palaces, ancient Jain temples and merchant haveli mansions can all be found cheek by jowl within its walls.

Thar Desert

A vast stretch of wilderness stretching for over 200,000 km2 on India’s western border, the Thar Desert is a mesmerising landscape of huge shifting sand dunes and glimmering salt pans, boasting stunning sunrises, mesmerizing sunsets and dazzling night skies. A stay in a luxurious desert camp here is truly memorable. Meals are provided in the dining tent, which offers breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside, whilst evenings are livened up by campfires and local musicians and dancers.

Jodhpur

With its painted buildings scattered below the hilltop and huddled beneath ancient city walls, Jodhpur exudes a beautiful blue glow. Wandering through the city’s jumbled streets will be a highlight of your India tour, as medieval lanes, bazaars and street food stalls entice your senses. Rising 120m above the city’s skyline, Mehrangarh Fort is one of the most magnificent and best preserved forts in India, home to opulent palaces with meticulously carved stonework and latticed windows.

Ranthambore National Park

India’s most famous and the most conveniently located tiger reserve, Ranthambore was once the hunting grounds of Maharajas and is now considered to be one of the country’s most successful conservation programmes. Dotted with old ruins, including a grand fort, which the animals use for shelter, this is The Jungle Book brought to life. The park is renowned for its tiger population but you may be just as enthralled by the other wild animals you come across including leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, hyena and sloth bear.

Udaipur

The elegant city of Udaipur is fronted by the 4km long Lake Pichola, whose tranquil waters are framed by rolling hills, grand palaces and historic havelis, ghats and temples. Seeming to float on the surface of the lake itself, the elegant Lake Palace is now a luxury hotel and will be familiar to anyone of a certain vintage who has seen the James Bond movie Octopussy. Although the royal rulers have now moved out – they still reside in the grand City Palace that rises resplendently from the shores of the lake.

And the Rest of the Golden Triangle…Delhi

This rambunctious capital city acts as the perfect introduction to the country as a whole, showcasing all the things that make India such a great destination: colour, cuisine, culture and chaos. Washed over by successive empires, the Mughals and the British have left the biggest mark. The Mughals contributed some of Old Delhi’s biggest attractions – the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, with their mix of Islamic and Persian styles, whilst the British built New Delhi, in an extravagantly grand European style, as a show of power.

Agra

Agra is home to one of the most recognizable monuments in the world, the Taj Mahal, a glittering vision in white marble that is a worthy inclusion in the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his most beloved wife, the Taj Mahal rests resplendently at the centre of beautiful gardens perfectly framed by a clear sky. In the changing light of the rising and setting sun, the blaze of colour from the shimmering stone is simply breath-taking.

Rajasthan Panorama

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Jaisalmer Fort - Taj Mahal - Udaipur - Rajasthan's Deserts - Jama Masjid

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