It's time to visit the world of harems and maharajahs, palaces and fortresses, incense and mysticism. Rajasthan is a state in the northwest of India full of history and magnificent forts Â– the best in the country. Known as the Land of Kings, Rajasthan really has something for everyone. With sand dunes, jungles, camel trains, wild tigers, glittering jewels, vibrant cultures and a calendar full of festivals, this area is a must-see spot in this bucket list country.
Street food in Jaipur, India
With history and forts at every turn, the list of things to see in Rajasthan is not short. Here are just a few things to check out:
The Mehrangarh Fort is the best preserved of hundreds. Located in the historic city of Jodhpur, the fort is the dominating feature of the city. When it was built in 1458, it was the site of the capital and the city grew around it. In 500 years, this magnificent fort has never been taken by force because of its placement on the top of a 150-meter hill. Venture to the top for the best view in town.
For a peaceful, romantic experience, head over to the city of Udaipur. As the capital of the district of Mewar, Udaipur is known as the Venice of India. Be sure when you visit the city to take in its famous lakes, forts, temples and gardens.
Another city worth your time is the "Golden City" of Jaisalmer. Located just near the Thar Desert, be sure to ask about the camel safari in the sand dunes for a truly unique experience. Another city dominated by a fort, Jaisalmer's Golden Fort is unlike others in India. The Sonar Qila, or Golden Fort, is a living fort with shops, hotels, and even homes where families have lived for generations.
For a more tranquil experience, take a trip over to the holy city of Pushkar. Famous for its lakes, ghats and temples, this city is home to one of the very few temples dedicated to the creator deity, Brahma.
The state of Rajasthan is comprised of seven divisions. These include the central region of Ajmer, which is home to the holy city of Pushkar, to the northern desert division of Bikaner, to the southern section of Udaipur covered in lakes and palaces.
With jungles, lakes and deserts, Rajasthan has countless adventures for every traveller. Hop on a camel safari, nighttime jeep ride, or hiking trip through the jungles to pass your time in India.
For the woman who's always wanted to go nuts and get a tattoo, but is a bit afraid of the commitment, a henna tattoo is just the answer. An intricately and ornate design is hand-drawn on the woman's skin, to be washed away in a few weeks.
For endless shopping, tourists can head to the Pink City. This old, walled section of town is filled with rows and rows of market stalls. You can find anything from handmade shoes to elegantly embroidered saris. Be ready to negotiate, though. In India, it's all about the haggling. Go so far as to even walk out of the store. Chances are the storeowner will chase after you, offering the best deal yet.
Food and Dining
The food around the whole of India is generally very spicy. If you think your local curry restaurant has prepared you, think again. Approach with caution. Speaking of curry, don't leave India without trying it.
Most Indian restaurants will be primarily vegetarian. Avoid the meat products you'll see at the roadside stands. They may make you sick.
One of the most traditional dishes you'll find in Rajasthan is the daal-baati-churma. The daal is lentil curry, the baati are charcoal baked round balls made of wheat flour and the churma is a dessert of crushed wheat balls rolled in sugar.
There is a public bus system in Rajasthan, but another option is the jeeps for hire. Beware the overcharging, however. If you can get a good price, traveling by road is amazing given the gorgeous desert views along the way.
Your best option, however, is the train. They are faster, more reliable and the service on board is fantastic. For a real treat, book yourself on the Palace on Wheels. It's a week long luxury train ride through the interior of Rajasthan.