The ‘Land of the Maharajas’, Rajasthan is physically the largest state in India, covering over 10% of its land mass, as well as one of the poorest. A population loyal to tradition, a typical busy Rajasthani street will be alive with vivid saris, turbans and intricate jewellery – a chaos of colour that matches the fast paced buzz of life here.
Rajasthan’s gateway, Jaipur is the third corner of India’s Golden Triangle. At the heart of it lies the old Pink City, packed with vibrant bazaars, heavy traffic and bustling crowds. Within this is the City Palace, a majestic ensemble of Rajput and Mughal architecture (part of which is still home to the royal family). Relief from the mayhem of Jaipur’s centre can be found in the lush gardens that surround the Central Museum south of the city walls, or in the Galtaji Monkey Temples in the hilly eastern outskirts.
Udaipur and Jodhpur
Sunken into the Girwa Valley, Udaipur is the epicentre of Rajasthani theatre and artisanry. The most romantic city in India (if not the entire East), it is host to five-star cuisine and a wealth of luxury hotels – the pick of them being the stunning Taj Lake Palace. Floating atop Lake Pichola, it is the world-famous setting of many a Hollywood classic, and the choice of more than a few honeymooners. To the north of Udaipur you will find the stunning Eklingji temple complex and the Jain temples of Ranakpur, which tend to be less frequented by tourists.
Completely awash with deep Brahman blue paints, central Jodhpur is a cerulean maze of lively medieval streets. The noisy and colourful markets of Sardar Market – offering bright textiles, jewellery and spices – are a haggler’s heaven. Zipline over the cityscape for an aerial view of Mehrangarh, the majestic scarred fort that looms over the city, and spot the monkeys leaping between the flat cerulean roofs below. Get a taste of the heritage and rustic lifestyle of rural Rajasthan with a camel safari through the Thar Desert and nearby picturesque villages.