Beautiful, mystical, and vibrant state of Rajasthan is one of the most visited places in India by the visitors all around the globe. It is a place of beautiful safaris, spectacular sand dunes, blend of rich cultural heritage spot, and offers lush forests of Aravalis, one of the oldest mountain range of India. The state of Rajasthan is located in Northwestern region of India and Jaipur is its capital city.
Here are our lists of most popular places to see in Rajasthan:
South west of Jaipur, Ajmer is an oasis wrapped in the green hills. The city was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century A.D. and continued to be a major centre of the Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. Then Prithviraj Chauhan lost it to Mohammed Ghori, after which Ajmer became home to many dynasties. Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage centre for the Muslims as well as Hindus. Especially famous is the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally revered both by the Hindus and the Muslims. Ajmer is a centre of culture and education. The British chose Ajmer for its prestigious Mayo College, a school exclusively for Indian nobility at one time. However, now it is one of the best public schools in the country. Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (14 km.) which has the distinction of having the only Brahma temple in the world. The Picturesque Pushkar Lake is a sacred spot for Hindus. During the month of Kartik (Oct/Nov), devotees throng in large numbers to take a dip in the sacred lake.
Ajmer was also a favourite residence for the great Mughals. One of the first contacts between the Mughal King Jahangir and Sir Thomas Roe took place here in 1616. The Scindias took over the city in 1818 and then handed it over to the British. Thus Ajmer was the only region to be directly controlled by the East Indian Company.
The bus stand in Ajmer is located near the RTDC hotel Khadim. The railway station is further south and most of the office lies in the northeast and most of the city’s market is located behind and up to Agra Gate. Further northwest is a large artificial lake called the Anna Sagar.
Alwar is known as “Tiger Gate” of San Luis Potosi. Surrounded by lush green Aravali hills and presents a breath taking natural environment. Forests and lakes form the backdrop to this beautiful place. The site is dotted with architectural splendor, surrounded by harsh mountains. The deep valleys and thick forest cover is a haven for many species of birds and animals. It is one of the oldest cities in the state and its prehistoric and historic sites are an archaeologist’s delight. Paradoxically, Alwar is both the oldest and the most recent of the Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan. Trace their tradition back to the realms of Viratnagar that flourished here around 1500 BC It is also known as Matasya Desh, where the Pandavas, the mighty heroes of the Mahabharata, spent the last years of his 13 years of exile.
The grandeur, beauty and delicacy of the design of innumerable palaces and forts in the region, tranquil lakes, majestic hunting lodges, sites of archaeological importance, thick forests, many birds and animals mixed with an equally diverse socio – cultural configuration have made this region a traveler’s delight.
Lying in the north of the desert State, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city’s lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. A camel besides being a mode of transport, also works on wells. These are built on high plinths with slender minarets on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance.
The history of Bikaner dates back to 1486 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focul point and he transformed it into an impressive city. He accomplished this task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages abandoned by the ‘Shankhlas’. When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages.
During the period of the Maharaja’s, it was used as a place of leisure by the royalties and semi-royalties. The place presents an interesting contrast of British style bungalows and holiday lodges of the royals (Thikhana) with various tribal communities residing amidst the thick lush forest on the hills surrounding the region.
The flora and fauna enjoys the adulation of the tourist to the fullest. The highest point of the Aravali is the ‘Guru Shikhar’ with a vast sanctuary that shelters a number of species like langur, wild boars, Sambar, leopards and many more along with a number of flowering plants and trees, which enhance the beauty of the whole scenery.
A rich collection of monuments of different religious sects like the famous shrines of Jainism are also found here.
The tribal community of this area still maintains its pristine ways of living despite progress of the modern times. The Delwara temple is famous for its architectural splendour. The intricate carving on the marble stone is simply mesmerizing. A cluster of Hindu temples also marks the land with their historical past. The Brahmkumari ‘Ashram’ is another world famous religious community center.
Udaipur is often called ‘Venice of the East’. It is also the ‘city of lakes’. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas) located in the middle of Pichola Lake is the finest example of architectural and cultural marvel. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, crafts and its famed miniature paintings. The Shilpgram festival is a great crowd-puller on new year.
Maharana Udai Singh founded Udaipur in 1559 AD. According to a legend Udai Singh was guided by a holy man meditating on the hill near Pichola Lake to establish his capital on that very spot. Surrounded by Aravali Ranges, forests and lakes this place was less vulnerable to external invasion than Chittaurgarh. Maharana Udai Singh died in 1572 and was succeeded by Maharana Pratap who valiantly defended Udaipur from Mughal attacks. Maharana Pratap is the most revered Rajput icon who gallantly fought the Mughals at the battle of Haldighati in 1576. Mewar continuously defied foreign invaders and has a history of bloody battles until the British intervention in the nineteenth century when a treaty was signed to protect Udaipur. Upon independence, Udaipur merged with the union of India.
Bundi is a magnificent town, 36 Kms from Kota, once ruled by the Hada Chauhans. First destination is Hadoti set in a narrow inclining gorge. The palaces and forts have a fairy tale quality about them. Isolated and independent, this picturesque location has much to offer. Rajput architecture shines in the intricately carved brackets and pillars. Interesting places are Diwan-e-aam, Hathia Pol, and Naubat Khana.
Luni is located 35 kms away from Jodhpur. This small place reflects the rural fascination of Rajasthan. It is a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. This small village is home to many craftsmen and artisans who build stunning metal, clay, and wooden carved products. Fort Chanwa in Luni is an exceptional piece of sophistication of Indian Architecture.
Jaipur is 260 km from Delhi and 240 km from Agra and forms the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis but yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. The old Jaipur painted in Pink can grip any visitor with admiration. Stunning backdrop of ancient forts: Nahargarh, Amer, Jaigarh and Moti Doongari are apt testimonials of the bygone era and a reminder of their lingering romance and chivalry.
Jaipur is named after its founder, the warrior and astronomer sovereign, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh (ruled 1688 to 1744). The decision to move out of his hilltop capital Amer was also compelled by reasons of growing population and paucity of water. Moreover in the early 17th century the power of the great Mughals was dwindling with its aging Monarch Aurangzeb. After several centuries of invasions the north was now quiet and the wealth of the kingdom had considerably increased. Seizing upon this opportune time, Jai Singh planned his new capital in the plains. Jaipur is a corroborative evidence of Sawai Jai Singh’s strong grounding in science and astrology and of a Bengali architect Vidyadhar with a strong instinct for planning.
The name Jaisalmer evokes utter magic and vibrancy of the desert. It’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The hostile terrain notwithstanding the warmth and colour of people is simply overwhelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city. And you can let your eyes caress the sloping sand dunes while you ramble your way in a camel safari. The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy in the Thar Desert. Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156 AD.
On advice of a local hermit Eesaal he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode, abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometres northwest. In Medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt and Arabia. The Bhati Rajput rulers lined their coffers with gains from traditional taxes levied on passing by caravans. They also amassed wealth through questionable means.
In 1733 AD, Raja Badan Singh ‘s adopted son, Suraj Mal had shown signs of promise, when he captured the fort of Bharatpur from Khemkaran, the rival chief, whom he killed and thus laid the foundation of Bharatpur City.
Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense courage and carved a niche for himself in the midst of political disorder. Gathering around him fiercely martial Jat peasants, he went from one success to another. He accompanied Emperor Muhammed Shah against Ali Muhammed Ruhela and in 1748 AD, at the battle of Bagru, he led the Jaipur vanguard against the Marathas. He also defeated the commander-in-chief of the Mughal emperor. Despite being a very religious man he was secular.
The history of Bharatpur dates back to the epic age, when the Matsya Kingdom flourished here in the 5th century BC The matsya were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. According to tradition the name of Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, the brother of lord Rama of Ayodhya whose other brother Laxman was given the high place of family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms.
Bharatpur is also called the Eastern gateway of Rajasthan. Maharaja Suraj Mal. Apart from being a brave General was also a great builder. He built numerous forts and palaces across the kingdom including the Pleasure Palace complex at Deeg. Bharatpur is today known the world over for its Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
This bustling desert city is the second largest in Rajasthan after Jaipur. It was founded by Rao Jodha, the leader of the Rathore clan, in 1459 AD. The mammoth, imposing fortress (Meherangarh) has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of fortress. The new city is outside the structure.
The Rathores enjoyed good relations with the Mughals. Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1678) supported Shah Jahan in the latter’s war of succession. The relations with the Mughals soured during the reign of Aurangzeb who launched a crusade against the Hindus, made preparations to bring the state of Marwar under his control, ordered demotion of temples and revival of Jeziya. After Aurangzeb’s death, Maharaja Ajit Singh drove out the Mughals from Ajmer and added it to Marwar.
In the reign of Maharaja Umed Singh Jodhpur grew into a modern city. The quintessence of Jodhpur was its valour and equestrian skill. Polo has been the traditional sport of the Jodhpur nobility since medieval times.
Jodhpur has two railway stations – City and Rai ka Bagh. Both the railway stations are outside the walled city. The bus stand is right outside the Rai ka Bagh Station. The High Court is near the bus stand next to the Umed Gardens. Also located nearby is the tourist reception centre and RTDC Hotel Ghoomer. Ahead is the main market and entry to the walled city is from Sojati Gate. This area also has many hotels. Jodhpur is also a army and an air force station. It has a large cantonment and airbase.
Ranthambhor National Park
Ranthambhor National Park, once a princely game conserve is the scene where the celebrated Indian tigers are best seen. Ranthambhor Tiger Reserve lies on the junction of Aravali and Vindhyas just 14 Kms from Sawai Madhopur in Eastern Rajasthan. It sprawls over a varying and undulating landscape. The scenery changes dramatically from gentle and steep slopes of the Vindhyas to the sharp and conical hills of the Aravali. A tenth century fort also blends amicably with the background. Pure sands of Dhok (Anogeissus pendula) interspersed with grasslands at the plateaus, meadows in valleys and luxuriant foliage around the canals make the jungle. Three big lakes – Padam Talab (meaning Lake), Malik Talab and Raj Bagh – are similar turquoises studded in the vast forest that abounds with aquatic vegetation including duckweeds, lilies and lotus.
A significant geological feature within the park is the ‘Great Boundary Fault’ where the Vindhaya plateau meets the Aravali range. The Rivers Chambal in the South and the Banas in the north bound the National Park. The park is dotted with steep rocky hills and the dominating architecture of Ranthambhor Fort (built in the 10th century), adds to its landscape. The rugged park terrain alternates between dry deciduous forest, open grassy meadow, dotted by several lakes and rivers that are only made passable by rough roads built and maintained by the Forest Service.
The tiger is not the only attraction at Ranthambhor. A variety of birds including owlets, the ubiquitous langur (monkey), leopard, caracal, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, marsh crocodiles, wild boar, bears and various species of deer are the other attractions.
Sariska has a rich natural heritage with some beautiful lakes and picturesque valleys thickly wooded in parts. Situated on the most prominent of these hills is a massive ancient fort that whispers tales of the rich history of Sariska in Rajasthan India.
Sariska lies in Alwar district of Rajasthan and is famous for its tiger reserve. There are many more travel attractions in Sariska such as ancient Kanwari Fort and many ancient temples which makes Sariska travel in Rajasthan very exciting. Sariska was declared wildlife sanctuary in 1955, tiger reserve in 1979 and in 1982 it was given the National Park status in Rajasthan India. Today, thousands of wildlife and nature lovers travel to Sariska Rajasthan to explore the wildlife of the region.
Located in Rajasthan Shekhawati is the most artistic region of India. It is the region that houses some of the world’s most stunning intricate and artistic frescos.The Shekhawati belt covers townships like Sikar, Fatehpur, Lakshmangarh, Nawalgarh, Jhunjhunu. It has many heritage havelis that shows the true Indian ambiance of the town
Situated around 60 km north of Udaipur, Ranakpur is one of the five most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism and one of the popular travel destinations of Rajasthan India. Ranakpur is home to an exceptionally beautiful temple complex in the Aravali ranges and a must visit for the tourists coming to this region. Ranakpur is tucked away in a remote valley in the Aravali range. Located in Pali district and boasts of one of the largest and most important Jain Temples in India. Large number of Jain pilgrims travel to Ranakpur India to worship at the Ranakpur temple complex.
Legends of medieval concepts of Rajput honor, romance and valor haunts the ruins of the citadel of Chittaur where one can see glimpses of the imperial glory of the bygone era in its daunting forts, stylish palaces and fabulous ‘chhatris’. The three great attacks on this unfortunate fort led to ‘Jauhar’ (a Hindu custom where royal ladies and maidens committed self-immolation to save their honor from the cruel hands of the enemy.) Their men would cover themselves up in the sacred ashes of these funeral pyres and walk to their deaths with a heavy heart and a will to kill-or-die. The land has given birth to the likes of Maharana Pratap who continued to defy Mughals till his death, despite of all the hardships that he had to bear. Even his enemies thus respected him. Today, Chittorgarh attracts tremendous interest from tourists all over the world, who come here to behold the wonders of some of the finest examples of Rajput architecture and the influence of Mughal style on them.