Rajasthan is one of the most traveled areas of India, and with good reason. There are several beautiful and unique cities throughout Rajasthan. While the Taj Mahal is actually in the state of Uttar Predesh next to Rajasthan, and makes up one of the points of the Golden Triangle, the rest of the beauty is clearly in Rajasthan.
The city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, is nothing special. I’m not sure there would be a reason to go if it weren’t for the Taj Mahal. That’s not the case when it comes to Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur (or the other wonderful cities around Rajasthan). These cities are loaded with temples, palaces and massive forts. They have their own unique charm and are also quite colorful.
Jaipur is referred to as the Pink City because the palace and walls surrounding the palace are painted a pink color. To me, it actually looks more orangy-mauve, but when the sun sets over Jaipur the city seems to glow pink. Jaipur is chaotic, but in a wonderful, Indian way. Markets spring up everywhere in the morning, shops open their doors to sell everything imaginable, and food stalls abound with all you could possibly want to eat. And, of course, there are several interesting sites throughout the city.
The Amber Fort is perhaps the most interesting of them all in a city of interesting sites. The Amber Fort is rather large, and high on a hill. More impressive from a distance, the fort dominates the surrounding landscape. Elephants are roaming around and tourists are riding them around the massive fort. There is even a “floating” palace, the Jal Mahal, in a man-made lake next to the city. Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit it.
Throughout Jodhpur, mostly around Mehrangarh Fort, buildings are painted a wonderful bright blue. The explosion of blue looks stunning at sunset and sunrise, especially with the fort dominating the background. If you catch the sun just right, you get a beautiful orange and blue hue in your photos. Of course, I wasn’t able to do that and it doesn’t help there is a haze that covers the city (a common occurrence in Indian cities due to the pollution). Despite that, the beauty of the city is undeniable. Most of my time, when I was not touring around Jodhpur, was spent enjoying the sunsets on the rooftop of my hotel.
Perhaps my most favorite city in Rajasthan (I lingered here for some time), Udaipur feels small even though it’s quite large. The core has little traffic (for India) and lacks the pollution haze common in other Indian cities. Many of the building are painted white, thus the nickname for Udaipur, giving it a cleaner look and more charming feel. Though, Udaipur is known more as the Venice of East because of the beautiful lakes that abound there. Udaipur is a very relaxing city with a great deal of culture to experience if you can manage to pull yourself away from drinking chai tea while watching the sunset on one of the countless rooftop restaurants.
Udaipur’s claim to fame is having the 1970s James Bond film Octopussy with Roger Moore filmed at the floating palace out in the middle of Lake Pichola in the center of the city. Udaipur is a bit quirky, advertising nightly showings of Octopussy at nearly every hotel and bar, “machine coffee,” and “paying hotels” (as opposed to hotels where I don’t have to pay?). Nonetheless, the palaces—floating and non—are interesting to explore, especially taking the boat ride out to the floating palace. There’s even a floating hotel (also formerly a palace) should you wish to drop some bank and really get into the floating experience.
There was one city I did miss, Jaisalmer, the Golden City. Perhaps on my next visit I will have the opportunity to experience it!
Have you visited Rajasthan? What did you like about it? Share your experience in the comments section below.