Rajasthan: Rustic, Simple and Everything Nice!
On a fine September day, I was sitting in a boring Oral Pathology lecture when I received a phone call from my friend saying he was waiting for me at the college café. I went to the café after my class only to find him sitting there with a small political map of India. He had been craving an adventure so much so that his wildest bucket list ideas had taken over his sanity. Placing the map before me, he asked me to close my eyes and randomly run my fingers over the map, only to stop at one spot which would end up being our destination for the trip we were (without any plans) going to take that evening. And, I abided… My finger rested on the epitome of royalty, the extraordinary state of Rajasthan! It meant that we were finally going to take a trip to Rajasthan and visit the best places in Rajasthan!
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Well, Rajasthan!! The hottest, and literally the hottest place in the Indian geography does take the crown away for its sheer beauty and ethnic culture. Call it the ‘Land of Maharajas’ or the ‘Abode of Palaces’, there is no denying that this vibrant, culturally rich state is a gem of Indian tourism. In simple words, rustic, earthy and pleasant!
While many other states of India have embraced the modern culture, pushing the last remnants of our past away, Rajasthan is one of the gems that stands tall on its virtues and glamoured past, creating a striking balance, all the while moving forward with grace. In the eyes of an onlooker, India seems to have robbed all the colours in the world for this piece of land and Rajasthan as its capital. This makes a Rajasthan trip one of the most happening experiences in India.
The pink city of Jaipur and the blue city of Jodhpur are officially found here, but there is also the endless sea of brown sand to rival that. Rajasthan for one is vast, and a single trip would scarcely cover much of the state, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit it more than once. If you have chosen to dip yourself in this magical land of history, royalty and magnificence, Letters to Neet is here to share some of the best offbeat experiences you shouldn’t miss when in the state of Rajasthan.
Offbeat Experiences for an ultimate Rajasthan Tour
Quirky Handicrafts, Banjara Jewellery and Everything Beyond!
Big, Bright, Beautiful Markets of Rajasthan!! Be ready to experience for yourself the many Chandni Chowks! Colourful lehengas, precisely hand-crafted shoes, bags, scarves, dolls, multi-coloured turbans, khakis, name anything and you will find it here on your Rajasthan trip. For those who have the habit of shopping in malls or boutiques, shopping in Rajasthan is a novel experience altogether.
Seemingly endless amounts of streets across the state have utilities to offer that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. You can buy colourful scarves, dupattas from Seema Gram, decor items from Pansari Bazaar, vibrant handicrafts from twin markets of Jaipur and banjara silver jewellery from Sonaron ka Baas in Jaisalmer.
Taste the Ultimate Royalty of India!
Forts, Palaces and Temples!! Call it the ‘Land of Maharajas’. When on a Rajasthan tour, there is no missing the magnificent and regal fort structures, the beautiful architecture, the curves and styles of each fort are emblematic from a specific period.
Amber Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Junagarh Fort, Mehrangarh Fort, Lohagarh Fort, all stand tall in their former glory, as symbols of the past reigns and their bloodsheds. You come to Rajasthan for this, to divulge in the history books, to marvel at how this came to picture and to live the authentic and pure vibe of ancient India.
For an ultimate taste of royalty, you can treat yourself with a luxurious stay at the Havelis, the Mandava Kothi, the Udaipur palace or the Pokhran fort which are beyond beautiful and impart 100% Maharaja Feels! If you have a thing for vintage cars like I do, no better place than Udaipur to see the most chique vintage cars.
Witness Sand As Far As Your Eye Can See!
The Great Indian Thar Desert!! The endless brown sea is what I call it. Two Lakh Square kilometres of sand extending as far as the eye can see! This is definitely not for the weak-hearted. But you can trust me, you won’t get lost here unless you wish to go on an absolute crazy nomad adventure.
The desert is the soul of Rajasthan that holds all its secrets. You cannot even begin your Rajasthan trip or end it without touching the deserts. Sand dunes in Sam, Khuri, Pushkar and Jaisalmer are very popular where you get to enjoy various activities such as desert safari, jeep safari and camel safari.
The sands that heat up during the day cool down by evening; in fact, you would be surprised by how cold Rajasthan is during the night. In the moonlight, the sands shine like silver they say. All this is bound to give you a weird feeling of belonging.
New Friends and Some Bumpy Rides!
Bored of travelling in taxis? Well, Rajasthan has a surprise for you. It has a cute face that is definitely the colourfully decorated Camel. This animal serves as the best mode of transport when it comes to wandering in the deserts. Gazing the entire horizon becomes incredibly fun on these bumpy rides on your trip to Rajasthan.
Pushkar and Bikaner are famous spots in Rajasthan for Camel safari. Here you won’t only get to traverse the sands but also ride through the streets of the cities all the while hearing funny stories about the camels from their caretakers, a sure shot delight any day.
While I thought that elephants were only found in Kerala, I was indeed wrong. In Rajasthan, you will see elephants adorned with colourful fabrics and paints, just the famous Rajasthani style. Here you can spend time showering these giant friendly animals, feed them bananas and sugarcane.
Camping or Glamping: What is Your Thing?
Imagine sitting around a campfire in the middle of the desert enjoying Ghoomar dance with traditional music crooning in the back. To top this up is the elaborate dinner in which authentic snacks and cuisines are served in the famous Rajasthani fashion. That sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
Now, Rajasthan offers various such spots where you could enjoy exclusive camping and of course, desert safari. The Sam sand dunes and the Khuri sand dunes in Jaisalmer, the Osian sand dunes in Jodhpur and Bikaner are the best places in Rajasthan where you can plan to camp.
Many other desert resorts offer ‘Glamping’, which is the ultimate luxury camping amidst the Great Indian Thar Desert. It consists of 5-star hotel-like facilities, swimming pools to cool the desert heat, jeep safaris and camel safaris to explore the desert, evening folk dance and music. Indeed, an experience that leaves you wanting more.
A Power Pack of Hot-Air Balloon Rides, Puppet Shows, Light and Sound Shows!
Ever wanted to be on a hot-air balloon after seeing Instagram images of Cappadocia Turkey? Well, you don’t have to go that far. Floating above the mighty castles and deserts is the best thing to do on your Rajasthan tour. This 60-minute hot air balloon ride will take you over the gorgeous expanse of the sandy deserts, castles and the famous Pushkar fair if you happen to be there during that time of the year in Rajasthan.
Also, do not miss onto the marvellous laser light and sound show that happens at dusk in Amer. It is one of its kind and something I can’t really put into words. Furthermore, puppet shows are a common sight in the local markets and are considered as one of the signature Rajasthan experiences. So whenever you are on a Rajasthan tour, be ready to indulge in a tailor-made power package consisting of the hot air balloon ride, puppet show and crazy solid laser show.
Relish Being a Water Baby amidst the Desert!
It’s a delightful surprise that some of the most beautiful lakes in India are in the desert-stricken state of Rajasthan. If you ever feel dry and exhausted from the endless brown colour, and hot weather, it is the lakes you must visit on your Rajasthan vacation. Serene and quaint in nature, boating or just being around these water bodies is enough to calm you down.
Udaipur is proudly famous as the city of lakes and is by far one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The entire town is sprung around five ultra-gorgeous lakes that are enough to take your breath away. The Lake Pichola-the gem of Udaipur, Fateh Sagar Lake, Doodh Talai Lake, Mansagar Lake and Pushkar Lake are some of the many famous lakes in Rajasthan that definitely deserve a visit.
The exotic view of the regal palaces and a long walk along the moonlit lakes at night is enough to make you believe in the magic of this beautiful city and to repeatedly take trips to the state of Rajasthan.
Dance to the Beat of Folk Music
The famous Rajasthani Folklore and the culturally rich dances are known all over the world. They are hypnotic and make you want to move your belly and dance your heart out. The music is out of the world and played with unique musical instruments such as sarangi and ektara, and many more.
Kalbeliya is a dance performed by the women of the tribe ‘Kalbeliya’. Dressed in colourful lehengas, angarkha and odhani, these women perform gracefully to the music played by the men on traditional songs. Kachchi Gadi, Bhavai, Gair, Chari and Chang are other popular dance forms here.
Engage the Curious Cat in You and Fight Your Fears on your Rajasthan Trip
Rajasthan is a state of mysteries. One tale leads to another, and almost always there are stories of the abandoned forts, palaces and Havelis. If you’re curious to unveil the secrets or simply have the nerve to get involved with the spookiness, then Rajasthan is the place to be!
Among the list of haunted places in Rajasthan, Bhangarh Fort tops the list. This place is believed to be haunted by a female ghost and visiting the area before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited. The entire village of Kuldhara is supposed to be a cursed land, and Jagatpura is learned to be the home of witches. Similarly, the Rana Kumbha palace and the Nahargarh fort are also believed to have mysteries and dark secrets.
Almost every tiny village has a legend, a story, a fable or a tale that has been carried on from generation to generation. Some practices and traditions are centuries old. Beliefs that are superstitions and faith that is real. Roads that are said to be cursed and people who are believed to be blessed. Such out of the box experiences can only be had on a trip to Rajasthan.
Witness Annual Fairs That are Larger than Life
Rajasthan undoubtedly comes with royalty like none other. Here, there are festivals for celebrating the littlest things and fairs for anything and everything. Whether or not you’re a shopper, these melas held in Rajasthan still are reasons enough to take the trip. Apart from shops that sell handicrafts, there are also events that are held in these melas. Sports, animal rides, sunset and sunrise view tours, delicacies from all over the state and even the experience of an overnight stay in tents.
Ever wanted to buy a camel? Maybe! Maybe not. Either ways, the best place to visit for this is Rajasthan!
Well, Pushkar sightseeing in the months of late October and early November involves witnessing the famous Pushkar Mela. Initiated by a legendary camel race, the highlight of this fair is the trading of livestock. Camels, horses, goats and sheep are all sold here, and special events are held centered around livestock. Tiny stalls of colourful handicrafts, local dried fruits and clothes in vibrant colours are also sold to people of rural villages who walk miles and come to the exhibitions in Pushkar. Trust me, it is one such event that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Indulge in Rajasthani Ghee and Gudh!
How can I end this blog without mentioning the elaborate mouth-watering Rajasthani bhog? The never-ending dishes are a paradise for foodies, especially for someone who is a vegetarian. Also, the cuisines here are drenched in history and the simplicity of life. The entire cuisine is influenced by the staple food and the arid climatic conditions of Rajasthan. Also, to experience the fine-dine of the Royal Maharajas of the past, there is no other place than Rajasthan!
It is also one state that takes its sweets and snacks as seriously as the main course. Sweets and snacks are said to have the same taste from generations ago. If you’re ever indulging in the famous Rajasthani Thali, then be sure to let go of your calorie count.
Soaked in rich ghee, the food in this state is centric around wheat, milk, ghee, jaggery and sugar. Malpua, Churma ladoo, Baloshahi and Ghewar are some of the most famous sweets of Rajasthan. Pyaaz Kachori is the most popular breakfast in Jaipur, and a place called Rawats serves the iconic mawa kachori for years together. The Lassiwala in Jaipur and Jodhpur are loved for lassi whose taste hasn’t changed since 1944. The bhujiya from Bikaner is demanded not only all over India but is famous in Western countries too!
So, here are some of the best travel experiences of Rajasthan that you should definitely not miss. It is not just another state that attracts tourists all year round. It is one state that really inspires awe amongst not only foreigners but also Indians. It is the experience that you will be left longing for.
The city dweller finds solace in the quiet and semi-abandoned villages of Rajasthan. The countryside lover is intrigued by heritage sites. The vastness of the desert is welcome after living in crowded flats. Camel rides are missed when you take the metro to work. You will crave for the lassi as you sip onto another cocktail on a Saturday night. Office formals in pastel colours look depressing after you live in the vibrancy of Rajasthan. And as you go to bed, you will wish that you could watch the numerous stars in the desert sky just one more time.
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