Experience Rajasthan Holidays commonly situated in north-west India has spectacular forts and palaces filled with magical history and art, cultural men in turbans, elephant safaris, and luxurious hotels on lakes. Rajasthan is one of those must-see places filled with architectural masterpieces, exciting history, and wonderful art. The State's palaces and forts conjure up images of pitched battles and tiger hunts led by Maharajas on elephants, and followed by legions of Rajput warriors and servants.
Pink City of Jaipur and the Jantar Mantar Observatory
Jaipur Holidays commonly called the 'pink city' due to the colour of the buildings in the old part of the city. Lonely Planet India notes that "Maharaja Ram Singh ordered the buildings to be painted pink in honour of a visit by the English Prince of Wales in 1876". Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and was established by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1727 after moving from his former capital of Amber, 11kms to the north.
Jai Singh had a deep interest in astronomy and commenced the Jantar Mantar Observatory in 1728. "The observatory contains 14 major geometric devices that measure time, predict eclipses and track stars in their orbits." The Jantar Mantar is also of interest because of its elegant architecture and layout. Children will enjoy playing here for many hours.
Diwali Festival of Light
The Diwali Festival of Light is a Hindu festival held in India every year for a fortnight in October-November. It is celebrated across the subcontinent regardless of religion. Many public buildings are strung with thousands of lights and it is exciting to drive around Jaipur at night to view this magnificent spectacle. Diwali translates as "a row of lamps and for Indians a burning lamp is a constant reminder of an illuminated mind".
Amber Fort and Palace - Elephants, Snake Charmers and Monkeys
The exquisite Amber Fort and Palace is easily accessible for day trips from Jaipur. Lonely Planet India states that "the complex was begun in 1592 under the supervision of Maharaja Man Singh, the Rajput commander of the Emperor Akbar's army". The fort and battlements are built along a hilltop providing an excellent vantage point to observe an advancing army. On arrival at the parking area below the fort visitors are greeted by a team of elephants with their handlers (mahouts). One may also have a close encounter with snake charmers and their cobras, if so inclined. Bikaner Holidays
Visitors can walk up the hill or take an elephant ride to the Amber Fort. The fort is home to many mischievous monkeys who love nothing better than to mimic human behaviour. While the monkeys are very entertaining, they have been known to bite people who get too close to them. Indian guides at the fort regularly remind visitors to take photos at a safe distance from the monkeys.
Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur Holidays- Turbans, Howdahs and Moustaches
Jodhpur in Western Rajasthan is known as the 'blue city' for the colour of the houses and other structures near the immense rocky outcrop on which Mehrangarh Fort is built. Commenced by Rao Jodha in 1459, Mehrangarh is an architectural and engineering marvel, with beautiful pavilions filled with art. There are also galleries containing exquisite howdahs which Rajput royalty sat in when riding their elephants. These pieces alone reveal the immense wealth of the Maharajas of Rajasthan, not to mention their fabulous palaces.
The male guides at Mehrangarh wear traditional Rajasthan dress, complete with 9 metre (29.5 feet) long turbans, which they unwind to the delight of visitors, with typical Indian panache. The guides, along with most Rajasthan men, also sport fantastically long twirled moustaches and earrings in both ears, adding to their considerable mystique.
Udaipur - City on a Lake: Shopping, Restaurants and Sacred Cows
Udaipur Holidays are perhaps the loveliest of the cities of Rajasthan. Built around Lake Pichola, Udaipur has countless laneways which take you to fascinating shops selling spices, saris, food, furniture, carvings and much more.
There are many good restaurants catering for all budgets and providing great places to watch the passing throng on the laneways. Cows, sacred to Hindus, also wander along the paths adding to the hustle and bustle of people, carts, donkeys, motorbikes and cars.
Boat trips to the islands on Lake Pichola and James Bond
The James Bond movie Octopussy was filmed in Udaipur with some of the action taking place in the magnificent Lake Palace Hotel on Jagniwas Island. While casual visitors to the hotel are discouraged, it is possible to go there for lunch or dinner, if the hotel is not full. Another palace is located on Jag Mandir Island, also on Lake Pichola. Small tour boats leave regularly from the City Palace jetty (Bansi Ghat). The palace contains a museum and immaculately landscaped courtyards full of fragrant frangipani trees.
After travelling for 3 weeks in Rajasthan I can highly recommend visiting this stunning location to experience its cultural heritage, dramatic landscape, welcoming people and excellent range of accommodation. The state is a photographer's dream and you will leave India with a pictorial library to remind you of this exciting country. The best time to visit Rajasthan is from October to March when the weather is cooler and before the monsoon begins.
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