Over the last month we’ve been travelling across colourful Rajasthan, India. To make it easier in this part of India, we hired a driver ‘Negi’ who turned out to be a lovely man and a genuine Indian (if there’s such a thing!).
One look at the roads and already we’re feeling very relieved that we’ve hired Negi our driver for the next few weeks travelling colourful Rajasthan.
Why, well, all at the same time on these crazy roads we came across… cows, camels, elephants, donkeys, horses, buffalos, dogs, dancing bears, performing monkeys and trucks, buses, auto rickshaws, hand drawn rickshaws, pushbikes, motor bikes, cars, tractors and much, much more going in every direction imaginable. Yes, that means head on as well, so lucky we had a skilful driver who could quickly avoid a fatal head-on!
Once we got over the shock of the chaos and put trust in Negi, our driver, we didn’t even flinch when we looked up and a truck or a bus full of people were driving towards us. Yes, head-on on the wrong side of the road. All because they thought the road was less bumpy and it would be a smoother ride, or they wanted to avoid the tolls.
Travelling Colourful Rajasthan India
We quickly got used to sudden swerves in the car and our adventure travelling colourful Rajasthan has started. Our route… Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Pushkar-Bikaner-Jasilmere-Jodphur!
1. Delhi to Agra and the Majestic Taj Mahal
Check out our Taj Mahal blog here.
2. Jaipur the Pink City
There is a romantic pink hue across everything in the capital of the Rajasthan, Jaipur, hence the nickname ‘Pink City’. Jaipur has an exotic cityscape completely washed in a soft, glowing shade of blush that deepens as the sun rises and sets every day. Forts, palaces and royalty adorn this wonderful city.
Indians from all walks of life, weave through the boulevards and bazaars amid a cavalcade of rickshaws, motorbikes, three-wheeled trucks, bicycles, elephants and more, all buzzing with a vibrant exuberance.
It is a major hub for arts and crafts. There are many traditional shops selling antiques, jewellery, handicrafts, gems, pottery, carpets, textiles, leather and metal products. It’s also famous for local Indian made hand-knotted rugs.
Touts everywhere trying to sell you their merchandise but hey that’s India. Yes, we managed to part with a bit of cash which was fun, especially bartering with the Indians.
Our top things to do in Jaipur:
- Visit Hawa Mahal – Palace of the Winds
- Travel out to Jal Mahal Palace – Located in the middle of Lake Man Sagar
- Visit Ambar 16th Century Palace and Fort
- Bazaar Shopping – Bapu Bazaar, Johri Bazaar and Tripolia Bazaars
- Eat Street Food in Jawahar Circle
3. Pushkar and the Famous Camel Festival
Pushkar, meaning Lotus flower has a magnetism all of its own, unlike any other place you’ll find in Rajasthan.
A colourful small holy, laid-back town. One of the main highlights being the ghats (a smaller version of Varanasi) and temples spread around the lake. Most famous for its annual Camel Fair in October/November – “we will give you 100 camels for your lady sir” said the smiley, wobbly headed Indian man dressed in a bright white turban as I watched and wondered whether it would wobble of his head.
Our top things to do in Pushkar:
- Hike to Savitri Temple at sunrise or sunset – the view of Pushkar is amazing
- Visit the Camel Festival in Oct/Nov – an amazing experience into local culture
- Visit the 52 ghats around the lake – you’ll see and meet holy men, pilgrims and scammers, a look into local life
- Shop at Sadar Bazaar – one of the best shopping experiences across Rajasthan
- Eat sweet Malpua – Pushkar is famous for Malpua and there’s a dedicated lane ‘the street of sweet makers’
4. Laid Back Bikaner
It’s a good thing that Bikaner sometimes gets ignored as its managed to maintain its quaint and offbeat charm.
Known for its majestic forts and palaces, Bikaner translates to ‘land of kings’ and is famous for being the royal city of Rajasthan.
Well worth the visit.
Our top things to do in Bikaner:
- Visit Junagarh Fort – Inside it is beautifully adorned with jewels and colourful tiles and wonderful paint colours
- Must visit Karni Mata ‘Rat Temple – A fascinating insight into Indian beliefs
- Wander the Old City – Bustling markets, shrines and havelis give you a feel of the rich history
- Shopping recommendations – Kote Gate Market, Station Road Market and Mahatma Gandhi Road Market for the best shopping in Bikaner
- Eat Bhujja – A delicious local crispy bean dish
5. Jaisalmer the Golden City in the Dessert
Jaisalmer, a former medieval trading centre located in the heart of the Thar Desert and known as the ‘Golden City’ because of its yellow sandstone architecture.
Dominating the skyline is the famous sprawling sandstone Jaisalmer Fort. Located behind its massive walls is the ornate Maharaja’s Palace and intricately carved Jain temples.
The fort from a distance looks like a huge sandcastle and today, still has people living in it and a thriving town within. Fascinating to wander around the colourful alley ways and experience local life.
Our top things to do in Jaisalmer:
- Visit Jaisalmer Fort and Stay – A must wonder through the fort and alleyways and if you’re inclined, we recommend you stay in the fort accommodation or hang out in a rooftop café
- Explore Nathmal Ki Haveli – Once commissioned as the residence of the prime minister dripping with extraordinary carvings a must see
- Visit Pachpadra Salt Lake – A salt-water lake sprawling a vast 25sqkms in the middle of the dessert is a visual site to see. Also, as place to see unique birdlife.
- Eat Mutton Saag – The most famous and delicious dish of Jaisalmer mutton mixed in a puree of spinach along with tasty spices
- Shopping – Manas Chowk for locally made leather items and Sadar Bazaar for everything from art to jewellery, shoes and saress.
6. A Night in a Jaisalmer Dessert Camp
From here we also spent a night in the Jaisalmer Desert (well sand dunes) riding camels into the sunset, a romantic setting well… not in India as soon as we sat down and got ourselves comfortable out behind the sand dunes pops up a drummer, then a kid selling chips then a cart pulled by a camel which was a chai shop selling tea!
All we could do was laugh as they never miss an opportunity!
7. Jodhpur the Blue City
Jodhpur is the second-largest city in Rajasthan and located in the Thur Dessert. Jodphur is also known as the ‘blue city’ because the houses are painted in blue within the old city. This is because the weather remains bright and sunny all year round, and it keeps the houses cool.
It is one of the most enchanting cities of Rajasthan, with its mighty Mehrangarh fort overlooking the city.
- Explore Mehrangarh Fort – One of the largest and most impressive forts in India, rising out of the ‘blue city’
- Wander the streets of the ‘Blue City’ – The old city behind the fort, known as Navchokiy is refreshingly quiet and less touristy. Don’t miss spending some time leisurely strolling its streets and taking a look into local life
- Take a walk along the alleys of the city and a whole new world of culinary delights will welcome you in myriad flavours and aromas. Jodhpur cuisines are all about spice, chilly and a rich repertoire of sweets and the best place to enjoy them are the local eateries and food joints.
Travelling colourful Rajasthan, North Indian compared to South India is far more hectic although we loved it! It’s very colourful place with women in beautiful sari’s and the men wearing colourful turbans. A real contrast against the pollution which can really make a not so beautiful city quite charming.
We are now at the end of our trip. Check out our other blogs on India here!