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Discover Rajasthan, land of mystical treasures

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor
A journey through Rajasthan takes the traveller from one marvel to the next right at the heart of one of Asia's most magical destinations.

Travel guide

Feel like Aladdin on a flying carpet while you swerve in and out of the desert on the way to the mystical cities of Rajasthan. Stay in the sumptuous residences of the Maharajas such as the world-famous Lake Palace in Udaipur. Jaipur, nicknamed the pink city is the capital of Rajasthan. It is fulls of temples and palaces, Jaiselmer, the golden city, rises out of the Thar desert, surrounded by a fortress. Udaipur, the white city oozes with charms such as its abandoned Palace of the Winds overlooking the Lake Palace, whilst Jodpur, the blue city, buzzes with activity day or night. Rajasthan is an unforgetable experience which has to be lived at least once in a lifetime.

Our Editorial team's advice

Don't you hesitate to give yourself a treat by spending at least one night in the suite of a Maharaja's royal palace, transformed into a luxury hotel.
Rent a chauffeur-driven vehicle and go for the discovery of Rajasthan. A very practical and surely most appropriate means to discover the four corners of the State.
In November in Pushkar, don't miss the famous Camel fair. A great event that brings together several camels, cattle and all sorts of traders.

pros

  • +The wide range of monuments and landscapes.
  • +It is possible to join a jeep tour around the natural reserves and for a visit of the cultural visit of historical sites.

cons

  • -Hotels are often full during the peak tourist season. It is better to reserve in advance and avoid the period of Indian vacations.
  • -You cannot go to Pakistan through the Thar desert because it is a very delicate military zone owing to the tensions between India and Pakistan.

Traditions

The Hinduist India is a violent culture shock. Most human relationships are governed by the hierarchical system of castes, in which each individual has a specific role. The cow is a sacred animal.
In the Hindu and Jain temples, as well as in mosques, you should remove your shoes before entering. The same applies to Sikh temples where you must cover your head. Take off your leather objects before entering a Jain temple. Make sure visitors or women are admitted during prayers before entering the mosques. Cover your arms and legs, and avoid dressing sloppily. Whatever the situation, do not touch the sculpture or statue of a divinity.
In everyday life, avoid contact between your feet and a person. Find out about the symbolism of flowers to avoid making a gaffe when offering them. A gift received is kept in a corner to be opened later on. During meals, remove your shoes if your hosts do not have theirs on. When eating with your hands, only use the right hand, as the left is used to wash your privates. Arranged marriages between two families still exist.

Food

The huge diversity of dishes depend on the State, origin of the populations and their respective castes. The only shared aspect is rice and tea. The Dhal, a type of soup with lentils is the most widely-eaten dish. Curry powder forms the base of several dishes. In Rajasthan, millet is a staple food mixed with beans or caper. The most popular Rajput dish is the Sula, a chicken or goat-meat kebab, marinated in spiced sauce and cooked in the tandoor (oven). In the north, you can treat yourself to tandoori chicken, macerated in spiced yoghurt and baked in a clay oven, biryanis (mixture of meat and rice that is sometimes spiced up with almonds and dry fruits), samosas (meat balls or spiced vegetables). All over India, chutneys (macerated vegetables or fruits), chapatis (flour pancakes eaten as bread) and thalis (set of vegetarian dishes). For dessert, treat yourself to the kheer, milk rice and equally try the kulfi, a type of smooth pistachio cream. Don't forget to try the countless cheap dishes offered by street vendors. Tip: avoid empty stands and restaurants.

Souvenirs

Indian handicraft is very rich. Rajasthan in particular offers silk and cotton stuffs, specialty of the region of Jaipur. Barmer, close to Jaisalmer, is renown for its embroidered goods. For women, think of the very elegant silk saris sold by weight or by the meter. Precious stones, especially in Jaipur, massive and heavy silver jewellery as well as bronze objects inlayed with fine red, green and blue designs are a treat not only to yourself but equally as gifts. You can take back miniatures of Udaipur like musical instruments, puppets, tents, carpets, perfumes, incense and a wide variety of spices. Visit the State Emporiums, government shops throughout the country offering fixed prices. In all other places, you can bargain. In large cities, shops open between 10 AM and 7 PM or 8 PM from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and public holidays, they are closed.
It is strictly forbidden to export fur, snake skin, antiquities and to import into Europe any ivory object.

What to see

The Thar desert
The chain of Aravalli Mountains , The Aravalli Range, India , India
The chain of Aravalli Mountains
Fertile plains , The southern plains, India , India
Fertile plains
The City Palace of Jaipur , City Palace, Jaipur, India , India
The City Palace of Jaipur
The City Palace of Udaipur, India, The City Palace of Udaipur, Arts and culture, Rajasthan
The City Palace of Udaipur
The museums , The museums of Rajasthan, India , India
The museums
The fortress of Amber , The Amber Fortress, Rajasthan, India , India
The fortress of Amber
The Jain temple of Mount Abu , Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India , India
The Jain temple of Mount Abu
The temples of Eklingii , Eklingji Shiva Temple, India , India
The temples of Eklingii
The tiger reserves , Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan , India
The tiger reserves
The Keoladeo Ghana bird refuge , The Keoladeo Reserve, Rajasthan, India , India
The Keoladeo Ghana bird refuge
The palaces of Jaipur , The Hawa Mahal Palace, Jaipur, India , India
The palaces of Jaipur
The palaces of Udaipur , The Shiv Niwas Palace, Rajasthan, India , India
The palaces of Udaipur
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Johdpur, India, Umaid Bhawan Palace of Jodhpur, Maharaja palaces, Rajasthan
Umaid Bhawan Palace of Jodhpur
The hunting lodges and havelis of Shekhawati. , Havelis, Shekhawati, India , India
The hunting lodges and havelis of Shekhawati.
Rajasthan : Explore