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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Wrenn-Haye

Rajasthan Travel Advice and Overview

Updated: Mar 11

"The Incredible State of India"

General Overview

Rajasthan in North India is the land of maharajas comprising 47 cities and 22 kingdoms of princely states.

This excellent exuberant state highlights royalty, grand royal residences, ancient forts, wealthy social legacy, vibrant and dynamic celebration festivals and colourful clothing, as well as boasting differing landscapes which range from the golden sands of the Thar Desert to the lavish green slopes of Mount Abu which make it a charming destination for travellers from over the globe.

A visit to Rajasthan promises a fascinating experience.  The land has a glorious past and the building wonders of Rajasthan with their unbelievable architecture, unfurl the story of the bygone brilliant golden era. The state is also home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that showcase the region's unique culture and traditions.

Rajasthan is bordered by the Thar Desert and the whole state is drenched in history. You will discover this Indian state to be full of intrigue and adventure.

Location and Population of Rajasthan

Situated in Northern India, covering 342,239 square kilometres (132,139 sq mi), making up 10.4 per cent of India's total geographical region. Rajasthan is the biggest Indian state by area and the 7th biggest by population totalling 79,502,477 as at January 2024.

One thing we should mention is don't be alarmed by the high population, when visiting in January, we did not actually find it to be totally over-crowded or overwhelming as we voyaged through Rajasthan.

The Coloured Cities of Rajasthan

India's northern region of Rajasthan is most related with flashes of colour forming named cities– to be specific there are three shades of colour in particular which are associated with some of the main cities that are spread across the desert land, they are the “Pink City” of Jaipur, the capital, the “Blue City” of Jodhpur, the “Golden City” of Jaisalmer, further south in the state there is also the "Lake City" of Udaipur known as the "White City" – each city has its own unique special story to be told, as well as all the other interesting chronicled stories that exist about Rajasthan, the incredible state.

The People

All over the state, you will discover warm-hearted local people who are all very welcoming; wherever you go there are happy smiley faces everywhere which bring joy to your heart. We captured literally thousands of photographs, as well as many videos of our wonderous month long travels through Rajasthan, South India and Goa and we only have to look at the photos now to recall our happy memories of our glorious time in India this year.

The Food

Rajasthan is known for its vast array of flavoursome dishes and authentic spices; most dishes are vegetarian in nature and you can expect the spice element to be quite high. Meat options are available for those that prefer.

An organised 'street food tour' is a good way to get to taste some of the foods you would not normally try, but do make sure that you choose a reputable company to take you on such a tour so that they can make sure that you eat foods from clean premises and well-known street traders.

This is something we had the pleasure of doing, both in Delhi and Jaipur with the opportunity to try both savoury and sweet foods, as well as learning about the numerous fresh spices, Rajasthan diet and popular dishes. With our guide, we also wandered into areas of the cities that we may not necessarily have approached ourselves had we been on our own, so it gives you a real insight and a feel for city life. We certainly recommend a tour of this nature be included in your itinerary.

Festivals & Celebrations in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is is also known for its vibrant celebrations and festivals which take place throughout each year and where you can expect to be wowed by all the colorful attire. One such festival which is enjoyed by many travellers is the colourful 'Holi Festival'.

During our stay we were lucky enough to witness the a couple of celebrations, the first was the Kite Flying Festival - a true spectacle to behold in the skies above Jaipur.

The second was a huge festival celebration called 'Ram Navami' that took place across the whole state of Rajasthan in January. The atmosphere everywhere was full of joy and excitement and a sea of orange all around.

This is predominantly a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth anniversary of 'Lord Rama'. Richard, my husband filmed a glimpse of the celebrations across the city of Jaipur for you all to see. The vlog below is well worth a quick watch, as it will provide you with an insight into the wonderful vibe that was present in the capital city during that special day of 'Ram Navami' celebrations.

We would definitely recommend checking out what celebrations and festivals are scheduled to take place for the month that you are due to travel to Rajasthan and to the whole of India for that matter. The best place to obtain this information is via the The Utsav Portal website run by the the Indian Government; you cannot go wrong with this up-to-date public information website.

Shopping in Rajasthan

When travelling through Rajasthan you will find yourself in absolute awe of the wonderful textiles and semi-precious stones, plus you will hopefully have the opportunity to observe the painstaking work that goes into the unique and varied handicrafts, as well as traditional and colourful ballad art that tells a story of the past history which you will find all over the state. Rajasthani furniture is especially known for its intricate and complicated carvings and bright colours. Block, Tie Dye, Bagaru and Sanganer prints and Zari embroidery are celebrated too.

We were fortunate to visit the Anokhi Textile Museum in Amber Village Jaipur, to try our hand at block printing, after observing a true craftsman at work who presented us with a piece of fabric with our own design. Something very special to treasure of our time in India. This fascinating skill can be observed in the vlog below.


For those that don't already know, the camel (genus Camelus) is the state animal of Rajasthan and camels can often be seen in the villages, towns and cities being used to transport goods by the local people.

You will also come across many Cows that wander around the roads and can even been seen on the beaches when you travel to places such as Goa. They live amicably alongside the local people. Cows are considered to be very sacred by the Indian Hindu people because they are recognised as 'Mother Earth' due they are a source of goodness with their milk which nourishes all creatures.

Macaque monkeys can also be found in the towns and cities. They are well respected by everyone and fed by the locals, mainly associated with being spiritual in the Hindu religion.

Another sight we witnessed throughout our India travels, was observing many people feeding the pigeons, usually with grains which can be purchased from the street sellers for just a few Rupees; most feeding tends to take place just outside the temples. Pigeons are also considered sacred because they embody Yama, the God of Death. Hindus and Jains believe that when a loved one passes, they turn into a pigeon

Therefore these birds are fed by people to show care and affection for their departed souls. We took the opportunity to feed the monkeys and the pigeons during our trip as suggested by our guides, although you do have to be careful with the monkeys as they will grab hold of your loose items, such as bags.

It is commonly known that Indian people respect all forms of life and you will find many stray animals along your journey when visiting India, particularly dogs who mingle in with the locals.  Don’t generally be afraid though, as not once during our month-long trip did we come across any vicious dogs.  They tend to roam around and don’t seem to cause a problem to anyone passing. More than likely you will also come across stray cats too.

A variety of stray street dogs in Rajasthan India
"Stray Street Dogs"

Locations in Rajasthan Worth A Visit

Moving on, we mentioned earlier about Rajasthan comprising 47 cities within the whole state.  We will not list them all for obvious reasons, as we would be here forever, but instead we have taken the opportunity to highlight a few places below that are considered as the important ones to visit from a cultural point of view. We have also included a national park and a lesser known village called Barli in the countryside. You may therefore wish to perhaps include a selection of these cultural locations when planning your itinerary to this exceptional state.

After all you don't want to travel all the way to India and just visit one location that's for sure!

Jaipur: Known as the "Pink City", its the capital of Rajasthan. Famous for its many forts, including the Amber Fort and palaces such as Jaipur City Palace; you will also find markets and plenty of cultural heritage to keep you enthused during your stay in Jaipur. Usually a 2 to 3 night stay in Jaipur is ample.

A very busy city with quite a lot of traffic and many tuk tuks racing around. Be prepared for tooting horns and lots of hustle and bustle as you walk the streets, We found it to be a real explosion on the senses, but this all made for the great experience that we had and you easily get used to it.

Jaipur India - The Pink City - building architecture
Jaipur 'The Pink City'

Ajmer: Ajmer is one of the most ancient cities in Rajasthan and it lies in a hilly region that forms part of the Aravalli Range. It is a popular pilgrimage centre and is home to the famous Ajmer Sharif Dargah. The city is 133 kilometres (83 miles) south west from Jaipur.

Bhangarh:  Appears to be one of the well-known destinations in Rajasthan in spite of the fact that we have not yet visited this city.  93 kilometres (58 miles) North West from Jaipur.

Bhangarh is found within the Alwar area which is referred to as the 'most haunted place in India'. It was built in the 17th century by Madhav Singh, the son of the Maharaja of Amer. The fort encompasses a main royal palace and the main village is home to thousands of houses.

Bhangarh Fort - Photo by Bishnu Sarangi
Bhangarh Fort - Photo By Bishnu Sarangi

Barli:  Is a wonderful small rural village that sits in South West Rajasthan, between Jodphur and 153 kilometres (95 miles) from Jaipur. It has narrow streets that are typical of Rajasthan and which are generally full of life with the friendly locals going about their daily business.

Our choice of accommodation was at a luxury 16th century heritage property called 'Fort Barli' and it was here that we chose to renew our wedding vows at an outstanding celebratory service organised by our attentive hosts in what was a truly magnificent setting and we highly recommend a stay at this location especially if you want to experience something really personal and memorable.

Bharatpur:  An 18th century city located in East Rajasthan, 178 kilometres (111 miles) from the capital Jaipur.

It is the home of UNESCO's World Heritage Site, Keoladeo Ghana National Park which is a bird sanctuary and wetland with plenty of forna and which is popular with nature lovers. So, if you are a keen ornathologist then this is the place for you, especially during the winter months with all the varied species of migrating birds.

Rathambhore: Is the home of the 'Rathambhore National Park - Sawai Madhopur' which is some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Jaipur.

Here you can have the privilege of going on pre-arranged game drives to see the Bengal Tigers in the national Tiger Reserve and observe other wildlife too, including Wilderbeast, Antelope, Monkeys and Buffalo as well as over 279 species of birds including the Eagle.

We organised one day/night in Rathambhore staying at a wonderful resort on the edge of the National Park called 'Khem Villas' where we experienced the luxury of a wonderful deluxe tent with all the amenities. You could probably stay up to three days in this area to make the most of the game drives to the national park and have time to take in the surrounding sights.

Staying in Rathambhore was a really memorable experience, although unfortunately during our two game drives we were not lucky enough to see any Tigers, although other people staying at the resort did.

The Indian Government actually control the zones that visitors are allowed to enter via jeep with a Government guide each day. The guides really do go out of their way on the game drives to try and spot the Tigers so you know you are in good hands. If there is a Tiger to be seen, then rest assured you will see it.

Given the size of the park and the controlled zones, there are no guarantees that you will get to see the Tigers when visiting, so please bear this in mind. Despite this however, we were not disappointed with our stay here; we did actually see a Jaguar however and our guide has since kept in touch with us and sent us a video the very following day after we departed of a tiger and her cubs, so at least we got to see the tigers in their natural habitat. That's the thing with nature, it cannot be predicted.

One tip we do have is that you should make sure that you wear the correct attire when going on a game drive, for obvious reasons no bright colours, particularly red and no white, as these can be seen by the Tigers from distances. Plump for neutral tones and greens which is more like the natural colours of the Tigers' surroundings. If choosing to go to Ranthambhore during the winter months, be warned it is extremely cold in the early mornings and you will require plenty of layers as well as a hat and gloves. The keeps or cantors in which travel are open to the elements. Expect to share your journey with others too.

When in Ranthambhore, don't miss a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site which is the 8th century Rathambhore Fort boasting fantastic views over the national park.

You will also find 'The Lord Ganesha' temple here which is well worth a visit too, as it is an active temple. The Fort also hosts a pilgramage celebration each year on the occasion of Bhadrapad Sudi Chaturthi.

Kota: Situated on the banks of Chambal River, 240 kilometres (149 miles) south of Jaipur.  Known for its many places of worship, beautiful gardens and historical landmarks, as well as for its array of gold jewellery in addition to Doria sarees, silk sarees and the famous Kota stone.  In recent decades it has become known as India’s “coaching capital” due to the number of educational institutes.

Bikaner: Rich in cultural heritage, beautiful architecture, and delicious food. It is located 330 kilometres (205 miles) northwest of the state capital, Jaipur and east of Pakistan and is considered the gateway to the Thar Desert.

The city has a beautiful 16th-century Junagarh Fort, and the nearby Karni Mata Temple is home to many rats which are actually considered sacred by Hindu devotees.

Jodhpur: The "Blue City", famous for its magnificent forts, temples, and palaces. It lies 338 kilometres (210 miles) from the capital Jaipur and approximately 403 kilometres (250 miles) from the Pakistan border in western Rajasthan. The reason the houses are painted blue is the subject of many myths. Two days in Jodhpur is plenty to see what this area has to offer.

Udaipur: Referred to as "City of Lakes" or "White City", it is famous for its five beautiful lakes, in particular Lake Pichola which is a man-made lake that is over 700 years old, as well as for its palaces and temples.  We absolutely loved Udaipur and everything that it had to offer. 

It is the sixth largest city in Rajasthan situated 403 kilometres (250 miles) from Jaipur, near to the Gujarat Border.

When we entered the city we were driven straight to Lake Pichola, which was a sight to behold. Simply stunning! The sun was out and the lake looked beautiful, the air felt clean and we booked ourselves straight onto a boat ride to take us around the lake and onto Jag Mandir Island for some lunch. 

This city is a must for your itinerary and when you eventually get to feel the vibe of this wonderful place when you visit, take it from us, you will be so elated that you opted to include Udaipur as one of your itinerised destinations. We recommend at least three nights in this beauty city.

Udaipur India - The City of Lakes photo of buildings at night reflecting into the water.
Udaipur 'The City of Lakes'

Jaiselmer: Situated some 558 kilometres (347 miles) to the west of Jaipur. Jaiselmer is known as the "Golden City", it is home to the Sonar Qilla, or Golden Fort which is the only living fort in India. Believe it or not, the fort houses some of the best shopping places in Rajasthan; there are also hotels and residences within its walls, and it is known for its beauty as it has a golden hue which casts a magical glow at sunset.

The intricate architecture and winding alleys of this living heritage site offer a captivating experience for all travellers.  We have not yet visited Jaiselmer, but it will be included on our next itinerary; logistically it did not work out for us this time around, but we know that we have a lot to look forward to when we do visit. Jaiselmer also has a huge Desert Festival each year which apparently is epic. We understand that this is held at the beginning of February, although dates do fluctuate so don't take our word for it. Remember to check in with the Government website listed earlier in this blog to find out more information about this particular festival. Going by its description, we think it is one to bookmark for your itinerary.

Sightseeing in Rajasthan

Whichever village, town or city that you choose to visit, each is totally unique as Rajasthan has a rich history and as aforementioned, is home to several historic monuments, opulent marble palaces and breathtaking forts that are major tourist attractions. Some of the famous ones include the Amber Fort Palace, Jaipur City Palace, Jaisalmer Fort, and Mehrangarh to name but a few.

Of course there is so much to do and see and you need to plan your itinerary in each location carefully to take in the things that interest you. We had a busy itinerary during our two weeks in Rajasthan before flying to South India.

Apart from all the usual tourist attractions, other places we found of particular interest were the Jantar Mantar Observatory and Hawa Mahal 'Palace of the Winds', plus Fatehpursikri.

You can expect to journey through landscapes and time as you experience the cultural beauty and natural splendour of the desert state. It’s not just the architecture in Rajasthan that will have you spellbound as the colourful and ancient customs of this beautiful country get under your skin.

Weather in Rajasthan

Summer - Winter - Monsoon

Tourists visit Rajasthan throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during the winter months of November to February, when the temperature is not too high.

During December and January, there can be temperature fluctuations during the day and the night; we travelled in January and found the weather cooler than we had originally anticipated, but we had jackets and lightweight fleeces to take off the chill. If you decide to travel to Rajasthan you must be forewarned that the months from April to September are considered as off-season months for tourism and therefore are not always recommended. 

Where to Stay

As for where to stay, there are plenty of homestays, boutique hotels and larger hotels with more amenities located right across the state for varying budgets. The type of accommodation is a personal choice at the end of the day. We mixed our style of accommodation up to ensure it remained varied throughout and we experienced a taste of everything.

We stayed at pleasant homestays and smaller boutique hotels, as well as taking advantage of the larger hotels with more amenties, such as those with a swimming pool and a choice of restaurants which were welcomed after long sightseeing days and car travel through the state.

We feel we must mention, for those of you who enjoy train travel, there is a special week long luxury, train journey that you can experience and this is on the 'Palace on Wheels' train, one of the World's most luxurious trains, which we have had highly recommended to us by one of our professional guides.

General Travel Advice Across Rajasthan

Regarding travel options, certain destinations can be reached by bus, train or by air, or if you want to see the state and its different terrains and towns and villages en route to your chosen destination, you can travel by car with a driver.  Please note for your own safety, we do not recommend driving on the roads in India. 

You may choose to fly from one end of the state to the other when in Rajasthan, we can vouch for the internal airports being very modern and efficient. You can opt to fly either with Air India or Indigo Airlines, but note there luggage allowances are only 15kg for hold luggage and 7 kg for on board baggage. Anything over this and they will charge per kg for additional weight.  Indigo Airlines current excess baggage fees as at January/February 2024 are 550 Rupees per kg if paid online in advance and 850 Rupees per kg if you elect to pay at the airport check-in.

Tickets for all of these methods of transport are not overly expensive and provide you with the links that you will need to get from one city to another so you have the ultimate itinerary which to enjoy.

Our Conclusion

"Each city in Rajasthan is totally different and has something unique for everyone to enjoy, so make sure that you do your own in-depth research to take in the best of this amazing state in North India".

So as we draw our blog to a close, we hope that it has provided you with a general overview of the state of Rajasthan in North India and provided you with travel advice as well as having given you an insight of what to expect. 

We may not have visited all of the locations listed, but one thing is for sure, we will certainly be returning to India just as soon as we are able. There are so many places to see and we get the impression we have only scratched the surface of this unique country.

So for now, both Richard and I, here at Escape with Us, hope that you will find some inspiration from our Worldwide Travel Blogs & Vlogs.  We are a new blog site and we are currently working on numerous blogs to write up and subsequently upload to our website, so please bear with us during this loading period after all, it all takes time to bring you an insight into this wonderful country.

If you have any questions in the meantime, then please feel free to get in touch via email, we will be happy to help if we can, or alternatively you may wish to share with us, a special story of your own past travels to Rajasthan.

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