It’s not hard to see why Rajasthan remains one of the most beloved tourist destinations in the world. From sandy deserts and historic forts to lush mountains and dense jungles, the incredible state has it all. Whether you are looking for a heritage vacation or a wilderness getaway, Rajasthan offers wonderful experiences for the discerning traveler. Here is our list of the best places to visit in Rajasthan. By Karan Kaushik
Best places to visit in Rajasthan
Nestled in the cozy embrace of the Aravalli Mountains and Lake Pichola, Udaipur’s ubiquitous charm wins over even the most cynical traveller. Magnificent palaces, heritage hotels, lanes rich in antiquities, impressive architecture, a rich arts and crafts scene, culinary delights – all of these topped off with Rajput insignia make the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mewar a treasure trove. Must-see places in Udaipur include Lake Pichola, City Palace, Vintage Car Museum, Bagore Ki Haveli, Sajjangarh Fort, Shilpgram and Fateh Sagar Lake.
Travelers visiting Udaipur are often associated with their trip with Chittorgarh. Rajasthan is synonymous with tales of romance and bravery that resonate throughout history. The historic fort of Chittorgarh hides within its ramparts many stories of love and sacrifice that continue to capture the imagination of successive generations. The legends and myths associated with Chittorgarh, whether it is the divine love of Mirabai or the unwavering loyalty of Panna Dai, seem to come to life as we explore the charms of the fort. Major landmarks of the fort include Mirabai Temple, Rana Ratan Palace, Vijaya Stambha, Kirti Stambha, Samadhisvar Temple and Gaumukh Kund. After exploring the fort, head to the Fateh Prakash Palace Museum.
Located on the edge of the Thar Desert in western Rajasthan, Jodhpur continues to be a global tourist magnet. Rajasthanis affectionately call it Jodhana. Home to the largest fort in Rajasthan and several grand palaces, temples, gardens and markets filled with old-world charm, the former capital of the Kingdom of Marwar is an incredible travel experience. Wander through the pages of history at Mehrangarh Fort, zipline over the Blue City, bask at Umaid Bhawan Palace, appreciate Rajasthani architecture at Mandore Garden, and explore the lakes Ranisar-Padamsar twins. Once done, head to the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park or snap some gram-worthy photos at Jaswant Thada.
Perhaps the most popular of all places to visit in Rajasthan, Jaipur never fails to surprise its lovers. Nearly 300 years ago, in India’s western desert state of Rajasthan, the Rajput ruler Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II decided to move his capital some 11 kilometers from Amber. He consulted books on architecture, enlisted the services of a specialist in mathematics and science from Bengal, and incorporated the principles of Vastu Shastra. Thus began the construction of its new capital in 1727. When it was completed four years later, Jaipur became India’s first planned city. A quintessential Jaipur itinerary includes Hawa Mahal, Amber Palace, City Palace, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort. For shopping, visit Johari Bazar, Bapu Bazar, Tripolia Bazar and Chandpole Bazar.
Located right in the middle of the great Thar Desert, the city of Bikaner is a haunting beauty of arid landscapes, extravagant royal palaces and forts, delicious cuisine that makes you reach out, and markets teeming with vibrant handicrafts. This city attracts a discerning crowd looking to enjoy the lure of the desert. The 16th century Junagadh Fort with its ornate buildings and ornate halls is the main attraction, while the Karni Mata Temple is unique for its rats which are considered sacred. Embark on a drive around its palaces and havelis, go on a desert safari in a jeep, enjoy a sunset near a lush oasis, and savor a feast of Marwari delicacies. Do not miss the Rampuria Haveli and the Shri Laxminath Ji temple.
Let the golden sands of the Thar Desert hold you in its arms. Explore centuries-old havelis and Jain temples, visit the only living fort of Jaisalmer Fort – India, soak up the peaceful ambience of Lake Gadisar and shop to your heart’s content at the main market. There is a long list of things to do in Jaisalmer. Once you are done appreciating the rich architectural and cultural heritage of Jaisalmer, head to the haunted village of Kuldhara for a fascinating experience. Spend the night at a campsite or resort in the Sam Desert. But before that, enjoy a bumpy camel ride, watch a puppet show, shake your legs with Kalbelia dancers, and enjoy the paramotor thrill. Must-see places include Jaisalmer Fort, Salim Singh Haveli, Nathmal Haveli, Lake Gadisar, Longewala and Desert National Park.
Kota is a major city in the Hadoti region of Rajasthan. It is one of the most underrated places to visit in Rajasthan. Known for its coaching institutes and industries, Kota will leave you pleasantly surprised with its incredible heritage and scenic beauty. A treasure trove of history and wildlife, Kota stands on the banks of the Chambal River. Major attractions include Kota Garh Palace, Brij Vilas Palace, Abhera Palace, Kishore Sagar Lake, Lucky Burj, Garadia Mahadev and Gaipernath Waterfall. After your sightseeing, shop for Kota Doriya sarees and try the spicy and crunchy Kota kachoris.
Overshadowed by its more popular cousin Jaipur, the blue city of Bundi has tales of the past to tell through its old antique murals and hand painted walls. Bundi is a history buff’s dreamland and is at its majestic best during the monsoons. The historical monuments Taragarh Fort and Bundi Palace are worth a visit. At Bundi Palace, the main attraction is the Chitrashala. Its walls are adorned with centuries-old paintings that confirm the Bundi school of miniature painting. Jait Sagar Lake and Nawal Sagar Lake offer the best sunset views. Visit the main bazaar to buy Kota sarees, carpets, handicrafts, lac bracelets and other accessories.
Suitable for couples looking for a distinctly Rajasthani experience away from the crowds, Jhalawar offers the ideal blend of tradition, history, culture and nature. Once known as Brijnagar, the city has forts and palaces dating from the Rajput and Mughal periods, each draped in fields of colorful red poppies and orchards of orange trees. Take Fort Gagron, for example; Surrounded by the calm waters of Ahu, Kali and Sindh rivers on three sides, this fort has made its way to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit the Jhalawar Garh Palace State Museum to view incredible murals. Chandrabhaga Temple, Sun Temple, Unhel Jain Temple and Buddhist caves and stupas are some of the other gems here.
Home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, Ranthambore is an easy choice for wildlife enthusiasts. However, this former royal hunting lodge is also rich in heritage in equal measure. Located in the Sawai Madhopur district, this wild jungle is dotted with ridges and cliffs, temples and mosques, and iconic state structures—chhatris (cenotaphs). Amidst this is abundant wildlife. Think Nilgais, leopards and striped hyenas scurrying through the open bush and dry deciduous forests. Exploring Ranthambore Fort and Trinetra Ganesh Temple here on a rainy day is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Considered as “the oasis of the desert”, Mount Abu is located in the Aravalli Hills. One of the most peaceful places to visit in Rajasthan, Mount Abu will win you over with its picturesque charm. Unlike all other cities in Rajasthan, the hill station is far from the heat and sand dunes, which cover almost 67% of the area of Rajasthan. Besides its exceptional natural charm, Mount Abu is also known for its lakes, Jain and Hindu temples dating from the 11th to 13th centuries. Major sights include Lake Nakki, Dilwara Jain Temples and Guru Shikar Point.
The Shekhawati region of Rajasthan is known for its grand and opulent havelis. Mandava is the most popular city. Located in the Jhunjhunu district, the historic town is home to the Mandawa Fort. Iyou was built by Thakur Nawal Singh in the mid-18th centurybearing in mind the medieval theme with vivid frescoes of the Rajput rulers and Lord Krishna as well as splendid sculptures and mirrors. Later cconverted into a heritage hotel by the Mandawa group of hotels, the Mandawa the castle is a merger modern comfort and royal charm.
Nestled in the folds of Aravallis, Alwar is blessed with lush green hills and serene lakes. Few people know that the picturesque town is home to splendid examples of Rajputana and Islamic architecture, some featuring a distinctive Bengali roof. Major attractions include Bala Qila, Vinay Vilas Palace, Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri, Siliserh Lake and Sariska Tiger Reserve. You can also plan great detours to places like Neemrana, Tijara and Bhangarh.
Feature and Hero Image Courtesy: Karan Kaushik
Related: Walk through the pages of history at these hill forts in Rajasthan