Kumbelgarth / Ranakpur
You could make these two nearby cities a daytrip from Udaipur, but they really deserve more time. Ranakpur is an impeccably engraved monument to Jain devotion. With 29 halls held up by 1,444 uniquely carved marble pillars, you could get lost in this puzzle of wall-to-wall artwork. High in the Aravalli hills sits the colossal 15th century Mewar fort of Kumbelgarth. With ramparts that stretch some 36 kilometers and enclose close to 350 temples, you’ll want to bring your hiking shoes.
Cowering in the shadow of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur’s jumbled streets are a maze of exotic confusion. The “blue city,” as it is known, is a shining gem on the edge of the Great Thar Desert. Explore the medieval bazaars of the old city, sweat through some spicy Rajasthani thali, and embark on a theatrical audio tour of Mehrangarh. Although bursting out of it’s 16th century walls, entering Jodhpur is like stepping back in time to the glory days of the wildly mustachioed Maharajas.
Bask in the Rajput-era opulence of Udaipur along Lake Pichola and you will soon see why it is called the most romantic city in the East. Historic marble palaces and towering lakeside mansions hint at the grandeur of Udaipur’s glorious past. A hotbed of Rajasthani art and culture, the streets are bustling with miniature paintings, string puppets, and dance shows. Udaipur is a city to be savored.
Big, busy, but undeniably enchanting, Jaipur is your gateway to Rajasthan. The third leg of India’s so-called Golden Triangle, this capital city is the only taste of Rajasthan for many. There is much to see in Jaipur and an ocean of neon saris to sift through to get there. Nevertheless, the city is a mix of monuments and modernity, so there is always an escape if the claustrophobic streets of the Old City have you clinging to the rafters.
People flock to Jaisalmer to make all of their desert fantasies come true. Ever dreamed of sleeping under the stars on an overnight camel safari? Several tour companies are standing by to take you trotting through the Great Thar Desert to abandoned ghost towns, sand-swept ruins, and colorful isolated communities. The town itself is not so shabby either. With a sandcastle fort, grandiose havelis, and a myriad of shops, you’ll want to spend a day walking off your sore, camel-beaten thighs.
Have you been to Rajasthan? Have anything to add? Feel free to comment below.