What is perhaps India’s most vibrant state, Rajasthan, will captivate you by its colours, clamour and sheer intensity. It has a lot in store for the travelers who wander around the place in search of marvelous architecture, old royal-feel, a quiet rural life and the mysteries of the great dessert. Here I have put together a list of things that a traveler travelling to Rajasthan must witness and do for an amazing travel experience:
1. Alwar: Alwar was formerly the capital of the princely state of Alwar or Ulwar in British India. This placeis not the touristiest destination, which is likely a good thing for those seeking classic Rajasthani attractions without the classic Rajasthani tourist hordes.
The city is located around 160 km south of Delhi and is surrounded by the Aravali Hills on all sides. Until the 17th century when the Rajputs seized it from the Jats, Alwar’s strategic location meant that it saw plenty of warfare in its time.
Places of interest: The main attraction is Bal Quila, a towering fort that affords a 300m-high view of its surrounds. Just below lies Sagar tank and the City Palace, worth visiting particularly for its museum, which contains a fine array of weaponry and Arabic and Sanskrit manuscripts. Apart from these, the elegant balconies of the Vinay Vilas Palace are a must visit for a dose of the Mughal culture. Alwar is also the access point to Sariska National Park.
2. Migratory Cranes of Khichan: A small Rajasthani village, located 140 kms North West of Jodhpur, Khichan is home to the migratory birds, black-and-grey demoiselle cranes. These birds, which migrate every winter from Central Asia, have been congregating in the village for as long as the villagers can remember.
They come to this area attracted by the vast open scrublands around the village. The WelcomHeritage Lalniwas located in Phalodi (5km from Khichan), organizes birding trips.
3. Mount Abu walks: The hilly plateau, dotted with temples, forts, lakes, and dense patches of forest, on which Mount Abu is located, makes for interesting walks. You could also walk to the famous Diwara temples, about an hour away.
Furthermore, located just 11 kms north of town is Achalgarh which has a few temples and a small village atop this hill, which offers spectacular views of the countryside. 3 kms from Dilwara is the Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuarywhich is home to bears, fox, wild boar and a number of species of birds.
4. Kite festival, Jaipur: The residents of Jaipur have transformed the leisurely past-time of kite-flying into an art form. Every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti a Kite Festival is held in Jaipur. Kites of various sizes, shapes and colours take over the skies, preparations of which begin days and sometimes even months in advance.
The festival includes a ‘kite fight’, at which competitors try to cut each other’s strings with glass-coated lines. There is plenty of food, music and the folk dances to enjoy during this festival.
5. Pokaran: Pokaran, well-known as being the site of India’s 1998 nuclear tests, is a quiet little gem that not everyone thinks of exploring. Since it isn’t very crowded, that adds to the charm. It’s got all the requisites for a proper Rajasthan holiday — a fort, an old bazaar, jeep safaris to wildlife environments, bird-watching, etc.
Also, interesting is the fact that in Pokaran about 300 families make terracotta pottery in traditional style, as well as artifacts and home accessories.
This is a means of local income and these artifacts can turn out to be excellent souvenirs for you to take back with you.
6. Ahichhatragarh Fort, Nagaur:
This Fort, built between 1119 and 1121, popularly known as the Fort of the Hooded Cobra, is like a stroll through history with its various power struggles and intrigues. Various Maharajas and sultans battled for control of this historical Fort and each king made additions to the fort. The visitors can witness the Rajput- and Mughal-influenced palaces and buildings, temples and mosques along with carved baoris, gardens and a much admired water system, which used to recycle every drop of water. It is here near this Fort in Nagaur that the annual Nagaur Cattle Fair is held. Reputed to be second largest cattle fair in India, the cattle fair is an amalgamation of various traditional activities, a lot of colour and can prove to be haven for people who want to experience the real rural India.
7. Desert National Park: This National Park lying near Jaisalmer, covers an area of over 3,162km and is one of the best examples of desert habitat in the country. Try walking through the Desert National Park and you can spot animals, birds and reptiles like the endangered Great Indian Bustard to herds of chinkara, desert cat, desert fox, sand grouses, buzzards, monitor lizard, saw-scaled viper and the spiny-tailed lizard, etc.
You can also opt for safaris.
8. Crafts in Barmer: To most people Barme, 53km south of Jaisalmer and 224km west of Jodhpur, is nothing more than an arid desert town, with nothing to offer to travelers. The reality, though, is that there is beauty even in this wasteland. Beautiful block-printed fabrics, delicate handcrafted wood furniture, pottery, carpets and fine embroidery add colour to this otherwise dull town.
It’s not just crafts that draw people to this town; the songs of the Bhopas, the priest singers, and the music of the Muslim dholis are also famous.A crafts hunt in the crowded Sadar Bazaar is must do whenever on a trip to the royal state of Rajasthan.
9. Moolsagar: Comprising a garden, a Raj Mahal and step-wells, Moolsagar, which was once the summer retreat for the royal family of Jaisalmer, sits oasis-like in the desert.Located 9km from Jaisalmer, it is perfect place for travelers who are looking for some quiet since with just the desert surrounding the camp, you are assured of complete privacy.
After moving about and getting awed and inspired and blown away by the charms that Rajasthan has to offer, relax in the isolation of the Moolsagar camp while local artists regale you with exuberant folk songs and dances.
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