Rajasthan’s opulent capital is a magical land brimming with desert camps and lakeside palaces. Sitting on the edge of the Thar desert and surrounded by the Aravali hills, the Pink City boasts of hilltop forts, bustling bazaars and the best pyaaz kachoris you’ll ever taste. Among the places to visit in Jaipur, the grandiose pink sandstone Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal, towering over the hustling streetscapes and the majestic City Palace are the ones attracting the most tourists. The 18th century old astronomical observatory of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is a UNESCO world heritage site and a major tourist attraction. Perched proudly on the top of a hill is Amber Fort, dating back to the 16th century. The red sandstone structure houses palaces, temples, gardens and a lake inside its premises. One of the most favoured things to do in Jaipur is to walk through the lively Bapu Bazaar, and come out with bags stocked with bandhani-printed sarees, lac bangles, meenakari trinkets and blue pottery. And while you’re at it, shop for some string puppets or kathputlis that make for some excellent souvenirs. Galtaji temple, also called the Monkey Temple, is another must visit. If your eyes just can't get enough, visit Amber Fort, which has its own 600-year-old story to narrate, through its spectacular light and sound shows, cultural performances and folk music. Rajasthani tailored clothes, jewellery and handicrafts are a huge hit as souvenirs, for their exquisite mirror work, embroidery, leather and splashes of colour. Some famous places this illustrious workmanship can be bought from are Rajasthali, Anokhi, Johari bazaar and Sireh Deori Bazaar, but remember to bargain. Central Museum and Albert Hall museum are great places to learn about Rajasthan's rich history and culture and also to buy handicrafts. The Jaipur Literature Festival, the world's largest free literature festival, is dear to almost every bibliophile around the globe. Here, enjoy literature and music, amidst the likes of William Dalrymple, Stephen Fry and many other renowned writers and personalities. The 5-day festival is hosted in Diggi Palace, which gives people around the world an insight into Rajasthan's captivating cultural heritage. For those interested in pampering their palates with the flavourful Rajasthani cuisine against the backdrop of a picturesque village should visit Chokhni Dani. For a regal experience, a stay at the Suvarna Mahal is a must visit.
Udaipur beckons tourists from all over the world with its romantic landscapes and ethereal monuments. Bordered by the crags of the hazy Aravallis, the city that was established in the 16th century by Maharaja Udai Singh, is now a major heritage tourism hotspot for India. With a seductive old-warm charm, opulent palaces and lively bazaars, tourists will never run out of places to visit in Udaipur. Some enchanting attractions in the city include the filigreed walls of Bada Mahal, the mountain pass of Haldighati, the lavish gardens of Saheliyon ki Bari and the placid waters of the Jaisamand Lake. The shimmering Lake Pichola hosts numerous things to do in Udaipur, such as a boat ride through the lake to the Jag Mandir Palace, from which you can witness the most stunning sunset. For those with a penchant for automobiles, the Vintage Car Museum in the Garden Hotel, hosts a fantastic exhibit of vintage vehicles. Udaipur's cuisine comprises of Rajasthani staples such as the flavoursome dal baati choorma and gatte ki sabzi. Popular eateries here include Chandni, Ambrai, Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, Lotus Cafe and Mayur Rooftop Cafe. Hotels are easily available in Udaipur, and several retain their old world feel.
Considered to be one of the greenest cities in the country, Bhopal, is a place that one cannot afford to leave off their tourist trail. Adorned by many natural and as well as manmade lakes and water bodies, Bhopal is often referred to as the City of Lakes. The city is home to a number institutions and places that are of great national importance. The city houses ISROs Master Control Facility and the famous National Institute of Technical Training and Research (NITTTR), AIIMS and BHEL. The city has a number of attractions that lure many a tourist to tread along its roads. If one does plan a visit to this city, do not forget to pay a visit to the Bhimbetka Rock Caves, the superb artificial Upper Lake, try out the food at the historic Lazeez Hakeem Restaurant and visit the many mosques here. An unfortunate incident in December 1984 propelled Bhopal into the international arena. The case of the Union Carbide India Limited, a plant that manufactured pesticide, saw the leakage of a poisonous mixture of gases, especially methyl isocyanate that lead to the great disaster. Nevertheless, the city is clean now and promises one a great visit.
A rapidly developing city in Madhya Pradesh, Indore is the perfect example of a small town packed with the right kind of holiday experiences. Especially if you are a foodie! The Sarafa Bazaar which is open till the wee hours of morning is a must visit and should not be missed! The market opens only around midnight and this is perhaps what makes it a little more special. The bazaar offers a plethora of street food and it's one of the best foodie experiences you can have in the country. Other than that, you can visit the beautiful Central Museum. The museum houses collections dating back to the pre-historic era and if art and history interest you, do head here. Indore is also at a prime location for tons of tourist spots including Shri Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, Patalpani and Maheshwar. If you are in the mood for trekking, you can head to Ralamandal Wildlife Sanctuary for a bit of adventure. The summer months here are quite harsh, so it's best to go during winter. The people of Indore are warm, welcoming and quite adventurous so if you happen to know an Indori, you will have a chance to explore a different side of the city.
Surrounded by the enchanting Aravali hills, Ajmer is a medieval city most popular for the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Once ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan, the city is a treasure house of Rajput and Islamic architecture. Ajmer, which is located in the heart of Rajasthan, also serves as the base for Pushkar, which is just 11km away. The magnificent Taragarh fort situated on the summit of the Taragarh Hill is an unmissable site for its view of the city. At the foot of this hill is the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. The large pillars or Kose that you’ll see here actually run till Agra from where Akbar and his queen visited this sanctum. You can also visit the Akbar Fort and Museum for its collection of medieval armour and sculptures. There are several other sites of Hindu, Islamic and Jain religious importance that you can look out for while taking a ride through the city on the horse-drawn tongas. Fill up on delicacies such as the Kesarganj gol chakkar, chaat and kachori at the Pandit Restaurant opposite Daulat Bagh. The women’s market is a hub of traditional lehengas and odhnis. Amidst the old-fashioned and charming city of Ajmer, Ambassador and Hotel Mansingh Palace offer two of the most conventional and luxurious stays.
Pushkar is full of colour, culture, warmth and joy! The first thing that attracts one to Pushkar is perhaps the colourful streets lined with small shops and hopeful faces. The route from Ajmer to Pushkar is stunning and unlike any other route in Rajasthan. It's quite hilly and hence surprising. Pushkar is a very small town and its first glimpse is astonishing for first timers who are expecting a big town. The town is very famous for its numerous temples, serene lake and lovely market. Do visit Pushkar Lake during the evenings, since afternoons here are quite hot unless you are visiting during peak winters. There is also a small temple next to the lake and though the temple is beautiful, the priests here make it difficult to sit in peace. They constantly pester you to perform pujas and it's a little annoying when all you want is to enjoy a few moments of silence. The market next to the temple and lake is quite fun to explore and there is tons you can take back including bangles, bandhini sarees and dupattas, palazzos and stunning silver jewellery. Don't forget to have the kachoris next to the temple since they are perhaps the best you'll have in Pushkar. Reaching Pushkar is hassle-free since there are tons of buses plying from and to major cities and it would be best to combine Ajmer and Pushkar in one trip. Do choose a traditional homestay to spend your vacation in Pushkar and you'll have an unforgettable experience!
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Kota Dasshera mela is the one of the most popular festival in Kota, Rajasthan. This will celebrate in month of Oct-Nov. This is also known as Hadoti Mela, which runs about 27 days and hosts various cultural programs along with various competitions like, Hasya Kavi Sammelan, folk dance, Chambal Kusti Dangal (Riesling Championship), Ramp walk, Ghazals, shero-shayari, possession etc. There's nothing like an event or a festival to soak up the spirit of a place.The Dussehra Festival of Kota is magnificient and unique cultural religious experience for both, the local residents and tourists. The fair held on the celebration grounds, offer great business opportunities for traders and local craftsmen to sell and exhibit their products.The history behiend Kota Dussehra Mela goes back to 1893AD. The credit of making this religious event more popular and attractive goes to Maharao Ummed Singh II (1889-1940 A.D.).The Dussehra festival in Kota is still pure and authentic. Dussehra is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of the good over the bad.Dussehra is celebrated in Kota in Sep-Oct. This festival is celebrated all over the country but the Kota Dussehra is quite unique for it marks more than just the beginning of a festive period. More than 75 feet tall effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghnad are burnt on Dussehra day to symbolise the victory of good over evil. Usually these effigies are filled with crackers. A young child dressed as Lord Ram is made to shoot an arrow of fire at Ravana and the huge figure is burnt.Villagers gather here dressed in multicolored clothes to offer prayers to Lord Rama and to celebrate his victory over Ravana. Prominent artists from all over the country are invited to participate in cultural programmes that enthrall the huge audience with their performances. Rich in courtly splendor and age old traditions, the Dussehra festival here is marked by a glittering procession which attracts thousands from the surrounding villages. Dramas, depicting the Armageddon, are very common. Like all festivals in Rajasthan, it provides a good opportunity to the traders to display their attractive wares to the rural and urban buyers. Small effigies of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakhsman are very common works of sculpture.The effigy of Ravana is even bigger than his by now carbonized accomplices. He is the last one that is set on fire. The huge crowd is shouting with joy when Ravana catches fire. A warm piece of carton flutters against Ivonne’s face. This is the time that we think it is wise to take more distance. The sea of flames is huge, and more people decide to find a safer place, Ravana is burning and gives with some firecracker bangs his last convulsions. After Ravana felt into ashes some last fireworks was shot in the air, marking the end of the festival. We really enjoyed the festival and are very happy that we planned our journey in a way that we could be present on this great event. This festival is really recommended!