A place long pending on my wish list, Rajasthan threw me back into an era, which epitomized the life of royalty and sophistication.
It is a place so diverse and beautiful that it beats all superlatives. Everywhere you go in Rajasthan, you will see so much colour and liveliness that you can’t believe that this part of the India has so much happening. The must visits are Jaipur (The Pink City, Jaisalmer (The Golden City), Jodhpur (The Blue City) and Udaipur (The White City). Each city gets its name from the stones that originate with these unique colours from mother earth and adorn the walls of each city.
I began my journey from Jaipur the capital of Royalty. Rajasthan being an architectural marvel Jaipur gave me a glimpse of what was in store for me through the rest of my journey. The pink imposing façade of Hawa Mahal in a busy Jaipur street and the sprawling Amer fort that exuded elegance was feast to my eyes. The most beautiful part of the fort is the Sheesh Mahal where a single ray of light could illuminate the entire hall, because of the clever placement of the tiny mirrors within. Shopping in Jaipur in the amazing emporiums and street bazaars needs some great bargaining skills so that you are not left high and dry with their prices. If you can do that you can take back home some lovely fabrics called Bandhani and knick-knacks to keep the memories of the trip alive. Here in Jaipur I ate the famous Dal Baati Churma a traditional Rajsathani dish oozing with ghee (clarified butter). Rich, flavourful and delicious this dish makes your senses rejoice.
From Jaipur I moved to Ajmer where the famous dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti resides - a place where you see that sometimes faith is what keeps the human spirit alive. Hundreds of devotes flocking the shrine is a marvel. Fight your way through the crowds and you can immerse in the divine aura of the dargah.
After my pit stop at Ajmer I reached Jaislamer the city of sand dunes. For me the highlight of this trip was my stay at Sam Desert. I stood there gazing at the evening sun casting a golden glow over the empty sands, devoid of men, animals, noise and life. The serenity was beautiful. Apart from the Jaisalmer fort and Bara Bagh (12 canopies) the desert dominate the Jaislamer landscape. Punctuated by bright flashes of colour – be it in clothes, paintings and the interiors of the havelis I found Jaisalmer to be utterly enchanting.
Next on my journey was Jodhpur where all the houses are painted blue, possibly to keep them cool even in summer. The blue colour looks dramatic against the unchanging golden desert, almost a tribute to the resilience of the people of Jodhpur, who live in such an unfavourable conditions. The Mehrangarh fort gives you a spectacular view of Jodhpur. The fort houses some gorgeous artifacts and is decorated with impressive detailed carvings leaving you completely enchanted. Here in Jodhpur I had the famous papdi chaat, which is like a burst of sweet, sour and spicy flavours. Your palate will thank you for trying this dish. Crunch puris, with lentils and different chutneys made of tamarind, mint leaves coupled with onions is divine. A must try!
My last stop Udaipur is where I fell in love. As soon I reached my hotel I was left spell bound. I was staying at the banks of Lake Pichola, which overlooked The Taj hotel, and the daily life of the city. The narrow alleys with cobbled streets and numerous boutiques were like a quaint hideout from the bustling city. The highest point from the palace you see the dazzling Udaipur and calm Lake Pichola. This place is for the romantics.
Rajasthan cannot be summed up in words. It opens up your heart and soul to a bygone era. It lures you into a restive calm that allows one to take in the sights and sounds of the city. Rajasthan paints different strokes on each admirer’s soul with its opulence and beauty.