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.
Home to the grandiose Taj Mahal, Agra’s city echoes of its bygone Mughal era days. Located in Uttar Pradesh, tourists from across the world flock to Agra all year round. Boasting of three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Agra Fort in the city,the white marble architectural wonder of the Taj Mahal and the nearby Fatehpur Sikri. Agra is also dotted with numerous tombs and buildings that have been left behind by the Mughal empire. Agra’s tourism can also be credited to its sweeping gardens of Soami Bagh, Ram Bagh and the most beautiful of them all, Mehtab Bagh. Agra city is also swarmed by a multitude of temples that add to Agra’s vibrant character. The Balkeshwar and Kailash temple on Yamuna’s banks worship Lord Shiva, while the Mankameshwar Temple is loved by the locals for it mellifluous aarti. And while you are in Agra, you should definitely incorporate Sikandra in your itinerary. Akbar’s tomb, or Sikandra lies north to the city, and takes about thirty minutes from Agra. Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, fondly referred to as the Baby Taj is another must visit.
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.
The melodious chorus of temple bells, the sweet fragrance of incense and the positive energy in Mathura city all come together to offer you an experience unlike another. The most popular temple in the birthplace of Shri Krishna is the Dwarkadesh Temple, which is home to a lovely shrine of Lord Krishna and Radha among other deities. And if you happen to visit the temple during the festivals of Janmashtami, Diwali and Holi, you'll be in for a huge surprise. The energy of the temple and the city will take you by storm and you will fall in love with the small energetic town. The culture of Mathura is perhaps what attracts people to this lovely town rather than its mythological importance, though one can't deny or undermine its mythological significance. Among other places to visit, you can head to Vishram Ghat, Rangji temple and Govind Deo temple. Sacred for both Jains and Buddhists, Mathura sees people from across the world. A meeting point for people from all cultures, there is much to learn and explore in this lovely city. Finding a place to to stay here is not a problem at all since there are a number of small dharamshalas as well as luxurious resorts.
This is a town in the Chhattarpur District of Madhya Pradesh. Mainly known for the ancient Khajuraho Temple Complex, this is the main attraction of this place apart from other small temples and old monuments. The temples in this complex are not just beautiful and grand, but each one of them are different from one another. The temples here represent royalty, culture, taste of the early kings and their devotion towards gods and goddesses. Most of the temples and monuments you will see here were built by the Chandela Dynasty rulers and their religious secularism is evident from the presence of Buddhist and Jain temples in which they had supported along with the famous Hindu Temples. The main temples of this temple complex are the Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Brahma Temple, Varaha Temple, Lakshmana Temple and others.
Situated close to the vibrant city of Jaipur, Alwar is a perfect weekend getaway. Home to the wonderful Sariska Tiger Reserve, the grand City Palace and the stunning Siliserh Lake, Alwar offers you a mix of history, architecture and nature. Though the Sariska Tiger Reserve is perhaps the best way to spend your time in Alwar, you can also spend a little time exploring the lake and Government Museum. When visiting the reserve, do book a safari in advance lest you miss out on a great slot. Early mornings and early evenings are the best way to explore the reserve. Boasting of tigers, including the Bengal Tiger, the reserve is home to the Indian Leopard, Indian Jackal, Sambhar and Wild Boars. Of course, you'll also spot monkeys making a ruckus and a crowd of Neelgais and that is quite fun to watch as well. Avoid eating anything while on the safari since it's a strict no. The Siliserh Lake is another lovely spot where you can indulge in a bit of boating and a delicious lunch. The food here is a bit on the expensive side but it's totally worth it. While here, you can also take a trip to City Palace. You may feel that there are tons of palaces around Rajasthan that are way more beautiful, but this one has its own charm. Away from the chaos of the main city, it offers you a respite from dilapidated, ill maintained forts. Do try food at one of the restaurants in the city. Not only is the food delicious, the hospitality is warm and adds to the meal.