Rajasthan is one of the most visited states in India. It's not surprising because it shows India at its most colorful, iconic and exotic best. Most of the things that come to mind when you think of India can be found in Rajasthan-palaces, forts, desert, camels, and elephants. Don't miss visiting these top tourist places in Rajasthan.
The "Pink City" of Jaipur forms part of India's renowned Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit and was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not surprisingly, the city is one of Rajasthan's most popular tourist destinations. It has many famous forts and palaces, with most of them boasting evocative views and elaborate architecture. Staying in Jaipur is particularly enjoyable. Accommodations are reasonably priced and many have been converted from heritage properties, giving guests a very regal experience! Jaipur is an outstanding place to go shopping too. Plan your trip with this Jaipur travel guide.
Nagaur lies about half-way between Jodhpur and Bikaner, making the town a convenient destination to break your journey. Its massive 12th century fort, Ahhichatragarh, has been restored to its former glory by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2002. The fort hosts the World Sacred Spirit Festival in February each year. The Nagaur Cattle Fair -- touted as the second largest in India -- is an added annual attraction in January or February.
Rural tourism is growing in Rajasthan and the Pali district, between Jodhpur and Udaipur, is perfect for visitors who want to explore Rajasthan beyond its cities. Bera is one of the top destinations there due to the prevalence of wild leopards, which roam the rugged terrain and can be spotted on safari. At Jojawar, the 300 year-old Rajput fort has been converted into a heritage hotel and draws visitors. Kesar Bagh is a luxury option there. Chanoud Garh is another300 year-old fort-palace turned exquisite heritage hotel in the Pali district. However, it doesn't get anymore out-of-this-world than stunning Lakshman Sagar heritage hotel. Alternatively, Culture Aangan has homestays in Pali. You'll find village life to be fascinating. You can even attend a shepherds' morning opium meet!
Less than an hour southeast of Bundi, Rajasthan's third largest city -- Kota -- sits alongside the Chambal River. Once you've seen its palaces, temples and museums head out to explore the National Chambal Sanctuary and take a boat ride along the river. It's home to rare wildlife such as the gharial (a long-snouted, fish-eating crocodile) and Gangetic river dolphin. Bhainsrorgarh Fort boutique heritage hotel was once a royal abode and has an enviable position atop the cliff. The view is breathtaking! Plus, the 9th century Badoli Temples are nearby. Kota is famous for its Dussehra festival and fair in October.
Birding enthusiasts will be delighted by Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur, just over an hour east of Agra on the way to Jaipur. One of India's top bird sanctuaries for bird watching and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was formerly a duck hunting reserve of the maharajas. More than 370 species of birds can be found there, including a large congregation of non-migratory resident breeding birds.
Also on the Agra-Jaipur Road, Abhaneri has the deepest and possibly the most photographed step well in India. Chand Baori was built between the 8th and 9th centuries by King Chanda of the Nikumbh dynasty of Rajputs. However, locals will tell you a more spookier story of it being constructed in one night by ghosts! The step well extends approximately 100 feet into the ground, down 3,500 steps and 13 levels. A two-day Abhaneri festival takes place every year in September against the evocative backdrop of Chand Baori to promote rural tourism.
Read more about India's abandoned step wells with amazing architecture.
Interested in more forts and palaces? Alwar can be done on a day trip from Delhi, as it's only three hours south of India's capital. Attractions include an 18th century City Palace complex and government museum (closed Mondays) inside it, which showcases the extravagant lifestyle of the kings. However, it's Lake Sagar and the many chhatris (dome-shaped pavilions) behind the City Palace that are most visually impressive monuments. Above the City Palace sits 16th century Bala Quila, notable for being one of a few forts in Rajasthan to be built before the rise of the Mughals.
Another popular sidetrip from Delhi, Neemrana was the third capital of the descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan III, king of the Rajput Chauhan dynasty. It's located in Rajasthan's Aravalli Hills, about two and a half hours southwest of Delhi on theDelhi-Jaipur Highway. The main attractions there are rambling 15th century Neemrana Fort Palace hotel perched on the side of the hill overlooking town, and zip-lining.
Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan. It's situated 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) above sea level near the Gujarat border, about three hours (160km) from Udaipur. The British took a liking to Mount Abu because of its comfortable climate, and they relocated the headquarters of their political Rajputana Agency there from Ajmer in 1857. Mount Abu has a reputation as a honeymooner's haven but Indian families flock to the area as well. However, it remains an offbeat destination for foreigners. These top things to do in Mount Abu are centered around enjoying the great outdoors.
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