Rajasthan Feature

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Jaipur's Village Complexes

Rajasthan is a largely rural state, and the local villages still maintain unique lifestyles, with traditional entertainments and ways of life. It's a fascinating other world from what Westerners are used to. Travelers with little time and limited personal contact with the locals, though, aren't generally going to get invited to an authentic village to see how people really live—and language barriers can be an issue if you do. A popular alternative is to visit what is known as "village complexes," essentially artificial replicas of the real thing that feature souvenir stands, cultural entertainment programs, and regional cuisine. Popular with Indian and overseas tourists alike, these villages feel a bit like theme parks, but the cuisine and traditional entertainment is authentic, so they're quite worthwhile. Two good ones to visit when you're in Jaipur are Chokhi Dhani and Apno Gaon. Apno Gaon is closer to town and on a smaller scale than Chokhi Dhani, a large, over-the-top complex. Both include a feast of local delicacies and entertainment in the admission price, but there might be an extra charge for things like camel and elephant rides—and, of course, there will be shopping opportunities.

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