• Photo: Waj / Shutterstock

Jaipur and Environs

Jaipur, the state capital, is worth a few days' visit: it's a delightful mixture of modernity and folk tradition. Don't be surprised to see camels pulling carts on the main streets, mingling with vehicular traffic. With its towering forts and impressive city palace, Jaipur is a good indicator of what to expect as you progress to interior Rajasthan. It's also a good base from which to visit other towns and parks in the region. The craft villages of Sanganer and Bagru, just outside Jaipur, are populated almost entirely by artisans, and you're free to stop in and watch them make fine paper and block-print textiles by hand. The Hindu pilgrimage town of Pushkar is known for its annual camel festival, held in November or sometimes slightly earlier. For an unusual experience, take a short overnight trip out of Jaipur to Bundi, as famous for its intricate stepwells and charming little lanes as it is for being one of Rudyard Kipling's former residences and the place that inspired him to write Kim. To escape civilization altogether, go bird-watching at Bharatpur's Keoladeo National Park or on a tiger safari at Ranthambhore (which may or may not result in spotting a tiger).

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