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gilawi01 Apr 24th, 2006 03:31 PM

Which is your favorite city in Rajasthan, and why?
Decided to start this thread for the many conflicting opinions on what cities in Rajasthan are really a must to visit. I've just posted a tentative itinerary last week where you can see the recommendations given(look for gilawi01). For example some like Jaipur but left out Jodhpur and viceversa. Some said Jaisalmer is worthy of 4 days, others say just two. The same goes for Udaipur. There are others cities on the route (like Mandawa, Bikaner, Mt. Abu, Ranakhpur, Pushkar, etc.)that some of you considers worth to visit (you can comment on those too). With this thread I'm just trying to get the general consensus to prepare an almost final itinerary. It would helpful if you rank the cities and explain why is a must for you. Thanks in advance.

barnetda Apr 24th, 2006 07:17 PM

I have just returned from my first (but not last0 trip to India. I visited Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Ranthambore and Shimla.

We were only in Jaipur for 2 days and both of us felt we were at least a day to short. I cant comment on some of the other places you have mentioned but Jaipur gets my vote.
The oberoi hotel there is simply stunning.

Alan Apr 24th, 2006 08:29 PM

Well, before talking about an itinerary, I will answer the question in your heading.


Without doubt, Jaisalmer. We spent three days and two nights there, which was enough to see the city (which is very small and compact) and also to do a camel safari (organised by our hotel, the Shahi Palace; we were the only two on the safari, and this was one of the best experiences we had in India -- though I learned to hate my camel after the first ten minutes!). However, we could easily have spent several more days, as the atmosphere in Jaisalmer is so beguiling and the people quite wonderful (we still write to the family who did our laundry, and to the owners, and one of the workers, at the Shahi Palace -- which, by the way, we rated as the best-choice accommodation fwe had in the whole five week trip, for the proprietors as much as for the room).

India is the best country in the world for a holiday, and Rajasthan is the best stste in India, so when you ask about an itinrerary, you are "dealing from the top of the deck". We loved Jodhpur even more than Jaipur and Udaipur, probably because we saw fewer tourists there, and, therefore, more of the "real" India. Also, we had some of the best lassis -- and the absolutely-best omelette -- anywhere in India right there in Jodhpur, within fifty metres of each other. All three are great places, however, and Udaipur is quite lovely around the lake.

Don't overlook Bundi. I say that because most people do, and that is probably what gives it much of its charm. It's not on a main railway line... you have to change trains at Kota and catch a local train for about half an hour, so it's easy to overlook. But it's one of the most beautiful towns in India. Rudyard Kipling, who ought to know, wrote that his favourite fort in all India was the massive edifice at Bundi, and when you see it, towering over the relatively-small city, you'll probably agree with him. We appreciated Bundi for two reasons -- one, the town itself, and two, because there are several buses a day (including an overnight one) from there to Udaipur, and, as you will have already found out, Udaipur is not so easy to get to by train!

Sorry I can't quite bring myself to "rank" these, as you asked. While Jaisalmer is secure in the top spot, all the others are, in their way, equally-good.... with perhaps a small nod towards Jodhpur.

fuzzylogic Apr 25th, 2006 06:05 AM

"which cities in Rajasthan are really a must to visit"? Could someone helpful "rank" them?

I'm sorry but it doesn't work like that - because we are all different.

All of the places on the tourist route are must sees. They each have a selling point or two or three. The crux of the question is how long do you have? If you are only going for two weeks (which seems to be the standard time) then you must accept that you won't be able to visit them as perhaps they should be visited. That is - arrive, discover, take as long as it takes, and when you have had your fill, move on.

I gladly offer my thoughts, for what they're worth.

Jaipur - Amber Fort is a highlight of India, but I found the city not as interesting as many, and the tourist spots heavy with tourists.

Jodphur - much less touristed - calmer vibe than Jaipur - fort pretty good but no elephant rides.

Udaipur - a city best appreciated by just wandering.

Jaiselmer - ah yes, the desert city. I expected less development (back in 1995)
but that was just my ignorance. Not quite sure what you will find now. But expect the walled city is still there, and that you can still walk out into the desert to watch the walls catch fire at sunset. And camel safaris - oh, yes. But go on a long one. Stay one or two nights in the open air if you can. Just you, your guides, and the camels.

Mt Abu is pleasant, but the Jain temples outside the town are sublime. I didn't know they were there (back in 1995) and of course that colours the experience too.

To summarise. If you want a recommendation for a day or two, they are all good and hard to choose. If you have four days to spare then Jaiselmer and a long camel safari wins hands down.

All the best.

gilawi01 Apr 25th, 2006 11:03 AM

fuzzylogic: You are right about the ranking system. What I'm trying to get is a perspective of why you choose this or that city in Rajasthan and why. I don't want to be going from place to place to see a castle and then another and another, etc. For instance: some people rave about the Jain temples in Ranakhapur, but , which are the best...those in Mt. Abu (Dilwara) or the ones in Ranakhpur...which Jodhpur or Jaipur or Jaisalmer, etc. Thanks to barnetda and Alan too for their suggestions.

BostonHarbor Apr 25th, 2006 07:40 PM

I absolutely loved Jodhpur. It was so much less touristy than Jaipur. The Mehrangar Fort in Jodhpur is far more spectacular than the Amber fort (the elephant ride at Amber is really a bit tacky anyway). Mehrangar takes your breath away. The people are incredibly friendly and there are no beggars at all. You feel so welcomed.

Udaipur was beautiful. I enjoyed it, but would certainly skip it to go to Jaisalmer. Udaipur is a pretty lake town. Many in the forum disagree, but Udaipur in my book is a one night stay--unless you want a rest and spa experience--in which case it is perfect.

I unfortunately did not make it to Jaisalmer and I have regretted it. I am definately going the next time I am in India.

Alan's descriptions are great--I'd go with his recommendations if I were you :-).

steven_ber Apr 25th, 2006 10:53 PM

If I had to choose a city to stay in for a week, I'd probably choose Jodhpur.

I only had 3 days there and wished I had more, of all the places in Rajasthan I visited I found it much easier to get to know the locals in Jodhpur, there seemed to be virtually none of the usual hassle that tourists face and I could have spent a week investigating all the little winding roads that make up the western part of town.

Jaisalmer was also special (in a tourist kind of way) and should not be missed.

Jaipur grew on me; I had 7 days (on 2 visits) in Jaipur and found it a fascinating city.

Udaipur was (to me) a little overrated, though it probably had the best scenery (and potential day trips) of any of the (tourist destination) cities I visited in Rajasthan.

There are now daily overnight trains to/from Udaipur from Jaipur, Delhi and Bharatpur (convenient for Fathepur Sikri and Agra)

gilawi01 Apr 26th, 2006 09:48 AM

Thanks. Apparently Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer are favorite amongst some of you. My original itinerary post under (Help for my first trip to India) includes Jaisalmer (4 days), Jodhpur (3), Jaipur (3) and Udaipur (3) in the Rajasthan area. I still have tres days available in the area. What places would you suggest?

waynehazle Apr 26th, 2006 11:02 AM

Jaipur was at the end of my trip and I might have been a little tired. I love all the thigns I saw and did, but it would not be a priority for me to go back there again.

glorialf Apr 27th, 2006 05:54 AM

My favorite was Udaipur because I love miniature painting and they have wonderful schools and galleries there. Also it was a great place to walk around.

Second favorite was Mt. Abu because we were the only westerners there. It was filled with Indians on holiday so I felt I was closer to the real India. Plus the Jain temples were a definite highlight.

For me the not to be missed place is the Jain temple at Ranakpur.

Jaipur and Jodphur were less interesting to me than some of the less frequented places like Dungapur.

Alan Apr 27th, 2006 06:31 AM

"Jaisalmer (4 days), Jodhpur (3), Jaipur (3) and Udaipur (3) in the Rajasthan area. I still have tres days available in the area. What places would you suggest?"


gilawi01 Apr 27th, 2006 06:52 AM

Alan: Why Bundi?

glorialf: Wich Jain temples you like the best? In Ranakpur or in Mount Abu?

welltraveledbrit Apr 27th, 2006 05:42 PM

I agree that Udaipur is not a long stop. We had three nights and decided to leave after two. That having been said we enjoyed the town it was merely that we loved the coutryside in Rajastan so much more than the cities.

What I like about Udaipur is the areas that surround it. The coutryside was really what drew me in India.The further you get from the main tourist cities the more fascinating it gets.

We enjoyed Bundi, Chittorgarh and Ranakpur. However, it wasn't just these destinations it was staying in the places you end up staying in order to see these places. It was going to smaller locally run historical hotels and experiencing a more personal hospitality. Great!

For us the places that I remember most vividly turned out to be the cheaper places Bassi Fort and Ravla Khempur where we met the owners and really learnt something from them. When I was planning these weren't the places I thought would be the highlight.

Also when I say cheaper,small and local we're still talking about large rooms, marble floors and nice bathrooms, for prices between $30-100 per night.

It's interesting that Kathie mentioned Dungapur because that's somewhere I'd like to go myself!

We enjoyed Jaiselmer, but 4 nights would be too much for me. It's a bit of a backpacker haven and certainly touristy. I enjoyed it but it's not somewhere I feel I'll revisit. Make sure you stay in town, otherwise it's a destination you drive out to rather than somewhere you wander round at night.

I loved the fort at Bundi because it was so romantic and deserted but it's hard to beat Jodhpur where the quality of the audio guide is excellent and illuminating.

I'd say at least take a couple of days to stay between or outside the cities you won't regret it.

Hope this helps.

Alan Apr 27th, 2006 06:22 PM

Why Bundi? Well, I guess, fir starters there's the fort.... it's an amazing one, the equal of anyhting we saw in India in the major centres..... only Bundi is a realtively-samll town, so the fort, in this perspective, becomes even more impressive.

Also, Bundi is just far enough off the beaten track to be "natural"... you won't see many tourists there. At the same time, it's easy to get to if you are willing to hop off the express at Kota and travel for about half an hour by local train.

Third, we found some of the best and cheapest shopping in India right there in Bundi. And some of the best food, too.

And, fourthly, it was easy to get from Bundi to Udaipur (and, I expect, vice-versa).

There are a couple of mentions of Bundi on this forum; one thread you ought to check out is this:

Also, if you haven't visited, make sure you acquaint yourself with this wonderful site. There will be plenty of information, if you search around for it (the site is so big that it will take you a day or two to learn to navigate it) on Bundi.... and on all the other places in your itinerary! I have to say that I planned nearly my whole trip -- hotels, transport, choice of destinations, even, in a few cases, restaurants -- with indiamike.

gilawi01 Apr 27th, 2006 08:18 PM

I've been interchanging e-mails with an Indian agent this past days and Bundi is one of "off the beatean tracks" citiy recommended. Will consider seriously taking that option. In my itinerary (4) means four days not nights. The reason I want four days (3 nights) in Jaisalmer is because one of the nights will be spent at the desert in a Tent. And, yes, I have checked the Indiamike site. Still trying to manage it. Again, thanks for your input.

Alan Apr 27th, 2006 09:31 PM

Gilawi01, I'd say your itinerary is shaping up beautifully... I envy you!

Glad that you've found indiamike..... my only quesry here is, now that you've found it, why would you need to find an agent (who is charging commission, remember, and who is hardly an impartial observer!)to organise your trip for you? On Indiamike you will receive the advice of people just like yourself, with no particular vested interest in anything but sharing their best -- and worst -- experiences with you. Amateurs... people who travel because they LOVE it! I reckon the most fun is working things out for yourself -- train and bus schedules, public transport in the big cities, finding your way using maps.... I don't think I'd enjoy the trip half so much if all this was arranged for me and all I did was to follow someone around.

vp_singh Apr 28th, 2006 11:36 PM

Perception of same object differs from person to person. Some of my own perceptions, with respect to above post is:
a. Affordability: If someone can afford to have a holiday organized by a competent individual, may be a tour operator, where is the harm. Remember your game of golf improves if you have a Caddie along…for, you do not ‘look up’!
b. Epistemology: India is a complex country…certainly more difficult than say, Paris, London or Hamburg. The complexity increases quite a few folds as in many areas of sight seeing it is not only history but philosophy that may be intertwined. For example, all of us has seen the musicians playing on the traditional Indian instruments. How many of us know that these instruments were designed by the greatest thinkers of ancient/medieval India? In realms of transcendental Hindu philosophy, it is said, that they devised the instruments when their conscious scaled the mundane and became one with the ‘Super Conscious’! Lord Krishna devised the ‘murli’, Sarswati the ‘veena’, Meerabai the ‘iktara’ & Mardana, the alter ego of Guru Nanak, the ‘rubab’. And, ‘Ravana Hatha’…Did you notice the little boy who plays it at the gates of Jaswant Thada (Jodhpur)…built by the satan king of Ceylon. Hindu philosophy even has the answer to this riddle, after all why a satan king, in this august gathering???
c. Comfort: Anyone who has tried to cross a very busy Indian road, especially elderly couples, will know how difficult it is. Your guide-escort takes you gently by your arm & helps you cross the road…watch your step when crossing the road in front of Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind, Jaipur) or the Sikh Temple Sis-Ganj (old Delhi)!!
d. Cost: By keeping an eye on your escort how much he pays as ‘bakshish’ (Tip) for various services rendered, you quickly learn & save money. For a first timer, it is an important issue. Also, a tour operator get discounted rates from the hotel industry, which he may pass on to the customer.
e. Saving of time: An average American traveler, hardly gets more than a couple of weeks off for a long-distance holiday. Would he like to waste time haggling here, there & everywhere…that is not his way of life.

gilawi01 Apr 29th, 2006 06:53 AM

I've been reading a lot of posts of first timers to India, and the majority considers(in this forum)that for a first timer the best option is to get a good Indian agent. The consensus is that India is not as easy as other countries (for example Tahiland) to do it on your own. Having said that, there are some places I think I can mannage by myself (Delhi to Agra and to Varanasi). Will stay for a few days in those places. The logistics for the Rajasthan area will be more complex, but again, for a first timer. For a second time I'm sure I will manage a lot by myself.

vineetha Apr 29th, 2006 07:45 AM

as said by a few people who replied to you, that it is difficult to rank the places in rajasthan as tastes differ.but rajasthan is easily the hottest tourist destination of india. the place is absolutely fascinating. the people, their culture... i had been there and would like to share my itinerary . we started with the wild life sanctuary - in from delhi by train. it is a must see as this sanctuary is so different from the rest. the landscaping.... from there, that is after two days, we went to jaipur. jaipur may be a hot 'touristy' place but definitely cannot be ranked the top two /three places in rajasthan. i would recommend that you go to deogarh (pronounced as 'dev garh'). it is on the way to udaipur. a small town but you have just got to stay at the 'deogarh mahal' . the place is fabulous. everything else, including the uadipur palace pales in comparison!contact virbadra sigh who owns this fort. he is an excellant host. yes i too strongly recommend jaiselmir but an overnight should do. udaipur also can be a day trip from deogarh mahal. from jaisilmer you must go to the desert camp called the osian village. that place with the tents which are so amazing in its traditional get up yet with a modern bathroom which makes it complete from the luxury point of view. contact reggie singh who runs this superb place. and i rate it very hgh. after deo garh mahal it is second.the food all over rajasthan is delicious. the last lap could be jodhpur. yes a city warm and quiet and not one bit 'touristy'. take a look at the umed bhavan if you can. also see if you can get to attend a polo match. the royalty and blue blood is all there to see! enjoy!

welltraveledbrit Apr 29th, 2006 01:44 PM

You may find it helpful to see our pictures of lots of these hotels and areas including Deogarh Mahal and Bundi mentioned above.

The website is click on the photo albums and then on India. The photos are divided by area so you can look at Ravla Khempur, Bassi, Devigarh etc and many more of the places I mentioned above.

Hope this helps!

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