Rajasthan

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Rajasthan - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Amber (Amer) Fort and Palace

    Amber | Castle/Palace

    Surrounded by ramparts, this dramatically beautiful fortress is perched on a hill near the rippleless Maota Lake and grows more alluring as...

    Surrounded by ramparts, this dramatically beautiful fortress is perched on a hill near the rippleless Maota Lake and grows more alluring as you approach it. There's a Persian inscription at Amer, added when it was completed, that reads: "Just as the heavens should always be laden with rain, so also this stately building, the foundation of the Maharaja's longevity and wealth, be preserved from any kind of damage," and it has been preserved remarkably well. Raja Man Singh began building it in 1592; Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh continued the construction over a period of 125 years. For centuries the fortress was the capital of the Kachhawah Rajputs, but when the capital shifted to Jaipur in the early 18th century, the site was abandoned. Although the fort is in ruins, the interior palaces, gardens, and temples retain much of their pristine beauty. Both the art and the architecture combine Rajput and Mughal influences in felicitous ways; the old rainwater harvesting and lifting systems have been renovated and are paricularly worth a look. You approach the palace complex by walking up a sloping incline to the Singh Pole gate and Jaleb Chowk, the preliminary courtyard—or you can drive up from the rear end into Jaleb Chowk. Elephant rides are also offered up to the fort in the early morning, but animal rights activitists claim that the elephants are abused and that riding them causes lasting damage to their bodies. Consequently, many tour companies no longer offer this option to their guests. The fort-palace attracts legions of tourists, especially during high season when Indians are also traveling (summer, Diwali, Independence Day and the Christmas holidays) and sometimes the traffic volume is so high the traffic police close the roads to prevent further arrivals. You are best off exiting your hotel for Amer by 8:15 and reaching the fort entrance by 8:45 to beat the heat. You will then need to set aside just an hour to tour the fort. To get the most from your visit, pick up an audioguide at the ticket window. Two flights of stairs lead up from Jaleb Chowk; to start, skip the one leading to the Shiladevi Temple and take the one leading directly to the palace. In the next courtyard, the pillared Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) contains alabaster panels with fine inlay work—the kind of craftsmanship for which Jaipur is famous. Typical of the Mughal period, the rooms are small and intimate, whereas the palace's successive courtyards and narrow passages are characteristically Rajput. In one corner is an interesting hamam (Turkish bath) area. One of the elaborately carved and painted gates is known as Ganesh Pol, after the elephant god Ganesh. From a latticed corridor above it, the queen—always in purdah, or hiding—would await the king's return from battle and sprinkle scented water and flowers down upon him. Each room shows some vestige of its former glory, especially the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), with glittering mirror work on the ceiling. Narrow flights of stairs lead up to the lavish royal apartments, and beyond the corridors and galleries there you'll find the small, elegant Char Bagh garden. Take in the views of the valley, the palace courtyards, the formal gardens abutting the octagonal pool next to the lake, and the vast Jaigarh Fort, the ancient fortress on the crest of the hill above you. Also on the upper floor is Jas Mandir, a hall with filigreed marble jalis (screens) and delicate mirror and stuccowork. On your way out, peek into the 16th-century Shiladevi Temple to the goddess Kali, with its silver doors and marble carvings. Raja Man Singh installed the image of the goddess after bringing it here from lower Bengal (now Bangladesh). Exit the palace by the gate near the temple, and just a few minutes down the road is the 16th-century Jagat Shiromani temple. Dedicated to Krishna, this exquisitely carved marble-and-sandstone temple was built by Raja Man Singh I in memory of his son. Amer village has several other old temples and buildings. Within the fort, before you exit, is a Coffee Cafe Day to catch a cool drink and a few legitimate government-run handicraft stores, Rajasthali, Magical Creations, and Tribes, which are worth visiting. Avoid the handicraft shops in Amer village, even if your guide or driver recommends them.

    Delhi Rd., 11 km (7 miles) north of Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 302002, India
    141-253–0844

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 200; Camera and video free; sound-and-light show Rs. 200
  • 2. Camel Fair

    Fairground

    If you really want an experience, go to Pushkar during its famous five-day annual Camel Fair, the largest in the world. Every October or November...

    If you really want an experience, go to Pushkar during its famous five-day annual Camel Fair, the largest in the world. Every October or November—depending on the lunar calendar—during the full moon (Kartik Purnima), people flock here by the many thousands to see the finest camels parade around the fairground, edging the sand dunes, in colorful costumes. People come to buy, sell, and trade camels, and to race one camel against another, and it is a treat to see Rajasthanis, who already dress in bright colors, kitted out in their best. A good male camel goes for at least US$400 although some of the popular Marwari horses go for much more. Other types of livestock are also sold. In addition to the camel activities, there are cultural programs, cricket matches, competitons during the day and all kinds of spontaneous music, dance and folk performances in the evenings. The town is packed during festival time, so make sure you reserve a room at least several weeks—if not much longer—ahead of time. Several tented camps with modern conveniences also mushroom during the fair. Contact the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) in Jaipur for more details.

    Pushkar, Rajasthan, India
  • 3. Golden Fort (Sonar Qila)

    Military Sight

    Jaisalmer's dazzling 12th-century fort, often likened to an oversized sandcastle, is unquestionably the most charming aspect of an already very...

    Jaisalmer's dazzling 12th-century fort, often likened to an oversized sandcastle, is unquestionably the most charming aspect of an already very charming city. Some 250 feet above the town, on Trikuta Hill, the fort has been inhabited for centuries and is a little town of its own; it's protected by a 30-foot-high wall and has 99 bastions, and several great pols (gateways) jut outward from the battlements. Built of sandstone and extremely brittle, the fort is rumored to be an architectural time bomb, destined to collapse in the face of a particularly aggressive sandstorm. So lovely is this structure that the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was inspired to write a poem Sonar Kila after seeing it; this, in turn, inspired another creative Bengali—Satyajit Ray made a famous film by the same name. Inside the web of tiny lanes are Jain and Hindu temples, palaces, restaurants, shops and charming havelis. The fort is very clean and has a sleepy, time-has-stood-still vibe to it. The seven-story Juna Mahal (Old Palace), built around 1500, towers over the other buildings and is now home to the Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum and Heritage Centre. A visit to the museum is worth the time: enter via the Satiyon ka Pagthiya (Steps of the Satis), where the royal ladies committed sati, self-immolation, when their husbands were slain. Cars and larger vehicles are not allowed in the fort so you most hire an autorickshaw (Rs 50) to take you. The walk up is also pleasant in cool weather.

    Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free. Museum Rs. 300, includes audio tour; camera free; video camera fee Rs. 200. Jain temples Rs. 30, camera fee Rs. 70; video camera fee Rs. 130
  • 4. Lake Pichola

    You can't leave Udaipur without seeing the stunningly romantic Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), which seems to float serenely on the waters of Lake...

    You can't leave Udaipur without seeing the stunningly romantic Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), which seems to float serenely on the waters of Lake Pichola. A vast, white-marble fantasy, the palace has been featured in many Indian and foreign films, including the James Bond film Octopussy. Unfortunately, the palace's apartments, courts, fountains, and gardens are off-limits unless you're a guest at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel. The equally isolated, three-story Jag Mandir Island Palace occupies Jag Mandir Island at the southern end of the lake, and is open to visitors from 10 to 6 (take a boat over). This palace has an elegant restaurant, the Darikhana (it serves Indian and continental cuisine, and is only open for dinner), as well as a more casual all-day café. Built and embellished over a 50-year period beginning in the 17th century, Jag Mandir is made of yellow sandstone, lined with marble, and crowned by a dome. The interior is decorated with arabesques of colored stones. Shah Jahan, son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, took refuge in Jag Mandir after leading an unsuccessful revolt against his father. Legend has it that Shah Jahan's inspiration for the Taj Mahal came from this marble masterpiece. One-hour motorboat cruises (Rs. 430 morning rides, or Rs. 680 for afternoon ride), start at the City Palace including a stop at Jag Mandir, leave from the jetty on the hour (daily 10–6) check for the exact spot at ticket counter; book a day ahead during the busy season.

    Udaipur, Rajasthan, 313001, India
    294-252–8016
  • 5. Mehrangarh Fort

    Military Sight

    This enormous hilltop fort was built by Rao Jodha in 1459, when he shifted his capital from Mandore to Jodhpur. Looking straight down a perpendicular...

    This enormous hilltop fort was built by Rao Jodha in 1459, when he shifted his capital from Mandore to Jodhpur. Looking straight down a perpendicular cliff, the famously impregnable fort, about 500 feet above the city, is an imposing landmark, especially at night, when it's bathed in yellow light. Approach the fort by climbing a steep walkway, passing under no fewer than eight huge gates—if you're not up for the hike, you can take an auto-rickshaw instead for about Rs. 150, or take the elevator (Rs. 35) up two levels from the ticket office. The first gate, the Victory Gate, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his military success against the Mughals at the beginning of the 18th century; the other seven commemorate victories over other Rajput states. The last gate, as in many Rajput forts, displays the haunting handprints of women who immolated themselves after their husbands were defeated in battle. Inside the fort, delicate latticed windows and pierced sandstone screens are the surprising motifs. The palaces—Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace)—and the other apartments are exquisitely decorated; their ceilings, walls, and floors are covered with murals, mirror work, and gilt and you should not miss viewing these chambers. The palace museum has exquisite rooms filled with lavish royal elephant carriages (howdahs), palanquins, thrones, paintings, and even a giant tent. It also has an interesting weapons gallery. From the ramparts there are great views of the city; the blue houses at sunset look magical. Another option is to take a zip-line tour around the fort with Flying Fox; it's not for the fainthearted. The fort is possibly the best-maintained historic property in all Rajasthan, and offers an audio tour with headphones (included in the admission price for foreigners). There are two shops, open 9 to 5, run by the Mehrangarh Trust, that can be accessed without visiting the fort, that sell expensive but very attractive handicrafts. There's also a small craft bazaar that offers a variety of bargains. Apart from the fine-dining rooftop restaurant Mehran Terrace, there are also two cafés serving snacks and drinks where you can stop for a bite or a break. For an extra Rs. 30 one can visit 200-year-old Chokelao Bagh, well-laid out palace gardens.

    Fort Rd., Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 342006, India
    291-254–8790

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 400 (including audio tour and lift); camera fee Rs. 100; video fee Rs. 200; guides for up to 4 people Rs. 225
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  • 6. Ranakpur Jain Temple

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    A three-hour-plus uphill drive on winding roads from Udaipur, the 15th-century Jain Temple at Ranakpur is one of the most stunning examples...

    A three-hour-plus uphill drive on winding roads from Udaipur, the 15th-century Jain Temple at Ranakpur is one of the most stunning examples of Jain temple architecture in the country. It is dedicated to Adinath, also called Rishabha, the first Jain Tirthankar (a holy person who has attained enlightenment and takes rebirth to pass on the knowledge to others), and is a less-crowded, more convenient, and perhaps more impressive alternative to Dilwara at Mount Abu. This white marble temple complex, rising out of the forest, is simply breathtaking. Not surprisingly the temple took 65 years to build. after (legend has it) it appeared in a dream to a minister of the Mewar kings. One of the five holiest places for India's Jains, the three-story temple is surrounded by a three-story wall and contains 27 halls supported by 1,444 elaborately carved pillars—no two carvings are alike. The relief work is some of the best in all of India. Below the temple are underground chambers where statues of Jain saints were hidden to protect them from the Mughals. As you enter, look to the left for the pillar where the minister and the architect provided themselves with front-row seats for worship. On one of the pillars is a carving of the creator of the temple. Another pillar is intentionally warped, to separate human works from divine ones—the builders believed only gods could be perfect, so they intentionally added imperfections to some of the columns to avoid causing insult. Outside are two smaller Jain temples and a shrine adorned with erotic sculptures and dedicated to the sun god. There are a few priests around who speak a little English and who act as guides; in return, you should make a small donation. Leather items—shoes, belts, wallets, and more—are not allowed inside the temple. They request menstruating women not to enter (though many modern Jain women ignore this), and there are strict instructions about dress code. You can use a camera but they do not allow photographs of the deity. Although there are a couple of hotels in the vicinity, Ranakpur is best visited as a day -trip from Udaipur, maybe stopping at Kumbalgarh Fort, 32 km (20 miles) away en route since Ranakpur opens to tourists late in the day.

    Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Temple free; camera free; video-camera fee Rs. 150. Leather not allowed in the temple and can be deposited at the entry counter
  • 7. Ranthambhore National Park

    Park (National/State/Provincial)

    If you want to see a tiger in the wild, Ranthambhore, in the Sawai Madhopur district and once the royal game reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur...

    If you want to see a tiger in the wild, Ranthambhore, in the Sawai Madhopur district and once the royal game reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur, is the best park in Rajasthan to visit. The park (392 square km [151 square miles]) is part of the larger Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve which encompasses 1,334 square km (515 square miles) of rugged terrain bordered by the Chambal and Banas rivers and is home to a vast ecosystem of flora and fauna. To protect the fragile environment only a limited section of both the reserve and the park is open to visitors. Ranthambhore is noted for its tiger and leopard populations, although you still have only a 30% to 40% chance of seeing a large cat on any given expedition. The best time to see tigers is right before the monsoon, in summer, when the tigers emerge to drink at small water holes—when it's dry and the water table is low, the tigers are forced out of hiding to quench their thirst. What you will definitely see are numerous peacocks, sambar (large Asian deer), chital (spotted deer), chinkara (gazelles), nilgai (blue bull or Asian antelope), wild boar, jackals, crocodiles, and often sloth bears. Sighting a wild tiger in Ranthambhore is an exciting experience even if you never come face to face with the king. First, of course, you will hear the jungle sounds that warn of a tiger's presence. Monkeys and peacocks scream loudly and the deer in the area become agitated and nervous. Ranthambhore became a national park in 1972 under the Project Tiger program, which was launched in an effort to save India's dwindling population of Bengal Tigers. Despite stricter conservation efforts that are slowly producing results, the tiger population in Ranthambhore is small: a 2014 census put the park's tiger population at around 61, although the number varies from source to source. Sighting a leopard is much more difficult, as these cats live on high, inaccessible slopes and are extremely shy. The park is run by the Indian government, and the rules are happily inflexible: you can only enter the park in an official government jeep, and the jeeps keep strict hours, daily from 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 3 pm to 6 pm. (the timings may vary by 30 minutes during summer and winter months when the park opens later in the morning). Book a jeep in advance, or online (90 days before), or save yourself the hassle and book through your hotel (it's worth the service charge). Government regulations state that visitors must keep minimum distance of 20 meters from all wildlife (50 meters if you're in a vehicle) and that vehicles may only remain at a sighting point for up to 15 minutes. You can also explore the surrounding region: the 10th-century Ranthambhore Fort, perched on a nearby hill, is one of Rajasthan's more spectacular military strongholds and how the reserve got its name. Dastkar, a craft-and-textile shop on the Ranthambhore Road, is run by a nongovernment legitimate cooperative organization. The government-run heritage Castle Jhoomar Baori (12 rooms and two suites, Rs. 3,600–Rs. 7,500) offers the chance to spend a night near the animals, but little else. It can be booked through Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) offices across the state. A better option is to stay at one of the hotels along Ranthambhore Road and take a morning safari. The neighboring town of Sawai Madhopur has numerous hotels, but most are basic.

    Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India
    7462-220–808-Sawai Madhopur Tourist Information Center

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 1200 per person entry and Rs. 999 jeep charges per head; up to 6 people per jeep; camera or video Rs. 400
  • 8. Albert Hall Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    The oldest museum in Jaipur, inside the Ram Niwas Bagh, is worth a visit just for its breathtaking architecture—the sandstone-and-marble 19th...

    The oldest museum in Jaipur, inside the Ram Niwas Bagh, is worth a visit just for its breathtaking architecture—the sandstone-and-marble 19th-century Indo-Saracenic-style building was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, the father of that movement that merged popular Indian and Victorian architecture of that era, and who was one of Rajasthan's great builders (he built the Rambagh Palace as well). Named in honor of Victoria's son Prince Albert (who became Edward VII) who came visiting shortly after it was built, the exteriors and gardens offer a glimpse of what the then New Jaipur (completed circa 1887) was like. The museum's enormous collection includes folk arts, miniature paintings, textiles pottery, traditional costumes, marble carvings, coins, musical instruments, ivory, and visual explanations of Indian culture and traditions. Filming and photography are allowed at no extra cost. Avoid the weekends when it gets crowded with local tourists.

    In Ram Niwas Gardens, Adarsh Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 302001, India
    141-257–0099

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 150; audio tour Rs. 124; camera free
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  • 9. Bada Bagh

    Garden

    Outside of Jaisalmer proper, on the Ramgarh road, and on the shore of a small artificial lake, this site is home to a collection of picturesque...

    Outside of Jaisalmer proper, on the Ramgarh road, and on the shore of a small artificial lake, this site is home to a collection of picturesque yellowstone cenotaphs (chhatris) of Jaisalmer's Rajput rulers. There are royal cenotaphs in the overgrown gardens as well, with canopies under which members of the royal family are buried. Take your shoes off before climbing up to enter a cenotaph. Notice the beautifully carved ceilings and equestrian statues of the former rulers. This is a half-hour excursion and only worth a look if you have time to spare. Make sure you, or the driver of the vehicle you take, knows the way; incorrect signage on this road can lead to unecessary detours.

    6 km (4 miles) northwest of Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
    2992-252–406

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 50; camera fee Rs. 50; video camera fee Rs. 50
  • 10. Bagore ki Haveli

    Arts/Performance Venue

    It's fun to explore the many rooms and terraces of this elegant 18th-century haveli on Gangaur Ghat. It was built by a prime minister of Mewar...

    It's fun to explore the many rooms and terraces of this elegant 18th-century haveli on Gangaur Ghat. It was built by a prime minister of Mewar. One-hour folk-dance performances are organized every evening at 7 (time may change, so check on arrival)—get there at least 30 minutes early for good seats.

    Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur, Rajasthan, 3130001, India
    294-242–2567

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 50; dance performance Rs. 100; camera fee Rs. 100; video-camera fee Rs. 100
  • 11. Bathing ghats

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Many of the marble bathing ghats on the holy Pushkar Lake—a must-visit—were constructed for pilgrims by royal families who wanted to ensure...

    Many of the marble bathing ghats on the holy Pushkar Lake—a must-visit—were constructed for pilgrims by royal families who wanted to ensure power and prosperity in their kingdoms throughout Rajasthan by appeasing the gods. It is believed that the waters of the lake are healing powers and that the water near different ghats have different powers. There are 52 ghats in all with various degrees of significance. When you pass an entrance to a ghat, be prepared for a priest (or 10) to solicit you by simply offering you a flower—he'll want you to receive a blessing, known as the "Pushkar Passport." He'll lead you to the water's edge, say a prayer, and will ask you to recite a blessing in Sanskrit (you'll repeat after him). Then he'll paste a tilak (rice and colored powder dot) on your forehead and tie a religious red thread (denoting a blessing) to your wrist. After the ceremony, you're expected to give a donation or dakshina: don't give more than Rs. 100 (or you can negotiate the sum as soon as he approaches you). Once you have the passport no other priest will bother you.The ghats get extra busy during auspicious pilgrimage times, especially during the Kartik Purnima, the full moon during the Hindu month of Kartik, around November (also the time of the Pushkar Camel Fair): there may be tens of thousands of people here bathing and getting blessings from local Brahmins. The peaceful parts of the ghats can be accessed from the eastern shore of the lake, close to Sunset Café.Note: The ghats are considered very sacred places, so be sure to follow etiquette—taking off shoes and being respectful.

    Pushkar, Rajasthan, India
  • 12. Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal

    Museum/Gallery

    This folk-art museum displays a collection of puppets, dolls, masks, folk dresses, ornaments, musical instruments, and paintings. The museum...

    This folk-art museum displays a collection of puppets, dolls, masks, folk dresses, ornaments, musical instruments, and paintings. The museum is known for its interesting 7 pm puppet show—this is the reason to come here, because the museum itself is not well maintained.

    About 500 yds. north of Chetak Circle, Panch Batti, near Mohta Park, Udaipur, Rajasthan, 313001, India
    0294-252–9296

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Museum Rs. 45 with camera; evening program Rs. 50 (prices subject to change)
  • 13. Brahma Temple

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    In the center of town, not on the lake, this is one of India's most important temples in spite of its unimpressive architecture and more modern...

    In the center of town, not on the lake, this is one of India's most important temples in spite of its unimpressive architecture and more modern feel post-reconstruction. Although many say it's the sole temple dedicated to Brahma in the world, in reality there are a few others but they are not considered authentic. The building is newer but the shrine dates back to the 14th century. Pilgrims visiting the temple climb a long stairway into the walled area to take the blessings of the god—in the form of small sugar balls. There are varying versions of the legend concerning the temple, but most have to do with Brahma's wife Savitri, who was delayed in attending a special yajna or religious ceremony Brahma was carrying out. Impatient, Brahma married the goddess Gayatri (some say she was a milkmaid), and when Savitri found out, she put a curse on Brahma, declaring that the earth would forget him completely. She then relented, but said that Brahma could only be worshipped in Pushkar. Predawn and post-sunset aartis (special rounds of worship) are held and are atmospheric. Shoes, bags, cameras, and video cameras are not allowed in the temple—it is best to leave in the car with your driver if reliable or back in your hotel and deposit your shoes at the temple shoe stalls (for Rs 20–40). Mind your wallets and phones. Don't think of visiting the inner sanctum of the temple during auspicious festival times but do view from afar.

    Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Opens 6 am (slightly later in winter). Closed 1:30 pm–3 pm and after 9 pm
  • 14. Chittaurgarh

    Notable Building

    If any one of Rajasthan's many forts perched grandly on a hill were to be singled out for its glorious history and chivalric lore, it would...

    If any one of Rajasthan's many forts perched grandly on a hill were to be singled out for its glorious history and chivalric lore, it would be Chittaurgarh. It's also gargantuan in size, and there's plenty to explore on a day-trip from Udaipur. This was the capital of the Mewar princely state from the 8th to the 16th centuries, before Maharana Udai Singh moved the capital to Udaipur, and the sprawling hilltop fort occupies roughly 700 acres on a hill about 300 feet high. It was besieged and sacked three times: after the first two conquests, the Rajputs recovered it, but the third attack clinched it for the Mughals for several decades. The first attack took place in 1303, when the Sultan of Delhi Allauddin Khilji became so enamored of the wife of then-king Rawal Ratan Singh, legendary beauty Rani Padmini, that he set out to attack the fort and win her in battle. Some 34,000 warriors lost their lives in this struggle, but the Sultan did not get Padmini: she and all the women in the fort committed jauhar—mass self-immolation—in anticipation of widowhood and assaults by invading armies. Frustrated, Khilji entered the city in a rage, looting and destroying much of what he saw. Chittaurgarh was also the home of the saint-poet Mirabai, a 16th-century Rajput princess and devotee of Lord Krishna who gave up her royal life to sing bhajans (hymns) in his praise. The massive fort encompasses the palaces of the 15th-century ruler Rana Kumbha, where Udaipur's founder Udai Singh was born, as well as tiny picturesque palace of Rani Padmini surrounded by a small lake and some pleasant gardens. Legend has it that Khilji fell in love with Padmini by gazing at her reflection in the pond in front of her palace. The magic of this fort is to visit her palace and actually visually recreate that very famous scene of history. Also worth visiting in the fort are the victory towers—the ornate Vijay Stambh and Kirti Stambh —and a huge variety of temples, including Kunbha Shyam, Kalika Mata, and the Meera temple associated with the devotional poetess Mirabai. The Fateh Prakash Mahal displays some fine sculptures. Plan to spend at least half a day in Chittaurgarh. Note that the sites are spread out and it can get quite sunny, so you may want to drive between some points and it is best to hire an auto-rickshaw to do the circuit (about Rs. 300). You can find a guide for Rs. 200 by the Rampole entrance to the fort or near the Rana Kumbha.

    , Rajasthan, India
    147-224–1089
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  • 15. Chokhi Dhani

    Museum Village

    About a 45-minute drive from Jaipur, this large replica cultural village includes a huge buffet meal in the admission price, consisting of pretty...

    About a 45-minute drive from Jaipur, this large replica cultural village includes a huge buffet meal in the admission price, consisting of pretty much every regional vegetarian dish you can imagine as well as a huge selection of sugary desserts. Come hungry and expect to sit on benches or on the floor in a lantern-lit hut to eat. If you are uncomfortable sitting on the floor there is inside seating at chairs and tables in a/c comfort. Performance tents and clearings around the compound host a vibrant Rajasthani pageant—traditional dances, including the dramatic fire dance, folk singing, katputli (puppet shows), and juggling. Tipping is discouraged. Camel and elephant rides are available for an extra fee, and there are plenty of vendors selling every type of Rajasthani tchotchke under the sun; salesmen can be irritatingly pushy. There's a less interesting hotel on-site, although not in authentic village style—it's much more luxurious—and its restaurant and bar, serving regular Indian fare, offer an alternative to the buffet. It gets very busy at weekends and holidays.

    Tonk Rd., 19 km (12 miles) south of Jaipur via town of Vatika, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 303905, India
    141-516–5000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 500 alfresco and Rs. 700 a/c, including dinner and cultural show, 5:30 pm–11 pm
  • 16. City Palace

    Castle/Palace

    The sprawling maharana's palace—the largest in Rajasthan—stands on a ridge overlooking the lake and the view of the city and Lake Palace from...

    The sprawling maharana's palace—the largest in Rajasthan—stands on a ridge overlooking the lake and the view of the city and Lake Palace from the top is one great reason to come here. Begun by Udai Singh and extended by subsequent maharanas, the sand-color City Palace rises five stories tall, with a series of balconies. Cupolas crown its octagonal towers, which are connected by a maze of narrow passageways. The City Palace is part of a complex of palaces—two have been converted to hotels and one houses the current titular maharana, Arvind Singh of Mewar. Part of the palace houses a museum; its entrance is near the Jagdish Mandir; the entrance to the City Palace Hotel is at the bottom of the hill, to the south. The rooms inside the City Palace Museum contain decorative art: beautiful paintings, colorful enamel, inlay glasswork, and antique furniture. One of the more interesting features is the private bathroom of the maharaja on the third floor which has a tree growing nearby and a grand padded toilet seat. It's useful to have the explanatory site publication, available in the book shop, or get an audio guide at the admission point. The hour-long sound-and-light show held at the palace's Manek Chowk chronicles the history of the House of Mewar. The English-language version is shown from Sepetember to March at 8pm (April to August it is in Hindi), but check ahead, as timings can change without notice.

    City Palace Complex, Udaipur, Rajasthan, 313001, India
    0294-252–8016

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 100, or Rs. 275 with audio guide; camera fee Rs. 225; video fee Rs 225
  • 17. City Palace

    Pink City | Castle/Palace

    This complex of pavilions, courtyards, and chambers was begun by Jai Singh II in 1727, and wings were added by later maharajas. If you're standing...

    This complex of pavilions, courtyards, and chambers was begun by Jai Singh II in 1727, and wings were added by later maharajas. If you're standing in the outer courtyard, the marble and sandstone building directly in front of you is the Mubarak Mahal (Guest Pavilion), built by Maharaja Madho Singh in the late 19th century. Now a museum, it's an ideal place to admire at close range some of the royals' finest brocades, silks, and hand-blocked garments and robes, many made in nearby Sanganer and some dating from as far back as the 17th century. The collection also includes musical instruments. The armory in the northwest corner of the courtyard has one of India's best collections of arms and weapons, including an 11-pound sword belonging to Akbar's Rajput general. Some of the paints used on the beautiful, 18th-century ceiling are believed to have been made from crushed semiprecious stones. The Bhaggi Khana (carriage museum) offers a peek into the royal family's horse-drawn vehicles and palanquins. In the inner courtyard, through the gateway guarded by two stone elephants, is the art gallery, housed in the cavernous Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). Built in the late 18th century, the building has a magnificent, vintage-1930s painted ceiling, rows of gray marble columns inside the courtyard, the second-largest chandelier in India, and two silver pots so large that they are mentioned in the Guiness Book of World Records. The art includes scores of miniatures from the Mughal and various Rajput schools, rare manuscripts, and 17th-century carpets from the Amber Palace. From the inner courtyard, enter the Zenana (ladies') courtyard on the left to see the seven-story Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace). Built by Jai Singh II, this attractive cream-colored building was the official residence of the last maharaja, "Bubbles" (bestowed that nickname by his British nanny because of the amount of champagne that was consumed when he was born in 1931)—Lieutenant Colonel Sawai Bhawani Singh—who passed away in 2011; his family still lives on the upper floors. The ground floor, that is open to visitors, has sumptuous chandeliers, murals, and a painting of an old maharaja. A "Royal Grandeur" tour is available for Rs. 2,500, taking you close, but not quite into, the royal family's quarters and their guest rooms. It takes a few hours to tour this palace. There's a well-priced Palace Cafe attached, that's open till 5 pm, offering quick bites and lunches—Chinese, Indian, a few types of pasta, and even beer or a glass of wine. Watch out for touts claiming that you need a guide to tour the palace—you don't. There are official guides available for Rs. 200 and audio guides for Rs. 90 in eight languages at the ticket window.

    Center of the Old City, enter the complex at the Virendra Pole gate, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 302001, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Palace Rs. 300; camera free; video-camera Rs. 200
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  • 18. Dargah Sharif

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The shrine of the 13th-century Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty is in the heart of Ajmer, a city about 11 km (7 miles) southeast of Pushkar...

    The shrine of the 13th-century Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty is in the heart of Ajmer, a city about 11 km (7 miles) southeast of Pushkar. The shrine is very significant for South Asian Muslims—visiting it means the chance to set your soul free eternally—and is visited by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The busiest time is during Urs, the anniversary of the saint's death, which takes place during six days in the Islamic month of Rajab starting with the day of the full moon. The custom when you visit this shrine is to offer flowers, sugar balls, beads, and a chaadar (ornate scarf)—the beads and sweets will be blessed and given back to you. Sufiism is a more mystical and less austere aspect of Islam that is embraced vigorously in these parts. Be prepared to deal with crowds and aggressive beggars on the street leading to the dargah whenever you visit. Ajmer itself isn't much of a destination, so most people bypass it on their way to Pushkar, then backtrack for a half-day visit to the shrine; the drive to Ajmer to Pushkar is scenic and descends through some minor hills offering views of Ajmer and its lake. The shrine is located at the end of a narrow lane and is not very accessible. Have the driver (if you have a car) park on the wider main road and hire an auto (tuk tuk) for Rs. 150 or so (let the driver negotiate a price, if possible) to take you to the dargah and back. Shoes, purses, rucksacks, cameras, and video cameras are not allowed in the dargah—it is best to leave those items in the car with your driver (if reliable) and deposit your shoes at the shrine shoe stalls (for Rs. 50, and you get a basket of flowers to offer inside). Mind your wallets and phones. Women and men need to cover their heads inside the shrine and must be dressed appropriately (no skirts, shorts, sleeveless tops). Don't think of visiting the inner sanctum of the dargah during the Urs but do view from afar. There's a lot of rush at the weekends and during holidays, especially towards evening, but do stop by to hear devotees banding together and sitting down in the couryard to sing qawwalis, lovely devotional sufi music, from about 6 pm onwards. While you're here, the 19th-century Nasiyan Temple is worth a visit as well: the detailed display depicting the Jain story of the world's creation inside the temple is mesmerizing. It's near Agra Gate, or just ask people how to find the Jain temple.

    Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
  • 19. Deeg

    Town/Village

    Built in the 1730s, Deeg, which featured in Siddhartha (the 1972 film of Herman Hesse's novel) was the first capital of the Jat state and...

    Built in the 1730s, Deeg, which featured in Siddhartha (the 1972 film of Herman Hesse's novel) was the first capital of the Jat state and is known for its graceful palaces and gardens, complete with swings and ancient fountains. Indian families find this a charming location for a picnic. Check with your hotel about the condition of the fountains—mostly they are not working and the lake is dirty. The Jal Mahal (water palace) has fountains that are run to musical accompaniment during certain days in August when the local fair is held. The 18th-century redstone palace here was once used as a royal summer retreat and is rather arresting; it is surrounded by water.

    34 km (21 miles) north of Bharatpur, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India
    946-073–9803

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 100 with camera; Rs. 50 for video
  • 20. Desert Culture Centre

    Museum/Gallery

    Near Gadsisar Lake, this small museum is run by local historian and teacher NK Sharma, who also runs the Folklore Museum, and admission to this...

    Near Gadsisar Lake, this small museum is run by local historian and teacher NK Sharma, who also runs the Folklore Museum, and admission to this interesting anthropological museum is included in the Folklore Museum entry fee (the two museums are slowly merging and will be in the same building in the future, so check before you visit). The culture centre has a collection of artifacts about music, culture, and life in the desert including camel decorations and an interesting opium-mixing box. They host daily puppet shows at 6:30, with another at 7:30 pm during peak season.

    Gadsisar Circle, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, 34500, India
    2992-253–723

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 50 and includes entry to puppet show (free with admission to Folklore Museum); camera Rs. 50

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