Rajasthan tour has been my fantasy since the day I ventured out for my first solo. The history of the state not only attracts me, but the colorful pictures depicted through various Bollywood movies and Indian TV series has equally captivated me. Thanks to an impromptu invitation to a wedding and combining it with a group of travel-minded friends, I was finally able to make my dream happen. And people, there is no greater joy than making your dream successful. Through my 10 days travelogue through half of Rajasthan, these are the lessons that I learnt:
1)Solo travel is always a commendable venture. But when you travel with friends, especially those who have similar kind of thinking and passions, the right vibe, the trip becomes more memorable.
2) Best time to travel in Rajasthan is always going to be during the autumn/winter time. The cold will seem harsh for those who are unaccustomed to it. But it is nothing compared to the heat of the sun. One advise; DO NOT forget your moisturizer or your sunscreen, irrespective of which season you are going in. Unlike our foreign tourists, we do not tan into a golden rosy glowing beings. I am still trying to regain my fairer complexion back. My mother shed numerous tears after seeing my current complexion.
3) If you are traveling for a duration more than a week, you will have to mind your budget. Do not discount youth hostels as smelly, small or disreputable due to crowd it attracts.
4) Rajasthan is definitely beautiful. Rustic, historic, glorified and wild. Unfortunately everything that you want to see is at least at a distance of more than 100 kilometers. So while calculating your budget prior to the trip, set aside a separate traveling expense sheet. Download Red Bus and Oyo Rooms apps on your phone. Red Bus literally saves you from the hassle of queues, uncouth agents and over priced tour companies. Saves time, effort and are kind enough to give you good deals.
5) It is always good to have an itinerary planned before the trip. The option of flexibility helps in adapting to sudden changes. Lonely Planet travel guides are always helpful. If you like doing things on your own, there are numerous blogs and forums out there who can give you ideas about how to do it, and what to do exactly. I have this crazy diary with stickers and flyers sticking out of it.
This is my guide… my soulmate!!! Yes you heard me right!! It does give action after all 😉
6) Rajasthan is renowned for its rich culture, art and heritage. Every moment during your Rajasthan tour needs to be captured. But I think, My favorite part about Rajasthan would be the Doors – brightly, bejeweled, fashionable and yet with an old school charm, sturdy with the strength of past and present behind it. There is something unique about the doors that I have witnessed during my Rajasthan tour. So don’t forget to keep your camera/ phone charged and ready and keep clicking. Every corner will reveal a new set of pictures.
7) There is something very characteristic about the cities of Rajasthan. Every city has been color coded based on reasons that is entrenched in history and tradition.
Jaipur is called as the Pink City because of the color of the stone that is used to construct all the structures. According to literature in history books, when Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited Rajasthan in 1876, the whole city of Jaipur was painted in pink color as a sign of welcome to the guests. The tradition has been sincerely followed by the residents, who by law, are compelled to maintain the pink color.
Udaipur is commonly referred to as City of Lakes, but not many people are aware of how the city has been coded as the White City. While the locals associate it with a notion of purity, literature talks about the marble quarries and how the lakes reflect the light.
Jaisalmer, on the other hand, is located at a close proximity to the Thar Desert. Due to the abundance of the yellow sandstone as well as the sand, most of the buildings appear golden, and hence the name The Golden City.
Jodhpur gives a sublime impression of a Greek city; however, coming to the gritty details of the reason behind this color, some locals claim that the reason was based on class system that was started in India and the blue color distinguishes the Brahmins (or the upper class) from the rest of the population. Some people talk about the termite infestation that exists and the distinct dye helps in solving the problem.
So make sure to catch a panoramic view of the color coded cities of Rajasthan. It definitely adds color to all your albums. I missed out on Jaipur an Jodhpur, but trust me I am regretting it like anything.
8) Rajasthan is a heaven for foodies. The food is primarily vegetarian, but each morsel is perfectly balanced and is cooked in pure ghee. The cooking style followed reflects the natural climatic conditions of this desert land. Due to the scarcity of water and fresh green veggies, which is basically the primary ingredient when it comes to cooking, most of the food is prepared using milk, butter milk and butter in large quantities. So do not miss out on the food, just because you are busy gawking around.
9) If you are not a fan of history and art and architecture, Rajasthan is not for you. Oh I am not dissuading you from visiting the place. But after seeing palaces and forts, and especially after traveling overnight in crowded buses, to see more forts and palaces, it does get slightly tedious.
Each fort/ palace has its own history; its own grandeur to captivate you. Some will just leave you awestruck, while others will make you think of how you have been duped into paying more. But all of them will leave behind a lasting impression.
Last but not the least….
10) Overall you will be welcomed with open hearts and arms at Rajasthan. he state truly embodies the word welcome. But the love and affection is more for the foreign tourists than the Indian visitors. For instance, when we were in Jaisalmer, we decided to explore the town on foot and stretch our legs after spending one day on camel. We across a local bridal party who initially got excited seeing us from a distance and decided to converse with us in English. But the moment they realised that we are actually Indians, they did a 360 turn in their attitude and moved forward.
In conclusion, no matter how many days you travel or how many places you tick off from your checklist, it is never going to be enough. You can never completely finish completing your trip through Rajasthan. There are way too many places and way too many things to see. And every place has something new to add up to your experience.