The Other Rajasthan
Rajasthan, one of the most popular destinations in India, has always been synonymous with dramatic forts, opulent palaces and gracious hospitality. And almost every traveller to Rajasthan zeroes in on the pink city of Jaipur, Udaipur- the city of lakes, Jodhpur and the golden fort at Jaisalmer- all very interesting cities with a wide variety of attractions. But there’s also another Rajasthan waiting to be discovered by the discerning traveller; the real Rajasthan that lives and breathes in small towns and little villages, only a few hours out of the big cities. Still unsullied by the spectre of mass tourism, where gracious hosts personally welcome you into their three hundred year old homes- lovingly restored forts and palaces now operating as beautiful boutique hotels. Where peacocks greet you as you step out with your morning cup of tea.
A winning combination of the two gives you the opportunity to experience the best of the state. We recently did such a trip, driving 2500 kilometres in 18 days. So here’s an itinerary for the other Rajasthan that’s designed for people who are interested in a more authentic experience.
ITINERARY (14 nights)
Day 1: Jaipur
Arrive into Jaipur by midday. Transfer to your hotel. A short city orientation tour in the evening followed by dinner at the Spice Court restaurant which serves some great traditional fare as well as international dishes, and then back to your hotel. Overnight Jaipur.
Day 2: Jaipur
A full day to discover the delights of the Pink City. A guided tour which covers the Amber Fort (including an elephant ride up to the ramparts), the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace complex and museum and the amazing 16th century observatory, Jantar Mantar. The evening is free to wander through the bazaars or to visit Chokhi Dhani- an ethnic restaurant a few kilometres outside the city which authentically recreates the ambience of a Rajasthani village. Overnight Jaipur.
Day 3: Jaipur - Ranthambore National Park
Early breakfast and checkout. Drive 3 hours to the Ranthambore National Park for a chance to see the majestic tiger in its natural habitat. Check in at your hotel, and after lunch, leave for a three hour safari into the deciduous forest which abounds in the tiger and its prey- nilgai, sambhar, swamp deer, the elusive leopard and plenty of bird life. Return to your hotel. Dinner and overnight Ranthambore.
Day 4: Ranthambore National Park
Another early morning safari into the forest to spot wildlife. Return in time for a hearty breakfast. You could either take another safari in the afternoon or visit the impressive Ranthambore Fort in the middle of the forest. Dinner and overnight Ranthambore.
Day 5: Ranthambore - Bundi
Check out after breakfast. Drive 3 hours to Bundi, a charming little town reminiscent of Pushkar a few years ago and dominated by a beautiful palace-fort. Bundi has a rich tradition of miniature painting and you can find some great bargains in the little shops on the street. The artists can even make a flattering painting of you dressed as a maharaja or maharani! The fort is lit up beautifully at night and the view from your rooftop restaurant is spellbinding. Overnight Bundi.
Day 6: Bundi - Bijaipur
Check out after breakfast and drive 3 hours to Castle Bijaipur. The impressive fort at Chittorgarh and the 11th century temple ruins at Menal are a small but worthwhile detour. Castle Bijaipur is a lovely 16th century fortified castle with charming, spacious rooms- some with private sitouts, a cozy courtyard where folk musicians entertain you before dinner and a great host in Rao Narendra Singh. You can walk out into the village in perfect safety or enjoy the pool. The castle itself has lots of nooks and crannies to explore and a small but interesting gift shop. Overnight Castle Bijaipur.
Day 7: Bijaipur & Pangarh
After breakfast, drive about 45 minutes to Bijaipur’s tented property by a huge lake- Pangarh. Spend the afternoon sitting under the huge mango tree with a book or pick up your binoculars to spot the many bird species that flock to the lake. You could spend the night in the comfortable tents here, or return to the castle for the night.
Day 8: Bijaipur - Udaipur
Check out after breakfast and drive 2 hours to Udaipur. Check into your hotel. In the evening take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, visit the Jag Mandir complex and return to your hotel for dinner in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the fabled Lake Palace or visit the Amrai restaurant at Amet Haveli for a great meal at the edge of the lake. Overnight Udaipur.
Day 9: Udaipur
A full day to discover the delights of Udaipur. Visit the City Palace and museum, Sahelion ki Bari, Shilpgram where local artists and artisans display their wares and Sajjangarh, the Monsoon Palace with a great view of the city. Overnight Udaipur.
Day 10: Udaipur - Sardargarh
Drive 3 hours to Sardargarh palace. A short detour to the 10th century temple ruins at Nagda is an opportunity to see some lovely carvings, including some erotic carvings, a la Khajuraho. Sardargarh is a gorgeous property overlooking a lake and is said to be the inspiration for the design of the Lake Palace at Udaipur. Lovingly restored, immaculately clean with excellent service and an eye for detail, each of the 22 suites is beautiful and each suite has a great view of the countryside. Take a jeep safari after dinner. If you’re lucky, you could spot a leopard. Or you could choose to have high tea at the lake with a great view of the setting sun. Overnight Sardargarh.
Day 11: Sardargarh - Chanoud Garh
Drive 3 hours to another lovely 300 year old fort hotel- the historic Chanoud Garh. The fort has 7 delightful suites, a high-ceilinged durbar hall, and the rooftop terrace is a great place for a candle lit dinner. High tea at sunset on the salt pans at Unam, about 15 kilometers away, is an experience not to be missed. Overnight Chanoud Garh.
Day 12: Chanoud Garh - Jodhpur
Drive three hours to Jodhpur. Check into your hotel. Visit the imposing Mehrangarh Fort after lunch. The museum in the fort is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, fabrics, paintings and weaponry. Visit the clock tower and wander through the bazaars in the evening. Overnight Jodhpur.
Day 13: Jodhpur - Khimsar
Drive 3 hours to the Khimsar Fort, an oasis of luxury bordering the Thar Desert. Built in the 16th century, Khimsar Fort has been awarded the National Grand Heritage Award for Excellence. With its sprawling lawns, ancient ruins, palatial rooms and peerless service, it's eminently lovable. Overnight Khimsar Fort.
Day 14: Khimsar
Transfer to the Khimsar Dunes- 16 'huts' with all the creature comforts built around a small man-made lake in the lee of some pristine dunes. Enjoy high tea at sunset on the top of the dune. Overnight The Dunes, Khimsar.
Day 15: Khimsar - Jodhpur & onward
After breakfast, drive two hours to Jodhpur airport to take your flight to your next destination.
Prices start from 4250$ per person on twin sharing basis
Booking & Cancellation Policy
Meet and assist at arrival and departure
14 nights' accommodation with breakfast and taxes
All surface transport by private a/c car with driver, fuel, tolls and taxes.
Guided city tours
Elephant ride at Amber Fort
Full board and 2 jungle safaris at Ranthambore
Boat ride on Lake Pichola at Udaipur
Meals other than breakfast and full board at Ranthambore
Personal expenses like telephone calls, laundry, beverages, etc
Entrances and camera fees at monuments
Tips and gratuities to drivers, guides and hotel staff
GST @ 5%
Driving through the sleepy village of Bijaipur leaves you quite unprepared for the imposing grandeur of the massive arched gateway that leads into Castle Bijaipur, a 16th century structure, lovingly restored by the Rao Saheb. If you’re a horse lover or a yoga practitioner, you could easily spend a week here riding in the countryside on a Marwari horse or doing yoga in the peaceful surroundings.
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