We recently took a trip to Rajasthan for a week and visited Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. While there are a lot of places to see and cover, one could do only so much in a day. So I am writing about the things we did.
The best time to visit Rajasthan will be in the months of October to February as summer can be unbearably hot. We travelled from Bangalore. We flew to Jaipur first and our return flight was from Udaipur.
Here is our itinerary: As we were traveling with young kids, we took it slow and rested wherever possible. Most of the places close by 5pm. so plan accordingly.
Day 1: Jaipur
(Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Amer/Amber Fort, Jal Mahal, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort)
Day 2: Travel to Jodhpur via Ajmer and Pushkar
(Visit Ajmer Dargah and Pushkar Temple)
Day 3: Visit Jodhpur and after lunch, travel to Osian Desert
(Jodhpur Mehrangarh fort and Museum, Jaswant Thada, Osian Desert camp)
Day 4: Travel to Udaipur via Ranakpur (detour)
(Ranakpur Jain Temple)
Day 5: Udaipur
Lake Pichola and City Palace
Day 6: More Udaipur and Shopping 🙂
Monsoon Palace and shopping at Hathipole Bazaar
Day One: Jaipur
Hawa Mahal : Timings – 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
We visited Hawa Mahal after breakfast. This is the very landmark of pink city Jaipur located amidst the chaos of Johari Bazaar. The entire lanes / by lanes in the area is painted in pink (actually the color of terracota). I believe there is a government rule which prohibits the house / shop owners to use any other color to paint their outer walls. People also say that all the walls are painted in pink so they become invisible at night to protect them from enemies. Hawa Mahal is a five storied complex built in the 17th century. It was primarily built for the royal ladies to watch the happenings / processions outside without being seen from the outside. There are no steps in the buliding complex inside but only ramps to reach different floors. It is said that the royal ladies could not walk up due to the heavy (heaviest:)) jewelry they wore and so they were moved using a chair on the ramp. There are a lot of small windows through which one can see the road. Atop Hawa Mahal, you get the view of the city. You will need about an hour to see this place.
City Palace: Timings – 9.30 AM – 5.00 PM
Next we walked to city palace. Hawa Mahal and City Palace are very nearby and walk-able. Its about 400 metres. A part of the city palace is still the home of the current royals and they live here. The place is very vast with courtyards, gardens and halls. You will need a couple of hours to visit this place. It is magnificient.
There are four gates inside the palace representing the four seasons with intricate paintings.
After lunch, we decided to go to Amer Fort also called as the Amber fort.
Amber Fort: Timings – 8am – 5:30pm followed by a sound and light show in the evening at 6:00 pm.
Big vehicles like 10+ seat tempo travellers etc.. will not go till the top of the fort as the roads are very narrow. So you need to hire a jeep after reaching there. They charge Rs.500 per jeep (round trip) with a wait time on the fort for one hour to one and half hours. The rate doubles if you decide to stay for more time at the fort. A word of caution on that.
The fort was built by Raja Man singh who ruled the city of Amer. Ganesh Pol gate was magnificent and the views are fantastic from here. The paintings you see on the inside are spectacular and made with vegetable dyes. Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace) located inside is so beautiful and one should not miss that. Amer Fort is one of the biggest forts in Jaipur. If you do not have time to visit all the forts, then pick this one. It is the magnificent one of them all.
Jaigarh Fort – Timing – 9:30am–4:45pm
After Amer Fort we visited Jal Mahal as it is on the way to Jaigarh fort. You cannot go inside but just get a view of the submerged palace. Jaigarh Fort is around 10-15 minute drive from Amer Fort. While its not as big as Amer Fort, its charming in its own way.
Nahargarh Fort – Timing 10am–6pm
For sunset we went to Nahargarh Fort which is around 20 minute drive from Jaigarh fort. Many people told us that the sunset in Nahargarh is a sight to watch and should not be missed. It was true. It was our first sunset in Rajasthan and the view was truly worth it.
Here is some more pictures of Nahargarh Sunset. If you are pressed for time, atleast do one sunset at one of the forts.
So that was our Day 1 in Jaipur. We missed Jantar Mantar. If you have time, do include it in your itinerary.
Today was our travel day to Jodhpur. We drove via Pushkar and Ajmer. The Pushkar Temple and Ajmer Dargah are both very famous places of spiritual significance. If you have very young children / infants, I would recommend you to skip Ajmer Dargah as its heavily crowded and the crowd management is poor. In Pushkar temple, the guides might be aggressive to get you to do pooja in the lake and ask for donations for the temple. So a word of caution on that too. It was my first time in a Dargah and it was a completely different experience. We reached Jodhpur after several chai breaks and dinner.
Mehrangarh Fort : Timings – 9am–5pm
After breakfast we started to Mehrangarh Fort. This is the best maintained fort according to me and there are elevators to get you to the top. Its one of the tallest forts too! The fort is magnanimous and you will need at least a couple of hours to see this place. The fort also has a fantastic museum and not to mention, the clean toilets.:) There are hotels inside if you want to take a break and for shopping too!
The view from the fort is fantastic. Jodhpur – the blue city.
After Mehrangarh fort, we visited Jaswant Thada and then travelled to Osian. Other places of interest in Jodhpur are Umaid Bhavan Palace hotel, Balsamand Lake, Mandor Garden to name a few.
Osian is about a couple of hours drive from Jodhpur. Osian is a part of the Thar desert. There are a lot of camps in Osian. After reaching the camp, you might want to take a jeep safari (to see the sand dunes) or a camel safari if you have children. The people running the camps can arrange for the same. The view of the dunes is not as spectacular as you might find in places like Jaisalmer but you can spend a nice quiet evening here. The camps usually have traditional Rajasthani dance and cultural programmes in the evening and you can unwind your evening nicely.
Sunset in Osian
Today was a long travel day to Udaipur. While travelling between Jodhpur and Udaipur, there are two places of interest. The Ranakpur Jain temple and the kumbhalgarh fort. Kumbhalgarh fort walls are the second largest after the great wall of China. It runs for a distance of around 36 kilometres with the width of the wall ranging from 15 – 25 feet. As we had seen a lot of forts, we settled for the beautiful marble temple of Ranakpur.
Ranakpur Temple Timing : 12 noon to 5 pm. – Pants are a must for all and shorts are not allowed in the temple. No leather products / animal products will be allowed inside the temple. There is also a heavy charge to carry the phone / camera. So decide what to take inside before leaving the car.
Ranakpur Jain Temple has some of the best marble carvings that are so intricate that you can spend hours here.
This is very interesting sculpture found in the ceiling of Ranakpur Jain Temple. The famous one head – five body dancing lady sculpture
The marble pillars of Ranakpur
After Ranakpur, we headed to Udaipur.
The drive was amazing. One can truly see the landscapes changing in front of you. After passing the ghats and reaching Abu road on NH 27, it was so green that it was hard to believe that it was Rajasthan too! We reached in the evening to our hotel in Udaipur and got into the pool to spend the rest of the evening.
Lake Pichola and Boat Ride – Timings – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
We started off with a boat ride in Lake Pichola after breakfast. The landscape of Udaipur is completely different from that of Jaipur and Jodhpur. Udaipur was the best according to me of all the three. The boat ride takes you to city palace, jag mandir and through different restaurants by the lake.
Udaipur City Palace – Timing – 9:30am–5:30pm
After the boat ride, we went to Udaipur city palace. Lake Pichola and City palace are nearby at walkable distance. You will need a good 2-3 hours to visit Udaipur city palace. The current royal family live in a part of the palace. The palace also has a beautiful museum showcasing silverware and memorabilia.
We had plans of visiting the queens garden (saheliyon ki bari) but as the children were tired, we returned to the hotel. There are a lot more places to see and do in Udaipur. Do google it and decide what may be best for you. The other places of interest in the city are Jag Mandir, Fatehsagar lake, Ahar Cenotaphs, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, Ambrai Ghat to name a few.
Monsoon Palace – Timings – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
We visited monsoon palace after breakfast. Monsoon palace is also called as the Sajjangarh Fort. The palace is small but the views of the aravalli hills is breathtaking.
Big vehicles like 10+ seat tempo travellers etc.. will not go till the top of the palace as the roads are very narrow. So you need to hire a jeep after reaching there. The best time to visit the fort will be for sunset.
The view of the aravalli range is breathtaking from the top.
While the guides and drivers may want to take you to different places where they manufacture gem stones or to places where they do traditional block printing on fabrics (banana leaf printing etc…), my advise would be to avoid them. It is not worth it. Head straight to Hathipole Bazaar in Udaipur. While I am not much of a shopping person, our driver took us to a couple of shops (Alibaba etc…) that were over priced. The same goods were found in Hathipole for at-least 30% – 40% less. Be very careful while buying expensive silverware, jewelry etc… as many products may be fake.
After shopping, our trip came to an end and we went to the airport. It takes a good one hour to reach Udaipur airport. So plan accordingly. Very few people speak English. If you know Hindi, its a plus. Here is something that happened in one of the hotels. We were three families and in the morning, one of our friends ordered a tea.The conversation is something like this.
Our friend : I want one Chai. Please give it in my room.
Room Service: blah blah blah (we dont know what he asked)
Our friend : Yes. I want the tea now. Please send it.
Room Service : blah blah blah “now tea?”
Our friend : Yes. Thats correct. i want tea now. “NOW TEA!”
After some time came nine teas!!!! 🙂 “Now” means nine in hindi!!!!
And I am not making this up. This happened in Jaipur. Udaipur is ok. People understand a bit of English.
“Ek Gau mein Ek kisan” Tamil + Hindi was super difficult to manage with. Our guides were our children who are first generation Hindi learners. It was a fun experience though.
The entire trip was organised by one of my best friends and college mate Nannaba Shawkar who runs a travel company now. I have taken almost all my trips through him and he is the best. I recommend him if you are planning a trip. We usually select the places / itinerary and Nannaba arranges for the stay, transportation etc… He nowadays does not pick up my call as I torture him a lot for my travels. If you call him, be cautious to use my name as he might cut the call on hearing that I referred. Jokes aside, he is one of the honest tour operators I have come across who will make sure that you are cared for till your flight lands in your home town.
You can reach him at [email protected]
His phone numbers are 91 – 89399 – 99786 / 91 – 87787 – 57798
Hope you enjoyed my travel diary.
Until next time,