Home #WHERETONEXT India Rajasthan, India: A Magical Realm of History, Beauty, And Grand Architecture

Rajasthan, India: A Magical Realm of History, Beauty, And Grand Architecture

Your Complete Guide to A Hassle-Free Odyssey in Rajasthan


The northern Indian state of Rajasthan— “the land of Kings”— is one of India’s most visited tourist destinations.

Known for its opulent palaces, exquisite Havelis (medieval Indian mansions), royal grandeur, towering forts, succulent cuisine, exciting festivals, tremendous hospitality, and quaint old-warm charm, Rajasthan is a traveler’s delight. With so many delightful attractions on offer, Rajasthan is featured on almost all popular tourist itineraries to India.

In this all-encompassing but concise guide, we will give you a complete run-down of all you need to know about your maiden tour to Rajasthan crafted by local travel experts.

Getting There

Rajasthan is well-connected with the rest of the world through its international and domestic airports in Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jodhpur. Many major airlines run frequent routes to Jaipur International Airport (JAI).

If you are arriving in India via Delhi, Jaipuris easily accessible by road (5 hours’ drive/306km) and by train from the national capital and Udaipur or Jodhpur are just a short flight away (1.5 HRS).

Trains run from all major parts of India to Rajasthan.

Terrain, Climate & The Best Time to Visit

Rajasthan’s topography is diverse in every sense of the word— a heady mix of deserts, plains, mountains, and lakes.

The Western part of the state is characterized by the Great Indian Desert (Thar), famous for its rolling sand dunes, arid landscapes, and urban oasis like the “Golden City” Jaisalmer.

Many of Rajasthan’s great cities and wildlife destinations like Jaipur, Ajmer, Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park), and Bharatpur (Keoladeo National Park) are located in the Eastern plains.

The Aravalli Mountain Range that runs through the state provides respite from the heat and humidity of the plains and the desert and is home to many picturesque lakes and the “City of Lakes” Udaipur.

The best time to visit Rajasthan is in winter (October-March). Temperatures range from 50 °F to 82 °F—ideal for outdoor travel. It is also a time of the year when many of Rajasthan’s famous festivals like the Pushkar Camel Festival, Jaisalmer’s Desert Festival, and the Jaipur Literature and Film Festivals are held.

Summer and Monsoon (April-September) can get quite intense with mercury going past 100 °F. But that is also the ideal time for tiger spotting and wildlife safaris in Ranthambore National Park (Open till 30th June only).

Must-Visit Destinations in Rajasthan

  1. Jaipur— “Paris of India”

The capital of Rajasthan is known as the “Paris of India” due to its royal charm, enchanting palaces, grand architecture, and rich heritage of the former Kingdom of Jaipur.

Things to Do in Jaipur

  • Marvel at the Grand City Palace —the seat of the Kingdom of Jaipur and residence of the Maharaja and houses some fascinating museums.
  • Visit the Amber and Nahargarh Forts that protected the city for centuries.
  • Hawa Mahal (“Palace of the Winds”)
  • Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory
  • Retail Therapy in thecity’s old bazaars: Johari, Tripolia, Chandpol and Nehru Bazaars.

Where to Stay in Jaipur

  • LUXURY OPTION: The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur—a splendid 5-star establishment featuring reflecting fountains, manicured gardens, flaming Mashaal torches, and reflecting Rajasthani pools.
  • DELUXE OPTION: Samodi Haveli—a cozy boutique homestay housed in a former aristocratic Haveli that is still owned by the original family that built it 225 years ago.
  • BUDGET OPTION: Hotel Arya Niwas.
  • Udaipur—“City of Lakes”

The “City of Lakes” Udaipur is India’s answer to Venice. The heart of the former Kingdom of Mewar is nestled in the lush green Aravalli hills.

A web of inter-connected lakes and a landscape dotted with lovely palaces, temples, mansions, and historical monuments give Udaipur a Venice-like vibe.

Things to Do in Udaipur

  • Luxuriate on the banks of Lake Pichola.
  • Grand City Palace of Udaipur,
  • Saheliyon ki Bari (Historical Garden)
  • Excursion to Kumbahlgarh Fort
  • Excursion to Eklingji & Nagda Temples
  • The Jagdish Temple.
  • Camel Rides.
  • Witness a traditional Ghoomar Dance performance.

Where to Stay in Udaipur

  • LUXURY OPTION: The Taj Lake Palace—Housed in the former summer retreat palace of the Maharaja of Udaipur, and adorned by the same white marble that was used to build the Taj Mahal, the Taj Lake Palace is one of India’s greatest hotels. It is located on a man-made island in the middle of the serene Lake Pichola.
  • DELUXE OPTION: Jagat Niwas Palace, Udaipur—a heritage hotel right by Lake Pichola.
  • BUDGET OPTION: Madri Haveli ,Udaipur
  • Jodhpur— “Blue City”

Jodhpur is known as Rajasthan’s “Blue City” due to the hue of blue color in which the old quarter of the city is painted, found in the 15th century the city still maintains a strong character of traditions and culture. Home to perhaps the most majestic Fort in the country MehranGarh.

Things to Do in Jodhpur

  • The 16th century Mehrangarh Fort,
  • Umaid Bhawan Palace—regarded as the last of India’s great palaces, the Umaid Bhawan was built in the 1930s.
  • Go on a Bishnoi village safari – visit a local village clay potter’s home.
  • Spot the rare Black Sambhar deer.
  • Jaswant Thada (museum)
  • Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) Market.

Where to Stay in Jodhpur

  • LUXURY OPTION: The Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace,Jodhpur
  • DELUXE OPTION: Ajit Bhawan, Jodhpur
  • BUDGET OPTION: Devi Bhawan, Jodhpur
  • Jaisalmer— “Golden City”

Jaisalmer is Rajasthan’s desert and camel country. Snuggled like an oasis in the mighty Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is home to the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site Jaisalmer Fort.

One of the world’s few remaining living forts in the world, it is a city within the city, home to several mini palaces, temples, and hundreds of residential quarters.

Things to Do in Jaisalmer

  • Visit the Jaisalmer Fort and the mini palaces and temples inside it.
  • Camp in the Thar Desert
  • Desert Cultural Center – witness the famous Kalbeliya dance performances by local tribes
  • Gadisar Lake.
  • Bada Bagh.

Where to Stay in Jaisalmer

  • LUXURY OPTION: SuryaGarh, Jaisalmer.
  • DELUXE OPTION: The Gulaal—a Haveli boutique hotel featuring tastefully decorated traditional furniture, textiles, and artifacts.
  • BUDGET OPTION: Hotel Oasis Haveli
  • Ranthambore National Park, Sawai Madhopur

The former hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur—now the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur District—is one of India’s premier tiger-spotting destinations.

Sprawling over 400 sq km, it is home to Royal Bengal Tigers, sloth bears, foxes, caracals, jackals, hyenas, and hundreds of species of birds.

We highly recommend a wildlife safari in Ranthambore.

Where to Stay in Ranthambore

  • LUXURY OPTION: Aman-I-Khas—A Royal Hunting Camp modelled after the Royal Hunting Expeditions of the Maharajas of Rajasthan. It comes equipped with private dip pools, a splendid on-ground spa, and multiple restaurants.
  • DELUXE OPTION: The Kipling Lodge – Nature Kalp—a fine safari establishment themed after Kipling’s Jungle Book.
  • BUDGET OPTION: Ranthambore Regency Hotel
  • Bharatpur

Also known as Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, the Bharatpur National Park is an avian wonder. Thronged by ornithologists, scientists, researchers, and bird lovers, Bharatpur is home to 350 species of exotic migrant and resident birds.

  • Pushkar

Pushkar is Rajasthan’s holiest city.

A revered pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Sikhs, the sacred lake of Pushkar (Sarovar/Pushkar Lake) is the site of the Varanasi-like Aarti Ceremony. Every evening at sunset priests perform a holy ritual ceremony to pay homage to Lord Brahma who is believed to have created this holy body of water.

A dip in the Brahma Ghats (embankments) of the lake cleanses your soul of all sins and ailings.

Pushkar is also the site of the legendary Pushkar Camel Fair (the largest livestock fair-cum-cultural-extravaganza in the world!). Featuring livestock trade, traditional dances, snake charming, tribal games, and much more, the Pushkar Camel Fair is a major hit with international tourists.

Where to Stay in Pushkar

  • LUXURY OPTION: Ananta Spa & Resorts, Pushkar.
  • DELUXE OPTION: Aaram Baagh.
  • BUDGET OPTION: Kanhaia Haveli Hotel.
  • Bundi

The former capital of the Rajputana agency Bundi is famous for its serenity and peace. It is a tiny little city snuggled away off the beaten path in the former kingdom of Bundi (214 km/3 hours drive from Jaipur).

The city is surrounded by lush green Aravalli hills with a picturesque lake shimmering in the middle of it.

  • LUXURY OPTION: Classic Sapphire Ananta Bundi
  • DELUXE OPTION: Hadoti Palace, Bundi
  • BUDGET OPTION: Haveli Katkoun Bundi
  • Osiyan, Jodhpur

The ancient town of Osiyan in Jodhpur is an oasis nestled in the middle of the Thar desert in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. Due to its exquisite temple, artistic mystique, and glorious temples, the town is often described as the “Khajuraho of Rajasthan.”

  • LUXURY OPTION: The Gateway Osian
  • DELUXE OPTION: Treebo Trend Hinduja Luxury Camp & Resort
  • BUDGET OPTION: Shree Ganesh Hotel
  1. Mandawa

Mandawa is located in the Jhunjhunu District, 100 miles from Jaipur. It was an important cultural and commerce hub of the medieval Kingdom of Shekhawati.

It is described by art lovers as “an open-air gallery,” due to its stunningly beautiful Havelis that are adorned with elaborate architectural designs, motifs, and calligraphies. These Havelis were built by rich merchants, noblemen, generals, and aristocrats in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Things to do in Mandawa

  • Heritage tour of the city
  • Castle Mandawa Hotel
  • Harlalka Well
  • Saraf Haveli
  • LUXURY OPTION: The Legacy Mandawa by the Machan
  • DELUXE OPTION: Mandawa Haveli Luxury & Heritage Hotel
  • BUDGET OPTION: Singhasan Haveli
  1. Kota

Kota is located in the northeastern part of the state (149 miles from Jaipur) on the banks of the Chambal River. It is the third most populous city in Rajasthan, after Jaipur and Udaipur.

The city is famed for its palaces, museums, and temples and for its distinctive style of paintings.

Things to Do in Kota

  • Chambal River Front
  • Chambal Garden
  • Kishore Sagar Lake
  • Jag Mandir Lake
  • LUXURY OPTION: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Kota
  • DELUXE OPTION: Hotel Clarks Premier Kota
  • BUDGET OPTION: Sukhdham Kothi

How Much Time Do You Need to Travel In Rajasthan?

Rajasthan is vast, varied, and diverse.

A well-rounded tour of Rajasthan which covers important destinations like Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Ranthambore National Park will require you 10-14 days.

The Best Way To Travel In Rajasthan

Rajasthan is very car-friendly. You can get around just about anywhere in a private vehicle.

But we recommend a mix of car and train travel. Train rides through the deserts and plains of Rajasthan are some of the most enjoyable rides in India.

If you are not short on budget, uber-luxurious special-purpose tourist trains like Palace on Wheels and Maharaja Express operate during peak tourist season (October-March) between Rajasthan and other tourist hotspots like Delhi and Agra. These luxury train services feature royal palace suites and deluxe rooms, personal butlers, onboard spas, and specialty restaurants.

Scams To Watch Out for In Rajasthan

Like all the other super popular places of the world, Rajasthan also has its scams and tourist traps. But as long as you are prepared, and have done your homework and research before you travel, you should be fine.

Some common scams are as follows:

  1. Beggars asking for money for food or medicine.
  2. The Student-in-Need-Scam: Young people approach you to help them with their education.
  3. Donation Scams are also quite common. You are approached to make a donation to a charitable organization. This happens quite often at temples where a group masquerading as the Temple Committee will approach you for a donation for the upkeep of the temple.
  4. Taxi scams: the driver tells you the meter is not working and then quotes you a higher fare.
  5. “Honest-billing-mistake Scam”—You get an inflated bill with extra items ‘mistakenly’ added. Always be sure to double-check your final bill.

The Best Travel Routes in Rajasthan

For detailed Rajasthan-focused itineraries check out our itineraries here.

To help you devise your dream Rajasthan itinerary, here are a few sample tours.

7-Days Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at the Jaipur International Airport

Day 2: Sightseeing in Jaipur “Pink City”

Day 3:  Flying to Udaipur “City of Lakes”

Day 4: Drive to Jodhpur

Day 5: Exploring the “Blue City” of Jodhpur

Day 6: Travel to “Golden City” Jaisalmer

Day 7: Exploring Jaisalmer. Flying back to Jaipur

12 Days Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at the Jaipur International Airport

Day 2: Sightseeing in Jaipur “Pink City”

Day 3: Drive/Flight to Udaipur (7 hours drive)

Day 4: Exploring “the City of Lakes” Udaipur

Day 5: Udaipur to Mount Abu—the tallest mountain in Rajasthan (3 hours drive/190km)

Day 6: Mount Abu to Jodhpur (6 hours Drive)

Day 7 & 8: Sightseeing in the “Blue City” of Jodhpur

Day 9: Drive to Jaisalmer (6 hours drive)

Day 10: Camel Safaris in the Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer

Day 11: Drive to Bikaner (6 hours drive) and Sightseeing

Day 12: Drive back to Jaipur (6 hours drive)

14 Days Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at the Jaipur International Airport

Day 2: Sightseeing in Jaipur “Pink City”

Day 3: Drive to Mandawa, Former Kingdom of Shekhwati (3 hours)

Day 4: Bikaner (3 hours drive) Former Kingdom of Junagarh

Day 5 and 6: Five hours drive to “Golden City” Jaisalmer. Camel Safaris in the Sam Sand Dunes on Day 6

Day 7: Drive to Jodhpur (4 hours)

Day 8: Sightseeing in the Blue City

Day 9: Stopover at Deogarh known for its rustic charm and country vibes (3 hours drive)

Day 10: 2 hours drive to Udaipur

Day 11 & 12: Serenading on the banks of Lake Pichola in Udaipur

Day 13: Drive back to Jaipur

Day 14: Retail Therapy in Jaipur


Rajasthan is a place of color festivals and exciting cultural extravaganza. Fairs and festivals are a big part of the allure of the Land of Rajas.

Here are some of the most famous events on the tourist calendar in Rajasthan.

  1. Pushkar Camel Festival

The Puskar Camel Festival is the largest livestock festival in the world. But it is not just about cattle and camels, it is a full-on week-long cultural carnival that takes place on the banks of Lake Puskar in the Hindu month of Karthik (which usually corresponds with November on the Gregorian calendar).

  • Rajasthan International Folk Festival (Jodhpur Folk Festival)

This festival takes place in the month of October in the iconic Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. The event features traditional Rajasthan music, dances, and folk arts.

  • Jaisalmer Desert Festival

The Jaisalmer Desert Festival celebrates the culture, history and heritage of the “Golden City.” Organized by the Rajasthan Tourism Department, this 3-day-long festival takes place every year in the month of February in the famous Sam Sand Dune of the Thar Desert.

  • Elephant Festival, Jaipur

Elephants are considered great symbols of power, strength, and prestige in Rajasthan. They are proudly displayed on the royal emblems of Rajasthani state.

The Elephant Festival is held on the full moon day “Phalgun Purnima” which usually corresponds with late February or early March on the Gregorian calendar. It is held in the Polo Ground of Jaipur.

Stunning bedecked elephants are paraded in processions through the city of royalty. Elephant polo competitions and elephant tugs-of-war are the key attractions of the event.

  • Urs of Ajmer Sharif

The Urs (death anniversary) of Saint Khwaja Mueenuddin Chishti is one of the biggest religious events in Sufi Islam, attended by tens of thousands. It is held in the month of Rajab as per the lunar Islamic calendar. The event lasts for 6 days and is attended by devotees from all over the Islamic world.

  • Jaipur Literature Festival

The Jaipur Literature Festival is one of the newest additions to the cultural scene in the Pink City. It brings together writers, thinkers, poets, creators, artists, and musicians from all over the world to this fantastic city. It is usually held in the month of February.

  • Mewar Festival, Udaipur

Udaipur was the capital of the former kingdom of Mewar. The Mewar Festival is a celebration of the culture and heritage of the region. This amusing festival features rituals and ceremonies performed by women of the region, aimed at invoking marital bliss and “happily ever after”.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rajasthan

  • What is the best time to visit Rajasthan?

November to March is considered the best time to visit Rajasthan. It is the peak tourist season and the weather is perfect for outdoor travel. Temperatures range from 50 °F to 82 ° F.

  • What is the best way to tour Rajasthan?

We recommend a mix of trains and road travel to enjoy the landscape of Rajasthan.

  • How many days are needed for a well-rounded Rajasthan tour?

A well-rounded Rajasthan tour should take 10-14 days ideally. Your itinerary should include destinations like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and Pushkar and a wildlife safari at the Ranthambore National Park or a birdwatching expedition to the Bharat Bird Sanctuary.