Padharo Mhaare Des…
Any conversation about tourism in India is incomplete without mentioning Rajasthan. One of India’s crown jewels in the tourism sector, the northern state of Rajasthan is part of the country’s famous ‘Golden Triangle’ circuit along with Agra and Delhi. With an astounding number of attractions to cater to every kind of tourist, the state is also famous for its rich culture, warm hospitality, and delectable cuisine.
Known for stunning palaces, ancient forts, dazzling deserts, colourful festivals, and the delicious ‘dal baati choorma’, Rajasthan is pulsating with life, light and energy!
Palatial Splendour
Palaces both massive and diminutive, superbly maintained and decrepit, stunning and simple, abound in Rajasthan. Some palaces in the state have also been converted to heritage hotels. Even though some of these command astronomical room rates, the experience of staying in such grandeur certainly makes up for it.
From the gorgeous snowy-white Lake Palace and the massive City Palace of Udaipur, to the startling Hawa Mahal and resplendent Jal Mahal of Jaipur, Alwar’s hauntingly beautiful Neemrana Fort, to Jodhpur’s celebrated Umaid Bhawan Palace, the state is nothing short of heaven for lovers of opulence and culture.
Also eminent are the City Palace, Rambagh, Samode, and Narain Niwas palaces of Jaipur, the Laxmi Niwas, Bhanwar Niwas and Gajner palaces of Bikaner, and the Fateh Prakash, Jag Mandir, and City Palace of Udaipur.
Fortresses of Fortitude
The state is also famed for its truly remarkable forts which are mystical testaments to the passage of time. The legendary Chittor, Ranthambore, Mehrangarh, Amber and Kumbhalgarh forts are teeming with tourists with good reason. Each fort has a vividly interesting story behind it, and you feel one with the eons gone by.
The Amber Fort, among Rajasthan’s most celebrated, is situated atop a hill about 11km outside Jaipur. It is the city’s primary tourist attraction with stunning Rajputana architecture, sprawling courtyards, a tranquil lake, and a square where one can feed pigeons.
The Chittor Fort, recently made even more prominent by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus ‘Padmaavat’, is a UNESCO World Heritage site on the banks of the Berach river. Known to have once been the abode of the legendary beauty Maharani Padmini, the fort is one of the largest in India and is a must-visit to gaze at fantastic Maurya-period architecture, a twisty mile-long road which leads to seven gateways, and then the palaces of Rawal Ratan Singh and the great queen herself.
The Ranthambore Fort, nestled in the eponymous wildlife sanctuary in Sawai Madhopur, is one of the oldest forts in the state and is dilapidated in most places due to the ravages of time as well as attacks from the British and Mughals. At times, one can hear the not-so-distant roars of the park’s tigers at the fort which is replete with attractions like a Shiva temple, Ganesha temple, Hammir’s court, Dhula Mahal and Badal Mahal.
Festivity Galore
Being one of India’s most colourful states, both literally and figuratively, Rajasthan is the ultimate destination for those wanting to soak in the local culture by way of vibrant festivals.
The Pushkar festival is arguably the most famous of all. An absolutely spectacular five-day fiesta, it is held in the town of Pushkar. Primarily a festival for the trading of camel and other livestock, the festival is a bonanza of art, music, puppet shows, dance performances, and races.
The Desert Festival of Jaisalmer is a three-day cultural extravaganza organised by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation. The festival is a celebration of Rajasthan’s famed sand dunes, and features performances by dancers in ethnic finery, camel races, acrobatic stunts, and contests like longest moustache and turban tying.
The Teej Festival in Jaipur is celebrated with great pomp by the womenfolk to pray for the long life of their husbands. They apply henna designs to their hands and feet, enjoy swing rides, and participate in a song-and-dance revelries. A procession carrying an idol of Goddess of Parvati is carried through the streets and thousands of revellers throng to offer their respects.
Also well-known are the Urs Ajmer Sharif, Kite, Elephant, Gangaur, Mewar, and Chandrabhaga Festivals. Immerse yourself in the joyous celebrations to experience the very pulse of Rajasthan!
Religious Connection
A state so rich in culture and entrenched in tradition cannot possibly be short of religious destinations. Rajasthan is renowned for the jaw-droppingly wondrous Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, the hallowed Ajmer Sharif Dargah, and the splendid Nathdwara, Eklingji, Sacchayee Mata, Chamukha, and Ranakpur Jain Temples, among several others.
The Dilwara Temples, built over the 11th and 13th centuries, is a very important Jain pilgrimage site dedicated to the Tirthankars. The temples’ architecture is truly splendid, and it features thousands of exquisite stone carvings.
The Ajmer Sharif Dargah is a shrine dedicated to venerated sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti. At the foot of the Taragarh hill, about 2 km away from the Ajmer railway station, the dargah is reached after passing the impressive Nizam and Shahjani gates, followed by the towering Buland Darwaza. It is said that Emperor Akbar and his chief queen Mariam-uz-Zamani used to travel to Ajmer on foot to fulfil a vow he made for a son.
Delightful Delicacies
Everyone has heard of Rajasthan’s famous daal baati choorma–whole wheat dough balls baked over a charcoal fire served with piping hot dal and spicy-sweet choorma. Another famous Rajasthani delicacy is ‘Lal Maas’, which is a fiery red preparation of mutton in a sauce of Mathania chillies.
Scrumptious ‘ghevar’, which is a disc-shaped, syrup-soaked floury cake topped with dried fruits and nuts, and ‘malpua’, a delicious deep-fried pancake made of refined flour, semolina, and often, eggs, are Rajasthan’s answer to those with a sweet tooth.
It is difficult to do any justice to the many splendours of this state by mere words. It is best seen firsthand. As the state’s tourism tagline goes, “padhaaro mhaare des”…Visit Rajasthan for a truly unforgettable experience!

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