Rajasthan - Cities of the Thar Desert
One of the most popular destinations in India is the state of Rajasthan. Containing the Thar Desert and a colorful history the cities see a number of tourists each year. The hot sand and the lure of the sun draw a number of people to experience the magic that is Rajasthan. Here are the most popular destinations in Rajasthan.
Also called the Pink City, Jaipur was first painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in the 19th Century. The predominantly pink sandstone built buildings already had the pink hue set for the city. Today it is the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan and its largest city. You must visit the Hawa Mahal, the Jal Mahal, the Fort and the temples that dot the city. The bazars of the old city provide a colorful place to do bargain shopping.
The houses of brahmins in this city were traditionally painted indigo. The view of the city from Mehrangarh Fort offered a bunch of blue houses in the valley below and thus it is called the blue city. Must visit the Jaswant Thada besides the Mehrangarh Fort, the Umaind Bhawan Palace, the Umaid Gardens near the high court and the Mandore Gardens near the city. Shop in the old heart of the city at Ghanta Ghar or the Clock Tower or in the modern areas of Sardarpura.
The old Jaisalmer Fort is still lived in by families who have been there for generations. The oldest living fort in India is now under threat from the tourists. Besides the fort head out to see the Sand Dunes at Sam or the Temple near Osian. These are places you see regularly in Hindi Movies. You can even visit the various ancestral havelis or homes of those close to the Royalty of the city. Shop for the best bargains in the market near the fort.
Most famous for its Lake Palace which is now a five star hotel, you can also visit the land palace on the shore which has a splendid museum. Or head over to experience artificial showers with the fountains of Sahelion Ki Badi. The boat rise to the Lake Palace is best taken in one from the hotel rather than in the crowded motor boats that ply the route. Shop for precious gem stones in the shops there, but make sure you don't get taken for a ride.
Amongst all the Royalty in Rajasthan the palace of the King of Bikaner truly stands apart. The opulence is evident in every room that you visit. Another must see is the Junagarh Fort, besides that try and catch the Karni Mata Temple, Lal Garh Palace, Laxmi Niwas Palace, the Kolayat, the Shiv Bari Temple and the Moolnayakji. Don't forget to try the world famous Bikaneri Bhujia and the sweets.
An odd one out as a hill station in the state of desert cities, if you feel the need to escape the touch of the burning sun head over to Mt. Abu. A small city with the lake and its near by Jain temples, the city is good for a rest from the heat. Make sure that you carry some warm clothes here as even though it is in Rajasthan it is quite chilly here in the winters.