Top 10 Things to do in Rajasthan, Part I

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1 Enjoy A Train Safari at Jojawar

Imagine going on an exclusive expedition on a mountain train that will take you through the picturesque Aravallis for a meagre sum of 4 Rupees. Sounds too good to be true? Make sure to visit the village of Jojawar on your next tour to Rajasthan. Jojawar , a small village in Rajasthan encapsulated by the spectacular Aravali Range, to experience this unique train safari.  All aboard the train in that takes you from one section of the hill to the highest station in the Aravallis- the Kambli Ghat. This safari offers you a spellbinding journey through numerous tunnels and bridges encircled by the most beautiful forests, hills and valleys that are to be found in the state. This is not a tourist train but a true slice of local transportation in this area. Hence it provides a great opportunity for meaningful interaction with friendly locals who would be more than happy to share their experiences and stories with you. Mellow sun-shine, breathtaking scenery, the rhythmic chugging of engine as it laboriously hauling up the train through winding paths, fellow passengers chatting away in native language  guarantees to give you one of your most memorable and authentic experience on your Rajasthan Trip.

 

2 Watch a game of Elephant Polo in Jaipur

Elephant polo was invented in India in the early 1900s and since then the city of Jaipur has kept this unique (and what some might call ‘bizarre’) sports alive by organizing it throughout the year. The rules are similar to horse polo except that the pitch is much shorter and there is a trainer (called a ‘mahout’) to help control the elephants. It is a game both amusing and visually stunning. To watch giant majestic elephants working their way gracefully through the field after a relatively miniature ball is a memorable sight in itself and is smply unmissable on a tour to Rajasthan. Fans of the game say that it causes an unmatched addictive passion, perhaps because of the level of beauty and gradual intensity of movements, or perhaps because it is proof to the unique symbiosis between animal and man that enables him to direct a colossal animal. Be a part of this unique game on your next trip to Rajasthan. It truly exhibits the royal heritage of the state.

Elephant Polo, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonmturner/

Elephant Polo, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonmturner/

 

3 Learn a lesson in ecological conservation with the Bishnois

Make sure that your holiday package to Rajasthan incudes a Bishnoi village safari. The Bishnois, members of Bishnoi villages located about 22 kilometres from Jodhpur city, are among the world’s earliest tree-huggers. In 1485, there was a drought. Guru Jambheshwari Maharaj (popularly known as Jamboji) decided this was caused by deforestation and devised 29 rules for how to live in harmony with nature. The result was a community of nature worshippers who are also among the world’s most dedicated conservationists. So successful have been their efforts that the arid region is now covered with a variety of trees like Khejri, Jal ROhida, Aak, Ber, kair etc. Making it one of the world’s greenest deserts.  You’ll be surprised by the sheer density and fearlessness of the wildlife around the Bisnoi villages. The conventionally shy blackbucks, Chinkaras, vultures, patridges, peacocks and the Great Indian Bustard roam fearlessly and freely in this ecologically protected land. What better place to spot the rare and endangered blackbucks than in a land where its women are known to breastfeed black buck fawns? Getting up, close and personal with a community whose spiritual identity is linked to its land is indeed a humbling experience. Enrich your trip to Rajasthan by visiting this unique community.

Bishnois, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nagarjun/

Bishnois, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nagarjun/

 

4 Spot a tiger at Ranathambore

Visualize a tiger striding regally down a forest path as you watch mesmerized from a jeep at a distance not too far from the majestic canine. Want to experience this breathtaking sight? Head to Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan that boasts of being the best tiger reserve in India. Most holiday packages to Rajasthan definitely include a trip to Ranthambore national Park for it is one of the most well preserved in the country. Estimates put the number of tigers in Ranthambore somewhere between 20 and 40 and the best time to spot a tiger here is early mornings in the month of May and November when the sparsely wooded terrain makes sightings common. Tigers and leopards are most often spotted around a Fort and other ancient ruins scattered all over this 392 square kilometres reserve. Tiger is the chief attraction but this place is also home to plenty other rare and endangered animals like leopards, nilgai, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, hyena, sloth bear, and chital. Straight out from the pages of The Jungle Book, this tiger’s domain is a must destination for all wildlife lovers who are on a trip to Rajasthan.

Spot tigers at Ranthambore, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjoern/

Spot tigers at Ranthambore, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjoern/

 

5 Watch puppet shows at Bagore ki Haweli, Udaipur

Puppetry has been an ingenious and creative art of storytelling for centuries and what better place to experience to enter the fascinating world of puppets than in a country that claims to be the birthplace of this ancient art. The kathputli puppet performance is the most common form of this folk tradition and this visual treat is not too difficult to experience on a trip to Rajasthan. Every evening at Bagore ki Haveli, a beautiful mansion on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangaur Ghat, a cultural event called Dharohar is held which exhibits the myriad culture of Rajasthan through a number of folk dances, dramas and kathputli puppet shows. The breath-taking performance of kathputli utilizes beautifully crafted wooden marionettes manipulated by puppeteers to tell mythological or historical tales of some moral value. The traditional brightly coloured attire of the puppets, their beautiful movements accompanied by the whistling, squeaky voice of the puppeteer who also plays a ghungru (bells) according to the rhythm, creates an environment that truly captures the essence and vibrancy of Rajasthan.

Puppet Show At Bagore ki Haveli, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/initrd/

Puppet Show At Bagore ki Haveli, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/initrd/

 

6 Go birding in Phalodi

Known as the “salt city” due to huge concentration of salt mines and salt industries located in the area, Phalodi is a small desert town situated on the railway line from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. 4 km from Phalodi lies Khican, a small village which can be only called a Bird watcher’s paradise. Thousands and thousands of migratory Damoiselle cranes flock around Khichan’s two lakes in the winter making it one of the best places for avid Bird watchers to lose themselves from the outside world and get fully immersed in this spectacular sight gifted by nature. The reason behind this overwhelming number of cranes is the residents of Khichan village who spread tons of kilos of barley around the enclosed feeding area each year in order to feed these beautiful creatures. In the earliest dawn, before the sun has emerged through the paling sky, ten thousand cranes descend on village to eat to their heart’s content before they fly over to the nearby lake. The sight of innumerous graceful birds in shades of black and grey collected in one area is unforgettable indeed and is a must visit for all bird lovers on a trip to Rajasthan.

Demoiselle cranes, Khichan, India, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8449215@N05/

Demoiselle cranes, Khichan, India, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8449215@N05/

 

7 Visit Dilwara Temples in Mount Abu

Ornate. Sublime. Breathtaking. These words come to mind when you see a truly one of a kind temple on your trip to Rajasthan. Dilwara Jain Temple is located around 2.5 kms from Mount Abu. Feast your eyes and marvel at the legendary marble temples of Dilwara which are not only a sacred pilgrimage place of Jains but also an architectural wonder. Some remarkable architectural elements at the Dilwara Temples range from its minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels. Built by Chalukya between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, these splendid marble temples leave witnesses spellbound with their beauty, depth and detail. A motley group of around 2700 master-craftsmen toiled for 14 years to create stunning murals, ornamented pillars and painstakingly detailed ceilings, each one unique and magnificent in its own way.   Famous for its use of white marble, Dilwara Temples is a truly gorgeous structure of astounding beauty and architectural nuance.

Dilwara Temples, WIkipedia

Dilwara Temples, WIkipedia

 

8 Find yourself in the abandoned town of Kuldhara

The abandoned city of Kuldhara, about 20 km from Jailsalmer, could easily be  an apocalyptic inspiration for filmmakers. Wandering through the dusty abandoned streets of Kuldhara, once teeming with the vibrant community of Pali Brahmins is a surreal experience indeed. Spectres of the past linger in its ruins and whisper secret and mysterious tales of curses, atrocious kings and evil spirits that led thousands of residents to abandon their homes overnight. Set out to seek the thrill of adventure and undiscovered treasures as a vast expanse of nothingness lies in front of you. Shrouded in mysteries, Kudhara city lures you into experiencing a past by giving you glimpses of the tarnished remains of that past. With miles and miles of ruins of a gone civilization, it is the perfect site to discover yourself on a trip to Rajasthan.

Kuldhara, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asad7874/

Kuldhara, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asad7874/

 

9 Take the historical desert circuit

The city of Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer constitute a desert circuit as these cities are situated wither between deserts or around the Thar Desert. The exhilaration of experiencing nature in the solitude of the outback regions in Rajasthan can be described by only those who have undertaken this exciting route. The sheer excitement of riding a camel through the desert’s boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes, witnessing magnificent forts, palaces, havelis and wildlife in a rustic environment are just some of the thrills offered on this tour. Set forth on a road trip covering the entire circuit for an authentic desert adventure.

Historical circuit, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasandersen/

Historical circuit, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasandersen/

 

10 Explore the blue city of Jodhpur

Rajasthan is not only a mixed bag of sights, sounds and cultures, but of colours as well. While the capital city, Jaipur, is known as the “pink city” , Jodhpur is known as “blue city”. Jodhpur is also known as the “sun city” for the sunny weather it enjoys all year round, but the tag of “blue city” is given for the blue coloured houses dotted around the Mehrangarh fort. Indeed, the blue houses lie in stark contrast to the golden brown deserts that surround this city.
The blue colour adds a calm , aquatic texture to the entire city. The blue colouring of the houses emanated from the age old caste system, whereby Brahmins, who were considered the highest caste, painted their house blue, in order to distinguish themselves from people from other castes. Today although, the caste system has diminished, the colouring remained. A tour in one of these houses, opens up a kaleidoscope that’s Jodhpur – a mixture of curious sights and sounds, an array of cultures.
The houses are closely lined, the narrow streets winding to an unknown land like a long river. A birds eye view from the Mehrangarh fort, shows the city in it’s true grandeur.
Come, this trip to Rajasthan, breathe in the aquatic texture of this mysterious city called Jodhpur.

Jodhpur, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7402324@N05/

Jodhpur, Photo Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7402324@N05/

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