There's no way we could do a mini-guide to the whole country of India, so we've broken it down and created this guide to one of our favorite states in the country, Rajasthan, which just so happens to be one of the easiest to travel through.
When you think of India, what comes to mind? For us, it's snake charmers and bustling markets, brightly colored turbans and saris, crumbling forts and exquisite palaces, vast deserts and rolling dunes and of course, delicious food and welcoming people!
Rajasthan is the state to go to find all of the incredible things listed above
Food to Try:
Indian cuisine is delicious and extremely diverse. No matter what you choose to chow down on, you'll love. Plus, it will be very cheap. Vegetarian food is quite popular in India and Rajasthan has some excellent veg curries, such as:
Aloo matar ki sabji (potatoes, green peas, tomatoes and spices)
Dal bati churma (lentil curry with hard wheat rolls for dipping)
Beans ki sabji (green beans, onions, chilis, spices)
Vegetarian food is the top choice among the people of Rajasthan, however, make sure to try Laal maans (mutton curry prepared in a sauce of curd and hot spices).
Also, order a thali at least once while you're here!
Places To Go:
Jaisalmer: This golden desert town is a must-visit on your trip to Rajasthan. The crumbling fort dominates the city and is where you can find some great sleeping options as well as vendors and restaurants. Wandering the dusty lanes outside of the sandstone fort area is a must, as is going on a camel safari out in the Thar desert!
Jaipur: Known as the "Pink City," Jaipur is a love it or hate it kind of place... and we love it! Check out the old town where you can see artisans and craftsmen working in their shops. There are numerous sites and palaces to see here as well. The city is busy, but has some very interesting things going on.
Jodhpur: Dubbed the "Blue City" due to its many blue painted buildings, this city is an excellent choice. The towering Mehrangarh Fort looms over Jodhpur and is one of the largest forts in all of India. The markets and narrow lanes here are exciting and filled with undiscovered gems.
Pushkar: Known for its camel fair in November where over 11,000 camels and over 400,000 people typically meet to buy and sell livestock. It has also become a top tourist attraction over the years. Apart from the fair, this small, vegan city is one of the top 5 devout Hindu pilgrimage sites.
PHOTO: View from the Jaisalmer Fort.
Rajasthani people are predominantly Hindus, Muslims and Jains. Religion plays a very big role in the everyday life of Indians. Praying and giving offerings to the many Gods is very important here. There are way too many religious sites in Rajasthan to list them all, but we'll name a few of our favorites: Lordurva Temples in Jaisalmer, Maha Mandir Temple in Jodhpur, and the Birla Mandir temple in Jaipur.
Top Historical Sites:
This state is cloaked in history and has numerous palaces, forts and sites to offer visitors. Make sure to see these ones:
Amber Fort in Jaipur: This massive fort was built in 1592 and although it looks a bit rugged from the outside, the inner courtyards are pristine and the dazzling murals and frescoes are very impressive.
Jaisalmer Fort in Jaisalmer: This is one of the largest forts in the world! The yellow sandstone walls are lovely by day, but as the sun sets, the walls turn a golden honey color. This beautiful fort was built in 1156 AD and is a must-see.
Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur: Located 400 feet above the city, this fort dominates and is visible from just about anywhere. There's also a museum inside, which is one of the best in Rajasthan. A trip here is a must.
Hawa Mahal Palace in Jaipur: This red and pink sandstone building rises 15 meters from ground level and was constructed in 1799. This palace was where the royal family's women would watch the world go by from small, screened windows. This is a gorgeous palace, and a definite must-see in Jaipur.
PHOTO: The lovely Hawa Mahal Palace.
There's a wide variety of activities that you can take part in here in Rajasthan. However, a camel safari out to the Thar Desert where you can sleep under the stars is a definite highlight. Visiting temples, forts and palaces is a great way to spend your day also. If you're interested in just relaxing, strolling through markets and people watching with a cup of hot chai tea in hand is just the thing for you.
India has some of the best value for money anywhere in the world. The cost of hotel rooms can be as little as $6 for a basic double, up to $100 on the luxury end. Meals range from $1 on the street to around $3 at a restaurant. Snack food can be as little as $0.25! Buses around Rajasthan are very inexpensive at around $0.50 - $1 / hour. There are trains all around the state, which is a very comfortable and affordable way to get around.
A daily budget here is about $40/day for a couple, and much less for a solo traveler.
For more information on travelling to India, check out our ultimate guide here. For information on the transportation in this bustling country, make sure to look at our guide to transportation in India.
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