Firstly, Rajasthan is pretty huge. It is India’s largest state by area and to see large parts of it in 2 weeks, you need to be prepared for some fairly lengthy journeys. That being said, the journeys are almost always exciting and completely worth it.
If you’ve come to India in search of culture, history and a large variety of landscapes and cuisine then you’ve come to the right place. In Rajasthan, you can expect to experience grand palaces and sandstone forts, huge deserts and arid landscapes, big major cities as well as small quiet towns and spicy meat dishes or vegetarian delights. Out and about you will see elephants, camels and monkeys and as always with India; lots of bright colours, sounds, flavours and smells.
Please note: Prices provided are in Indian rupees. At the time of writing, 100 rupees is equal to £1.20 or $1.50. Prices below are from Feb 2014.
Udaipur, with it’s fairy-tale palace, beautiful scenery, perfect sunsets and picturesque rooftop restaurants, is certainly worth a stop for a few days and there’s no wonder it is known as the ‘Romantic City’.
We arrived here on a night bus from our previous destination, ‘Bandra Terminus’ in the northern part of Mumbai. This journey took 16.5 hours and cost 435 rupees per person for a bunk in sleeper class.
Udaipur was quite the contrast and as we stepped off the night train we instantly noticed how fresh the air felt. After 5 days in Mumbai, we were certainly ready for the peaceful city of Udaipur.
Things to do in Udaipur
- Explore the beautiful City Palace
- Take a boat ride over to The Lake Palace
- Eat in one of the many rooftop restaurants to relax and enjoy the stunning views
- Shop for gifts. With many lanes of stalls and shops, this was my favourite place in India for buying gifts to send back home
Where to stay
We stayed in the beautiful and traditionally decorated ‘Panorama Guest House‘ for 900 rupees per night. On arrival, music was sounding and I looked out of the bedroom window to see a parade of music and elephants all beautifully decorated, just as Shaun opened the bathroom window to see a giant monkey staring right at him. Amazing place! We also ate here at their rooftop restaurant and highly recommend the delicious food.
We arrived in Jaisalmer after a night bus which had me clenching onto my stomach at every bend inside our coffin sized box to sleep in, to find we were deep in the middle of the Thar Desert. Just opposite our guest house was what looked like an incredible giant sandcastle, otherwise known as The Jaisalmer Fort.
Things to do in Jaisalmer
- Get lost in the huge sandstone Jaisalmer Fort
- Go on a camel tour into the desert for at least a few nights. Many places in Jaisalmer can arrange this for you for reasonable places. I have heard that if you are going to do a desert tour on a camel anywhere in the world, Jaisalmer is one of the best places in the world to do this. We had a 3 day trip arranged with our hotel, Nomad’s Guest House, however unfortunately we were very sick in Jaisalmer so had to give it a miss, however we enjoyed the exciting stories on the rooftop of other backpackers who did do the trip.
Where to stay
We stayed in the Nomads Guest House. We absolutely loved our stay here and would highly recommend it. This hotel had a nice social roof terrace with a view of the fort, plus the owners can arrange you a desert tour for a really good price. We paid 350 rupees per night for a basic but lovely double room with an en-suite squat toilet.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and the biggest city in the region. Some say it is dirty and stressful, but we found it excitingly chaotic.
To get here involved another night train, the journey from Jaisalmer to Jaipur took 11.5 hours. Jaipur has plenty to do and explore to keep you entertained for at least a few days. Here are some of our favourites…
Things to do in Jaipur
- Visit the huge Amer Fort and relax in the surrounding gardens
- Shop in the cities markets and bazaars – there are many in Jaipur!
- Visit the pink sandstone Hawa Mahal – Otherwise known as ‘The Palace of the winds’.
- Explore the 18th century City Palace
Where to stay
We stayed in the popular hostel chain ‘Zostel Jaipur Hostel’. A bed in a 8 bed dorm here cost us just over 700 rupees each. We do highly recommend this hostel, it was located in a nice area with has a good social area and even a kitchen (a rare find in India)
Where to eat
One of our favourite places to eat here, particularly for lunch, was actually the famous food chain ‘The Indian Coffee House’. It is very cheap, we recommend to try the Masala Dosa or Biryani rice!
Pushkar is famous for being one of the holiest places in India. As a sacred town, it is forbidden to eat meat or drink alcohol. Pushkar certainly felt different to anywhere else in India and it was one of my all time favourite places. As a major Hindu pilgrimage; Hundu’s should visit at least once during their lives.
Pushkar can be reached by a short local bus journey from the bus station in the close-by larger town of Ajmer. Ajmer has a major train station so is easily reachable, we got a not too lengthy train journey this time, from Jaipur.
Things to do in Pushkar
- Visit the Hindu Brahma Temple, located close to the sacred lake, this is one of the very few temples in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma!
- Practise your flexibility in enjyoing some yoga.
- If you’re there at the right time, usually November time, visit the annual camel fair.
- Visit the Pushkar Lake. There are 52 bathing ghats at this sacred place for Hindu’s; many pilgrims descend to the lake to bathe in the holy water.
- Shop in the bazaars. There were many interesting gifts and lots of bright ‘hippy’ colourful clothing for sale.
Top Tip – Watch out for the pushy priests who will place a flower on your forehead, pray for you, your family and friends and then demand money afterwards. If you don’t give money or a high enough amount, they will get very aggressive.
Where to stay
Without a doubt, we felt that the best place in town for backpackers is the Milkman’s Guesthouse. A room here cost us just 150 rupees per night for a basic double room, shared squat-toilet bathroom. This was the cheapest room of our whole trip to India!
Where to eat & drink
Pushkar is full of amazing organic restaurants and if you are a vegan or vegetarian you will be in heaven in Pushkar. Our favourite place to hang out and have a drink or bite to eat was the ‘Funky Monkey Cafe’.We spent many hours sat here people (and cow) watching!
So that’s my 2 week itinerary for travelling in Rajasthan! But this could be travelled slower or faster if needed.
Are you heading to India soon? Are you looking for further advice? You may also enjoy ‘My Ultimate Guide to Backpacking in India’ for essential things to know for the first time visitor to India. Or, ask away in the comments below!
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