Anyone planning a trip to the authentic Indian state Rajasthan? Here is some inspiration for your trip, enjoy reading!
Last year's January (2019) we went to the beautiful country of India. We planned to explore Rajasthan by train for about 10 days and then take a flight to the exotic South of India, to Goa. We didn't plan that much, only an accommodation for the first night and a domestic flight from New Delhi to Goa. Luckily we didn't plan that much, haha, because plans always change when you are traveling!
Our trip started in Düsseldorf (Germany) to be exact. From there we had a flight to Kiev (Uraine), where we had a stop-over for about 3 hours. From Kiev we flew to the huge city New Delhi in India. When we arrived in New Delhi we felt kind of overwhelmed and we got a bit of a culture shock again... New Dehli is an enormous, constantly living city. It is a city full of people (about 22 million!), full of animals and full of noise. It took us about 3 hours to get from the airport to our hostel, in the middle of Dehli's old quarter. If we could give you one advice, book a shuttle or a taxi in advance to bring you to your hostel or hotel! It saves you a lot of hassle and you are immediately rid of all your luggage. In other countries, we always did the transport from the airport to the city by ourselves, so we tried it in India as well. But India was a complete different story... Haha. Everyone come to 'help' us find our hostel but their only goal was to sell us fake sim cards or get us to a tourist information center. Finally, after about 3 hours and buying a fake sim card we found our hostel!
New Delhi was quite impressive but also nothing really special if you ask us, just another huge crowded city. So after staying there for just one night we thought it was time to move on. We booked a personal driver at our hostel and he would drive us around in Rajasthan for the next 8 days. We left early in the morning to a small village called Mandawa. It took us already 1,5 hours to get out of New Delhi and we saw the air was getting so much clearer the further we got out of the smog of New Delhi. Mandawa was a pretty long drive because the roads in India aren't always that good, many gravel roads and such. But that didn't matter at all because we had some amazing views from the back of the car.
Mandawa is a quiet, beautiful and authentic Indian small city. Mandawa is known for the many Havelis that can be found there. These are old large houses that used to be inhabited by the wealthy merchant families. The houses are beautifully decorated and well preserved, well worth a visit. Today, many Havelis have been converted into a hotel. We also slept in one of these beautiful Haveli hotels, we felt like real royals in a palace, and that for a cheap price. Quite an experience to stay in a hotel like this. Besides the many Havelis, there is not much to do in Mandawa. You can visit a souvenirshop or walk around the town, in the evening you see a lot of kites in the air, a nice view.
After Mandawa it was time to move on again, our next destination was desert city Bikaner. Bikaner is visited significantly less than the other major cities in Rajashtan. In our eyes very unjustified because Bikaner has a lot to offer. Because so many tourists skip Bikaner, you are lucky that most people just leave you alone. You can walk undisturbed through the streets of the city center here and no one is trying to sell you anything, amazing!
Nevertheless, Bikaner is full of beautiful sights including a lot of Havelis, forts, the old town, temples and the desert of course. One of the most famous sights in the city is the Junagarh fort, this beautiful fort is definitely worth a visit if you ask us! We went to this fort as well and we couldn't stop talking about it. Another cool thing to do in Bikaner is visiting the old city center, it is full of fresh spice markets and old trade havelis, here you have the real Indian experience. On our last day in Bikaner we went to the desert and we made a camel safari through the Thar desert, during the safari we went to some remote desert villages, an amazing experience. We left Bikaner and continued towards Puskar, on the way we stopped at the famous Karni Mata temple, the Indian name for rat temple. Thousands of rats who have been declared sacred by the Hindus live in this temple. You can visit the temple as a tourist, but you have to be barefoot. However, we would definitely recommend you to enter this temple because it is very special to see this. The rats are adored and fed, a strange thought because in the South of India they are seen as devil animals. Well, enough about the Karni Mata temple, this is something you have to experience by yourself
Alright, our next stop was Pushkar, one of the Holiest cities in India. Pushkar is mainly known for the Holy Pushkar lake in the middle of this cozy, hippie-like city center. It is a very popular destination for backpackers because of the easy and relaxed vibes in the city. The city center is full of cute hippie restaurants, coffee shops and clothing boutiques. The whole city is built around the lake and Hindus go to this lake to wash away their sins. Pushkar is a perfect place to visit to take a yoga class or to meditate, the whole city is all about spirituality. The food is also very delicious! You can eat a tasty falafel wrap from one of the many rooftop restaurants here. In addition to the lake and the nice restaurants, Pushkar is also known for a number of beautiful temples, including the Sikh temple and the Brahma temple, and of course you have the famous camel markets in Pushkar. After immersing ourselves in the vibes of Pushkar it was time to continue our journey to the pink city of Jaipur.
Jaipur is part of the golden triangle of india, which also includes the cities of Delhi and Agra. The buildings in the city are painted pink to indicate the hospitality of the city because in India pink stands for openness and hospitality. In the middle of the city you will find one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, the Hawa Mahal, this is definitely worth a visit if you ask us! You can also find the monkey temple in Jaipur, this temple is home to hundreds of monkeys. They aren't shy or afraid of people at all and if you want you can feed them some bananas, a super cute and cool experience. Other impressive buildings in Jaipur are the city palace and the Jal Mahal, a palace in the middle of a lake. You can also shop very well in Jaipur, because it is known for its beautiful bazaars and jewelry shops. We couldn't resist buying something in Jaipur and bought a scarf and blouse at one of the bazaars.
After spending about 3 days in Jaipur we took of again and continued our journey to our final destination in Rajasthan, Agra. It was time to give the world famous Taj Mahal a visit, we were so excited! Our trip through Rajasthan almost came to an end, but not before we visited the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located in the city of Agra, a city that is nothing very special for tourists. We therefore recommend that you only go here to visit the Taj Mahal and then leave again. Spending one night in Agra will be enough, that's what we did as well. It is a strictly religious Islamic city and we therefore recommend that you could better wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt in the city center, otherwise you have the chance that the locals look at you strangely or start to stare at you, that is what happened to us haha. For the Taj Mahal it is best to visit it at the early morning, then you may see the sunrise there and it is not that busy yet. This is a once in a lifetime experience so try to make the best out of it! For us the Taj Mahal was an experience we will never forget, what an impressive and beautiful building!
Our 10 day road trip through Rajasthan came to an end and we drove back to New Delhi to catch a flight to the sunny South, to Goa. Rajasthan made a big impression on us. In this state you can experience the real, authentic India, we would recommend everyone to visit this beautiful state one day!
Feel free to send us a message if you have any more questions, this can be about everything (food, accommodation, transport, personal experiences, etc.)!
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