Rajasthan is wide and filled with diverse cities to explore whilst visiting India! I was fortunate to team up with Janu Private Tours to spend a little over two weeks road tripping through Rajasthan’s best!
Finishing back in Jaipur before departing India
Some cities I spent two days and some I spent half a day and was more of a passing through but I will break them each down one by one and try to give the most in depth review on each, as well as, having done the road trip, where I would spend more time vs less or, skip all together.
Let’s do this!
Before traveling to India I decided I wanted to avoid the major cities on my travel to India as I wanted a more authentic experience of traditional Indian living. That meant crossing out Mumbai, Goa and realistically, I was only venturing to Agra for the sake of the Taj Mahal. I did have a stop through Delhi on my way from the north down to Agra and I made the most of my time there.
Whilst it definitely was increasingly busier than the other cities – I did find some beauty there that I hadn’t anticipated.
The sites I went to were:
Out of the above, I would recommend:
Chandi Chowk, India Gate, Humayan’s Tomb & Safdarjung Tomb – the rest I found to be overly crowded and a very -get-in/get-out picture scenario. I did pass by some nice Gardens near Humayan’s Tomb that I think would be worth checking out as well.
I think before spending the time I would have totally ruled out Delhi as a stop whilst traveling to India, I think if you need to stop, you can enjoy it, but I probably wouldn’t spend more than a night due to the personal way I prefer to travel which is more authentic, rural and immersed in culture without being harassed as a tourist and unavoidably being greeted with pollution, which is severely common in India unfortunately.
AGRA: Of course, everyone is going to go to Agra for the Taj Mahal on their first visit to India, which is why I went as well. For me, it was similar to Delhi in the fact that I didn’t want to be there for longer than necessary, however it’s of course a must to see the Taj whilst visiting India which is why I wrote a separate blog specifically for visiting the Taj Mahal and staying in Agra. You can read it here
AGRA = MUST VISIT (1ST TIMERS)
I hadn’t planned Sambhar on my itinerary initially and happened to go there by chance as an invitation from Sambhar Heritage. I thought it was located in Jaipur which I wanted to be in for Holi which I was thankfully in India for on this trip and happened to stumble upon the opportunity.
When googling and seeing pictures of the flamingoes and salt lake – I was sold!
Real life, did not disappoint and in fact was so much more! This is purely down to the hotel, the staff, the pink co-ordination of everything in the tour (pink train to the pink salt lakes) it was just something so unique that I’d never personally experienced.
I visited the Sambhar Salt Lake on my one-day visit and I happened to see the lake flamingoes as well which were uncommon for that time of the month in India (late March – they’re seasonal so research before going if that’s a big reason for you)
At the end of the day, I just truly enjoyed my time there and sometimes I opt for a destination or tell people about a destination, not necessarily because of the scenery or area – but because of how it made me feel. If I felt connected, free and like I was living life to its rawest form – then I will recommend that feeling to anyone I can.
SAMBHAR = MUST VISIT
Where do I even begin on Jaipur?!
I did SO much there as it was the time I spent the most off and on – and there are STILL things to do!
Things to do:
Jal Mahal / Man Sagar Lake
Where to dine:
Of all the cities I visited in India – I felt most at home in Jaipur. It felt like I lived there more than visiting, maybe because I had friends there and we would do normal day to day things and it wasn’t constant tourist activities – although, it also was!
I also journeyed to Samode Palace while there which is just outside of the city.
My favourite of all the activities was definitely Nahargarh Fort and the Sagar Lake for it’s authentic local-secret! Even google has a tough time finding it, so it really is a know-to-go place.
I think I just love a fort wall climb tbh 😂
I would definitely make sure the Kings Cemetry is on your must go list as well as City Palace.
The local flower markets and fabric makers are worth every moment to see local-life and businesses.
Patrika Gate is very intricate and beautiful, but very tourist-crowded so choose the time of day you go. Same with Hawa Mahal.
The rest I do feel like it’s a very, “go, take your picture, leave” scenario, which isn’t really my vibe. It felt more like a history lesson than diving into the culture of a city. It depends your interests and preferences while traveling, for me – I’d much rather sit at a cafe, climb a viewpoint, be in nature or walk markets and talk with locals to understand a city than go to every building on the TripAdvisor list. But that’s just me.
JAIPUR = MUST VISIT
I wrote in depth about Ranthambore and also where I stayed which you can read here.
Most go for the tiger safari, to which I didn’t see any tigers. Apparently it’s t
he best spot to see them in India though. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t, what bothered me was the rush and pressure of the game drive to try and find one so desperately. I would’ve much rather cruised through the park and see whatever we see, than be driving so fast through nature (to the point we actually popped a tire)
The park itself is beautiful to be in and Ranthambore Fort is like A MUST VISIT!! It could have honestly been where they filmed King Louis Palace in the Jungle Book!
I’m 50/50 on the visit – I wouldn’t want you to miss out but I also wouldn’t want you to go for one reason and be disappointed. Go with an open expectation and mind so you can leave satisfied, would be my advice.
Ooh-la-la, city of romance! This is a must visit! Udaipur has something special down every corner.
Everything surrounds a lake and you can see locals swimming, bathing and playing whenever you walk by.
I didn’t do everything there is to do whilst visiting, but I can definitely recommend a boat tour on the lake which I did with my hotel Jagat Niwas Palace which you can read about here
We also did some shopping, wandered through the streets, walked over the bridge and had lunch on the lake.
We watched a traditional Rajasthani show with dancers, puppeteers and talent acts and then went across and dined at Ambrai with lake views of the Lake Palace
I would have liked to have gone an hour outside the city to the Monsoon Palace where you can potentially see panthers! As well as the best view of the sunrise from above the city! Next time!
UDAIPUR = MUST VISIT
KUMBALGARH / RANAKPUR:
I did both of the above cities in the same day as a drive through on my way to Jodhpur.
They’re nice to break up the trip, as India is beyond HUGE and what looks like a fingernail distance on the map, is usually a 6 hour drive!
So, if you HAPPEN to be traveling that way, they are nice places to stop in. But, I wouldn’t go out of my way to specifically visit them.
If you only have time to stop at one, or only want to stop at one – I would choose – Kumbalgarh
Kumbalgarh National Park – spot the leopard!
Jain Temple – Ranakpur
I did visit a traditional village house in Ranakpur which was nice and very welcoming.
They are both nice stop-ins to break up a trip. But I wouldn’t call either a must visit.
Jodphur was one of my favourite stops.
I just fell in LOVE with the blue city. It was so unexpected and every turn was stunning.
Mehrangarh Fort is a must! The views of the city are stunning as well as the history
Umaid Bhawan – skip!
Jaswant Thada – go if you aren’t traveling a lot of India, otherwise it’s no different to most the temples you would have already been to – skip!
Walk the blue city – MUST!
Clock Tower – MUST – not for the tower really but the markets and local life are fantastic here, there is also a world famous Omelette Sandwich shop on the other side of Sadar Market
Singhoria Hill – MUST
So, Singhoria Hill you won’t find on any Tripadvisor rec, I literally just satellite Google searched it because a local took me up there to watch sunset! So definitely go, we had the whole place to ourselves! Total magic!
JODHPUR = MUST
This was my night sleeping in the sand of the desert of India, traveling via Camel and flicking beetle bugs off me and watching the stars, patting stray dogs and basically just being Aladdin on the walk to the Cave of Wonders!
There are quite a few things in life that I hold high in my memories and sleeping under the stars on sand dunes in India is definitely one of them. You can ask for a tent, but why ruin the experience, you can camp anywhere. You can’t sleep on Indian desert sand anywhere! It wasn’t the best sleep I ever had LOL! But the experience outweighs it all.
So – Desert Camp – MUST
I would recommend everything I did, there are probably more things to do in Jaisalmer, but I felt very content with what I saw and did.
Usually at that point – I would have been Fort-ed out from seeing SO many across India, and, it has to be said, I’m not the greatest history buff, buuuttttt…….there was actually a movie being filmed there, which made it very interesting – BOLLYWOOD!
JAISALMER = MUST
SHEKHAWATI / BIKANER:
This city is very close to Jaipur and a stop along a travel way, similar to my Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur stops.
The drive from Jaisalmer to Jaipur is over 10 hours, so, it makes sense to break it up.
We saw some very beautiful Haveli’s and dined for a late breakfast, that was about it and I think all you really need on a stopover to make it worth it.
I would skip all together, there wasn’t much difference from Bikaner to Shekhawati in my opinion, we went to Junagarh Fort, which wasn’t amazing in my opinion. At this point. I was fort-ed out. So maybe if it had been the first Fort I saw. But, no, I was done. I would’ve preferred to stop in some random local town for lunch and be done with it.
Hoping that doesn’t sound really negative and not authentic to the sake of travel, but you have to remember at this point I had probably walked through over 20 temples and forts and they start to all blur into one at that point.
We did go to a camel zoo and I saw probably the grossest thing I’ll ever put on my blog (sorry bout it) this is what camels do with their tongue when they’re ready to mate, and they pretty much blow raspberries at you. It’s very unbecoming. But good for them, and their overbearing confidence. Of course, you need to stop, stretch your legs, but maybe it doesn’t HAVE to be a destination stop, maybe it can just be a local pit-stop along the highway if that makes sense.
I would visit Shekhawati, but it’s so close to Jaipur it could be a day journey if you’re basing yourself in Jaipur for a bit. I will say this that I didn’t come across Haveli’s quite as beautiful as the ones in Shekhawati, so it was worth the visit I think.
Bikaner – skip!
PUSHKAR / AJMER:
So, a lot of people raved to me about Pushkar and I didn’t really care for it. There wasn’t much to do except gather around the dam where nightly street performers play or shop the markets. There was quite a nice hike for a morning sunrise view at the top of Pushkar.
I found most the travellers there seemed to be on drugs and very much that “hippie-life” traveller, which isn’t me. So again, each to their own.
We did journey in to Ajmer in search of things to do though and Ajmer had quite a bit.
One of the most popular attractions is the Dagar Mosque. It is said that what you wish will come true.
My friend had explained it to me, but it didn’t really happen how she explained it. I think I went on a very busy day.
I’m 50/50 on Ajmer and much to probably most of who has been and reading this dismay, I would skip Pushkar. Not my vibe.
SO THERE YOU GO!
If you’re still reading this, congratulations, I am mentally drained from writing it LOL, so I hope you enjoyed it and got some useful information and tips when traveling across Rajasthan in India. Honestly road-tripping India is fun just on it’s own – of course, like any travel, when you’re city hopping things can get repetitive, so research and pick and choose.
If you know you’re going to be seeing a certain temple or fort in one place, maybe go do something more nature orientated or something that city is known for and keep your interest level at an all time high! India truly is beautiful and will pleasantly surprise you with it’s culture, beauty, local kindness and probably hands down my favourite country I’ve been to thus far!
Thank you to Janu Private Tours for providing me tours and transportation across Rajasthan!
To book and plan your own private travel visit – www.januprivatetours.com – to design your dream India trip!