In order to truely experience life in Northern India, it is essential you spend some time exploring the State of Rajasthan, renowned for its colourful cities, huge forts, impressive palaces, and stunning temples set amongst rugged desert landscapes. Most travellers who visit India will visit Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan as it forms part of India’s tourism hotspot the “Golden Triangle,” which consists of Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi. But Jaipur only brushes on the surface of what life is like in Rajasthan, and if you have anywhere from 1-2 weeks to explore the state, there are a few other Rajasthani cities that are not to be missed.
There are several ways to travel around Rajasthan, depending on your timeframe and budget. Trains and buses frequent between most of the cities, and are an affordable but slightly longer option. Alternatively, the cost to hire a private driver is between $30 and $50 USD per day (which can be split between people).
So without further ado, these are my must-see cities in Rajasthan (in a Delhi-Delhi circuit)…
Bikaner is a great first destination in Rajasthan from Delhi. We visited the impressive Junagarh Fort, probably the most impressive fort in Rajasthan (at least in my opinion,) and one of Bikaner’s lesser-known attractions, the rat temple. Karni Mata Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Karni Mata, and as its name suggests, a temple that is filled with rats scurrying about.
Jaisalmer was probably my favourite city we visited in Rajasthan. It is known as the “Golden City” because of its distinguished golden sandstone architecture. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, the only remaining living fort in Rajasthan (meaning the fort is still used as a place for people to live and work). The city itself is small enough to navigate on foot, and the abundance of eateries and markets make the city very easy to get lost in.
Located in the heart of the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is also one of the best places to do an overnight desert safari, where you are able to go out into the desert and spend a night sleeping under the stars. This was one of the highlights of our trip for sure, there was plenty of entertainment for use and the food was great too!
Jodhpur is known as the “Blue City,” because of its blue buildings that line its skyline among the Thar Desert. Also prominent in Jodhpur’s skyline is the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, which was formerly palace but has now been turned into a museum.
Heading from Jodhpur to Udaipur it was clear the Udaipur was far more developed than other parts of Rajasthan. The city is set around a series of artificial lakes and is known for its lavish City Palace, definitely the most impressive palace we explored on our trip.
Pushkar was our final destination in Rajasthan before heading to the capital Jaipur. It is set around Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu site with 52 ghats (stone staircases) that is an important Pilgrimage site for locals. Make sure you hike (or take a cable car) up the mountain to the temple for an impressive view of the town, and try one of Rajasthan’s famed bhang lassi’s: a drink that’s made of yoghurt or milk, nuts, spices like cardamom and cinnamon, rose water, and cannabis.
One vendor even made me a vegan version of a bhang lassi!
After Pushkar we explored the city of Jaipur, and continued on to rest of the Golden Triangle, which you can read about here.