It is said there is more history in Rajasthan than the rest of India put together. Welcome to the Land of the Kings, a fabled realm of maharajas and their majestic forts and lavish palaces. India is littered with splendid ruined bastions, but nowhere will you find fortresses quite as magnificent as those here, rising up imperiously from the desert landscape like fairy-tale mirages of a bygone era.
As enchanting as they are, though, there is more to this most royal of regions than its seemingly timeless architectural wonders. This is also a land of sand dunes and jungle, of camel trains and wild tigers, of glittering jewels, vivid colours and vibrant culture. There are enough festivals here to fill a calendar (and an artist’s palette), and the shopping and cuisine are nothing short of spectacular. In truth, Rajasthan just about has it all. It is the must-see state of this must-see country, brimming with startling, thought-provoking and, ultimately, unforgettable attractions.
Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, the Hawa Mahal is an extraordinary, fairy-tale, pink sandstone, delicately honeycombed hive that rises a dizzying five storeys. It was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city. The top offers stunning views over Jantar Mantar and the City Palace one way, and over Siredeori Bazaar the other.
There’s a small museum (Saturday to Thursday), with miniature paintings and some rich relics, such as ceremonial armour, which help evoke the royal past.
Claustrophobics should be aware that the narrow corridors can sometimes get extremely cramped and crowded inside the Hawa Mahal.
Entrance is from the back of the complex. To get here, return to the intersection on your left as you face the Hawa Mahal, turn right and then take the first right again through an archway.
This magnificent fort is largely made up of a royal palace, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone and white marble, and divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. You can trudge up to the fort from the road in about 10 minutes, but riding up on elephant back is very popular.
Animal welfare groups have criticised the keeping of elephants at Amber, as recent government inspections have revealed inadequate housing conditions and abuse of the animals, so you may want to think twice before taking a ride.
Whether you walk or ride an elephant, you will enter Amber Fort through Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), which leads to the Jaleb Chowk (Main Courtyard), where returning armies would display their war booty to the populace – women could view this area from the veiled windows of the palace. The ticket office is directly across the courtyard from Suraj Pol. If you arrive by car you will enter through Chand Pol (Moon Gate) on the opposite side of Jaleb Chowk. Hiring a guide or grabbing an audio guide is highly recommended as there are very few signs and many blind alleys.
From Jaleb Chowk, an imposing stairway leads up to the main palace, but first it’s worth taking the steps just to the right, which lead to the small Siladevi Temple , with its gorgeous silver doors featuring repoussé (raised relief) work.
Heading back to the main stairway will take you up to the second courtyard and the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), which has a double row of columns, each topped by a capital in the shape of an elephant, and latticed galleries above.
The maharaja’s apartments are located around the third courtyard – you enter through the fabulous Ganesh Pol , decorated with beautiful frescoed arches. The Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) is noted for its inlaid panels and multimirrored ceiling. Carved marble relief panels around the hall are fascinatingly delicate and quirky, depicting cartoonlike insects and sinuous flowers. Opposite the Jai Mandir is the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure), with an ivory-inlaid sandalwood door and a channel that once carried cooling water right through the room. From the Jai Mandir you can enjoy fine views from the palace ramparts over picturesque Maota Lake below.
The zenana (secluded women’s quarters) surrounds the fourth courtyard. The rooms were designed so that the maharaja could embark on his nocturnal visits to his wives’ and concubines’ respective chambers without the others knowing, as the chambers are independent but open onto a common corridor.
Ranthambore National Park
It is one of the largest national parks in northern India. It is situated 14 kilo Meters from Sawai Madhopur district and about 180 kilo Meters from Jaipur of southeastern Rajasthan in India. Being considered as one of the best place to view the powerful majestic predator Indian Tiger in the jungle. Ranthambore National Park is major wildlife tourist attraction and pulled attention of wildlife lover and photographers. Ranthambore National park is surrounded by the Vindhyas and Aravalis hill range and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve spread over an area approx 1410.64 sq.km including core and buffer area.
The vegetation of the Ranthambore is the tropical dry deciduous and tropical thorn type due to its hilly track, water is confined from narrow valleys and some lakes. There are several lakes in the park which known as Padam Talab, Raj Bagh Talab and Malik Talab. Ranthambore National Park is probably the best place in the world to see wild Indian tigers in its only dry deciduous natural habitat. Tigers can be easily spotted even during the day time. Ranthambore is also known for famous heritage site due to ruins and Fort. It is a home for different species of animals and birds.
Udaipur Lake Palace
Set in an 18th-century palace encompassing a Lake Pichola island, this luxury marble hotel once featured in a James Bond movie is a short boat ride from City Palace.
Featuring butler service, the opulent rooms offer lake and palace views, Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, as well as minibars, period furniture and turndown service. Suites add panoramic views and ceiling frescoes, and some have balconies or terraces. Rooms service is available 24/7.
The hotel features original art, ornate marble and glasswork throughout. Amenities include high-end restaurants and a full-service spa, fitness center & heated pool. Sunset cruises and yoga are offered.