Rajasthan as the name suggests implies ‘Raja-ka-sthan’ (The land of the king’s), is truly a tourist’s paradise. The cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer are famous tourist cities of Rajasthan. I was fortunate enough to experience the joy, pleasure, richness and beauty of this state.
We reached Udaipur at 20:00 hours via Bombay. It is a cold but brilliant night and it feels good to be out on the tarmac of a miniscule airport and to stretch our legs. The last two hours of the flight was rather bumpy, the plane being a small 60 seater.
Udaipur is the city of lakes. It is like being transported back in time- to a town with narrow streets, marble palaces and artistic buildings. As the early morning sun’s rays hit the white washed wall they create a brilliant hue. The lake palace is Udaipur’s biggest attraction. The marble palace appears to be floating in the Lake Pichola. Overlooking the lake Pichola is the City Palace, a marvel of marble and granite. Udaipur is very traditional and yet international.
The next day took us further north to Jodhpur. After a difficult 7-hour bus trip we were finally in Jodhpur. The evening was spent taking a “tonga” (horse drawn carriage) ride through the old city and visiting the bell tower. It was a pretty site to go through the “chudi bazaar” or bangle market.
Jodhpur was ruled by the “Rathod” dynasty. We visited the “Umaid Bhavan” palace hotel for dinner. That was India in its entire splendor. Ornate furniture, luxury sedans, marble fountains and musicians under the tree. My most lingering memory is that of the water bearer with a neem and rose bowl for us to wash our hands. It was like experiencing royalty first hand.
The Mehrang Fort is a 5 km long majestic fort on a 125 m high hill, is one of the most impressive and formidable structures I have seen. We stopped at Jaswant Thada on our way back to the city. The Thada is a cluster of royal cenotaphs in white marble built in 1899 A.D.
Jaipur built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh, was India’s first planned city.
Jaipur got the name “PINK CITY”, as it needed to be painted, to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1905-06 and the only colour available with the contractor in abundance then, was PINK.
Choki Dhani, Amber Fort, Jal Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) are must visit spots.
Jaisalmer is a border town and primarily an army outpost. True to its name – the Sonar Kila or the Golden Fort did appear like a golden fortress rising out of the dessert, at once quaint and beautiful.
We spent the night in the dessert in “royal style”, in silken tents with attached baths. Then went on to see the SAM sand dunes and watched the sunset, traveling the last few kilometers on camel back. So here we are in the middle of the dessert, a few kilometers from Pakistan, watching the sunset surrounded by camels and Rajasthani women singing folk songs. This seems like a dream come true that I will cherish for ever.
Source: MSN Content(I had got the same published on MSN in Dec 2006)