6 Rajasthani Experiences that must be on your bucket list!
The word ‘Rajasthan’ engulfs in itself two words – ‘Raj’ and ‘Sthan’ meaning the ‘Abode of the Rajas’. And that’s exactly how you feel when you come to the land of the Royals. When in school, children are educated about the various landscapes of India in the droning geography curriculum – the Himalayas, the deccan wetlands, the rivers and the plains, but when it comes to the famed ‘Thar’, almost every child has curiosity lit up on reference to the only desert of the country.
The magnificence of the land of Rajasthan can just not be into words. The golden grains singing ballads of history, the gigantic walls that have witnessed centuries pass by, the pink walls that speak of royalty every now and then, the aging Aravalis that express their wisdom of civilizations unknown to humankind – the largest state of India truly whelms in itself several wonders, or as one may say – it’s an open air gallery of history, art and culture.
That said, here are 7 things to do in rajasthan, which they truly are, that are not to be missed in this lifetime.
What better to start with than direct experience with the soul of this majestic place called Rajasthan – the lofty sand dunes, the infinite stretch of nothing, miraculous mirages with a magical encounter with star lit sky at night – the thrill of Thar across Jaisalmer and Bikaner stretches is a once in a lifetime experience. If you have an angle for adventure, you could experience ‘dune driving’. The Thar is an equally ideal place for soul-searching travellers who will find ultimate peace & enlightenment in the cool evening airs and the divine wisdom of the good ole’ camel.
Royal Rajasthan is not just about the mighty Thar. In fact, contrary to popular belief, large parts of Rajasthan boast of deciduous green covers of forests almost accounting for 9% area in Rajasthan. There are a number of wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan that are home to some of the many critically endangered species. The infamous Ranthambore National Park is home to a range of wild animals including the regal Royal Bengal Tiger. Equally enthralling are the Sariska National Park, the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, National Chambal Sanctuary, Sita Mata Sanctuary etc – homes to some of the most enchanting wildlife and avian species. Some of the most interesting ones would be the vegetarian mammal flying squirrel, great indian bustard, blackbuck, four-horned antelope, fishing cat and many more. It is almost unbelievable that the waters of Chambal River near Dholpur provide home to almost one third of the Gangetic Dolphin population in country.
Colour Adorned Cities
Some of the most interesting features of the cities of Rajasthan include the brilliant architecture, area planning and their manifestly unique features. It is often said that no city in Rajasthan offers the same atmosphere. One very interesting detail is that more or less every city is color coordinated. The city of Jaipur is pink, Jodhpur is blue, Jhalawar is purple and Udaipur is white. All these cities are embellished with magnificent palaces that have been converted into tourist spots and museums except for the Jaisalmer Fort, which is still the abode of a huge mass of population and is apparently the only inhabited fort in the World. Even today, majority of Jaisalmer’s population resides within the fort. Another fascinating Palace is the Lake Palace located right in the middle of on the Lake Pichola in Udaipur. The famous Mehrangarh palace in Jodhpur is a sight to cherish. The breathtaking views are a must at Amer (Amber), Nahargarh and Jaigarh forts, located within miles of each other making it easier to visit all three in a day. The gigantic, unconquerable Kumbhalgarh Fort near Udaipur boasts of the second largest wall in the world along with the most thought-provoking stories of the valour of the warriors of Mewar. The havelis of Hadoti region along with some marvelous palaces – Bundi fort, Palaita fort, Shahabad fort, Gagron fort, Shergarh fort and many, many palatial historic ruins are worth a trip.
The Haunted Tale
Who doesn’t love a good, spooky story that keeps you up at night? The nightmare comes true in some of the mysterious sites of Rajasthan. It’s only logical that a land that’s honored with some of the oldest monuments, cultures and history would also have its share of mysteries and unsolved, unanswered ballads. The haunted fort of Bhangarh has cached many eyes over the past few decades. It is often said that it is one of the most haunted places on earth. A two hour drive from Jaipur, the beautiful village of Bhangarh lies in the Alwar district. Though many, many stories spin around the pillars of the historical fort of Bhangarh, the one most prevalent revolves around the curse of a wizard who jinxed the inhabitants of the fort that they all would die an unnatural death and their spirits will stay there for centuries and haunt the area eternally. Archeological Survey of India has prohibited for anyone to stay inside the fort area after sunset and before sunrise. Locals say whoever has tried to stay inside after sunset was never found. Another haunted destination is the Kuldhara village located18 kms from Jaisalmer. Founded by the Paliwal Brahmins, legend has it that in 19th century, the residents of the entire village and 83 surrounding villages vanished overnight for unknown reasons. Locals say that people who attempting to stay there in the late hours have been chased away by strange paranormal phenomenon.
Fairs & Festivals
While only a grain of what Rajasthan has to offer has been covered as yet, the land of the royals has immense to bid in terms of the wide array of festivals of varied natures and for all age groups. The World’s largest camel fair – the Pushkar Mela seems like a dreamy set up of picturesque hues and grass root experience of the true Rajasthani culture. The festival is awaited and attended from across the globe. Another such Festival, though strikingly in contrast, is the Jaipur Literature Festival held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur. A confluence of thinking, writing, conversing, culture and literature, the JLF is an annual event attended and earmarked internationally. The spring festival procession of Gangaur in the heart of Jaipur city is a diverse festivity honoring Lord Shiva and Godess Gauri. On the day of Kachi Gangaur, the sight of traditionally dressed women carrying clay idols of Gan-Gaur over their heads amidst colours and gotas is breath taking. The desert festival in Jaisalmer, Nagore fair, Elephant festival in Jaipur, Pushkar International Ballooning Festival, Urs Fair at Ajmer, Mewar Festival, Kolayat Fair and Abu Summer Festival are some of the many celebrations that will keep your soul drenched in the shades and freshness of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is also host to some of the most beautiful and soul-enriching music festivals like the Rajasthan International Folk Festival, Jodhpur (RIFF), World Sufi Spirit Festival (Nagaur, Jodhpur), Ragasthan (Jaisalmer) and Magnetic Fields (Alsisar).
The Land of Harmony
While the residents of this beautiful state live in harmony, the Gods are not far behind. Every nook and corner of Rajasthan is blessed with religious and spiritual sites of all natures. In fact, the twin cities – Ajmer and Pushkar stand upright depicting the harmony between the worshipped where Ajmer is home of the dargah of the sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, Pushkar is endowed with the oldest and apparently only Bramha temple in the world. The State of Rajasthan also has a number of Jain temples like the Ranakpur and Dilwara Temples. Devotees of Lord Krishna find blessings int the Govind Dev ji ka mandir in Jaipur while the Eklingji mandir in Udaipur is devoted to Lord Shiva. While the list may go on, one temple worth mentioning is the Bullet Baba temple. It is a temple in a small village named Chotilla in Pali district about 40 km from Jodhpur, where the presiding deity is a Royal Enfield Bullet Motorcycle. Equally fascinating is the Karni Mata ji ka Temple which is protected by none other than sacred rats!
All said and done, Rajasthan is much more than words. It’s beautiful, blue sky kissing Aravalis are backdrop to cities that are home to genuine, warm-hearted people who will win you over with their warmth, friendliness and royal hospitality. What’s more? The divine cuisines will satisfy your foodie quench like never before. (Read about the 5 best places to eat at Jaipur). The enchanted convergence of scenic beauty, golden heritage, colorful culture, great food and amazing people is bound to deliver for you an experience of a lifetime.