Rajasthan is easily one of the most exciting states to visit in India, but all too often the same places within it seem to snatch the limelight. Destinations like the state’s capital, Jaipur, and Jodhpur, with its amazing blue buildings, are undoubtedly a must, but if you fancy exploring somewhere lesser known while you’re here, read our guide for hints and tips on where to go.
Junagadh Fort (Bikaner)
Dating back to the 16th century, Junagadh Fort is a little deceptive in that, from the outside, it doesn’t look massively impressive. Inside, however, it’s an entirely different story. Throne rooms, beautifully sculpted palaces and pavilions are the order of the day here, so make sure that when you visit you actually go inside.
There are lots of different architectural styles to spot, plus it is one of just a handful of Rajasthan forts that wasn’t built on top of a hill. Unless you’re really into your Indian architecture, this might not immediately mean much to you, but it practical terms it tells you that this a pretty rare sight.
Karni Mata (Bikaner)
Also in Bikaner, Karni Mata is probably one of the more bizarre sights you’ll see on your travels. You’ll find it at Deshnok, which is nearby, and you should brace yourself if you’re scared of rodents, since this desert shrine is constantly swarming with holy rats – not something you’ll often come across!
Classic havelis (Bundi)
It’s worth seeing some classic havelis or mansions while you’re in Rajasthan, since they’re a part of the local heritage. One of the best places to find them is Bundi, which feels like a real slice of the past – especially as it’s so far off the tourist trail that you’ll rarely spot crowds of visitors milling about. Amble through the backstreets and you’ll find havelis aplenty, many of which will be crumbling with age.
Sukh Mahal (Bundi)
Another interesting place to stop by while you’re in Bundi – especially if you’re interested in literature – is Sukh Mahal. Rudyard Kipling spent time in this lovely little town writing, you see, and this is where he stayed while working on his novel Kim.
Probably the most striking site in Bundi is Bundi Palace, and it’s one well worth seeing. These days, it looks somewhat dilapidated, but if you head inside you can check out some really impressive 17th-century murals in stunning colours – certainly well worth the trip!
If you really want to get off the beaten track, there’s pretty much no better way to do so than by heading into the Thar Desert. One of the best things about coming here is that it’s such a massive contrast to India’s bustling, hectic cities, and there’s a real sense of stillness as you explore.
For the ultimate experience, go camel trekking through the desert. You can set out during the day with skilled guides, who will take you to a campsite where you’ll spend the night. En route, don’t expect to see a whole lot besides a huge expanse of sand – but that’s all part of the magic. Plus, when the sun goes down, you’ll see the most amazing canopy of stars – definitely something you’re not likely to forget in a hurry!
So, when searching for a tour of Rajasthan, make sure yours contains at least one or two lesser-known sites. That way, you can dig a little deeper than the usual tourist fodder and have even more exciting stories to tell your friends and family back home.