Rajasthan and the North
Rajasthan and the North is a captivating region covering India’s thriving capital, rural villages, ancient dusty cities and the golden expanse of the great Thar Desert. Rajasthan is a glittering celebration of colour and history, replete with majestic forts and palaces, whereas the north is the heartland of Hinduism, with the mythical Ganges River providing its spiritual backbone.
Begin your adventure through Rajasthan and the North in the internationally connected Delhi, India’s constantly developing capital city bursting with colour and energy. This metropolis of new-build conveniences is dotted with ancient treasures, such as the including the 12th Century Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, the 17th Century Red Fort, and Humayun’s Tomb, a magnificent red sandstone and marble structure that inspired the designs of the Taj Mahal. Take a cosy over-night train south to Agra; home of the Taj Mahal, a globally recognizable symbol of eternal love. Built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory on his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, this enchanting mausoleum will leave you speechless.
India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh is also home to the ancient and photogenic Varanasi, one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities. The large stone steps of the Ghats allow hundreds of pilgrims to cleanse themselves of sin in the Ganges. Every evening Dasaswamedh Ghat hosts Puja the ‘prayer ceremony’, where Pilgrims chant, incense burns and cymbals crash while tea lights are set afloat into the Ganges.
Explore Rajasthan’s blushing capital Jaipur, famed for its pretty pink exteriors, is built upon ancient tales of rulers and romance. The city’s most famous exterior is perhaps the intricate façade of Hawa Mahal – the ‘Palace of Winds’. Whilst in Jaipur absorb every spectacular detail of Amber Fort, the ancient capital of the old Jaipur State, navigate the remarkably accurate 300 year old Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory, or explore old Jaipur’s colourful maze of bazaars and decorative havelis.
South-west of Jaipur, glistening Udaipur is a romantic country garden of pretty lakes, decadent palaces, temples and fortresses. Discover the City Palace, wander the elegant gardens of Sahelion-ki-bari (‘Garden of the Maids of Honour’), and in the evening drift past the beautiful outlines of palaces on Lake Pichola.
In Rajasthan’s east, discover the ancient trade hub of Jaisalmer, nicknamed the ‘Golden City’, and its distinctive sandstone architecture. Take an early evening camel ride into the picturesque dunes of the great Thar Desert for an unforgettable sunset.
Escape the somewhat chaotic crowds of the dusty cities to rural Rajasthan, and experience the unique charm of traditional village life in Bundi, Orchha, Chanoud or in many other off-the-beaten-track gems. Scattered with less frequented temples, forts, caves and Ghats, here you can enjoy the splendours of Rajasthan at your own leisurely pace.
It’s not all about forts; Rajasthan is also home to Ranthambore National Park, famed for its population of stunning Bengal tigers. It was first used as a hunting ground for the sport of ancient Maharajas and their guests and today beautiful architectural clues still dot the horizon and forge a truly spectacular backdrop. This National Park is also home to leopards, hyenas, jackals, sloth bears, mongoose and spotted deer. You may also spot Indian marsh crocodiles, chinkaras and kingfishers on the banks of the picturesque Lake Rajbagh Talao.
Here, Imagine Asia specialist and keen photographer Ric tells us why Rajasthan is one of his favourite places to take photos, and shares a few of his favourite snaps from his recent trip.
Rajasthan is famous for its impenetrable hill forts – imposing structures that tower over the surrounding landscape and create excellent viewing points for surveying the state. With so many magnificent pieces of defensive engineering across Rajasthan, we asked our specialists to pick out their top five hill forts...
From Rajasthan's blushing capital Jaipur which is built upon ancient tales of rulers and romance, to the irrefutably romantic Udaipur known as 'the city of lakes', Rajasthan is brimming with love. We've picked out our top five romantic properties in Rajasthan for those looking for something a little special...