Wonders of Rajasthan: Camels, Festivals & Forts, Oh My!

There’s so much more to Rajasthan than its historic palaces and forts: from holy lakes and desert camel rides, to vibrant festivals and tiger reserves, Rajasthan is full of surprises. Our local insider Devorah shares her top experiences for travelers.

Fairs and Festivals

Rajasthan has some of India’s best fairs and festivals throughout the year. Consider coinciding your trip with one of these, and you’ll get to experience the local culture at its best.

Some favorites include:

  • The Pushkar Camel Fair in November, which brings camel and horse traders from across the country to the holy city of Pushkar.
  • Jaisalmer’s Desert Festival, held in the Sam Sand Dunes each winter.
  • Jaipur’s colorful Kite Festival in January.

The Wonder of Jaisalmer

The walled fortress city of Jaisalmer rises from the desert, almost like a golden mirage.

Its undulating fort walls hold intricately-carved havelis (traditional townhouses and mansions in India), stunning temples, and markets within.

Some of the top attractions include:

  • Jaisalmer Fort, which is one of six hill forts of Rajasthan collectively designated as World Heritage Sites.
  • The isolated 16th century Bada Bagh, which means “huge garden” and offers stunning views.
  • The Patwon Ki Haveli, five connected mansions made of carved yellow sandstone.
  • The seven interconnected 15th and 16th century Jain temples.
  • Gadisar Lake, dotted with temples and shrines.
Jaisalmer Fort. Photo credit: Devorah Lev Tov

Majestic Udaipur

Lovingly known as the Venice of the East, Udaipur’s lakefront palaces — and the lake itself — are truly dazzling.

Udaipur's magnificent City Palace is a must-visit, and a boat ride on Lake Pichola with a stop at Jag Mandir palace is a traveler-favorite.

If you have the funds to stay at the Lake Palace (now run by Taj Hotels), it’s well worth it.

Make sure you see Jagdish Temple, go for a boat ride on Fateh Sagar Lake, visit Monsoon Palace, and see the Bagore Ki Haveli.

Top pick: Be sure to catch sunset atop one of the city’s many rooftop restaurants.

Life in Udaipur. Photo credit: Devorah Lev Tov
Sunset over Udaipur. Photo credit: Devorah Lev Tov

Palaces and Forts in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is loaded with glorious palaces and forts, some of which are now hotels.

Here are some of the most beautiful palaces and forts to squeeze into your trip:

  • In Udaipur, make sure you see City Palace and Udaivillas.
  • In Jaipur, you’ve got to visit Amber Fort and Palace, Jaigarh Fort, Rambagh Palace, and Hawa Mahal.
  • If you’re going to Bundi, head to Bundi Palace.
  • Visit Deeg Palace in Bharatpur.
  • When in Jaisalmer, you’ll no doubt visit Jaisalmer Fort.
  • A trip to Bikaner couldn’t be without Lalgarh Palace and Junagarh Fort.
  • Jodhpur’s best palaces and forts include Umaid Bahwan Palace and Mehrangarh Fort.
  • Head to Chittorgarh’s Fateh Prakash Palace, and finish off by seeing the largest fort in India, Chittorgarh Fort.

Top Rajasthan Activities

A wildlife safari in Ranthambore National Park and tiger reserve is thrilling, while boating on one of the region’s many lakes is a relaxing pastime.

You can’t go to Rajasthan without a desert camel ride among the sand dunes, followed by fire-roasted flatbreads and camping under the starry sky. That’s one seriously unforgettable adventure.

For the truly brave, a visit to Bikaner’s Karni Mata Temple (or rat temple), home to thousands of rodents, is the ultimate test in courage.

Desert camel safari in Rajasthan. Photo credit: Devorah Lev Tov

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