Earth : Asia : South Asia : India : Western India : Rajasthan
Rajasthan is a state in the northwest of India. It is mainly arid and its western border is adjacent to Pakistan. The main attraction for travellers is the vast Desert of Thar and one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world - Aravalis - and the Rajput heritage which is apparent in the forts, temples and palaces established by the Rajput Kings like Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga and Rana Pratap.
Rajasthan is one of the larger Indian states and distances are long, making planes a fairly good option for getting in. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur all have airports with direct links to many major cities, though if coming from a smaller city, one has to go via Delhi.
Overnight trains from Delhi and Mumbai reach most of Rajasthan's major cities. For points further out, like Jaisalmer, you'll be looking at a second day on the train as well. The Shatabdi and Rajdhani express are excellent trains and have excellent service.
Another option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through Rajasthan.
The National Highway 8 which runs through Rajasthan is excellent and connects Delhi to Mumbai. Though Mumbai may be too far away, this is the most popular way to travel to Jaipur from Delhi as the road is in excellent condition and the drive can easily be completed in under 4hrs.
All the cities have public transports in form of buses.Also available are jeeps on hire. Beware of jeep drivers who charge a bomb from tourists. Otherwise from Delhi various private travel agencies organise trips to Rajasthan but they are rather costly. But if you do not travel alone, it is better to hire a car with a driver (for example a car from Delhi International Airport to Neemrana Village costs 4000 INR for five persons). Besides these government tourism department runs luxury buses to a couple of cities in Rajasthan. The buses originate from Dr. Ambedkar Terminus in the Old Delhi region.
Railways can be the better travel mode as it is quick and the service on most trains is excellent. But in Rajasthan, road may be more enjoyable for short distances as the sights of the desert with the hills to be seen are beautiful and the roads are but bearable. A popular road drive is from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, which is because the flight takes longer overall and the road is excellent.
A very popular option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through interiors of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destination to observe Indian heritage and royalty closely. A fortnight should suffice to be able to glimpse the splendor of the state. It has a lot of natural and man made tourist destinations, which include:
Sariska was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and got the status of national park in 1979. The park is famous for both its wildlife and historical monuments and temples.
Ranthambore National Park: was declared as an Indian Wildlife Sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of "Project Tiger". There are many water bodies located all over the park, which provide perfect relief during the extremely hot summer months for the forest inhabitants.
Desert Safari:Desert safari is the best way to explore the world famous “Thar Desert”, located in Rajasthan. Tourists can explore the real beauty of Rajasthan villages, their culture, tradition and colours through this amazing ride.
Avoid shopping at outlets guided by the local auto/ricksha drivers or even with the local tour guide you may have hired as these outlets all claim to have some assosiation with the Rajasthan government or the actual artisans which are generaly fabricated claims and you end up paying anywhere between 20-40% above the actual price (including a hefty commission parted by the shopkeeper to the guide/auto driver). The guide is more keen to show you all these shops rather than the places you have travelled to see.
Bargain is the key word. If you are buying jewelry, artefact's, handicrafts, etc. definitely bargain. Most tourist shops bargain up to 30 - 50% while some shops (mostly big stores like National Handloom, Bhandari Exports, Jaipur Rugs, India Crafts, Government organizations, etc.) have fixed rates with little or no scope discount on bulk buying.
Food is generally very spicy - to be enjoyed in moderation for first timers. Dairy based sweet products are very popular in this part of the country. Restaurants are mostly vegetarian. Finding restaurants serving good non-vegetarian food could be difficult, and in general, non vegetarian stuff in road side eateries should be avoided. Bread - both leavened and unleavened is readily available.
A typical Rajasthani fare would include daal-baati-churma. Daal is lentil curry;baati is round balls made out of wheat flour and baked in charcoal fire;churma is a dessert made out of crushed wheat balls rolled in jaggery/sugar and topped with ghee.
As always, be careful when traveling alone, and avoid venturing out late at nights and beware of touts. One of the safest ways to travel around is by having a driver who knows their way around Rajasthan.
Spitting, urinating and dumping garbbage in public places and streets is very common and you need to watch out for this. Vehicles in India are driven on the left side of the road; therefore be aware of it in the street when walking/driving.
There are many clinics and hospitals in major cities which provide quality treatment at affordable prices. Also health tourism is on the upswing.