India is a unique destination! If everyone had warned us before our departure, it was still not easy to prepare for the unknown. This is the story of our journey through the princely state of Rajasthan, the region of the palaces and imperial fortresses. In this article, we share with you our 14-day travel itinerary in Rajasthan, our favorites addresses and our tips to plan your road trip in Rajasthan.
DAYS 1-2 | DELHI
If many had advised us not to visit Delhi (too big, polluted, exhausting) we were finally surprised to have a good time there! Ok no need to drag on, but 1 or even 2 nights on your arrival is not a bad idea, also a way to acclimatize.
We recommend Humayun’s Tomb, a magnificent sandstone mausoleum. It’s a bit crowded, but nothing like its famous marble counterpart, the Taj Mahal. To find peace, a visit to another mausoleum, that of Safdarjung, just a few minutes away, is perfect.
While in Delhi, you also have to go to the Lotus Temple, a building reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House. Built in the 1980s, the Lotus temple is a house of worship for all religions. We love the spirit, the garden, the turquoise water and the meditation room, the only place in India where we have found absolute calm!!! So rare that it had to be mentioned!
Finally, the archaeological site of Qutb Minar is also to be done. Early in the morning, we were alone to enjoy the views of the minaret, the arches and the vaults. The gardens are full of chipmunks (from the squirrel family but smaller).
DAY 3 | DELHI – AGRA
The journey really begins when you leave Delhi, on the way to Agra (which is not part of Rajasthan, but which is next to Delhi and is a must-see in India of course!).
The Taj Mahal, the most visited site in the whole country, listed as a World Heritage Site, 15,000 visitors a day on average rush through its alleys.
DAYS 4-5 | AGRA – JAIPUR
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, also known as the Pink City. By bike we see effortlessly (Jaipur is flat) many neighborhoods and must-see sites of the city: vegetable market, the flower market with so many colors and fragrances. We continue with a crossing of the bazaars, in each district its craftsmen. Marble sculptors, precious stone cutters at jewelers etc. We discover skills and finesse in the work. Jaipur is particularly famous worldwide for its precious stones, here transits 80% of the precious stones of the world!! It’s thrilling to watch. We see the magnificent gates that delimit the old city (the pink city as it is called here), we stop in front of the splendid Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal).
DAY 6 | AMBER
Early in the morning, we leave the hotel and in 10 minutes (no traffic jam at 6:30 am) we find ourselves in Amber, photo break first at the Jal Mahal, for the postcard: the small palace floating on the waters from Man Sagar Lake.
We continue our walk, pass the Anokhi Museum which is still closed and take the road that goes up, towards Lake Hanuman Sagar. There, an improbable scene, well not in India, a car arrives at full speed, a woman and a man start screaming, we get a little scared we admit… but who are these people? They open the trunk and take out crates filled with bananas…hundreds of monkeys are running up the hill to get their breakfast, it’s amazing!! We are here with our mouths open!! We continue and arrive at the lake, in the small adjoining temple, it’s the ceremony, it sings, it’s beautiful to hear. Here, our acolytes do it again, but this time feed the thousands of fish in the lake…In India, we are overwhelmed…our past as park rangers is completely confused…In Australia, and everywhere else, we learn that we must not NOT FEED the wild animals… but in this country, everything is different, it’s for their karma… They upset the whole balance of the ecosystem but that they really don’t care I think!! We continue our journey, and the best is yet to come, we climb to the observation tower at the top of the super steep stairs… it’s a steep climb, but from up there, we improvise a breakfast with a splendid view of the fortress from Amber, the 9km of ramparts, we are alone (finally with the sated monkeys taking their digestive nap after all these bananas!!), it is 8am and the town below is slowly waking up.
DAY 7 | PUSHKAR
Like many cities in this itinerary, we did Pushkar too quickly and that’s a shame. One night and a morning, not enough to be able to soak up the cool atmosphere of the city.
Arrived at the end of the afternoon the day before, we will have had just enough time to go up to the small pink temple perched on the hill next to the city (be careful there are several hills and several temples) this one is the Temple, it only takes half an hour to go up and the view is stunning, even if we had this very polluted sky after the Diwali celebrations (millions of firecrackers and fireworks set off…it does damage..).
DAY 8 | UDAIPUR
We really liked Udaipur (not to say that it was our favorite)! And to think that we had really hesitated to come there, because the beautiful white city is far away for a circuit in Rajasthan… One thing is certain, we are happy to have done the road, which ultimately was not so terrible, it is the highway from Pushkar.
Udaipur is smaller than Jaipur or Jodhpur, it is also more pleasant to live in and therefore to visit.
We start with the visits: already the incredible City Palace, an enormous palace that dominates the city! As already mentioned, for us it’s more the photos than the culture, so we opted for a boat cruise at sunset on Lake Pichola which allowed us to enter the palace grounds (it’s the City Palace boats actually). Kill two birds with one stone. Admittedly, we weren’t able to access all the rooms, but that already gave us an idea of the splendor of the place.
With this boat company, it is a little more expensive, but we make a very nice stop on Jag mandir island, next to one of the most famous hotels in India, the Lake Palace. We can enjoy the place, it’s beautiful!
DAYS 9-10 | JODHPUR
Basically, in Jodhpur there is the huge Merangarh fortress to visit (certainly the most impressive and one of the most beautiful in Rajasthan), you can walk up there in about twenty minutes from the Clock Tower (the landmark of Jodhpur).
Then, the center of the old town is really small in Jodhpur, all the cafes, rooftops, restaurants are nearby, we quickly went around because the offer is not huge either. We tested the Jhankar restaurant which was very nice, always crowded so to have a place on the roof in the evening, it is better to book or go there early. We wanted to have a drink at the Step Well Café, which is a stylish bar with a rooftop terrace, but it was under renovation.
For those who want to go shopping, Jodhpur offers the greatest diversity of handicrafts with Udaipur, especially here wood, metals and decorative fabrics with mirror, we had more space in the luggage, to my great regret! Finally, we were still able to buy souvenirs in a shop of an association dedicated to the development of women, Sambhali Trust. They were adorable, had lots of nice things and it’s the pleasure of doing a good deed. For those who like to negotiate, you have to go to the Sardar Bazar market, from 11:30 am to the end of the day, it’s in full swing!
DAYS 11-12 | BIKANER
We were originally supposed to go to Jaisalmer, but we realized that it was ultimately too far and were tired of spending hours or even days in the car. We then opted for Bikaner which, on the same model as Jaisalmer, is a city in the desert, offering many camel excursions and overnight stays in the desert.
DAYS 13-14 | BACK TO DELHI VIA MANDAWA
The road from Bikaner to Delhi is very long, about 8 hours of driving was way too much for a single day… So we decided to cut it in half, spending the night in the small town of Mandawa, 200km from Delhi.
A city known to house many old havelis (you know the beautiful period homes). Moreover, our hotel, Le Rhadika was one of them and it was an experience in itself. Ask for a room upstairs, those downstairs can smell musty… (about RS.2500 for a double room).
We really enjoyed our stop in Mandawa, just to arrive less exhausted in Delhi and especially not in the middle of the night.