All you need to know about Rajasthan before you travel

Amber Fort

Rajasthan is packed full of beautiful cities, regal palaces, imposing forts, captivating temples, still lakes, impressive step-wells and barren red hills. The region, rich in history, has always been at the forefront of creative art and architecture. With so many interesting rural towns and villages to visit along the way, Cox & Kings’ India tours experts have created a guide to all you need to know about Rajasthan before you travel. A journey through this intriguing region will reveal spectacular Jain and Hindu temples, the immense wealth and majesty of the fabled maharajas and the opportunity to meet local farmers and skilful artisans at work.

Location

Rajasthan is India’s largest state by area, much of which is covered by the Thar Desert. Lying in the north-west of the country, it is home to the ancient Aravalli range of hills. Its capital is the pink city of Jaipur.

Languages

Hindi; however, given the enormous diversity, regional languages tend to dominate certain geographical areas. English is widely spoken.

Population

69 million (Rajasthan only)

Currency

Indian rupee (INR /Rs) = 100 paise. £1 = Rs 82

Time Zone GMT

+5.5 hours

Visas

Required for British passport holders and should be obtained prior to departure from the UK.

Potted history

The collapse of the Gupta Empire in the fifth century opened the way for successive smaller kingdoms to assert themselves. The arrival of the Mughals and then the British changed more than just the political landscape. Today, in large parts of northern India, it is the impact of the Mughals and that of the princely Rajput kingdoms that is most strikingly evident.

When to go

Autumn (October / November) is the post-monsoon season in India, when the weather is mild and the countryside is lush and picturesque. The winter months (December – February) are ideal as the weather during the day is pleasant (early morning / late evenings can be chilly).

What to read

The Majesty of Mughal Decoration: The Art & Architecture of Islamic India by George Michell & Mumtaz Currim. This book contains a rich array of photographs, including some detailed close-ups, of wall reliefs, inlaid metal hookah bowls, carpets, jade sword hilts and embroidered shawls, which show common themes in Mughal art. The accompanying text places the images in their historical and architectural context.

Where to stay

Ranvas, Nagaur
The brainchild of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Ranvas, an 18th-century pleasure palace, is set within the ramparts of the Ahhichatragarh Fort. Superbly restored, Ranvas features 10 elegantly furnished havelis, with each haveli comprising up to three rooms, a private courtyard and an outside living area.

Mountbatten Lodge, Kumbhalgarh
Set in the shadows of the Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary, the small, cosy and intimate Mountbatten Lodge, with just four comfortably furnished and elegantly decorated suites, is a convenient base to explore the exquisite Ranakpur temples, the majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort and the Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary.

Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
The Taj Lake Palace Hotel, originally known as Jag Niwas, was built in 1754 by Maharana Jagat Sigh II as his summer palace. Today, this former pleasure palace is a luxury hotel like no other in the world, set on an island in the middle of Udaipur’s Lake Pichola. Relax amid slender marble carved columns, filigree screens and fountains.

Top tip

The lavish ruling dynasties of Rajputana, in breathtakingly beautiful settings, created forts and palaces of extraordinary scale and exquisite design. Today, many of these have been converted into delightful hotels and offer guests exceptional levels of hospitality and a special way to experience the country’s heritage.* recommendation by Cox & Kings Indian expert – Balaji Kandasamy.

What to eat

Laal maas. This traditional Rajasthani curry – prepared by marinating either mutton or lamb with ground spices, curd and red chillies to give it a red tinge and make it extra hot and spicy – is served with pilau rice or chapatti, for a simple and filling midday meal.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Cox & Kings

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