Backpacking Rajasthan: 7 Reasons to Visit India’s Jewel At Least Once

Backpacking Rajasthan: 7 Reasons to Visit India’s Jewel At Least Once
Trip101 Editorial
Trip101 Editorial
Updated

Women decked out in pompous jewellery and men adorning thick turbans and thicker moustaches. Ornate royal palaces, an endless desert, forts with gorgeous city-views, EDM Holi parties- It’s safe to say that Rajasthan is an intense cultural affair.

You see, here’s the thing about India in general- it is inexpensive and spectacular. And with the backpacking culture on the rise, the travel scenario of India is better than ever.

I recently backpacked solo across the 5 cities of Rajasthan, starting from Delhi. In this article, check out 7 unmissable experiences of Rajasthan- where to do what and the best travel itinerary to cover all of it on a budget.

1. The Palaces and Forts of Jaipur

Rajasthan, translating to the Land of Kings, stands true to its name indeed. At its heart lays the pink city of Jaipur, which breathes an eccentric and royal air. I’ll jump straight to recommendations here because I’ve got plenty!

Things to do in Jaipur

Hawa Mahal

Made out of red and pink sandstone, this one’s the real show-stopper of the pink city. With minimal design on the inside and a contrasting pompous façade, this Mahal is an architectural genius

Nahargarh Fort

Go here for the sunset and stay back till the city lights start popping down below slowly. The fort offers a truly magical experience in this way.

Amer Fort

With a room made out of mirrors, the famed green walls, and a beautiful view of the city from atop, this fort sits high on a hill and is a must-visit.

City Palace

The four gates of the city palace left me stunned, to begin with. If you buy the 50$ ticket for the full tour, you’ll come face to face with the true royal life of India, which is fascinating, to say the least.

Patrika Gate

A truly stunning structure, this gate serves no other purpose than making one admire the beauty of colours, and it is every bit successful at that.

The Albert Hall Museum

As gorgeous as it is on the outside, the museum has a unique collection of artefacts. From coins to statues, everything here introduces you to the rich history of the Rajputs.

2. The Desert Safari of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer lies in the heart of the Great Indian Desert of Thar, which is also the most densely populated desert of the world. You’re likely to come across Rajasthani tribes immersed in traditions and culture, with pet camels, face tattoos, and a sheer vibrancy in their attires.

I took a private desert Safari with Zostel Escape, which was one of the highlights of my trip. I found myself away from the tourist crowd in the golden desert, admiring the traditional food and dance of the locals. After an eventful day, we slept under a starry sky in the desert itself.

Check out the uniquely crafted escapes by Zostel, which give you the finest travel experiences in different cities here- https://www.zostel.com/escape/

Things to do in Jaisalmer

The Golden Fort, Sonar Quila

Apart from this amazing experience, I also had the perk of staying in one of the very few “living forts” of the world with Zostel Jaisalmer. There’s a whole city burgeoning inside the fort, with schools, temples, city square, shops, and houses. Imagine living high up into a fortified citadel- it was a unique thing for sure.

The Havelis

Around the town, there are havelis that exhibit exceptional stone carving. The two most beautiful ones were the Patwaon ki Haveli and Nathmal ki Haveli, and you wouldn’t get enough of just gawking at them if you’re even mildly intrigued with architectural styles.

The Gadisar Lake

I watched the sunset once from the opposite end of the Gadisar Lake and once from the fort, and both were worth the while.

3. The Dreamy Blue Town of Jodhpur

The old city area of Jodhpur has all its houses painted blue and white, making for a rather picturesque scene. Rajasthan being arid and extremely hot as a place takes refuge from the harsh sun with these cooling colours. Stroll around the town, amusing yourself with its raw culture, pretty corners, and the friendliest people.

Things to do in Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort

The only fort in Jodhpur, this is a great place to get a panoramic view of the blue houses of the city. With intricately carved stone facades and vast balconies, the fort should be first on your list in Jodhpur.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

A museum from inside, this architecturally pleasant palace sits high up on a hill. Go here for a quiet and serene sunset.

4. The Holi Festival in Pushkar

The Holi in Pushkar is craaazy
Source: Dharvi Dogra

Holi in Pushkar is a crazy event, quite literally. I’d nonetheless recommend you go for it since it is as unique an experience as it gets. The party begins three days in advance. There are buckets of local cannabis drink, EDM music, powder colours, water balloons, carnival masks, confetti, and even bizarre costumes. And this goes on for 3 days straight!

Things to do in Pushkar

Sitting by the ghats is one of the most soothing experiences Pushkar has to offer. Rent a bike and ride to the different temples of the town, explore the markets for a good shop, try the chic cafes and hike up the hills nearby to make the most of your time.

5. The Gorgeous City of Lakes, Udaipur

With lakes, palaces, gardens, ghats, and more palaces, Udaipur is a lavish city known popularly as the City of Lakes. Here’s all you can look forward to.

Things to do in Udaipur

Jag Mandir and Lake Palace

If you’re amazed that there can be a palace inside a lake, take this- in Udaipur, there are two. The grandeur of the Lake Palace knows no bounds. With a crystal gallery and stunning balconies, the palace sits right in the middle of the lake and is reached by a boat ride. Similarly, the Jag Mandir is also an island palace, loved for its Rajput architecture.

City Palace

A cluster of 11 palaces by the Lake Pichola, this palace has grand courtyards, gardens, and beautiful mosaics to marvel at.

Fateh Sagar Lake

With 2 small islands doubling as public parks, this lake offers great opportunities for photography.

Monsoon Palace

A hilltop palace, this is where you go for illuminated sunsets. You may remember this place from the famous Bond movie, Octopussy.

6. The Exceptional Food of Rajasthan

In the land of kings, it’s only fair to eat like one! From utterly filling lunch platters to midnight snacks and desserts, there’s a lot of food to look forward to in the State.

The must-haves of Rajasthan include Dal Baati of Jaisalmer, Lassi and Baati Churma of Jaipur, Ghevar of Udaipur, and Mirchi Vada of Jodhpur, and the Israeli street food of Pushkar.

Jaipur

LMB and Bhagat Mishtan Bhandar for snacks, Chokhi Dhani for a flavourful Rajasthani meal and the Peacock Rooftop Restaurant for Continental

Udaipur

Krishna Dal Bati, Millets of Mewar for vegan and gluten-free options

Jodhpur

Gypsy for a filling thali, The Curry’s for crazy North Indian, Shandar Sweet House for desserts

Jaisalmer

Try daal baati and local snacks like kachori in any food shop in the market

Pushkar

Laffa & Falafel in the main market, Café Nature’s Blessing for vegan and organic delicacies, Café lake view for a date with a beautiful sunset

7. A Shopper’s Paradise

If you have a knack of bargaining, you’re going to LOVE shopping in Rajasthan. I’ll put it this way. If you come here with a bag full of stuff, you’ll leave with two! Here are all the places that you must visit, even if you’re not much of a shopper.

Johri Bazar and Bapu Bazar, Jaipur

Jaipur has one of the largest markets of jewellery in the world. From silver to lac, metal to gold, the market is uptight with all kinds of gorgeous ornaments. Other things you’ll find in abundance are cloth items like bedsheets, bags, leather sandals and shoes, and home décor elements.

Clock Tower Market, Jodhpur

Jodhpur is famous for its extraordinarily embroidered leather products. So if you want to take back some creative stuff like wallets, belles, bags, and belts, wait till you see this market.

Hathi Pole and Bapu Bazar, Udaipur

From glass articles to wooden crafts, and marble structures, the markets of Udaipur swarm with classic handmade home décor items. You’ll also find neat footwear in the markets.

Main Market, Pushkar

If you love all things Indie and Boho, you’ll absolutely love Pushkar’s tiny shops filled with vibrant garments, Tibetan influenced bags and shawls, and much more.

Now that we’re done with all the experiences that await you, let’s jump to the best way to make the most of them.

The Ideal Itinerary for Rajasthan, India

Doesn’t matter if you’re going for a road trip, taking cheap local transports, hiring taxis, or even hitchhiking, the itinerary gels well with all kinds of plans!

It covers the 5 prominent cities of Rajasthan- Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, and Jaisalmer along with the two metro cities- Delhi and Mumbai. And Agra, well, because you don’t want to miss out on the remarkable Taj Mahal when in India!

Delhi - Agra (1N) - Jaipur (3N) - Pushkar (2N) - Jodhpur (2N) - Jaisalmer (2N) - Udaipur (2N) - Mumbai

From Udaipur, you can head onward to Mumbai or go back to Delhi or anywhere that you’ve planned. The itinerary works great in reverse as well, in case you’re flying down to Mumbai.

Staying at backpacking hostels- The cherry on my cake!

Celebrated the New Year’s Eve with folks I met at Zostel Pushkar with a party in the desert!
Source: Zostel

Throughout my backpacking trip, I stayed in Zostels across all the cities, which added significantly to my experience. Zostel is a chain of backpacking hostels across India and Nepal and it is known to be a trailblazer of the backpacking culture in both the countries, with more than 35 hostels in both offbeat and obvious locations. You can check them out here- https://www.zostel.com/

Why am I recommending them? Well, it was always refreshing to come back after a long day of exploration to a very happening environment, full of games, jamming sessions, bonfires, and movie screenings. Along with that, I met amazing people from all over the world, with whom I often travel now. They also have volunteers at most Zostels, who are great to hang out with, take food/place recommendations from, or tag along with for a day-trip.

So, along with a comfortable and safe stay and fun times, I also saved a lot by simply staying in the dorm rooms instead of splurging on expensive hotels. If you’re visiting India, I recommend you have a slice of the country’s backpacking culture at least once.

This article was contributed by Pranavi Chhikniwala from Zostel.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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