Insider’s guide to Rajasthan

With its rich princely heritage and glittering marble palaces, Rajasthan is one of India’s most captivating regions.
November 2023

With its rich princely heritage and glittering marble palaces, Rajasthan is one of India’s most captivating regions. Sprinkled with medieval forts and dusty mountain ranges, dreamy lakes and desert, there are rural villages here where life has changed little in centuries and bustling marketplaces where vibrant silks vie for attention with mounds of multicoloured spices and sparkling gemstones. Thousand-year-old Rajasthani temples teeming with pilgrims are a nod to India’s many flourishing religions while pockets of wilderness away from the madding crowd conceal rare wildlife. Rajasthan is bewitching and its diversity makes it a magnet for any discerning traveller seeking an exotic Indian immersion. You’ll be simply spellbound.


Rajasthan’s ‘Pink City’ Jaipur is its state capital. Characterised by the warm terracotta hues of its architecture, the city boasts an opulent abundance of palaces, a multitude of vibrant bazaars, street food and culinary delicacies aplenty plus a rich tradition of art and crafts. It’s a city to get lost in, to explore on foot, or by rickshaw, or to simply pause over a warm chai and take stock as life passes you by. There’s more than enough to keep you enthralled for at least three or four days.


Flowers at dawn
Early risers are rewarded with a sensory blast of colour and perfume at Jaipur’s vibrant flower markets. Florists and temple-goers alike make a bee line for the mounds of golden marigolds, ruby red roses and fragrant jasmine lit up in the dawn light. Photo opportunities abound.

Heritage Bike Tour

Pedal through the narrow lanes of Jaipur’s old city on a morning exploration as the city awakens and architectural wonders are revealed ahead of the crowds. Get a unique perspective on this bustling metropolis and be part of the spiritual aarti ceremony at Govind Dev Ji Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, the main deity of the city.

Anokhi Museum

Housed in a restored haveli, this museum provides fascinating insight to the art of hand-block printing, from old traditions to contemporary design. The collection comprises a rich repository of clothing and home furnishings dating from the early 1970s to the present day as well as some historic textiles. Master artisans demonstrate the intricate craft of block printing on site, even inviting you to try your hand at it.


Bar Palladio
Iridescent blue, like the plumage of a peacock, the sumptuous interior of this chic Jaipur bar in the Narain Niwas Hotel is a fantasy of custom-printed florals and festooned ceilings, jali lamps, marble floor tiles and boldly painted alcoves. Blending artfully with its Moghul-inspired décor is an Italian menu and cocktail list influenced by some of Europe’s finest institutions.

New Jaipur hotspot, Paro, pulls a hip crowd. Whether it’s the flickering candles, swaying chandeliers or the Indie beats, this captivating rooftop lounge exudes sophistication and has a cocktail menu to match with infused gins and spicy spirit blends artfully emphasising local flavours. The food too is an innovative, and tasty, play on Indian culinary traditions.


RAAS Rajmahal Palace
With a storied history, Jaipur’s RAAS Rajmahal Palace has been converted from regal retreat to contemporary sanctuary effused with colour and an eclectic design aesthetic. Blush pink, emerald green and aqua blue wallpapers and prints are a bold backdrop for traditional artefacts and ancestral heirlooms, and the 13 palatial sized rooms and suites blend classic and cutting-edge with ease. There are also magnificent gardens plus a stunning Art Deco-style swimming pool.


Socially conscious, stylish ceramics are the specialty in this Jaipur pottery studio where traditional botanical motifs are given a modern makeover. Each piece is handcrafted by local artisans using clay from Bikaner, hand-painted and custom glazed before going on display or being shipped to customers.

IDLI is where French sensibility meets India craftsmanship thanks
to the genius of French homewares and fashion designer, Thierry Journo. Like his own aesthetic, his playful Jaipur boutique is quintessentially French yet flavoured with elements of the east. Striped awnings, painted trompe l’oeil canopies, paper lanterns and tropical foliage are a flamboyant nod to the exotic. And individual rooms beautifully showcase designer clothing, and accessories, furniture and homewares.

Supporting artisans

Respecting the myriad techniques of traditional Indian handicrafts, lifestyle store Nila House, the brainchild of UK philanthropist Carole Bamford, offers up a selection of handcrafted products for sale as well as archives, a library and work spaces to encourage creative collaborations between local and visiting artists. Sought after items include rugs, patterned plates, jewellery, shirts and linen.


From the sands of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur emerges - a cluster of indigo-coloured houses tumbling down a hillside sheltered by the looming 15th century Mehrangarh Fort above. This is the ‘Blue City’, painted in various shades of indigo to denote the residences of high-caste Brahmins. Sunrise or sunset are prime times to visit the fort while the medieval alleyways below are worth exploring any time of the day or night for trawling the markets, snacking on street food and shopping for textiles and semi-precious stones.


Sacred Spirits
If you find yourself in Jodhpur in February, be part of the Sacred Spirits Festival, an annual celebration of divinity and spirituality through soulful music. Held at the Mehrangarh Fort over three days, there are performances of Indian classical instruments such as the mohan veena, cristal baschet, mridangam and the Carnatic violin, folk bands and Sufi singers plus some global influences.


Shikar Dinner
Step back in time to the heady days of the Raj, when shikar (hunting) was the sport of the day and many a night was spent out in the wilderness. Recreating this experience, you are invited to embrace the stillness of the desert night on a starlit adventure in your own royal encampment. Arriving by camel cart, a torchlit path leads to a crackling bonfire where bolstered silk cushions on traditional charpai are the perfect place to recline with a glass in hand while folk musicians and dancers entertain and a tasty barbecue dinner is served.


Raas Jodhpur
This stylish boutique hotel has been cleverly designed around an 18th century haveli at the base of Mehrangarh Fort showcasing Rajput architectural elements throughout. With some of the city’s most contemporary rooms and showstopping views, it’s the perfect choice for design-lovers and shopping enthusiasts just steps away from some of the best textile stores and boutiques in Jodhpur’s old city.


Awash in golden hues, the desert city of Jaisalmer is located in the far west of Rajasthan. At its heart is the thriving medieval fort where narrow streets conceal traditional havelis, colourful shopfronts, residences for its 3000 or so inhabitants and seven beautiful Jain temples from the 15th and 16th centuries.


Ghost village
Just 17 kilometres west of Jaisalmer lie the ruins of Kuldhara. According to legend, the village was abandoned some 300 years ago after a cruel local ruler threatened to exert his power by marrying one of the village girls against her will. In her support, the community left their ancestral homes and vanished. It is said, before doing so, that the villagers put a curse on the place preventing anyone from settling there again. To this day it remains forsaken and has an air of desolation for those exploring its crumbling ruins.


SUJÁN The Serai
Inspired by the Rajput caravans of old, this luxurious tented camp sits amidst 100 acres of indigenous desert scrub east of Jaisalmer. A member of esteemed Relais & Châteaux, there are just 21 white canvas tented suites complete with colourful textiles and rugs, campaign-style furniture and en suite bathrooms. The SUJÁN spa offers treatments in enclosed gardens and dining is a combination of local delicacies and western selections from daily changing menus that are meticulously planned using the freshest ingredients.


Fifty years ago, this former hunting ground of the Maharajahs of Jaipur was proclaimed a tiger reserve, and a few years later a national park. Today, Ranthambore is one of the largest and most renowned tracts of wilderness in northern India, famous for its wildlife, including the Royal Bengal Tiger which sits at the apex of the food chain. The park is also home to a good population of leopard as well as sloth bear, hyena, jackal, caracal, deer and antelope plus around 270 bird species. The forests, lakes and grasslands of Ranthambore are best explored on guided 4WD safaris.


Oberoi Vanyavilas
Luxury tents with finely embroidered canopies, sumptuous bathrooms and private walled gardens with their own sun decks set the benchmark at Oberoi Vanyavilas which is situated on the edge of Ranthambore National Park. Waterlily-filled ponds, expansive lawns and shady trees give the camp an added air of space and its large swimming pool surrounded by colourful tasseled parasols is the perfect retreat after a day on safari. Dining is a treat with fresh produce coming straight from the camp’s kitchen garden while the spa offers a range of indulgent holistic therapies.


Often described as India’s most romantic city, Udaipur is most famous for its dreamy lake, its glistening marble palaces and the misty hills of the Aravalli Range. Smaller than some of its Rajasthani counterparts, its narrow alleyways invite exploration while a restful cruise on the lake reveals islands, palaces and close-up views of the mansions and bathing ghats which line the water’s edge.


Heritage Walk
The narrow lanes of Udaipur’s Old City hemmed in by the 16th century city walls are easily explored on foot and provide an insight to a bygone era as well as important traditions that endure today. Marvel at grand havelis (mansions) belonging to Mewar nobility, peruse market stalls in the bustling bazaar and admire brightly coloured frescoes on whitewashed facades before finishing at the intricately carved 17th century Jagdish Temple.

Country hike

Interact with friendly villagers in the countryside around Udaipur and admire the scenery on a 10-kilometre hike through the hills. Encounter members of the Bhil tribe, one of the oldest indigenous groups, as well as farmers who have descended from the warrior Rajput clan and admire a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.


From the Rooftop
Mesmerising views are front and centre at Udaipur rooftop bar and restaurant, Taro. Dishing up curated cocktails and Mediterranean fare in sophisticated surrounds, this is the place for sundowners, tasty treats, dj beats and a cool vibe.

Sheesh Mahal
With a prime lakefront location, open-air Sheesh Mahal at the Leela Palace Hotel has some of Udaipur’s most in-demand tables where you’ll dine on a feast of regional fare washed down with a glass or two of the sommelier’s top recommendation. While the food is outstanding, you’ll be hard pressed not to be distracted by the glittering view.


Raffles Udaipur
Situated on a 21-acre private island in the middle of Udai Sagar Lake, Raffles Udaipur is a picture of tranquillity surrounded by manicured gardens and fountains with 180-degree views of the surrounding hills. An East-meets-West aesthetic distinguishes the interiors with murals, handcrafted wooden chests and artwork produced by local craftspeople. Just 101 rooms provide guests with all the expected conveniences while Raffles aficionados will relish Udaipur’s take on the Writers Bar and Long Bar.

Taj Lake Palace

Brought to fame in the Bond movie Octopussy, the Taj Lake Palace is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Like a mirage, it sits in the middle of Lake Pichola, seemingly afloat, its gleaming, white marble façade topped by domes, arches and gilded detail. Bedding down in this opulent former summer palace, you’ll feel like royalty with a bevy of attentive staff to wait on you hand and foot.


Boho Bags
Hollywood celebrities and royalty alike covet the intricately embroidered handbags from Udaipur-based designer Vipul Shah. Featuring mirror work, tassels and fringes in a spectrum of striking hues, these bags are one of a kind but they also represent Vipul’s endeavours to preserve and sustain some special traditions of the Indian handicraft heritage.

This lavish contemporary art gallery showcases and celebrates the works of respected artists from various parts of India and abroad. Paintings, print drawings and sculptures by young and upcoming artists are exhibited as well as works by some of the region’s most recognised talents.

Contact one of our expert Journey Designers or talk to your travel advisor to learn more and start planning.



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