Preparing for an unknown destination like India can be challenging. This article recounts our 14-day journey through the state of Rajasthan, known for its palaces and fortresses. We will share our personal itinerary that can also be visualized on this tourist map of Rajasthan, top recommendations, and tips for planning a road trip in Rajasthan.
DAYS 1-2: DELHI
Despite warnings from others to avoid Delhi due to its size, pollution, and fatigue, we were pleasantly surprised by our experience there. Spending 1-2 nights upon arrival can also be a good way to acclimate. We recommend visiting Humayun’s Tomb, a grand sandstone mausoleum that is crowded but less so than the more famous Taj Mahal.
For a more peaceful experience, check out the Safdarjung Tomb, located nearby. Another must-see in Delhi is the Lotus Temple, a beautiful building reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House and open to followers of all religions. We particularly enjoyed the serene garden and meditation room, the only place in India where we found complete calm. Lastly, the Qutb Minar archaeological site is also worth a visit, especially early in the morning when it is less crowded. The gardens are also home to many chipmunks.
Related Read: Best Cities in India to Visit
DAY 3: DELHI – AGRA
The adventure truly commences as you depart from Delhi, heading towards Agra. Although not located in Rajasthan, Agra is a neighboring city and a must-see destination in India. The Taj Mahal, the most popular tourist attraction in the country and a World Heritage Site, draws an average of 15,000 visitors daily, who flock to its pathways.
DAYS 4-5: AGRA – JAIPUR
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, also known as the Pink City, is easily explored by bike due to its flat terrain. The city offers a variety of must-see sites, such as the vegetable market and the colorful and fragrant flower market. Exploring the different districts, we encounter local craftsmen including marble sculptors, precious stone cutters and jewelers, showcasing their skills and expertise.
Jaipur is particularly renowned for its precious stones and it is said that 80% of the world’s precious stones pass through the city. It’s fascinating to witness. We also come across the magnificent gates that enclose the old city, also known as the Pink City, and take a stop in front of the grand Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal).
DAY 6: AMBER
We set out early in the morning from our hotel and in just 10 minutes, without encountering any traffic, we reached Amber. Our first stop is for a photo opportunity at Jal Mahal, a small palace floating on the waters of Man Sagar Lake. We then walk on, passing the closed Anokhi Museum, and take the uphill road towards Lake Hanuman Sagar.
Here, we witness an unexpected scene, a car pulls up at high speed, and a man and woman start shouting. We were a bit startled, but soon realized that they were unloading crates filled with bananas to feed the hundreds of monkeys that come running up the hill for their breakfast. It’s an amazing sight. We also come across a ceremony taking place at the small temple by the lake, which includes singing and feeding of thousands of fish in the lake.
It’s a different experience compared to our past as park rangers, as in other countries it is not allowed to feed the wild animals, but in India it is considered as their karma. We continue our journey and the highlight of the day is yet to come as we climb the steep stairs to the observation tower at the top of the fortress of Amber, enjoying a 9km view of ramparts, and having breakfast with a panoramic view of the town below, which is just waking up.
DAY 7: PUSHKAR
Pushkar, like many other cities on our itinerary, was visited too briefly to fully appreciate its unique atmosphere. Spending only one night and one morning there was not enough time to soak in the city’s cool vibe.
We arrived in the late afternoon the day before and had just enough time to hike up to the small pink temple on the hill next to the city. There are multiple hills and temples, so be sure to choose the right one. This temple takes about half an hour to reach and the view is breathtaking, despite the polluted sky caused by Diwali celebrations, with millions of firecrackers and fireworks being set off, which causes damage to the environment.
DAY 8: UDAIPUR
We greatly enjoyed our time in Udaipur and it even became our favorite city on the trip, despite initially hesitating to visit due to its distance from other destinations in Rajasthan. The drive there, though longer, was not as bad as we had anticipated. Udaipur is smaller and more pleasant to live and visit than Jaipur or Jodhpur. We began our visit with the impressive City Palace, which towers over the city.
As we were more interested in taking photos than learning about the culture, we decided to take a sunset boat cruise on Lake Pichola that allowed us to enter the palace grounds. This was a great way to see the palace without having to go inside all the rooms, but we were able to get an idea of its grandeur. The boat company was a bit more expensive but it took us to a lovely stop on Jag mandir island, next to the famous Lake Palace hotel. This was a beautiful place to enjoy.
DAYS 9-10: JODHPUR
Jodhpur’s main attraction is the massive Mehrangarh fortress, considered one of the most impressive and beautiful in Rajasthan. It is a twenty-minute walk from the Clock Tower, the city’s landmark. The old town center of Jodhpur is relatively small, with a limited number of cafes, rooftop restaurants, and shops nearby.
We visited the Jhankar restaurant which was very nice, but it gets crowded, so it’s best to book in advance or arrive early to secure a spot on the roof. We also wanted to check out the Step Well Café, a trendy bar with a rooftop terrace, but it was under renovation. For those interested in shopping, Jodhpur offers a wide variety of handicrafts, especially wood, metal, and decorative fabrics with mirror work, but we didn’t have enough space in our luggage for all the items we wanted to bring back home.
However, we were able to buy souvenirs from the Sambhali Trust, a shop run by an association dedicated to the development of women. The items were adorable and it was satisfying to support a good cause. For those who enjoy bargaining, the Sardar Bazar market is the place to go, it is bustling from 11:30 am until the end of the day.
DAYS 11-12: BIKANER
We had planned to visit Jaisalmer, but due to the long travel time and fatigue from spending so many hours on the road, we decided to change our itinerary and visit Bikaner instead. Similar to Jaisalmer, Bikaner is a desert city offering a variety of camel excursions and opportunities for overnight stays in the desert.
DAYS 13-14: MANDAWA – DELHI
The drive from Bikaner to Delhi is quite long, roughly 8 hours, and we decided that it would be too much to do in one day. We chose to break it up by spending the night in the small town of Mandawa, which is located 200 km from Delhi. This town is known for its many old havelis (beautiful homes) and our hotel, Le Rhadika, was one of them.
It was a unique experience. If you stay there, we recommend asking for a room on the upper floor, as the lower ones can have a musty smell (the rate for a double room is around 2500 RS). Overall, we were glad we made the stop in Mandawa as it allowed us to arrive in Delhi less exhausted and not in the middle of the night.