Rajasthan, the “Land of Kings”, is India’s largest state by area and it comprises most of the wide and practically inhospitable Thar Desert. Rajasthan is also one of those states that has one of the most historical significance in India. It is home to the chivalrous Rajputs, and its battle-scarred heritage has bestowed legacies of pride and tradition. As an impact of all these characteristics, Rajasthan offers so much to see. But with long travel distances between major sites, a trip here requires careful and detailed planning. We had spent multiple weeks in planning, re-planning, fine-tuning and finally fixing our trip itinerary. Hence, we thought it will be helpful for everyone to share these details and help you plan your Rajasthan trip.
Rajasthan is the jewel in India’s crown. From fairy-tale palaces and epic forts to colourful festivals and wildlife encounters, this is India at its vibrant best.…perfect intro to Rajasthan given by Lonely Planet.
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Rajasthan is also the land of great battles, of which we grew up reading the stories in our high school history books. The place with its ethnic beauty exemplifies grandness and as the locals sing “Padharo Mhare Desh” (English: welcome to our land..), our hearts melt into the culture and tradition of Rajasthan, the Rajputs. With magnificent forts, marble temples and each city painted in its own colour, the state also hosts an immense number of foreign tourists with local Rajasthani delicacies as well as western cuisines.
So, in December 2017, we went on a 10-day trip to Rajasthan, and trust me, it was beyond ‘amazing’!! Although there’s lot to share, we thought that we should start with the most important thing – How to plan your Rajasthan trip. In this article, you will find:
- Best time to visit Rajasthan
- How to reach Rajasthan
- Best places to visit in Rajasthan
- Modes of transport within Rajasthan
- Our travel itinerary
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How to plan your Rajasthan trip
Best time to visit Rajasthan
Summers in Rajasthan last from March to June and are particularly harsh with temperatures rising up to 48-50°C during the day. That being said, if you do plan to visit Rajasthan in the summer, head to places like Mount Abu, Kumbhalgarh or Ranakpur. The weather there will be pleasant and the views offered are breathtaking.
Monsoon is a far more pleasant experience, the temperatures tend to drop across the state and the rain showers transform the arid landscape of Rajasthan. July to September is a particularly good time to visit if you wish to avoid the crowds you’d usually find during peak tourist season. Flora and Fauna offered by Keoladeo National Park during monsoon is picturesque and a must-visit if you plan to travel to Rajasthan during the Monsoon.
The temperatures continue to drop once the monsoon has passed, and come October winter sets in that lasts till February. During December and January, there can be a severe variation in temperatures during the day and the night. In fact, temperatures are known to drop as low as 0°C and below. This is the best time to visit Rajasthan as the desert sun is not as intense and the days are pleasant. Most of the festivals held in winter are planned as tourist attractions, with visitors coming in from different parts of the world.
Tip: If you plan your Rajasthan trip during October-February, you should start planning 3-4 months in advance to get good deals on accommodation and commuting.
How to reach Rajasthan
Rajasthan is a tourist hub and therefore well-connected by air. Whether you’re flying in from within the country or from another one, you’ll find that there are a host of options you can choose from based on your itinerary. The three major airports of Rajasthan are in Jaipur (international), Jodhpur (domestic) and Udaipur (domestic).
Rail is one of the better ways to travel to Rajasthan from anywhere within India as it is both, comfortable and economical. The state is well-connected to all the major cities across the nation and there are several routes to opt from. Overnight trains from Delhi and Mumbai reach most of Rajasthan’s major cities.
Rajasthan has 20 national highways passing through the state, spanning a distance of 6300+ kms. The NH-8 (one of the most gorgeous highways of India) which connects Mumbai to Delhi is the busiest national highway in Rajasthan and runs through Ajmer, Jaipur, Udaipur and Chittorgarh. You can very well choose to drive to Rajasthan (just like we did) or hop onto a bus operated by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation.
TIP: if you are coming from outside India, it might be a good idea to land in Delhi international airport, and then head to Rajasthan via road or rail.
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Places to visit in Rajasthan
Rajasthan, being the largest state in India, has plenty of places to visit. Some of them are Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur.
These are the top 4 cities of Rajasthan (click on each to open the individual city guide)
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Modes of transport within Rajasthan
There are 2 ways of travelling within Rajasthan.
- Booking a cab for the entire trip from any of the tour operators.
The major cities in Rajasthan are quite distant from each other and it takes a minimum of 6-7 hours to reach one city from another, which can be quite tiresome! The highways are smooth and maintained well but will be dusty due to sand and dry weather. Hence, rent-a-car or rent-a-cab for a comfortable ride.
- For solo/couple backpackers or travelers on a long exploration, using autorickshaws, local buses or trains will make it a relishable local experience.
We had rented a cab for the entire trip from an online tour operator. There are a lot of travel operators in Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat who offer taxi service for Rajasthan tour. We were just 2 of us; however, we preferred to book a Toyota Etios for a comfortable journey. It should also be kept in mind that the car you choose should have sufficient trunk-space to carry luggage as you go on a long trip.
Taxi charges in Rajasthan: Taxi fares (in 2018) are around 11 Rs/km for a 4-seater (like Etios etc) and around 14 Rs./km for a 7 seater (like Innova). A minimum amount has to be paid for 250 kms per day excluding driver charges, which is around 250 Rs. Per day. Also, these fares increase as the peak season arrives. So it’s better to get your deal done at the earliest.
Alternatively, if you wish to go on a luxury trip, you can take a look at Palace on wheels, Maharaja express which as the name would suggest, is a Palace inside a train!!
Our Rajasthan travel itinerary
After a lot of homework, many weeks in planning and fine-tuning, we finalized this as our trip itinerary:
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Apart from the one mentioned above, here are some additional tour itineraries which will help to plan your Rajasthan trip:
1. For people traveling from nearby states, a short trip of 5-6 days to Rajasthan can be planned which may include the cities of Jaipur-Ajmer-Pushkar-Udaipur and back. The next trip may include Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Bikaner and back. You can even do only Jaipur and Udaipur. There are plenty of things to do and places to see in Udaipur and Jaipur.
2. Mount Abu is at the border of Gujarat and it takes nearly 9-10 hours to travel from Jaipur. So it is recommended to visit the place during a trip to Gujarat.
3. We could not cover the Ranthambore National park, Bharatpur Bird sanctuary and the Kumbalgarh fort.
4. To visit the beautiful Kumbhalgarh fort and experience the evening light and sound show, it is required to stay at Kumbhalgarh for a night. Also, it can be reached from Udaipur, which is only 100 kms from Kumbhalgarh.
5. A 14-15 day trip can also be planned which will be sufficient to cover the National parks as well as the Bird sanctuaries.
We hope all the information provided here will help to plan your Rajasthan trip. Feel free to contact us, in case you need any additional information to plan your Rajasthan trip. Look out for our upcoming blogs about our visit to each of the cities of Rajasthan.