The colors and culture of India are in full force in Rajasthan. Combining stunning scenery as varied as sanddunes to wild-tiger prowling jungle, it is no wonder Rajasthan is India’s top state for tourism. Offering something for everyone, it especially excels in offering photographers vivid colors, stark contrasts, and incomparable scenes. If you are going to visit one state of India Rajasthan should be it!
The city is known as the \"Sun City\" for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the \"Blue City\" due to the blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The fort is the centerpiece of the city and offers a glimpse into India\'s Maharajah past. We enjoyed the vibrant blues of this city and the maze of alleys to the large Sadar Market.
Nicknamed the \"golden city\" Jaisalmer is a popular stop for travelers through Rajasthan. The town stands on a ridge of yellow sandstone, crowned by the Jaisalmer Fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured, with havelis or mansions left from the time of the Maharajahs. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert and has a population of about 78,000. This is where we kicked off our Rajasthan tour.
Bikaner is the fifth largest city in Rajasthan. The city is famous for sweets and snacks (or namkeens in Hindi), which are often taken to nearby Deshnok where the \"rat temple\" is located. The temple is dedicated to the reincarnation of Durga and the hundreds of resident rats are worshiped and brought sweets. Our visit to the temple was interesting and we should have good luck for the rest of our trip as rats ran over our bare feet.
Udaipur is considered one of the most romantic cities in India and offered a nice respite from the desert cities of Rajasthan. Pichola Lake, the centerpiece of the city was made famous in the James Bond movie Octupussy and the hotel featured in the movie is now a tourist attraction. We enjoyed delicious meals at restaurants along the lakeshore with perfect views of the City Palace and didn\'t want to leave this quiet city often referred to as the \"Venice of the East.\"
Pushkar is one of five sacred dahms or pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The dominant feature of the small town is Pushkar Lake, which is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats. The only Bhrama temple in all of India is also located in Pushkar. The laid back vibe of Pushkar makes it popular with travelers. We enjoyed the lazy days spent in cafes overlooking the ghats and didn\'t want to leave.
Jaipur is known as the \"pink city\" and serves as the capital and largest city of the state of Rajasthan. In 1876 Jaipur was colored in terracotta pink to welcome Prince Albert, and thus the name “Pink City” was given to Jaipur. For a pre-modern Indian city, it\'s wide streets and organized layout set it apart from other smaller cities in Rajasthan. The busy streets and packed bazaars made it a lively city and great for shopping as well. The highlight of our visit was a side trip to the nearby Amber Fort.