The history of Rajasthan is crowded with invasions and counter-invasions. Unsettling as this must have been for the people of the time, it has caused some spectacular forts to be built. Seen from a distance they look like sandcastles emerging from the earth, or maybe in the process of sinking back to some dark place below (depending on your mood).
- Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer for fairytale factor
- Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur for the palace
- Amber Fort, Jaipur for the views
It is the home of Mewar Art, a colourful form of painting often referred to as miniture painting. Confusing at first, because the art often takes the form of huge murals. These artworks are defined by their use of bright and brilliant colours, especially reds, oranges, blues and greens. There is a great collection on display in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, but it also adorns many of the walls of the old towns of Rajasthan as a sort of street art.
Despite all this colour, life in a desert is harsh and this fact was impossible to avoid in the smaller villages we passed through. The contrast of the luxurious colored saris worn as women carried water for miles through baking heat was stark. We also encountered nomadic tribes where very young girls were kitted out in all the external displays of marriage.
If you get anywhere near Jaisalmer you will be offered a camel safari into the desert. Do it. The Thar Desert does not have the immense sand dunes of the Sahara and, given the popularity of this particular experience, you never quite escape from it all, even on a tour that stays away from the most popular spots the hum of distant generators and music travels a long way. However, a night under the crisp clear desert sky is a surprisingly rejuvenating experience.
Camels wandering along the highway, tigers hiding in national parks, donkeys painted with polka dots running through the town, deer grazing by wetlands and elephants guarding palaces. Considering Rajasthan is largely desert there is a surprising amount of wildlife.
- Safari in Ranthambore National Park
Day 1: Delhi to Pushkar o/n in Pushkar
Day 2: Pushkar to Jaisalmer o/n in Jaisalmer
Day 3: Camel safari in Thar desert, leaving from and returning to Jaisalmer, o/n in desert
Day 4: Jaisalmer to Jodhpur o/n in Jodhpur
Day 5: Jodhpur to Udaipur, three nights in Udaipur
Day 8: Udaipur to Jaipur, two nights in Jaipur
Day 10: Jaipur to Ranthambore o/n in Ranthambore
Day 11: Ranthambore to Agra o/n in Agra
Day12: Agra to Delhi
How we got around:
We hired a car and driver, this allowed us to cover a lot of ground relatively quickly and to see some sights in between towns. There is a very effective train line as well, if you need to keep costs down.
Hiring a driver:
We found the most helpful source of information to be the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation, although we ended up booking through the travel agent at our hotel and were very happy with both the agent and the driver.
Make sure that your receipt records everything that is included in the price. Relevant costs include car hire, petrol, general car maintenance, taxes, parking, the hire of a driver, the driver's accommodation and food. We organised our own accommodation, meals and entry fees.
When negotiating our price, we made sure the cost included the driver's accommodation and food. However, at the end of our trip our driver told us that money was not passed along to him. We do not know how factual this is. It coincided with us paying him a tip so may have been a play for more money, but after spending 12 days with him we were inclined to believe him. This might be something to be aware of when negotiating your price.
Apart from this slightly sour ending, we were very happy with our driver. He can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, Follow Me East does not get any commission for this and takes no responsibility for the recommendation.