A vacation in Rajasthan

We had been in India back in november 1990, visiting different places, less known and touristically not so developed Kerala(Kovalam beach and the backwaters in Cochin and Alleppey in Kerala, Madras (nowadays Chennai) in Tamil Nadu with the amazing Hindu Temple complexes of Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram, the holy hopeless desperation of Benares (Varanasi) mazes, with its Ghats leading to river Gange filled with lame, ill, desperate people, beggars, monkeys, dogs, walking cow skeletons and rest of burned corpses.

Well, a completely different story, this time a richer India, for tourists not for young explorers. You know, years go by and you have to bear with it... Anyways, even with an air Mahabalipuramconditioned car, a professional driver and four star hotels India remains a place not fit for the faint of heart and weak of stomach... But go there, if you can, and return there if you've already been there. It's worth it!

We visited Rajasthan from June 28 to July 8 last year (2008), eleven tiring tourist days, somewhat of a real tour-de-force (see the trip statistics). We traveled during a bad period, probably the worse all year round, as we couldn't do anything else. The tourist season there goes from october to march, because in summer the weather is very humid, hot and plagued by monsoon storms and rain. In fact we were more or less alone. In some hotels we Gangeswere almost the only guests, and they prepared breakfast just for us 'cause they couldn't afford setting up a selfservice buffet! Well, I believe that visiting Taj Mahal or the Ranakpur temples in such a solitude was really incredible. Believe me, if you don't like crowd (like me) it's well worth bearing 50 degrees in the Jaisalmer desert, or 99 percent humidity in Delhi and Agra, and then have the pleasure to relax all alone in a 50 meter swimming pool at the hotel!

The trip organisation has been a real success, and we are so happy with how things have gone that we can surely suggest anyone wanting to see that place to follow our steps. We relied on a local tour operator based in Jaipur. A small travel agency led by a very talented young manager, Mr. Karni Singh. Mr Karni has a good reputation and a good customer base in Spain and Italy. His website (www.indiakarni.it) is written in Italian and it's very well done, but he also has an english site (www.rajasthanindiatravel.com) which is absolutely worth a visit if you wish to go there. The prices for his services are really amazingly low, when he told us about the price for our trip I had to doublecheck that the figure was for both of us, and that it really included car, driver, hotels and all the rest! I prefer not to disclose how much we paid, if you are really interested to try to organize a trip there, anyway, make sure to contact him (it's very easy!) and to compare the prices, you'll not be disappointed for sure.

HotelWe bought airline tickets and touris visas (which are quite expensive, at least in Italy), and more or less all the rest was included in Karni's package: Hotels (What Hotels! See the photos...smile) with B&B service booked in every town, an airconditioned car with professional driver, fuel and highway tolls included, Italian speaking guides in Jaipur and Jaisalmer, a short elephant ride in Amber (Jaipur fort), a trip in the Thar desert on camelback, to enjoy the sunset from the desert dunes. The service did not include main Camelbackmeals and entrance fees to the monuments. The meal prices are very cheap for us, not so for the entrance tickets which may be high as compared to the other goods in that country. From Maddalena's travel notes:

"The trip has been beautiful, an experience well worth being enjoyed. Magnificent Maharaja palaces, amazing Hindu and Jain temples, people so charming, such a different lifestyle, very good and tasty food (if you like curries, anyway, and the variety of vegetarian meals). Shopping is a must, it's so rewarding! (even if a good deal requires paying attention and lots of self control, to withstand the bargaining stress).
We had no problems with food… both eating in hotels and in restaurants. We payed a little attention not to eat raw vegetables and peeled fruit and not to drink water unless bottled. Well, to tel the truth Franco often indulged in drinking lassi (a kind of sweet milkshake with yogurth and fruit and spices) even if tourists are warned not to drink them for the presence of ice, which may be dangerous. Obviously we never dared eating in very low end meal booths.
The weather was really terrible: an allucinating hot-wet climate taking your breath away, and letting you soak in your dresses. A bottle of water was always with us, helping to bear with heat, smog, dust, stress, But what we had in return was wonders, monuments, gardens, people, athmosphere, remains of a rich, gorgeous past, amazing landscapes and incredible humanity; real life was a real stage in front of our eyes, well, in a word, RAJASTHAN.
"

'nuf chatting, now let's start traveling...


The trip at a glance

June 27th - Arrival in Delhi

June 28th - Delhi --> Agra Places visited: Bahá'í Temple, Humayun Tomb, Qutb Minar

June 29th - Agra --> Jaipur Places visited: Sikandra: Akbar Tomb, Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri

June 30th - Jaipur Places visited: Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, City Palace

July 1st - Jaipur-->Fatehpur-->Bikaner Places visited:Fatehpur Sikri Havelis, Bikaner Havelis

July 2nd - Bikaner-->Jaisalmer Places visited: Jain Temple, Junagarh Fort, Karni Mata (rats) Temple

July 3rd - Jaisalmer Places visited: Amar Sagar Lake, Havelis, Jain Temple, Golden Fort, Khuri

July 4th - Jaisalmer -->Jodhpur We visited: Balaji Temple, Osyan Temples, Jaswant Tada, Jodhpur Fort

July 5th - Jodhpur -->Ranakpur -->Udaipur Place visited: Ranakpur Caumukha Temple

July 6th - Udaipur Places visited: Jagdish Mandir Teple, Udaipur City Palace

July 7th- Udaipur -->Pushkar Places visited: Monsoon Palace, Sas Bahu Temples

July 8th- Pushkar -->Delhi Places visited:Jama Masjid Mosque, The Red Fort

And some more picture about...

People

Shopping: shops, booths, stalls and markets

Animals

On the road

Our Hotels