Author: Shweta Gurjar
Every birthday, I travel to a new destination. This year, I planned to be in Barcelona, but long story – short, I couldn’t make it. I wanted to be in a place filled with art and culture, so I thought why not the Indian Barcelona, Rajasthan! 10 days, 4 cities, and a small budget, and I loved every minute of it.
Stop 1 – Jaipur
Off the flight and hopped into my taxi cab to hostel. The first sight of Jaipur is gorgeous! beautiful city of Jaipur! Earth colored walls, with artistic handprinted designs in flowers and leaves strung all around the city. The clean non-potholed roads, and the fresh air, are welcoming! The greenery in this place was breathtaking. My dormitory was a relatively new home decorated in ethnic art and furniture. Rajasthanis really love their traditional art, very creatively slipped into modern architecture. It’s like their way of life. Even some roti boxes and Indian spice boxes decorated with beautiful meenakari work.
Walking through the pink city of Jaipur, the cobbled streets connecting the Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, and the City Palace was an enchanting experience. I passed through some ancient arch ways, so pretty in their very old artistic etches, yet they are used regularly to commute by. A city of art and architecture beautifully balanced with old and new, and not tucked away in a museum is the beauty of Jaipur. By the way, don’t forget to try their paani-puris, as a special recommendation. 6 puris, 6 panis… umm!!
Stop 2 – Pushkar
A small town nestled by the Aravallis, Pushkar has the only temple for Bramha in India. The entire town’s activity is centered 1 km radius around the Pushkar lake. With temples 50 meters apart and 5 stores in between selling hippie stuff, one can walk through the market street in awe, to see something new each time! My guesthouse on the outskirts of the town, the terrace with the never ending stretch of the Aravalli mountains, and temples on peaks that looked liked stairway to heaven in the street lights. What a sight!
The best part of the Pushkar lake is its sunset. Fortunately, not all banks of lake are filled with pilgrims. A remote small area near the bridge has some really nice restaurants with great food and gorgeous sunsets. Pushkar, I realized, is not about the big things; it’s about the little things. Like the Laughing Buddha cafe, quaint, hidden with delicious pumpkin salad. By the way, Bhaang is illegal in Pushkar, unless on the outskirts of the city. So no special lassis available. But definitely try the “malpua”, since no one can eat just one!
Stop 3 – Jodhpur
Jodhpur is famously known for it’s blue top houses and the Mehrangarh Fort. With an agenda to enjoy this beauty, I checked into the most beautiful house in the old city of Jodhpur. Away from the market, a 10 minute walk at the foot of the fort, whose terrace flaunted the indigo colors and the gigantic brown fort, reaching the sky! The Mehrangarh Fort is the most spectacular of any forts that with each square meter carved in detailed traditional design, inside and outside. On the top of a mountain, beautifully carved stones, Mehrangarh is a must visit. Walking down towards the city with milk sweets everywhere, don’t miss out not the gulab jamun curry!
Outside the town live the Bishnoi tribe (or the earth keepers). A whole day spent with different tribes of weavers, shepherds, potters, and block printers, showing their local talents. A crash course in Rajasthani culture is available on request, which is totally worth it. On the way were beautiful peacocks fanning their mating calls, and black bucks running at speedy leaps across the jeep.
Stop 4 – Udaipur
A crazy combination of hippie ethnic living near the lake with a contrasting newer city, Udaipur is more commercial than many other parts of Jaipur district. With roof top everything, and small winding streets, Udaipur is best visited in winters. The view by the lake is spectacular. The center of the palace can be accessed by boats, but sitting in a coffee shop by the lake, looking at the beauty of the palace, under an awning saving from the pouring rain, it is a place to meet many interesting travelers, discussing world politics, or even art.
Rajasthan was a blast of art and architecture. Good food, warm people, international travellers, nature, and art – that was this lively state of India in a synopsis. But that’s only the green part. I look forward to exploring the desert soon!