Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rajasthan - Theatre of Maharanas in the land of forts and Jauhars

Itinerary - Rajsthan Diary in brief

10.08.19.  Kolkata       (820 hrs) - Jaipur (10 40 hrs) by Indigo airlines  

10.08.19.  Jaipur         (1615 hrs) - Leelan Express Train 

11.08.19.  Jaisalmer    (0450 hrs)

11.08.19.  Jaisalmer    stay at Jaisalmer at Crazy Camel(Airbnb)

12.08.19.  Jaisalmer    (2205 hrs) - Chouhan Travels - bus

13.08.19.  Jodhpur      (0345 hrs) - Global Hostel Jodhpur (Booking.com)

13.08.19.  Jodhpur      (2245 hrs)- Laxmi Travels - bus

14.08.19.  Udaipur       (0600 hrs) - Stay at Airbnb

15.08.19.  Udaipur       Kumbhalgarh-Ranakpur-Udaipur

16.08.19.  Udaipur 

17.08.19.  Udaipur(0600 hrs)  Chittaurgarh (0800 hrs)

17.08.19.  Chittorgarh  Hotel Heritage  (Booking.com)

17.08.19.  Chittorgarh (2325 hrs)   Vinayak Travels Bus

18.08.19.  Kota (0450 hrs)   Bundi (45 minutes by local Govt bus)

18.08.19.  Bundi (spot booking)

18.08.19.  Bundi (20 00 hrs)  Shrinath Travel agency - bus

18.08.19.  Jaipur (2355 hrs)  Jaipur airport

19.08.19. Jaipur Airport (0730 hrs) Kolkata (0955 hrs) Indigo                                         


Kolkata (0820 hrs) - Jaipur (1040 hrs) by Indigo Airlines (the fare was Rs 6839 - return fare) . 

We (Gobindo and I) took a shared auto (Rs 210 to go to Hawa Mahal from train station) with a fellow Bengali passenger (after dropping him at train station) to go near Hawa Mahal. His son is studying in Allen in Kota for Engineering course. He had to pay Rs 110,000 (10% discount for one time payment - kind of gurukul system - where students wont have to run from school to one teacher, then to another teacher- everything is under one roof, Gobindo explained to me) for the full year. We don't have much time left to see the city of Jaipur, since we have to catch train to Jaisalmer at 4.15 pm.

Rajasthan literally means a Land of Kingdoms. However, western Rajasthan with eastern Gujarat were part of "Gurjaratra" or land of Gurjars. The area of Rajasthan is 3,42,000 sq km or 4 times the size of West Bengal and population is 6.85 Crores or 68 Million.

Rajasthan is divided into many regions on the basis of different languages, culture and traditions.
Some of these are-

Ahirwal- This include some part of Haryana too along with Rajasthan. Alwar and Bharatpur (Rajasthan); Mahendragarh and Gurgaon (Haryana).

Dhundhar- “Jaipur region" includes districts - Jaipur, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Tonk, Northern part of Karauli.

Hadoti- districts like Bundi, Baran, Jhalawar and Kota are part of this region.

Marwar- “Jodhpur region” includes district of Barmer, Jalore, Nagaur, Pali and parts of Sikar

Mewar- South- central region of Rajasthan. Districts covered are- Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Pirawa tehsil of Jhalawa (Rajasthan) ; Neemuch and Mandsaur of M.P. ; and some parts of Gujarat.

Mewat- Hathin tehsil and Nuh district of Haryana; Tijara, Kishangarh Bas, Ramgarh, Laxmangarh tehsil, Aravalli range in Alwar district and Pahari , Nagaur, Kaman tehsils in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan and also some part of Mathura district of U.P.

Shekhawati- district like Jhun-jhunu, Sikar, Churu, and a part of Nagaur and Jaipur.

Rajasthan is the source of white Makrana marble used in Taj Mahal and Victoria Memorial of Kolkata.

Understand Jaipur

Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan and was built in the 18th century (1727) by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (Sawai literally means one and a quarter of an average man in worth  - it was conferred by Aurangzeb, impressed by his intelligence) as India's first planned city, 20 years after the death of Aurangzeb. Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Maugham cities. The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.

Jaipur gets its name from its founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (1693-1744) the great warrior and astronomer. He came to power at the age of 11 on the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh. Jai Singh’s lineage can be traced back to the  Kachwaha or Kucchwaha Rajput, clan who came to power in the 12th century. They were long-term rivals to the Sisodia Rajputs (Udai Sing II, Maharana Pratap) who ruled from Mewar of Udaipur . This rivalry led them to ally with the Mughals, and this alliance resulted in them eventually gaining a pre-eminent position in Rajasthan.

The Aravalli Range is a range of mountains running approximately 692 km in a southwest direction, starting in North India from Delhi and passing through southern Haryana, through to Western India across the states of Rajasthan and ending in Gujarat. It is one of the oldest mountain range in the world. The natural history of the Aravalli Range dates back to times when the Indian Plate was separated from the Eurasian Plate by an ocean. 

Tribals are the original inhabitants of the state. They comprise 12% of State's population (vis a vis 8% in India). Most important of them are Bhils and Minas. There are also Lohars , Banjaras etc.

Bhils are the biggest tribe (39% approx) in Rajasthan. Famous epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata depicted that Bhils were famous for their skills in arching. They live in South Western part of the State. They are great warriors, helping Rajputs in combating Mughals and Maratha. The Minas live in Eastern part of Rajasthan and British declared them criminal tribe.

Who are Rajputs ?

‘Rajput’ is derivative of a Sanskrit word raj-putra which means “son of a king”. There is no agreement among scholars regarding the origin of the Rajputs. It has been opined by many scholars that the Rajputs are the descendants of foreign invaders like Sakas, Kushanas, white-Hunas etc. All these foreigners, who permanently settled in India, were absorbed within the Hindu society and were accorded the status of the Kshatriya. 

Another view is that , the Rajputs originated from western, eastern, northern India and from some parts of Pakistan.

The other view is that the Rajputs are the descendants of the ancient Brahamana or Kshatriya families and it is only because of certain circumstances that they have been called the Rajputs.

The Rajputs actually vary greatly in status, from princely lineages, such as the Gehlot/Guhilot and Kachwaha to simple cultivators. 

Therefore Rajput  is a large multi-component cluster of castes, ethnic background and local groups, social groups originating from a variety of geographical backgrounds.  

Before the 15th century, the term "Rajput" was also associated with people of mixed-caste origin, who were considered inferior in rank to "Kshatriya". In the 11th century, the term "rajaputra" appeared as a non-hereditary designation for royal officials. 

The term "Rajput" acquired its present meaning only in the 16th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the membership of this class became largely hereditary. Several Rajput-ruled kingdoms played a significant role in many regions of central and northern India until the 20th century.

Rajput, are located mainly in central and northern India. They are especially numerous in the historic region of Rajputana (“Land of the Rajputs”) that also included portions of present-day eastern Pakistan.

However the Rajputs claim descent from 3 basic lineages or vanshas :

Suryavanshi, the Solar Dynasty, descended from Surya, the Hindu Sun-god.

Chadravanshi, the Lunar Dynasty descended from Chandra, the Hindu Moon-god. They include major sub-branches of Yaduvanshi (Lord Krisha was born into this branch) and Puruvanshi.

Agnivanshi, the Fire Dynasty descended from Agni, the Hindu god of fire. This lineage has four clans: Chauhans, Paramara, Solanki, and Pratiharas.

Rajputs ruled many small kingdoms in North India from the beginning of the 7th century. They were an obstacle to the Muslim conquest in North India. While they opposed invasion by the Muslims, they also battled among each other and were loyal to their clan rather than uniting.
When the Mughal empire was established, some Rajput rulers were allies and also married their daughters to the emperors for political favor. The Rajputs revolted against the Mughal empire and led to its downfall in the 1680s.

In the late 18th century, Rajput rulers formed an alliance with the East India Company. By the time of British influence, Rajputs ruled most of the princely states in Rajasthan and Saurashtra. Rajput soldiers were valued by the British. The British gave more self-rule to the Rajput princes than to other areas of India.

While many Rajputs are Hindu, others are Muslim or Sikh. Rajput rulers exhibited religious toleration to a greater or lesser extent. Rajputs generally secluded their women and were seen in older times to practice female infanticide and sati (widow immolation). They are usually not vegetarians and eat pork, as well as drinking alcohol.

Ruling from the magnificent Amber Fort which they built, the might of the Kucchwahas encompassed the kingdoms of Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur). After Jai Singh came to power, there was moment of disquiet when he supported Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah’s bid to the throne. Azam Shah lost the battle of succession to his brother Bahadur Shah, who demanded Jai Singh’s removal and the installation of Vijay Singh to the throne of Jaipur. Jai Singh II, not one to take setbacks lying down, formed a formidable front against the Mughals by aligning himself with other Rajput states and reinstated himself.

After the dust had settled, peace reigned and the kingdom prospered and its borders expanded. Jai Singh II built the city around the Amber fort to serve as his capital, and the city was named Jaipur, after himself. Much of the credit for Jaipur goes to Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, the chief architect from Bengal who, with Jai Singh’s approval, founded the city on strong scientific principles, laid out according to the Shilpa Shastra, the ancient architectural manual.

After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons squabbled for power and neighbouring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of kingdom. The core, however, remained part of the kingdom, which lasted during British times. 

As with the Mughals, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the war of   independence in 1857 remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.

In 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city pink, traditionally a colour associated with hospitality, to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to the city. The tradition has been maintained and today all residents in the old city are  compelled by law to preserve the pink color. Jaipur got the sobriquet of pink city.

After independence, Jaipur merged with the states of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner to form the state of Rajasthan. In 1956, Jaipur became the capital of the state of Rajasthan.

It is also important to understand the timeline of Delhi Sultanate, because their history is closely linked with the history of Rajputs. 

The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526). The establishment of Delhi Sultanate began with the invasion of Muhammad Ghori. He had brought a large number of slaves and appointment them as officers. When he died in AD 1206,it resulted in a scramble for supremacy among his three generals - Qutub-ud-din Aibek (Commander of his army), Tajuddin Yalduz (ruled Karman and Sankuran between Afghanistan and Sind) and Nasiruddin Qubacha (held).

(For regerence purpose only: Bengal was gradually absorbed into the Delhi Sultanate during the 1200s. It began with Bakhtiar Khilji's conquest of Gauda between 1202 and 1204 during the reign of Muhammad Ghori. The Delhi Sultan Iltumish declared Bengal as a province of Delhi in 1225. The Delhi Sultans attempted to govern Bengal through appointed governors, however Delhi could not succeed given the considerable overland distance with Bengal. Ambitious governors rebelled and ruled as independent rulers until being suppressed militarily by the Delhi Sultanate. 

In 1325, the Delhi Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (father of famous Muhammad bin Tughluq) reorganized the province into three administrative regions, with Sonargaon ruling eastern Bengal; Gauda ruling northern Bengal; and Satgaon ruling southern Bengal. Even this arrangement broke down. 

By 1338, the three administrative regions had separatist Sultans, including Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah in Sonargaon; Alauddin Ali Shah in Gauda, and Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah (or just Ilyas Shah) in Satgaon. Ilyas Shah defeated Alauddin Ali Shah and secured control of Gauda. He then conquered Sonargaon. By 1352, Ilyas Shah emerged victorious among the Bengali triad.Ilyas Shah established his capital in Pandua. He unified the delta of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers into the Sultanate of Bengal.Bengal Sultanate lasted from 1352-1576. Alauddin Hussain Shah gained control of Bengal in 1494 when he was prime minister. As Sultan, Hussain Shah ruled till 1519. This era is often regarded as the golden age of the Bengal Sultanate )

Mamluk dynasty or Turkic Mamluk (Mamluk is an Arabic designation for slaves. The term is most commonly used to refer to non-muslim slave soldiers and Muslim rulers of slave origin)

Qutb al-Din Aibak 1206–1210 (former Turkic Mamluk slave of Muhammad Ghori . Qutb al-Din Aibak initiated the construction of the Qutub Minar)
Aram Shah 1210–1211
Iltutmish 1211–1236
Rukn ud din Firuz 1236
Razia Sultana 1236-1240
Muiz ud din Bahram 1240–1242
Ala ud din Masud 1242–1246
Nasir ud din Mahmud 1246–1266
Ghiyas ud din Balban 1266–1287
Muiz ud din Qaiqabad 1287–1290
Shamsuddin Kayumars 1290

Khalji dynasty  (Turko-Afghan heritage. They were originally of Turkic origin. The name "Khalji" refers to an Afghan village or town known as Qalat-e Khalji . They were treated by others as ethnic Afghans due to their intermarraiges with local Afghans, adoption of Afghan habits and customs. The first ruler of the Khalji dynasty was Jalal ud-Din Firuz Khalji had already gathered enough support among the Afghans for taking over the crown.)

Jalaluddin 1290–1296
Alauddin 1296–1316
Shihabuddin Omar 1316
Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah 1316–1320
Khusro Khan 1320 (Khusro Khan's reign lasted only a few months, when Ghazi Malik, later rechristened himself as Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq, killed him and assumed power in 1320, thus ending the Khalji dynasty and starting the Tughlaq dynasty)

Tughlaq dynasty (The first ruler Ghazi Malik rechristened himself as Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq. He was of Turko-Indian origins; his father was a Turkic slave and his mother was a Hindu. Ghiyath al-Din ruled for five years and built a town near Delhi named Tughlaqabad. )

Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq 1320–1325
Muhammad bin Tughluq 1325–1351 ( According to some historians Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq was killed by his son Juna Khan. Juna Khan rechristened himself as Muhammad bin Tughlaq. During his rule, Delhi Sultanate reached its peak in terms of geographical reach, covering most of the Indian subcontinent. )
Firuz Shah Tughlaq 1351–1388
Tughluq Khan 1388–1389
Abu Bakr Shah 1389–1390
Nasir ud din Muhammad Shah III 1390–1393
Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah 1393
Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq 1394–1398
Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq 1394–1412/1413

The Delhi sultans had developed cordial relations with the Yuan dynasty in Mongolia and China and the Ilkhanate in Persia and the Middle East. Around 1338, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of the Delhi Sultanate appointed Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta an ambassador to the Yuan court 

Sayyid dynasty (The Sayyid dynasty was a Turkic dynasty. The Timurid (Taimur-lane) invasion during Tughlaq dynasty had left the Delhi Sultanate in shambles and little is known about the rule by the Sayyid dynasty) 

Khizr Khan 1414–1421
Mubarak Shah 1421–1434
Muhammad Shah 1434–1445
Alam Shah 1445–1451

Lodi dynasty (The Lodi dynasty belonged to the Pashtun (Afghan) Lodi tribe)

Bahlul Khan Lodi 1451–1489 (Bahlul Lodi began his reign by attacking the Muslim Jaunpur Sultanate (in present day UP))
Sikandar Lodi 1489–1517
Ibrahim Lodi 1517–1526 (Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. The death of Ibrahim Lodi ended the Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughal Empire replaced it.)

The Mongol Empire launched several invasions into the Indian subcontinent from 1221 to 1327. The Mongols occupied parts of modern Pakistan and other parts of Punjab for decades. As the Mongols progressed into the Indian hinterland and reached the outskirts of Delhi, the Delhi Sultanate led a campaign against them in which the Mongol army suffered serious defeats.

Taimur or Taimur-lane  or Timur's empire broke up and his descendants failed to hold on to Central Asia, which split up into numerous principalities. The descendants of the Mongol Chagtais and the descendants of Timur empire lived side by side, occasionally fighting and occasionally inter-marrying. One of the products of such a marriage was Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire.His mother belonged to the family of the Mongol Khans of Tashkent. Taimur-lane was the grandfather of the Timurid sultan, astronomer and mathematician Ulugh Beg, who ruled Central Asia from 1411 to 1449, and the great-great-great-grandfather of Babur


It is also very important to understand the history of Mughals with timeline, to have a fare understanding of the history of Rajputs, because their history is closely linked with the history of Mughals.

List of Great Mughals

Period of rule
Reign interrupted by Suri Dynasty.
Deposed Humayun and led the Suri Dynasty.
2nd and last ruler of the Suri Dynasty - were eliminated by Humayun.
Restored rule was more unified and effective than initial reign of 1530–1540; left unified empire for his son, Akbar.
He and Bairam Khan defeated Hemu, General of Sher Shah Suri during the Second Battle of Panipat 
Opened first relations with the British East India Company. Reportedly was an alcoholic, and his wife Empress Noor Jahan became the real power behind the throne.

Get around

By RTDC bus

It is the best and cheaper way to visit the Jaipur Local Sights by RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Dept. Corp.) There are 3 type of tours:

1) full day tour : Rs 500
 2) half day tour Rs 400 Rs and
3) Pink city by night tour Rs 700


By local bus

Jaipur is undergoing construction of its metro network and there are multiple disruptions and road diversions and be prepared for delay.

City bus #5 connects directly Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal and Railway Rd every 10 minutes until 9 PM. Cost is Rs 10 - 12 approx.

By autorickshaw or Taxi

We hired an autorickshaw to go to Amber Fort - which is quite far. You can also hail taxi using mobile apps. UBER and OLA are available across the town

We first went to Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the grandson of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II,  as part of City Palace. It was an extension of the Zenana (women) chamber. It's purpose was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. It is a 5 storey high red sandstone structure complete with over 950 windows. The breeze (or hawa in Hindi) circulates through these windows giving the palace its name.
Inside the Hawa Mahal is not interesting and so we did not go inside.

Pink houses

Pink houses
There are interesting shops around Hawa Mahal. It is time for Teej festival- therefore it was very crowded.

Our next destination is City Palace - which is within 5 minutes walk. On the way we saw some stalls selling bird feed.

It is inside the old city. It was built between 1728-32 , 21 after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. An imposing blend of traditional Rajput and Mughal architecture. It is a vast palace complex occupying nearly one-seventh of the Pink City. It was originally built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. The complex is divided into a series of courtyards, sprawling gardens and buildings.

It is home to several palatial structures like the Chandra Mahal (home to present Maharajah of Jaipur), Mubarak Mahal (housing a textile museum), Diwan-e-Khas (or Hall of Private audience housing the 2 largest silver vessels in the world, which are duly mentioned in the Guinness book), the Diwan-e-Aam ( or Hall of Public Audience) and the gateway Ridhi Sidhi Pol (with 4 small doorways decorated with motifs depicting the four seasons).

There are 2 entrances. From one of the entrances, you can have a grand view, even without entering. For dearth of time we did not go inside.

Next door is Jantar Mantar. Jantar Mantar is the largest of 5 astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh during the period 1727-1734 in north India. The observatory consists of 14 major geometric devices (or yantras in Hindi) for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declination of planets and determining the celestial altitudes etc. There is signage providing elaborate explanations for the use of each device. The designs were heavily influenced by the observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan built by 15th century Afghani ruler Ulugh Begh.

For dearth of time we did not go inside. We had a peek from outside.

Our next destination is Amber Fort. Amber Fort is 11 km North of central Jaipur and you can go there by local bus #5 . We went there by hiring an auto rickshaw by paying Rs 200 from Jantar Mantar and dropping us back to the same place. The road is hilly and picturesque. But the road before the Fort is not good.

On the way we saw Jal Mahal (Water Palace). A Rajput style architectured palace sits in the center of the Mansarovar lake. The lake is often dry in the winter, but summer monsoons frequently turn it into a beautiful lake filled with water hyacinths.

Amer or Amber fort is a massive fort-palace complex built in hybrid Hindu-Muslim style dates back to Raja Man Singh (or Man Singh I (21 December 1550 – 6 July 1614) - who was the Kachwaha Rajput Raja of Amer, a state later known as Jaipur in Rajputana. He was a trusted general of the Mughal emperor Akbar, who included him among the Navaratnas, or the 9 gems of the royal court of Akbar) and was the royal palace of the Kachwahas from 1600-1727. The fort is named after the town of Amber, in turn named after the goddess Amba. The main sights within the fort include the Sheesh Mahal, adorned with  thousands on thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceiling. Amer fort was the capital . Jai Singh II further extended the fort. Due to water crisis the capital was shifted to Jaipur. Jai Singh II died in 1738 , which is 31 years after the death of  Aurangzeb.

We did not go inside the fort due to lack of time. Since this is off season - number of foreign tourist are much less.

On the way to Amber is  Jaigarh Fort -  1 km walk uphill from Amber Fort and may be skipped.  Nahargarh Fort, the other fort, is the smallest of the three forts – which also falls on the way to Amber Fort.

We did not have time to go there. We spent some time at Amber Fort and rushed to the train station by bus (from Hawa Mahal. The auto dropped us at Hawa Mahal). 

One must visit the bazaar in the city centre. An evening visit is a complete assault on the senses - the colours, the sights, the sounds and the smells. There are different specialist zones, whether it's food, flowers, textiles, carved statues or plumbing.

We almost missed the train because of the metro rail work. What should have taken around 15 minutes, took almost 35 minutes. We reached the train at 4.05 pm. The train is at the extreme end of the platform. We ran to catch the train and after we  boarded the train, it left in 2 minutes ! We took overnight Leelan Express at 4.15 pm to go to Jaisalmer.


Jaisalmer airport is operational now. But the rates are not at all favourable at the moment.You can come by Bus from Jodhpur or by bus from Bikaner.

Approximate road distances from various destinations are

Bikaner 330 km
Jaipur 570 km
Jodhpur 300 km
Udaipur 575 km

We reached Jaisalmer Stat at 5 am. We took a car (which came to drop somebody) by paying Rs 50 to reach our Airbnb hotel (www.airbnb.co.in/rooms ). We reached the hotel by using google map. We were allotted a room with cooler for the time being. We slept till 8 am. When we got up, I saw the wonderful view of the Golden fort from my room. It is only 3-4 minutes from the hotel. After getting up, I talked to some of the people who does safari to the sand dunes.

A typical tour is like this : a car takes you to Sam Dunes and then you ride a camel to go to see the sun set. On the way we got down at Kuldhara.

Typical operators for desert/camel safaris in Jaisalmer are, with whom I have talked to are :

Sahara Travel, Near first fort gate, Gopa chowk, 9414319921,   around Rs 1500 /pers/night

Real Desert Man Camel Safari (Real Desert Man Camel Safari), (Near Fort Parking),  09649865500 . Real Desert Man Safari has been in operation in Jaisalmer for well over two decades, a continuance of a long line of camel drivers dating back centuries in the heart of Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer. Nice camel ride and adventure safari. Rs 1700.

Kheta - The Real Desert Man, Hotel Grand View Jaisalmer (only office, not related to the hotel) (On Fort Road: opposite Govt Authorised Bhang Shop - ask for Kheta or the Hotel Grand View.  9571096265. Kheta does camel safaris for more than 30 years now.

The Desert Ship Camel safari Jaisalmer, Dhibba Para Near Near Fort Parking, 8769473419, The Desert Ship Camel Safari is one of the pioneer companies based in Jaisalmer who started offering desert camel rides. The company is known for its excellent services and warm hospitality. Rs 1500 to 1950.

Understand Jaisalmer

It is close to the Pakistan border and  the city is known for its proximity to the Thar Desert. The city is dominated by the Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). Unlike most forts in India, the Jaisalmer Fort is a living fort. There are shops, hotels and age old havelis (homes) inside the fort area where families have lived for generations.

Unlike Jaipur and Jodhpur, with populations in the millions, Jaisalmer is very much a tourist town, with a population of about 80,000. In fact, a significant portion of the population is only there in the tourist season, 4 months out of the year. The rest of the time they go off to find work in larger towns in Rajasthan. 

It is a very important camel train route between India and Central Asia - which brought great wealth to this place. It is very near to Pakistan border. However the caravan stopped after Independence and it lost its significance. Later it became an army base and regained significance after trouble with Pakistan.

Jaisalmer was founded by King Jaisal in 1156. For many years Jaisalmer remained out of bound from the foreign rulers partly because of its location and partly because of its relief. In 1294, Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Turk-Afghan ruler of Delhi laid the siege over the city. He was apparently upset with the Bhatti Rajput rulers because they stopped and looted one of his caravans containing royal coffer which was on its way to Sind. The siege lasted for around 9 long years and when the fall seemed eminent the Rajput womenfolk of the city committed Jauhar (self Immolation to avoid disgrace). For some years afterwards Jaisalmer remained abandoned before the surviving Bhatis reoccupied it.

We had our breakfast at our hostel and there is a wonderful view of the fort from the terrace.

It is called Crazy Camel Guest houe. The owner Jamin Khan used to do camel safari and he is now running the hotel, by paying a lease rent to the owner. He said the hotel is owned by a "Brahmin" ! Previously it was owned and run by an Austrian for 25-30 years.He used to distribute the profit among the lesser privileged of Jaisalmer. He died here. Before his death he has given it to the "Brahmin". Here your caste is very important - which we tend to forget staying in West Bengal. We booked a camel safari through him. Before that I talked to some famous travel agents. His rate is the best of the lot. He charged Rs 3,000 for 2 of us. It will start at 3.30 pm.

Get around

The main attractions can be easily covered by foot.  One of the most magnificent attractions is the Jaisalmer Fort, also known as "Sonar Qila," due to the yellow stone with which it was built. Jaisalmer is a lovely and very relaxing place with a great small-town feel.

Just near the fort we had the famous Makhania Lassi (Rs 50) from Bharat Juice centre (recently name has changed to Bharat Juice centre ) - which is really good - very thick ! Then we had snacks from the very famous sweet/snack shop - Dhanraj Ranmal Bhatia. This is also very near to the fort. We had Ghotua Laddoo and Panchadhari Laddoo (@ Rs 340 per Kg). This is the most popular here.

You can drink bhang lassi at the government authorized shop beside the entrance of the fort. Packs of bhang-infused cookies and chocolates are also available for takeaway. Excessive consumption of Bhang dehydrates the body and one can experience effects like high sweating, anxiety, increased palpitation, hallucinations etc. These effects vary from person to person and depends on the amount of bhang consumed. Not more than a glass should be consumed by first timers.

However the prices are not very cheap. We went inside the shop. But did not drink anything.

We started the day with the Fort.

Jaisalmer Fort : It is located on Trikut hill. It has two region - upper region (above Trikut hill) and lower region. Many people are staying inside the upper region. ALL THE HOUSES ARE GOLDEN . I guess it is soft stone, because of intricacy of work. The dry climate has helped to preserve the fineness of detail. Most of these have been done by the Muslim artists. The stone comes from a region few Km from the city. Colourful shades of the setting sun and golden hues of the desert ambiance give a fairy tale look to this mega structured fort. The interior of the fort is amazing. It is a 'working fort,' meaning that unlike every other fort in India, there are people living and working within its walls. Tourists can also visit many havelis of rich merchants, which are also having a touch of great classical interior and design. The dry weather helped in preserving the work.

There are numerous lookouts  within the fort that give a great view out across the city and desert.

We started the day with the royal section of the fort called Rajmahal Palace - constructed around 1500 . The King used to stay here. We spent some time here. 

Inside the fort complex there is also Jain Temple , very near to the Rajmahal Palace. There are 7 beautifully carved Jain temples built inside the fort walls. These temples were built between the 12th century to 15th century. All the temples are connected by walkways and corridors. It is compulsory to remove your shoes and all other leather articles (belts, wallets, purses, etc.) before entering any Jain temple. The very first temple is dedicated to Chandraprabhu, who is the 8th tirthankar (Jain God). The symbol of the God Chandraprabhu is the moon. This temple was built in 1509. It is built with fine stones. They are only open from 8 am to midday. We reached just in time.

The best of the lot is Parsvanath temple. Laxmi Narayan temple was closed. If you do not enter the Royal section, then you do not have to pay any entry fee at all - to see the rest of the fort. Suddenly we saw Mukul's palace - which is very near to Jain temple. Nothing else is written. It has been kept intact. We met an elderly person who saw the shooting of Sonar Killa and chatted with him.  We saw a Mukul's restaurant too.

Previously people used to stay only in this fort, on Trikut hill, but now the people got scattered, because there is no place to stay inside the fort due to bigger population. Now 80% of the people  staying in the fort are Brahmin  and 20% of the poeple are Rajput, I am told. The water used to come from man-made Gadisar (or Gadi Sagar) Lake (made 650 years back) , 2-3 Km from here. Now the lake is used for only boating . Now the water comes through Indira Gandhi canal from Punjab. The people stay little away from the Trikut hill , near the desert area, are mostly Muslim.

The person whose picture is everywhere in Jaisalmer, Laxmi Narain, is called Mr Desert. He is now dead. He  won the famous desert competition and became Mr Desert and embodies Rajput face. He has a big mustache like a Rajput. But he himself  is a Brahmin.  !  The term : Brahmin , Rajput has lot of significance here.
Laxmi Narain

Everywhere we went, people talked about the impact of Satyajit Ray and the film "Sonar Kella" on this city. They were telling before 1972 nobody knew Jaisalmer.  In one place, we were given a discount to buy a cold drink on learning that we are from West Bengal.

After that we had some time to see some famous havelis. Since it was a trade route, merchants made some amazing havelis. The famous ones are i) Selim Singh Haveli. He was the Dewan or prime minister of the King. It is 300 years old. ii) Then there is Nathmal ki Haveli. May be they have some connection to Nathmal of Darjeeling. iii) Then 5 Jain brothers made Patwa ki Haveli - it is the most exquisite of all. We saw it from outside, since we have to go to the safari. We will go inside the havelis tomorrow.

Now it is time to go for Camel Safari at 3.30 pm. We went to our hotel. A car came to our hotel. We later understood, we could have left at 4-4.30 pm .  A camel safari in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer is an unforgettable experience.

On the way to Sand dunes we got down at Kuldhara. Kuldhara was not a part of our itinerary. Not a single soul was there when we visited the place. I never knew the history, before I went there. The place was a thriving town till mid of 19th century. The folklore says that the entire village was vacated overnight by the Paliwal Brahmin villagers due to the atrocities on the women by the Salim Singh.There is a book on this village. The Legend of Kuldhara, by Malathi Ramachandran.

After getting down at the edge of desert we were waiting for the camel to come. They insisted that we pay more to take the 4 wheel drive tour. Along with us , 3 tourists from Andhra Pradesh were also waiting. We decided to share the extra cost of  Rs 1400 (Rs 280 per head) and do the 4 wheel drive or a jeep safari into the desert, to see the scenery and watch the sun go down.

The 4 wheel jeep safari was definitely the highlight of the camel safari. After getting down we went for a camel safari and took some pictures of setting sun at sun set zone.

 Somebody played Morchang for us at the sun set point. In Gupi Gaine Bagha Baine , Morchang was played. It was really interesting. We also saw the place where Bajrangi Bhaijan shooting took place. It is certainly not the border area !

Since there was a slight rain in the morning (it hardly rains here) the weather was very nice. Then went for the  Rajasthani folk dance and dinner at a place owned by a Kolkatan - Sunil Singh (he stays at Malancha, near Tollygunge) !  The area where the programme takes place looks like Savanah - there are no trees at all - because of the desert like terrain.

They were playing Khartal (made of wood) and Morchang.  There were some folk dance programme too. It was not very interesting though.

We had famous Dal Bati Churma (Churma is separate sweet served alongside) there. It is nothing great !

When we reached home, it is already quite late.  It is 11 pm.


There was some urgent work in my office, which had to be done  from a cyber cafe ! First time in my life, I had to do some urgent office work during my vacation (land allotment case to one of the Big 4 of Indian IT Industries) !! We started the day with Lassi and had some snacks from Dhanraj. While going to Dhanraj there are numerous shops. Jaisalmer is famous for leather, silver jewelry and embroidery on silk and cotton. Most of the works are done locally. Leather goods are generally made from goat hide. You will find these shops everywhere in Jaisalmer.

Then went to see the Havelis. First we went to Salim Singh Haveli. Again, we were not allowed to go to Salim Singh Haveli on the pre-text of Bakrid. Some other story was told yesterday - it is just beside our Lassi shop. Then we went to the most famous one is Patwa-ki-Haveli. It is a 5 minutes from Salim Singh Haveli and 10-minute walk from the main gates of the fort . It's a collection of 5 houses, each one for the son of a wealthy trader, who made money lending to the government. One of the havelis (closest to the street) has been restored and turned into a government museum. It is the grandest of the lot. The entry fee is Rs 100. There is no entry fee for camera though.

Then we went to see Nathmal ki Haveli. You can enter upto Courtyard. You cannot go beyond that. It is near Gandhi Chowk. It is a very important shopping district. Many people stay here. Then we went past some famous restaurants like Trio, Saffron. In Saffron you can get non veg - Chicken fried rice around Rs 280. They also have Punjabi Food. These are little high end.

We went to eat our lunch at Chandan Shree which is famous for local cuisine. There are many Chandan Shees in Jaisalmer. We had special Rajasthani Thali. It is not exactly Dal Bati Churma. There are chick peas, Dal (Dal fry type), Paneer butter masala, chanachur, sweets, curd in the Thali. It is all guided by local vegetation. There is hardly any green leafy vegetables in this desert - you get mostly various kinds of pulses which are grown here. Dhania pata, Saag is not found here. Hence Pulses is very important part of their local cuisine. We were told in a sweet shop, at 50 degree Celsius most sweets will get spoilt, so they have to be very cautious - about what not to make.

Then we went to man made Gadisar lake by share auto. There were many fishes in the lake. It is a rainwater lake which supplies water to the city. Sar means a lake. King Ghadsi of Jaisalmer got it made 650 years ago with the help of the people. It is surrounded by temples and tombs of saints.

Nearby is the desert cultural centre and a local museum, built out of the collections of a local school teacher (of history) Mr. N.K. Sharma, in 1984. It was initially a museum, but later it was converted into a cultural centre. Museum is not extra ordinary. He promotes local culture and supports local artists.They also learn how to play Khartal etc - so that he can make a living.This centre conducts puppet shows in the evening at 6.30 pm. He is a national award winning teacher. He told us about his acquaintances with Satyajit Ray - when he did his shooting , once during  Goopy Gaine Bagha Bain (he apparently used 500 camels) and second time during Sonar Kella. Two of his puppet show modules revolved around Sonar Kella or Satyajit Ray or Bengal (one of them being magicians of Bengal) ! They talked about Satyajit Ray, before the performance. Such is his impact ! Since this is off season, only 3 foreigners came.

We learnt that your pagri or Turban colour is dictated by your community caste. e.g. Yellow colour  is worn by  Rajput. Red colour  is worn by  Brahmin. Dalits wear Black. I bought a Pagri in Rajasthan.Mr N K Sharma of Jaisalmer said the one I bought does not indicate any community.

After the show, we left for our hostel. We decided to make a full circle  around the fort, since we had some time left.

After that we had our dinner (Chinese fried rice - made by a person from Darjeeling - who is in Jaisalmer for last 15 years ! ) near the fort and took the bus from air-force circle to go to Jodhpur. The  bus stop is walking distance from our hostel/fort. We did not get AC booking for our bus at this time. But it was comfortable due to the rains. In fact we had to shut the window pane in the morning.

But it must be told that the city is dusty, dirty and chaotic like any other Indian city. The old city will remind you of Varanasi - narrow roads : Golden Varansi because of yellow lime stone. There are cows all over the place, blocking the road.

I thought Tourism infrastructure  in Rajasthan is much better than West Bengal. The woman still wear a veil / ghomta today - it is quite depressing to see woman like this even in 21st Century. I can safely say, my state is far better , in this respect.

One can go to Bikener (famous for rat temple) from Jaisalmer and come back. It is not very far from Jaisalmer


We reached Jodhpur at 3.45 am and got down near clock tower by an auto  and reached our hotel with the help of a local person on his bike (3 person in one bike) - that early in the morning ! Without his help it would have been really very difficult to find it.  Our hotel Global Hostel Jodhpur (through Booking.com) is quite good and is walking distance from the Mehrangarh fort. The old city is very dirty ! Clock tower is very dirty indeed. People staying in 5 star hotel, will have not idea of these places.

After sleeping for 2 hours, we went walking upto the top of the fort (in this route, there is no public transport). It is possible to take an auto/car to go up from another side .

On the way to the fort , falls Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower at Sardar Market.  Ghanta Ghar was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh (1880-1911) from whom the market takes it name. In fact, the tower dominates the entire scenario.

The clock tower is a popular landmark in the old city. The vibrant Sardar Market is close to the tower, and sells vegetables, spices, Indian sweets, textiles, silver and handicrafts.

We had our breakfast at the famous restaurant Mishrilal at the Clock Tower . It serves one of the best lassis in town.It is really good like the one in Jaisalmer. Very thick - unlike what we get in Kolkata. We also had Magar Kachori (or Moog Kachori) and Malai (Sweet) Kachori.

On the way to the fort , we also saw a lake - Ranisar Padamsar - Ranisar was made by Queen Jasmade Hadi, Rao Jodha's wife in 1459. Ranisar is situated near Fateh Pol in Mehrangarh.

Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is called the Gateway to Thar, as it is literally on the edge of the Thar desert. It is also called the Sun City as the sun shines almost every day of the year. 

Jodhpur is an historic city. In 1194 in eastern India, the Muslim invader,  Mohammed Ghori, defeated the mighty Jaichand of Kanauj. It was Jaichand's great-grandson, Sheoji, who rode out to Marwar in 1226, eager for fresh battlefields and glory all his own. And it is Sheoji's descendants who bear the name Rathore. In the year 1459 AD, Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodha ( hence the name Jodhpur) , the Rajput chieftan of the Rathores. The Rathore kingdom in Marwar (means Region of death) was the largest in Rajputana. Rao Jodha had made Mandore to serve as the capital, but later he shifted the capital to Jodhpur, the new capital of the state of Marwar .  The people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are hence also commonly called as Marwaris. This is the genesis of the term Marwari. The Udaipur is part of Mewar - which is different from Marwar. The Rathores who ruled Marwar from Jodhpur till the merger of the Princely States with the Dominion of India in 1949,

Jodhpur is also known as the Blue City, as "many" houses in the old city are shades of blue. This is particularly noticeable on the north side of the town, known as Brahmpuri for the many Brahmins that live there. However not many houses are blue coloured - unlike Chefchouen of Morocco. In any case, these houses are near the fort only.

Mehrangarh Fort dominates the city and is the largest fort in all Rajasthan. The city has grown around it, and in the 500 years that have passed, the fort has never been taken by force. It's easy to see why: it occupies the entire top of a 150 metres hill with commanding views all around . It is possible to go up to the fort and see the views of the city for free, but to enter the palaces and museum you do need the tickets that are sold at the entrance.

The Fort houses the Maharaja's palace, several temples and, tucked away in the back, an extensive garden still farmed to this day.

Highlights within the palace of Mehrangarh Fort :

Moti Mahal (Pearl Hall). Pearl-coloured inside and decorated with colored glass windows, this is where the Maharaja held his audiences .

Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Hall).

Phool Mahal (Flower Hall) : The most extravagant of them all, this was the Maharaja's pleasure chamber, for dancing girls and revelry.

Zenana Deodi : The inner sanctum of the palace once guarded by eunuchs, this is where the Maharaja's wives whiled away their days. The delicate sandstone screens and carvings are exquisite.

Chamunda Mataji Temple : Tucked away at the far end of the battlements, this temple is devoted to Rao Jodha's favorite goddess and remains a local favorite to this day.

There is one place in this complex which is not open to public - reserved for the King. Maharaja Gaj Singh however stays in Umaid Bhawan (one can see it from Mehrangarh Fort). The architecture has typical Rajasthani style - very grand. The entry fee is Rs 100. We saw Rajput miniature art, glass work. There is amalgamation of Mughal and Rajput architecture. Mughals were never able to subjugate Rajputs completely - even if they did - it was for a short period. From the top you can have a grand view of the city.


Black kite spectacle: Daily from around 15:30 to 16:00, there is a person (young boy, sometimes a man) feeding the black kites leisurely cruising around the tower opposite the Chokelao Garden entrance by throwing pieces of meat from its top. Quite a spectacle, if you have never seen 200 plus kites in one place. We did not have time to go there.

On the way back from Mehrangarh fort we went to Jaswant Thada, walking. It can be easily walked . There is no need to take Auto rickshaw. It is a Royal cenotaphs built in marble, with a picturesque location next to a little lake. It is definitely worth a visit.

Then we took a shared autorickshaw (to save some time) to go down (paid Rs 10 each for 2 person) and had our lunch (Kachori, Dhokla etc) after hitting the plains . Then we went back to our hotel  by auto at 4.15 pm.

Gobindo decided to take some rest. I went to Umaid Bhawan Palace by a bike taxi - Rapido on the recommendation of some guests from Rajasthan (who work in ITC and rented the place on monthly basis). There is nice view of the fort from the terrace of the hotel.

Clearly visible to the south of the city and completed only in 1944, this is the last great palace built in India. The Maharaja of Jodhpur lives here to this day, but half the building has been converted to a 5-star hotel).

There is also a small museum on the grounds . However when I went there, it was closed - I took some pictures from outside. I enjoyed the bike ride though. For 4.7 Km ride I paid only  Rs 27. This part of the city is much better than the old city. The roads are much better and less dirty. It seemed to be the affluent part of the city. It was an opportunity to see the rest of the city. It returned home at 7.15 pm.


Bishnoi village tour is also possible. But we skipped it - though I had a talk with the owner of the tour. But I was not very happy with the way we talked and dropped the idea and in any case we were bit late also. Actually many companies do this tour. But we talked to Poly Travels.

A vegetarian community, they are the best friend and protector of the flora and fauna, conceding spiritual allegiance to twenty and nine tenets of the 15th century legendary Guru Jambheshwar (Jambhoji). Spot herds of black buck around the Bishnoi settlements freely and fearlessly running.

A half-day jeep drive through the countryside – @ RS. 650 per person.


In the evening we had some snacks from famous Arora namkeen Shahi Samosa Shop, few metres off the Clock Tower  for excellent sweets and snacks. It is famous for Shahi Samosa Then we had omelette from the famous Omelette shop.  The Omelette Shop, is just outside the gates to the main square of Clock Towner.

But if truth be told , the city is dusty, dirty and chaotic like any Indian city. There are cows all over the place, blocking the road.

It is possible to go to Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh.  Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh is between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. We met a foreginer who went to Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh before going to Udaipur, since it falls in between.

Today our bus to Udaipur is at 10.45 pm. We took an auto to go to the bus station.


We reached Udaipur at 06.00 am and took an auto rickshaw  to reach our hostel early in the morning. 

Know Udaipur or city of Lakes

Formerly named as Mewar, Udaipur is the capital of the district of Mewar in Rajasthan, India. Udaipur is famous for its lakes, palaces, forts, temples, gardens, and romantic backdrops. It was the setting of many movies, including the 13th James Bond film, Octopussy.

In 1568, the Mughal emperor Akbar captured Chittorgarh, and Maharaja Udai Singh II was forced to flee the capital Chittorgarh and establish the city of Udaipur. Udai Sing II belong to Sisodia Rajput clan. Udaipur remained the capital of the state of Mewar, which became a princely state of British India in 1818. After India's independence in 1947, Mewar was integrated into the state of Rajasthan. In contrast to house of Jaipur, rulers of Udaipur prided themselves being independent from Mughals. He died in 1572 at Gogunda . The bloody Siege of Chittorgarh in 1568 had led to the loss of the fertile eastern belt of Mewar to the Mughals. However, the rest of the hilly kingdom was still under their control. Before his death, Jagmal tried to seize the throne but the nobles of Mewar prevented Jagmal from succeeding and placed Maharana Pratap Singh (Pratap Singh I) on the throne on 1 March 1572. The Mughal emperor Akbar was intent on securing a stable route to Gujarat through Mewar. When Maharana Pratap Singh was crowned king , Akbar sent a number of envoys entreating the Rana to become a vassal or subordinate like many other Rajput leaders in the region. When the Rana refused to personally submit to Akbar, war became inevitable.

The Battle of Haldighati was fought on 18 June 1576 between Maharana Pratap and Akbar's forces led by Man Singh I of Amber. The Mughals were victorious and inflicted significant casualties among the Mewaris, but failed to capture Maharana. The site of the battle was a narrow mountain pass at Haldighati near Gogunda (around 30-40 km from Udaipur), modern day Rajsamand in Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap fielded a force of around 3,000 cavalry and 400 Bhil archers. The Mughals ( led by Man Singh of Amber), who commanded an army numbering around 5,000-10,000 men. After a fierce battle lasting more than six hours, Maharana found himself wounded . The mughal were unable to capture him. He managed to escape to the hills and lived to fight another day. The story of the horse Chetak is also part of folklore. Chetak saved Pratap's life by carrying him away from the battle field. In its attack on elephant, it got wounded by the sword, which was attached to Tusker's trunk. Despite of continuous bleeding it not only ran for miles carrying Pratap on its back but also leaped a running water stream before dying. This all despite of having only three legs functional. Immediately after that jump Chetak died due to enormous fatigue which it had due to fighting for hours and also due to bleeding from his wounded leg. A cenotaph was made where Chetak died and can be seen even today.

Haldighati was a futile victory for the Mughals, as they were unable to capture Maharana Pratap, or any of his close family members in Udaipur. As soon as the empire's focus shifted north-west, Pratap and his army came out of hiding and recaptured the western regions of his dominion. 

Our hotel is very near to Gangaur Ghat (of Pichola Lake). The view from the hotel roof is one of the best of Udaipur. https://www.airbnb.co.in . Gangaur is one of the names of Parvati. 

Pichola Lake is an artificial fresh water lake, created in the year 1362 AD, named after the nearby Picholi village. The lake’s surroundings and several islands within the lake have been developed over the centuries with palaces, marble temples, family mansions and bathing ghats. The famous Lake Palace (now converted into a heritage hotel) is located in the middle of the lake. Two islands, Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, are located within Pichola Lake.

Get around

Most of the city can be covered on foot and the narrow alleyways in the old city make any other form of transportation a hassle.

We started the day  with Udaipur City Palace. We skipped the Bagore ki Haveli - beside Gangaur Ghat (we had a look at this ghat) - which is very near to our hotel. On the way to City Palace, falls famous Jagadish temple. We went to Lal Ghat, which also falls on the way to City Palace - in one of the by lanes. We checked some famous Udaipur miniature art in one of the shops near Lal Ghat. Then in 5 minutes, we reached City Palace (and not Lake Palace). It is not a fort. Here the entry fee is Rs 500 - same for Indians and Foreigners ! We took lot of time to see this beautiful palace. The palace is divided between Pre-Mughal and Mughal period and extended till the British period. Therefore the palace was extended/added over a period of time.

Udaipur City Palace : A complex of small and big palaces, museums and gardens encompassing a rich blend of Rajasthani, Mughal, Medieval, European and Chinese architecture.

One of the most beautiful palatial structures in Rajasthan. Originally built by Maharana Uday Singh II, it rises 30 meters above Lake Pichola and extends up to 244 meters. The palace complex has been built entirely in granite and marble. The interior with its balconies, towers and cupolas exhibits delicate mirror work, marble work, murals, wall paintings, silver work, inlay work and coloured glass mosaics. The complex provides a fine view of the lake and the city from its upper terraces. You can roam around the palace and take great photos without having to buy a ticket, as the ticket is only required to go into the museum.

Amar Vilas - The uppermost court inside the complex is a raised garden providing entry to the Badi Mahal, a pleasure pavilion built in the Mughal style. Amar Vilas is the highest point of the City palace and has wonderful hanging gardens with fountains, towers and terraces.

Badi Mahal - Also known as Garden Palace is the exotic central garden palace situated on a 89 ft high natural rock formation vis-a-vis the rest of the palace. The rooms on the ground floor appear to be at the level of the fourth floor in view of the height difference to its surrounding buildings.

Durbar Hall - Built in 1909 within the Fatepraksh Palace (now a heritage hotel), the hall was used by the royal ladies to observe the court proceedings. This hall has some unusually large chandeliers. Weapons of the maharanas and also some of their unique portraits are also displayed here.

Fatehprakash Palace - Now run as luxury hotel and inaccessible to public viewing 

Krishna Vilas - Another chamber in Fatehprakash Palance with a rich collection of miniature paintings that portray royal processions, festivals and games of the Maharanas. 

Manak Mahal -  One of the prominent emblems of the sun is depicted on the fa├žade of the Manak Chowk, which can also be seen from the outermost court.

Mor Chowk or Peacock Square - A pillared hall with glass and mirror mosaic decorations is integral to the inner courts of the palace. The elaborate design of this chamber consists of 3 peacocks (representing the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon) . These were built during Maharana Sajjan Singh’s reign, 200 years after the palace was established. The peacocks have been crafted with 5,000 pieces of glass which shine in green, gold and blue. 

Zenana Mahal or Women's Palace - Proceeding further from Mor Chowk, in the Zenana Mahal or women’s quarters (now converted into a museum) are exquisitely designed balconies, coloured windows, tiled walls and floors.

Rang Bhawan - The palace that used to contain royal treasure. There are temples of Lord Krishna, Meerabai and Shiva located here.

Sheesh Mahal - The palace of mirrors and glasses was built in 1716. A shrine of Dhuni Mata is also located in the complex. This location is considered as the oldest part of the Palace, where a sage spent his entire life meditating.

Today it was raining heavily. After we were done with City Palace, we went to Banshi Ghat - it is part of city palace. We spent some time there at Banshi ghat sitting idly.

On the way back we went to Jagdish temple. It is 500 years old in Sikhara Style of architecture. It is located 150 meters north of City Palace, the Indo-Aryan architectural style temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is visible from nearly anywhere in the old city center and is Udaipur's most iconic landmark. The temple walls and the shikara or tower are decorated with carvings of Vishnu, scenes from Lord Krishna’s life and figurines of apsaras. The street square, at the base of the temple steps, is also known as Jagdish Chowk from where several roads radiate in different directions.

Then we saw Bagore-ki-Haveli from outside. It is a mansion built in the 18th century on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat by Amir Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar, now a museum. It has over a hundred rooms, with displays of costumes and modern art. The building has a large and exquisite collection of Mewar paintings and glassworks. The Entrance fee is Rs 100. It is very near to my hostel and just beside Gangotri Ghat of Pichola Lake.

There is a nightly one-hour long dance performance at 7 pm. A 60-minute Rajastani dance and marionette puppet show. It includes live music with local instruments, local folk dancing and a lady balancing up to 9 stacked pots on her head.

We had our dinner near out hostel. The food in our hostel is quite expensive , but it has one of the best views  in the town. The soup is the cheapest at Rs 120 , but brownie costs Rs 200 !

Today we met a Bengali girl from Bangalore, in our hostel - who is a solo traveller and is looking for people to go to Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. She had hired a scooty. We planned to go together to Kumbhalgarh and Raunakpur. We hired a car for Rs 2600 with toll tax to Kumbhalgarh and Raunakpur. (Actually in the morning I have already talked to some travel agents and took their mobile number. We simply confirmed we were going ). Some of them quoted Rs 2300, but they did not pick up the phone. Then we went to a very reputed restaurant called Harighar - just beside the lake. It is a very classy restaurant. We had famous Lal Mans (Red mutton) of Rajasthan for Rs 490. It is good !  It is very spicy.It is enough for 2 people. They we had some chicken preparation for Rs 420.  We also had type of payesh or payasam ! The total bill was Rs 1430 !


It was raining in the morning. We had a very good buffet breakfast in the hotel. Everyday the menu changes a little bit. The spread is very good by Indian standard.

Our car came to our hotel and we left for Kumbhalgarh. It is a 15th-century fortress (finished in 1458) , built by Rana Kumbha of Mewar (of Sisodia Rajput Clan), with 36 km of walls. Over 360 temples (10 temples per Km) are within the fort. It took 15 years to complete it.  It is the great wall of India ! However picture do not do justice to the place. You can walk on the wall.

It is the most important fort after Chittor or Chittorgarh.  It was conquered only once, that too with the combined armies of Akbar & Amber and Marwar.

When we reached there, it was raining heavily. It later stopped.

First we went to the Kumbhalgarh fort (Entry fee Rs 40 for us, Rs 600 for forigners !) . Then we walked on the wall for some time. We had our lunch at a small eatery in front the  Kumbhagarh fort. We left at 3.30 pm for Ranakpur. You have to reach there before 5 pm, if you want go inside Ranakpur temple. We were bit late. But camera is not allowed after 5 pm, since it is the time for Puja.

Ranakpur is widely known for its magnificent marble Jain temple devoted to Lord Adinath and is a must see. White marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple. The temple, with its distinctive domes, rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple, and no two columns are the same. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there are 1008 heads of snakes and numerous tails over the head of Lord Parsvanatha. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. The temple is designed with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Jain Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.

Ranakpur is between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. Easily accessed by road, Ranakpur is around 90 km north of Udaipur. It is not very far from Kumbalgarh. It is poor man's Dilwara temple (Mt Abu).  This is almost a hill station (2200 metre). This is part of Aravalli range. There is  Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary nearby and can be arranged from this area. It is famous for Leopard. This place has its own charm. There is a place to stay in the reserve forest.


On the way back we had some snacks /maggi at a dhaba . We reached home at 9 pm ! We were told we will reach at 5 pm. But the driver did not make any ruckus !

At dinner, we had local specialities of Rajasthan from a restaurant, near Jagadish temple. The Rajasthani veg Thali is Rs 350 (unlimited refill).


It was raining today also. So it could not go to the Fateh Sagar Lake. It is an artificial lake just north of Lake Pichola, in 1678 . Within the confines of Fateh Sagar Lake, there are 3 small islands. 

We took a boat to go to Jagmandir from the jetty at Banshi Ghat, just beside Udaipur city palace. The boat ride is very expensive - Rs 500 per head. It takes around 30 minutes to reach. On the way we saw famous Taj Lake Palace owned by Taj group (IIHCL) withing the lake. You can see hill all around the lake.

After spending some time in the Jagmandir  (we were told Ravina Tandon got married here) , we came back to the Banshi Ghat. I tripped inside the boat - since it was slippery, due to the rain and there is no dry cloth was kept as doormat ! Thankfully it was not fatal.

We then left for our hotel. On the way we did some shopping today. Udaipur is particularly famous for its miniature paintings inspired by style of Rajputs and Mughals. You are unlikely to find these items elsewhere in India.

 We enjoyed the breathtaking 360 degree view from the terrace once again. There is Aravalli range all around Udaipur. We did not knew that. So it was a very pleasant surprise indeed. But it was marred by the continuous rain (with little break in between). Our new friend left for Bangalore today, in the evening (She kept the luggage in our room, before checking out) . In our hotel, we saw many solo girls staying in the woman dorm.

Because of continuous rain we skipped going to Saheliyon ki Bari - built by Maharana Bhopal Singh. Saheliyon ki Bari means Garden of the Maids. This garden area lies in the northern part of the city and has fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants. Each water channel has a distinct sound, and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambience of the place. There is also a small museum here. Sahelion Ki Bari was created for a group of 48  young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry.

We could not go there since it was raining and we were late. 

Get out

There are some interesting sites within a day's journey of the city. We already went to 2 places. One can also go to Mt Abu , Haldighat.

Mount Abu - A popular tourist hill station 185 km from Udaipur. The highest peak on the mountain is Guru Shikhar, at 1722 meters above sea level. Mount Abu is home to a number of Jain temples, especially the Dilwara Temples. Buses operate between Udaipur and Mount Abu (5 hours)


We took an auto from Jagadish temple to reach the train station. Today we took early morning train (6 am) to go to Chittorgarh or   It takes only 2 hours to reach there. We took an auto  to reach our hotel  - Hotel Heritage  (booked through Booking.com). It is in a quiet lane and walking distance from Collector office (important junction). It is also possible to go to Chittor and come back to Udaipur. Many people go to Chittor , making Udaipur as base.

After some breakfast nearby restaurant near Collectorate office, we left for Chittorgharh fort by hiring an auto for the whole Chittor tour @ Rs 450 - which includes the waiting time. It is a fairly tough climb up to the fort, but once at the top, it is mainly flat. Many of the historical sights are in ruins and it takes approximately 3 and half hours to see everything. It is a huge area.

Chittorgharh is in the southern part of Rajasthan, lies on the Berach River, a tributary of the Banas, and is the administrative headquarters of Chittorgharh District. It is 112 km from Udaipur and served as a capital city to the Sisodia clans of Rajputs of Mewar for a long time. The district is a famous tourist destination for its massive fortress claimed to be the largest amoung all the Rajput fort and has witnessed the legendary tale of Queen Padmini's act of jauhar that fascinates most historians and travellers.

Historically, the Chittorgarh fort was built by the Maurayans in 7th century A.D. Some accounts say that the Mori dynasty was in possession of the fort when Bappa Rawal the founder of the kingdom of Mewar seized Chittorgarh (Chittor fort) and made it his capital in 734 AD. While some other accounts say Bappa Rawal received it as a part of the dowry after marriage with the last Solanki princess.

It was defeated 3 times.It was attacked 23 times, according to the guide.

The first attack was by Alauddin Khilji in 1303 A.D., who was enamoured by the beauty of Padmini - which he had only heard. Rani Padmini preferred death to abduction and dishonour and committed jauhar (an act of self immolation by leaping into a large fire) along with all the other ladies of the fort. All the men left the fort in saffron robes to fight the enemy unto death. Chittorgarh was captured in 1303 A.D. by Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, who led a huge army. It was recaptured in 1326 A.D. by the young Hammir Singh, a scion of the same clan. The dynasty (and clan) fathered by him came to be known by the name Sisodia after the village where he was born. By the 16th century, Mewar had become the leading Rajput state. Rana Sanga of Mewar led the combined Rajput forces against the Mughal emperor Babur in 1527 A.D., but was defeated at the Battle of Khanua.

The important king of Sisodia Rajputs of Mewar II clan are :

Hammir Singh (1326–1364)
Kshetra Singh (1364–1382)
Lakha Singh (1382–1421)
Mokal Singh (1421–1433)
Rana Kumbha (1433–1468)
Udai Singh I (1468–1473)
Rana Raimal (1473–1508)
Rana Sanga (1508–1527)
Ratan Singh II (1528–1531)
Vikramaditya Singh (1531–1536)
Vanvir Singh (1536–1540)
Udai Singh II (1540–1572)
Pratap Singh I (1572–1597)
Amar Singh I (1597–1620)
Karan Singh II (1620–1628)
Jagat Singh I (1628–1652)
Raj Singh I (1652–1680)
Jai Singh       (1680–1698)
Amar Singh II (1698–1710)
Sangram Singh II (1710–1734)
Jagat Singh II (1734–1751)
Pratap Singh II (1751–1754)
Raj Singh II (1754–1762)
Ari Singh II (1762–1772)
Hamir Singh II (1772–1778)
Bhim Singh (1778–1828)
Jawan Singh (1828–1838)
Sardar Singh (1828–1842)
Swarup Singh (1842–1861)
Shambhu Singh (1861–1874)
Sajjan Singh (1874–1884)
Fateh Singh (1884–1930)
Bhupal Singh (1930—1955)

Later in 1535 A.D., Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat besieged the fort causing immense carnage. It is said that again just like in the case of Jauhar led by Padmini in 1303 A.D., all 32,000 men then living in the fort donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out to face certain death in the war, and their women folk committed Jauhar led by Rani Karnawati.

The ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Jauhar was again performed for the 3rd time after the Mughal Emperor Akbar captured Chittorgarh in 1568 A.D. After that the Rana Udai Singh shifted capital to Udaipur from Chittor.

Chittorgarh is also famous for its association with 2 very widely known historical figures of India. The first one is, Meera Bai the most famous female Hindu spiritual poetess whose compositions are still popular throughout North India. Her poems follow the Bhakti tradition and she is considered to be most passionate worshipper of lord Krishna. The second one is Rani Padmavati.

Chittorgarh remains replete with historic associations and holds a very special place in the hearts of Rajputs. The fort and the city of Chittorgarh also hosts the biggest Rajput festival "Jauhar Mela". It takes place annually on the anniversary of one of the jauhars, not the one by Padmini which is most famous. This festival is to commemorate the bravery of Rajput ancestors and all 3 Jauhars which happened at Chittorgarh. A huge number of Rajputs which include the descendants of most of the princely families do a procession to celebrate the Jauhar.

The  Chittorgarh Fort, was the capital of Mewar and it sprawls majestically over a hill 591 ft in height, spread over an area of 692 acre , above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. A winding hill road of more than 1 km length from the new town, leads to the west end main gate, called Ram Pol, of the fort.

Within the fort, a circular road provides access to all the gates and monuments located within the fort walls. The fort that once boasted of 84 water bodies, has only 22 now. These water bodies are fed by natural catchment and rainfall could meet the water needs of an army of 50,000. The supply could last for four years. These water bodies are in the form of ponds, wells and step wells.

The fort has 7 gates (in the local language, gate is called "Pol"), namely the Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and the main entry gate of Ram Pol (Lord Rama's Gate). All the gateways to the fort have been built as massive stone structures with secure fortifications for military defense. The doors of the gates with pointed arches are reinforced to fend off elephants and cannon shots. The top of the gates have notched parapets for archers to shoot at the enemy army. 

 The Chittorgarh Fort is massive and one could get lost in the fort and visitors may find it useful to compartmentalise the different sections. The prime tourist attraction is the fort of Chittogarh, which is located on a steep hill beside the main township. The chhatris or memorials of Jaimal and Kalla  mark the spots where they fell while bravely defending the fort during a siege in 1586 .

After entering through Ram Pol via Jorla Pol, we reached Rana Kumbha Palace. It is an important spot and it is believed that Queen Padmini had performed jauhar in one of its cellars.

Rana Kumbha's Palace (in ruins) is the oldest monument located here. The palace included elephant and horse stables and a temple to Lord Shiva. Maharana Udai Singh II, the founder of Udaipur, was born here; the popular folk lore linked to his birth is that his maid Panna Dhay saved him by substituting her son in his place as a decoy, which resulted in her son getting killed by Banbir. The prince was spirited away in a fruit basket.

The palace is built with plastered stone. The remarkable feature of the palace is its splendid series of canopied balconies. Entry to the palace is through Suraj Pol that leads into a courtyard. Meera Bai, the famous poetess saint, also lived in this palace.

This is also the palace where Rani Padmini, consigned herself to the funeral pyre in one of the underground cellars, as an act of jauhar along with many the other women. The Nau Lakha Bandar (literal meaning: 900 000 treasury) building, the royal treasury of Chittor was also located close by. 

Then we left for Victory Tower. The Victory Tower or Vijay Stambh is one of the main tourist attractions of the fort. You can climb to the top of Vijaya Stambha or Tower and from the top, the view is outstanding. The tower was constructed by the Mewar king, Rana Kumbha, in 1448 to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khilji. The tower is dedicated to Vishnu. I went upto the top of the Stambha or tower, while Gobinda was sitting downstairs. Two people can barely climb together the narrow stair.

The Vijay Stambha (Victory Tower) or Jay Stamba, called the symbol of Chittor and a particularly bold expression of triumph. Built over a period of ten years, it raises 122 ft 47 ft² base in 9 stories accessed through a narrow circular staircase of 157 steps  . The dome, which was a later addition, was damaged by lightning and repaired during the 19th century. The Stamba is now illuminated during the evenings and gives a beautiful view.  Entry is free for Indians.

Samadhisvara temple is beside Vijay Stambha. From there , one can have a wondrful view of the city of Chittor.

Our next desitnation is Padmini Palace (Queen's Palace). To feel the existence of Rani Padmavati, stroll down the marble gallery of Padmini Palace and watch the reflection of yours on the crystal clear water of the Pond inside the Palace. This place became very popular after the movie Padmavat.

This palace, a white building, a three storied structure (a 19th century re-construction of the original), is located in the southern part of the fort. A water moat surrounds the palace. This style of palace became the forerunner of other palaces built in the state with the concept of Jal Mahal (palace surrounded by water).
It is at this Palace where Alauddin was permitted to glimpse at the mirror image of Rani Padmini, wife of Maharana Rattan Singh. It is widely believed that this glimpse of Padmini's beauty besotted him and convinced him to destroy Chittor in order to possess her. Maharana Rattan Singh was killed and Rani Padmini committed Jauhar. Rani Padmini's beauty is compared to that of Cleopatra and her life story is an eternal legend in the history of Chittor, in particular and of the Mewar state in general. 

There are many myth around Rani Padmavati.

Kalika Mata Temple : Across from Padmini’s palace is the Kalika Mata Temple. Originally, a Sun temple dated to the 8th century, dedicated to Surya -the sun-god, was destroyed in the 14th century. It was rebuilt as a Kali temple.

There are many monkeys - so be careful !

Our next destination is the Tower of Fame or Kirti Stambh -  another important monument, built in 12th century and is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankara (spiritual leader). Kirti Stambha (Tower of Fame) is a 72 ft high tower built on a 30 ft base is adorned with Jain sculptures on the outside and is older and much smaller than the Victory Tower. But older. Vijay Stambha was modelled on Kirti Stambha. It was built by a Bagherwal Jain merchant Jijaji Rathod. In the lowest floor of the tower, naked figures of the various tirthankars of the Jain pantheon are seen.A narrow stairway with 54 steps leads through the 6 storeys to the top. The top pavilion (7th) that was added in the 15th century has 12 columns.

Jain Temples : At present six jain temples on the fort of Chittor. The largest and chief among them is the temple of Bhagawan Adinatha with fifty-two devkulikas. The Digamabar Jain Kirtistambh and 7-storied Kirtistambh are two among them. The history of Chittor is much older than other places. 

After our tour is over we went to the famous restaurant - Pratap Palace hotel for a wonderful buffet non veg lunch (Rs 500 each ) at 2 pm. We left from our hotel at 10.20 am by auto. So it is possible to cover everything in 3.30 hours.

After lunch we left for our hotel and after spending some time in the hotel, we went to the bus stop. There is no direct bus to Bundi. So we have to go to Kota by bus and from there Bundi is only 45 minutes by bus. Kota itself is worth a visit, but we do not have time.

We took an 11. 25 pm bus from Collectorate Chauraha to go to Kota ( though the bus came quite late at 12 pm). We met a Bengali at the bus stop - who has a jewellery shop in Chittor. We got to know there are many Bengalis here. Some of them work in the cement factory near by.


We reached Kota by 5 am . We took an auto rickshaw to go to the bus station in Kota,  from where we took the Rajasthan Transport Corporation bus (Rs 40) to go to Bundi or Budi. It takes around 45 minutes to reach Bundi. The local bus to Kota runs every 15 mins The population of Bundi is approximately 105,000 people. It was was named after a Chieftain Bunda Mina (of the famous Mina tribe).

Bundi is famous for its over 50 step wells, most of which have not been maintained since the central water system was introduced, as well as the miniature paintings from the "Bundi School".

Famous visitors to Bundi include Rudyard Kipling , Rabindra Nath Tagore and film maker Satyajit Ray.

We took an auto (Rs 60) from the bus stop to go to Nawal Sagar Lake - since it the place where most of the hotels are situated. We found a really charming 200 year old homestay kind of place, just beside the Nawal Sagar (Lake) . We had tea at the owners house. One of their realtives stays in Kolkata. The owner works in ICICI Bank. They are basically Gujrati, living here for 200 years; their great grand father was dewan or Prime Minister of Bundi. It is a hertiage house - though not very well maintained. The owner stays in Kota and comes here in weekends. The location is amazing, just beside Nawal Sagar. Since it is off season, all the rooms are empty. Most of Bundi is very accessible by walking. We paid Rs 400 for the room. We did not have a booking beforehand.

First we went to the Bundi Palace. It has some of the most amazing paintings in India. It is a steep climb to get up to the palace - but only 10 minutes. It is really amazing and it is distressful to see how careless the Govt is,  to preserve such wonderful fresco paintings. The whole fort is in ruins- badly maintained. The entry fee is Rs 80 for Indians, but for Foreigners it is Rs 600 !! It has some maintenance and ownership issue, after the death of the last king in 2010, we were told. It is a private property. The government has not been able to take it over. The forst itself is very nice. There is hardly any tourists here. There were only 2 other tourists group. One particular room is called Chitrashala - it is famous for its amazing painting. I took lot of pictures. This fort was built in 1607.

Located above Bundi Palace is the Taragarh Fort, which provides the best views of the city. Although it’s also in a state of decay, it’s worth the walk to look down upon the blue hues of this colourful city. It is a steep climb. So we skipped it.

After the fort , we went to see the Step wells. Step wells, or baori in Hindi, were the only method of obtaining and storing water in this part of India. While there are over 50 step wells, almost all have fallen into disrepair and/or are not worth visiting.

However, the Rani Ji Ki Baori (Queen's Step Well) is a must-see. However the road is really in bad shape and whole place is really dirty to say the least.

Rani Ji Ki Baori is the most famous step well in Bundi, it was built in 1699 by the spurned queen. It is 46 meters deep and includes 200 steps.

Nagar Saga Kund  is nearby : constructed between 1871 and 1875 - these are 2 step wells that have been extensively refurbished.

After that it is time to come back to our homestay. We had our lunch and had a quick nap and sat for some time beside the lake. Lake Nawal Sagar is a large square-shaped artificial lake containing many small islands. A temple dedicated to Varuna, the vedic god of water, is half-submerged in the middle of the lake. The lake feeds the numerous step wells in the old city by creating an artificial water table.

We paid Rs 100 to go to the bus stop (at "bypass" near Rail station - the bus comes from Kota) to go to Jaipur. Our bus is at 8 pm, but as usual, it came quite late and we reached Jaipur after 1155 pm at night and from there we took an auto to reach the Jaipur aiport.

Rates of hotel are quite cheap in Rajasthan (we spent around Rs 700 approx on an average) and good, since there is huge competition. But food is not cheap (in Bundi , 2 small slice of bread with little butter costs Rs 50). But if truth be told , the tourist areas are very dirty. Even roads are not good inside the city. However main highways are good - but for that state governemnt cannot take credit. There are cows everywhere sitting on the road- it is very difficult to negotiate them, while travelling on the road. You have to slow down regularly. God save tourism in India ! Except the fort aread whole tourists in Bundi is a extremely dirty - especially near Rani ji Ki Baori.

(You can refer to these nice blogs on Bundi  :

https://thirdeyetraveller.com/bundi-travel-guide/ or



We have a 7 30 am flight to go to Kolkata. We reached Kolkata at 9 55 am and went straight to office from the airport.

Chronological order