The second I stepped off the train in Jaisalmer, I felt like I’d suddenly entered an Indiana Jones movie. The Golden City, the first stop on my three week trip through Rajasthan, India’s largest state, was sparkling in the sunlight. The giant citadel towered above us, growing mightily out of the desolate desert that surrounded it. Our guide Anant pointed up towards the fortress. “That’s where we’re staying.”
This was the first day in what turned out to be my favorite country I’ve visited so far. Sure, India is very “full on” as so many travelers have described it to me – crowded and dirty in most places, to be sure – but I found that it’s positives far outweighed it’s negatives. The country is chock full of wonderful sights, fascinating history, palaces so full of splendor they make Versailles look like a mud hut, stunning landscapes, gorgeous handicrafts, and the best. food. ever. ever. ever. EVER.
It is, to use the most cliched travel writing phrase possible, simply magical. And Rajasthan was my majestic introduction to this dynamic country, a place I’ll never forget. But no matter how many words I write, they’ll never be enough to explain how beautiful this place is, so I’ve selected my best 40 photos from my time there.
After exploring Jaisalmer, we were off on an overnight camel safari in the Thar desert. Camels are feisty creatures, but it was fun leaving the golden city behind to sleep in the open air. I’ve never seen so many stars before!
We left the golden city for the blue city of Jodhpur, where many of the buildings (but not as many as I was expecting to see) were painted blue. We explored the fortress that overlooks the town and wandered the streets trying really hard not to sing that annoying Blue song.
We spent a night in the holy town of Pushkar, where we got blessed by a holy man on the lake (at least, he said he was a holy man….who knows) and spent some ciz-ash at the many market shops. It was packed with a few too many pushy foreign tourists for my taste (I don’t agree with viciously fighting shop owners over $1 on a tank top, but maybe that’s just me) but it’s still worth a visit if you’re spiritually inclined – it’s a major pilgrimage sight and a sacred place for Hindus.
After the chaos of Pushkar, we headed to Udaipur, known as the “Venice of the East.” It was exactly the chill out we needed! What a gorgeous city, full of things to do. We did a sunset boat cruise, an Indian cooking class, and checked out a traditional dance and puppet show.
Our final stop in Rajasthan was Jaipur, where we gawked at yet ANOTHER amazing palace – the Amber Fort. I’m so glad it was the last one we saw, because I’d argue it was the most spectacular.
Have you ever been somewhere that completely exceeded every single expectation that you had for it? Tell me in the comments below!