Rajasthan is one part of India that exudes old world charm, opulence and royalty. The home of the mighty Rajputs, it has a rich martial history and some of the most breathtaking forts and palaces to be found. The state has so much to offer – from the endless dunes of the Thar Desert stretching from Jodhpur till Jaisalmer, the historic semi-arid Shekhawati region, to the religious places of Ajmer and Ranakpur and the beautiful towns overlooking the magnificent Aravali Hills . However, when travelers think about a holiday in Rajasthan, the most popular destinations included in their travel plan are Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer. But Rajasthan has so much more to offer! Below are some hidden gems that are not only less crowded, but also showcase the colourful culture and rich history of Rajasthan. This is one state where you can keep going back for more and discover something new each time!
Located in the heart of the Thar Desert between the cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, Manvar Resort is a hidden gem for those who want to really experience the grandeur of the desert but in crowd-free comfort and luxury.
Stay in the Manvar Desert Camp where you can experience the peace and tranquility of the desert. Take a camel ride in the desert to reach the camp site where you will be welcomed by Rajasthani folk artists.
The recreational activities in Manvar include temple tours, camel rides, crane spotting, village walk, desert safari, jeep ride to neighbouring villages, shopping and garden tours. Manvar Resort is an ideal place to enjoy the sights of Jodhpur while being out of the city, by taking a day trip to Jodhpur, a mere 100 kms away. Kapra Bazaar is the home for traditional Rajasthani dresses and clothes with Rajasthani embroidery. Other attractions in Jodhpur include Mehrangarh Fort, Umed Garden, Umaid Bhavan Palace, Udai Mandir, Sarafa Bazaar, Maha Mandir, Mochi Bazaar, Mandore Garden, Jaswant Thada and Government Museum.
Best time to visit Manvar:
The best time to visit Manvar is from October to March when the climate is cool. Avoid the summer months from May to July as it gets really hot in the desert and even the rainfall heavy months of July to September should be avoided.
How to reach Manvar:
The nearest airport of Manvar is Jodhpur which is 115 kms away from Manvar. The nearest railway stations are Jodhpur, Pokhran (55kms away) and Phalodi (115kms away). From the airport or the railway stations, cabs can be hired for Manvar.
A vacation to Dungarpur means exciting excursions, exotic locations, fabulous festivals and lots of fun. Dungarpur is a city in the southernmost part of Rajasthan. Dungarpur the city of ‘dungars’ or hills, is home to various ancient tribal cultures, some of them believed to be extinct. Excursions that provide an enriching experience include tours to NagPhani Parshwanath, Baneshwar, Deo Somnath, Galiyakot (Syedi Fakhrudd in Shaheed Dargah, Dawoodi Bohra Community), Punali, Bankora, Shree Raghunathji Mandir (Bhiluda), Kalaji Temple (Varda) and Virat Andheri Mata.
Other palaces and places where you can learn more about the history of Rajasthan are Haveli Juna Mahal, Udai Bilas Palace, Juna Mahal (or the Old palace), Government Archaeological Museum and District Library.
The recreational activities in Dungarpur include camel rides, sightseeing, shopping, trekking, birding tours, folk music and folk dances.
As for accommodations, the Udai Bilas Palace is the ideal choice to stay, giving you a taste of the life as a royal, while the other recommended hotel is Peerless Sarovar Portico Hotel.
Best time to visit Dungarpur:
You need to save yourself from scorching heat when you plan a trip to Dungarpur. Hence, the best time to visit is from October to March when the climate is moderately cold. If you wish to attend mela (fair) in Dungarpur, then check the dates and plan your trip accordingly.
How to reach Dungarpur:
There are no regular flights from other major cities of the country to Dungarpur. Nearest airport is at Ahmedabad or Udaipur. From Ahmedabad, the distance is around 175 kms which can be covered under 3 hours and from Udaipur it is just 100 kms and takes under 2 hours.
3. Rawla Narlai:
Located in southern Rajasthan, Rawla Narlai is a 17th century fortress located beneath a massive 350 feet high rock. The fort is now a heritage hotel and captures what a 17th century “villa” would be like. If you are travelling by road between Udaipur and Jodhpur, Narlai is a great stopover destination for a night or two.
Being an ancient fort, Rawla Narlai itself is an attraction for tourists. Other important tourist attractions in Narlai are Adinath Jain Temple, Munisurvat Swami Jain Temple, Suparshvanath Jain Temple and Shantinath Temple. The hillocks and temples around the fort, complimented by natural beauty makes your stay really memorable.
Recreational activities in Rawla Narlai include jeep safari, visit to local villages, shopping, camel ride and trekking.
Best time to visit Rawla Narlai:
The best time to visit Narlai is during the winter months of October to March when the climate remains moderately cold.
How to reach Rawla Narlai:
The nearest airport from Rawla Narlai is Jodhpur (134 kms) and the nearest railway station is Falna (45kms). From here, buses and cabs can be hired to reach Narlai.
A part of the Shekhawati region, Mandawa is a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and is situated 190 km north of Jaipur. This city is an important part of Shekhavati Rajputs.
The most important tourist attraction in Mandawa is the Mandawa Fort that was founded in 18th century by Thakur Nawal Singh. Today this fort is a heritage hotel and the hospitality here gives you a taste of Mandava’s royal legacy.
Other important tourist attractions in Mandawa include havelis (manors) that have ancient and unique architecture, paintings and designs. Such havelis are the Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli, Goenka Double Haveli, Murmuria Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli, Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Aakharam ka Haveli.
Recreational activities in Mandawa include heritage tours, shopping, camel rides and sightseeing.
Although Mandawa Fort is the best place for experiencing the life of the royal families of Rajasthan, some other fabulous hotels in Mandawa region include Desert Resort, Hotel Heritage Mandawa and Sara Villas.
Best time to visit Mandawa:
The best time to visit Mandawa is from October to March.
How to reach Mandawa:
The nearest airport is Jaipur. From where, one can easily take a cab to Mandawa. The nearest railhead from Mandawa is Jhunjhunu. The station is serviced by several important trains and is linked to major stations like, Delhi, Jaipur, and Bikaner. By road, one can reach Mandawa from several cities in Rajasthan and North India like New Delhi, Jaipur, and Bikaner.
Osian (also spelt Osiyan) is an ancient town located in Jodhpur District. An oasis in the Thar Desert, it has been known as the “Khajuraho of Rajasthan” for its temples. The greatest attraction in Osian is the ancient temples with their magnificent architecture. The Kali Temple, Sachiya Mata Temple, , Vishnu Temple, Pippala Devi Temple and Shiv Mandir as well asthe Jain Temples, Surya Temples and Harihara Temples are worth visitng to grasp the shere magnitude of brilliant medieval architecture.
Recreational activities in Osian include shopping, camel rides, elephant rides, jeep safari, kite flying and heritage tours. For shopping of traditional Rajasthani clothing and jewellery, you need to visit Roop Bazaar and Moyal Market.
The main accommodation style in Osian is luxury tents.
Best time to visit Osian:
The best time to visit Osian is from October to March.
How to reach Osian:
The closest airport to Osian is Jodhpur, 70 km away, from where cabs to Osian are readily available. Jodhpur has good air and rail connectivity from major cities of Rajasthan and Delhi and Mumbai.
Bundi is a city in the Hadoti region. It is popular for its ornate forts, palaces and stepwell reservoirs known as baoris. The buildings and monuments that exhibit the architectural beauty of Bundi are Taragarh Fort, Bundi Palace, Nawal Sagar, Dabhai Kund, Sukh Mahal, Jait Sagar Lake, Phool Sagar, Kshar Bagh and Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri.
A trip to Bundi also offers you exciting excursions to popular tourist attractions like Dugari Fort (39 km from Bundi on the way to Ranthambore), Gudha Dam, Kedareshwar Dham ( Bag Ganga), Keshoraipatan, Thikana (Bada Khera), Ramgarh, Bijolia, Menal, Talwas, Rameshwaram, Indragarh, Balwan, Thikarda and Hindoli.
Recreational activities in Bundi include camel rides, elephant rides, dune bashing and watching snake dance.
The main hotels in Bundi are The Hadoti Palace, Bundi Vilas, Dev Niwas, Pratapgarh Haveli, Rajmahal Palace Hotel and Ummaid Bagh Resort.
Best time to visit Bundi:
The best time to visit Bundi is the winter months from October to March.
How to reach Bundi:
The nearest airport to Bundi is Jaipur which is 200 kms or 4 hours away. You can hire a cab from Jaipur to Bundi. The connectivity via trains is through Kota, Neemach (MP), Chittorgarh, and New Delhi.
On the shores of the Pushkar Lake, Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities in India. It is often called “Tirth Raj” – the king of pilgrimage sites – and has in recent years become a popular destination for foreign tourists.
Important temples that fascinate tourists with their architecture and the mythological stories around them are The Sri Sawai Bhoj Temple, Jagat Pitta Shri Brahma temple, Varaha temple, Apteshwar Mahadev temple, Brahma temple, Savitri temple, Baba the Cosmic Barber, Temple of Rangji (New and Old) or Shri Vaikunthnathji and Man Mahal.
For seeing and buying local handicrafts and traditional Rajasthani jewellery, you must visit Pushkar Bazaar.
Pushkar is also famous for hosting melas (funfairs) like Nagaur Fair, Pushkar Fair, Tejaji fair and Blue Lotus Festival. It is the Pushkar Fair that has put Pushkar on the world map attracting tourists from all over the world. The fair is celebrated every year for five days usually in October or November. The dates are decided on the basis of the Hindu calendar every year.
Recreational activities in Pushkar include camel rides, desert safari, village trips, trekking, cycling and heritage tours.
The best hotels in Pushkar are Pushkar Resorts, Pushkar Bagh, The Greenhouse Resort and Bhanwar Singh Palace. During the Pushkar Fair, many companies set up luxury tents which becomes an alternative source of accommodation.
Best time to visit Pushkar:
Winter is a good time to visit Pushkar. Hence, you should visit Pushkar between November and March. Also, if you wish to attend Pushkar Fair, check out the dates in advance and plan your trip to Pushkar accordingly.
How to reach Pushkar:
The nearest airport from Pushkar is Jaipur which is 146 km away. The nearest major railway station that connects with Pushkar is Ajmer.
Rajasthan has been increasingly attracting the attention of tourists over the last few years, especially because of a number of mega successful Bollywood period films are shot in Rajasthan. It is a vast land with its own very unique culture, picturesque locations and grand palaces. There is so much to be explored over and above the big cities, with legends, myths and folk tales associated with every part of the state. It is a chance to visit the India of another century, live like royalty and experience the purity of our culture.
Have you been to any of these places before? Post your comments and share your experiences.
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