A week in Rajasthan: Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur

07.08.17

Listen – first off, a week is not enough to cover Rajasthan. Far from it. But a week is what we had and we were keen to explore as much as possible. Here we share our meanderings – from Jaipur to Jodhpur and onto Udaipur with a few stops in between, along with a few suggestions on where we’d like to have added had we had just a little more time…


Arriving in Delhi, we headed straight on to Jaipur – braving the 5-hour journey and some pretty wild driving. With more time, we’d have been keen to explore the other two points on the infamous ‘Golden Triangle’ – the dichotomy of old and new Delhi and the infamously majestic Taj Mahal (one tip we received was to hire a driver, head to Agra for sunrise before shipping straight out again, since there’s little else to see or do here). Anyway – not this time – instead we arrived tired and dusty at our first stop - The Farm.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Blog The Farm

Run by a charming couple – Surya and Ritu- there is a decidedly arty feel to the place with wonderful sculptures and artifacts dotted about the place. Set just outside of Jaipur, it’s blissfully peaceful and after a good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast we headed off into the city to explore.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog Amber Palace Roof

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog Amber Palace

With only one full day to explore, we paid for the luxury of a driver to maximise on our time – heading across town and out to the Amber Palace to begin our day. Pronounced Amer, this magnificent fort-palace is set on top of a hill, about 11km north of the city and is a popular spot, so we left our driver down at the bottom and headed up on foot to avoid the jam. There are plenty of guides willing to take you on a tour of the palace (for a fee of course) but we opted to wander through the labyrinthine rooms ourselves stopping to admire the incredible views out over the city. There are descriptions for most rooms – particularly the Hall of Pleasure, Hall of Victory and Maharaja’s women’s quarters and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the lives of Maharaja Man Singh and his descendants – who built the palace back in 1592.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog City Palace Exterior

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog City Palace

Re-joining our driver, we headed back into town and into our second stop of the day - City Palace. Set in downtown Jaipur – right next to the main bazaar – City is another huge palace, albeit slightly more recent in construction than Amber. Still home to the 19-year-old Maharaja of Jaipur (who is currently completing his education in the UK) we enjoyed admiring the beautiful collection of Raj costumes and clothing, an armoury and gun collection and some incredible manuscripts and artwork from the family collection.

With more time, we’d have liked to have also visited Jantar Matar (the largest of five observatories built in India by Jai Singh) and Hawa Mahal next door to the City Palace – another two of Jaipur’s key sights – but our rumbling stomachs signalled lunchtime.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog Street Food

Keen to try some of the city’s street food, we sought out a reputable looking stall and got stuck in with deliciously spiced onion-filled kachori and other deep-fried delights.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jaipur Blog Market

Doris and Dicky Rajasthan Blog Jaipur Market

Jaipur has some of the best shopping in India and refueled post lunch we headed into Tripolia Bazaar – famous for its brassware. Fresh off the plane, our haggling skills were not up to scratch but we made some great purchases and loved the energy of the place. This is just one of the city’s bazaars with many more, each focusing on a different product – like Johari Bazaar with its jewellery (Jaipur is a great place to buy precious stones) or Neerja Blue Pottery Market.

Tired out, we headed back to the welcome calm of The Farm and enjoyed a delicious home-cooked supper fireside before turning in for the night.

We were up early to get on the road to Jodhpur. The bus and train connections between Rajasthan’s key cities are frequent, relatively fast and a cheap way to travel – so we clambered aboard an early bus heading west surrounded by a family tucking into an elaborate picnic, a businessman speaking on his mobile at the top of his voice and an old man across the way somehow fast asleep, snoring loudly.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Jodhpur Mehrangarh Fort Flags

Arriving in Jodhpur around midday, we dropped our luggage off and headed straight out to the Mehrangarh Fort. One of the largest in India, this impressive and imposing structure sits atop a cliff looking out over Jodhpur. We lost the rest of the afternoon to its expansive depths and breathtaking views of the blue city below.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Clocktower Jodhpur

That evening we headed for dinner at Indique – the rooftop restaurant at Pal Haveli hotel just near the clocktower. Whilst it was nippy up top, we appreciated the blankets provided and enjoyed a delicious dinner with views out to the fort.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Exploring Jodhpur

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Market Jodhpur

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Exploring Jodhpur 2

With only the morning to play with, we headed back to the clock tower, picking up a surprisingly good coffee from the sweet little Café Royale before browsing the stalls and heading off into the winding streets to explore. With much of the city painted blue (to keep it cool), the crumbling grandeur of the buildings was beautiful. We dipped in and out of little shops selling all manner of things – from bejeweled ribbons to gold jewelry.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Blog Jodhpur Dhurrie Shopping

We opted for a taxi for the next leg of our journey with a view to stopping off for some dhurrie shopping on the way out of town. Hand-woven, each rug is a pretty major undertaking with each millimetre carefully knotted and tapped in. Whilst many of the rugs found in the markets are now machine made, it was amazing to stop and see quite how labour intensive and lovely the real deal are.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Boutique Hotel Rawla Narlai

Doris and Dicky Rawla Narlai Exterior Detail

Keen to break up the drive and experience one of Rajasthan’s amazing heritage properties, we stopped for the night in Rawla Narlai. Set halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur, this 17th century Maharaja’s hunting lodge is a pretty special spot – with a faded old world glamour and the most attentive staff.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Boutique Hotel Rawla Narlai Elephant Hill

We braved the 400-or-so steps up to the top of Elephant hill for sunset before rolling back down to the bottom for to freshen up for dinner at the lodge’s nearby stepwell. This is not a cheap outing but worth it for the uniquely romantic setting – with candles lining row of row of steps leading down to the water below.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Ranakpur Jain Temple

After a blissfully peaceful night’s sleep, we were back on the road – heading for Ranakpur on our way to Udaipur. Set in a remote woodland valley, inhabited by rather inquisitive monkeys, this set of incredible Jain temples featuring some of the most intricately carved marble architecture in India. Entry rules here are quite strict – the Jain’s are vegan and will not kill anything – so wear trousers, cover your shoulders and don’t wear any leather products.

Doris and Dicky Boutique Hotel Udaipur Madri Haveli

We arrived in Udaipur late afternoon and collapsed into the cool embrace of Madri Haveli – our sweet little boutique hotel right in the heart of the Old City.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Udaipur Sunset

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Udaipur Ambrai

As the light left the day, we wandered down to the Ghats before heading onto Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel (as featured in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, no less) for a sundowner up on the roof as the sun set over Lake Pichola. Dinner was also enjoyed lakeside at Restaurant Ambrai with views back over the City Palace and a wonderful atmosphere.

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Udaipur City Palace

We awoke early to hit the sights – starting with City Palace. Set at the heart of the Old City with its lake frontage of nearly a quarter of a kilometre - the original palace has been steadily enlarged by each Maharaja and is now a large collection of buildings. Of all the palaces we visited in Rajasthan, this one seemed to be the least well preserved with a fair bit of visible wear and tear from the huge influx of tourists. That being said – parts of the palace are truly incredible and we enjoyed exploring the labyrinthine passages and courtyards – enjoying a further insight into the lives of Maharajas and their families.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Udaipur Lake Pichola

Doris and Dicky A Week In Rajasthan Udaipur Jag Mandir

Heading back out into the sunshine, we headed down to the lake. The backdrop to many a photo and, as you will hard-pushed to miss, one of the main filming locations for the James Bond film, Octopussy - Lake Pichola is an iconic Udaipur sight. There are two main islands on the lake – Jag Niwas is home to the royal summer palace now converted into a very luxurious Taj Hotel and the second, Jag Mandir is home to a smaller, older palace by the same name. The latter is open to the public and we hopped aboard a boat to head out to visit.

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Udaipur

Doris and Dicky What To Do In Udaipur Hairdresser

Whilst much of Udaipur’s Old City is now geared towards tourists – with hotels, travel shops and guesthouses aplenty, if you wander a bit further beyond the city walls and you’ll get a more authentic feel of real city life in Udaipur and we spent our last few hours, happily exploring. Already plotting when we might be able to come back.

 

Where to stay in Rajasthan

The Farm, JaipurA peaceful, arty oasis on the outskirts of town

Juna Mahal, Jodhpur - A sweet and simple spot tucked away in the maze of the old town

 

Rawla Narlai, between Jodhpur & Udaipur - Enjoy some old world glamour with a stay at this Maharaja's hunting lodge - the Heritage rooms get our vote

Madri Haveli, Udaipur - Set right in the heart of the Old City this lovely little boutique hotel is a great base from which to explore

See all of our Rajasthan and Delhi hotels here >

 

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