Thar Desert in 14 days – what to see, how to visit, things to do?
We often make a big picture of a Desert in our imagination that some tourists rode on the Camels enjoying sunset in golden sand dunes. And men with pagdis or safa or turban playing Ravanhatha (a folk music instrument) while women performing some Kalbelia dance or Bhavai dance.
Scorching heat of the sun dehydrate our body in mid of the day, running some lizards or snakes on the sand. Watching sunset behind the sand dunes while stargazing in the night by lying on the sand in the middle of the Desert. If you want to fulfill your dreams, the Great Indian Thar Desert is waiting for you.
Two types of Deserts found in India. The Cold Desert found in the Union Territory of Ladakh while Hot Desert in the State of Rajasthan. The Great Indian Thar Desert is also known as Thar Desert or Rajasthan Desert. It is one of the unique subtropical deserts of the world because of its connectivity by roads, its infrastructure and thousand years’ old human settlements. Because of which, it is often referred as most civilized desert of the world.
It is believed that the ancient Sarasvati River mentioned in the Rigveda, a tributary of the Indus River, was said to flow through the region. It is believed that this region was deserted somewhere in between 2000 and 1500 BC. Perhaps, the “Lavanasagara” i.e. “Salt Ocean” mentioned in the Ramayana was the Thar region. Because, this region is surrounded by the Indus River, the salt marsh known as the Great Rann of Kutch and the oldest chain of folded mountains i.e. the Aravali Ranges.
The 85% of the area of Great Indian Desert lies in India while remaining 15% is in Pakistan. It is characterized by high winds, sparse rainfall, very hot, sunny days and by shifting golden sand dunes. The Sand Dunes are known as Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer Area.
The beautiful ecosystem and diversified habitat of the Thar region offers many tourist attractions and home to some wild animals including some endangered species like Great Indian Bustard.
Travellers have enormous opportunities to experience the variety of vegetation, wildlife, landscapes and of course culture & cuisine, too. Here, you can visit the various Palaces, Lakes, Lake Palaces, Museums, experience camel safari, jeep safari, watch sunrise, sunset, stargazing, walking in the National Park and visit abandoned Kuldhara village considered as a haunted site. The Mount Abu is the only hill station in nearby areas which houses the Guru Shikhar Peak as the highest peak of the Aravali range with an elevation of 1,722 m.
To see a different facet of life, you have to visit the barren lands of Thar Desert. The huts are scattered here and there. Most of the area is without proper vegetation where the golden sand rules which make the life difficult to live in the region. After visiting the area you will realize the reality of India’s diversity which makes the citizens strong to survive in the difficult situations. It may be an unusual experience for you but is still unique.
How to reach Thar Desert:
The Thar Desert can be visited by reaching its main cities like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer and Jodhpur. These cities are connected with all means of transport except water i.e. by Air, Train, Bus, Taxi, and of course self-driving Car.
The nearest airport is Jaisalmer Airport which is a small airport with limited flights. The Jaisalmer city is just 15 km away. It is well connected with general and prepaid taxis, auto-rickshaws and hotel shuttles etc.
Another Airport is Jodhpur Airport which is about 281 Km from the Jaisalmer. Whereas, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (AMD) is the nearest major international airport, which is 533 KM from Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer Railway Station (JSM) is a local train station with limited railway connectivity. Jodhpur Junction Railway Station (JU) is another nearest major railway station. Both Stations are connected with some major cities of India. Another, option is vising by luxurious train ‘Palace on wheels’.
Palace on Wheels
The Palace on Wheels is a luxury tourist train. It was launched by the Indian Railways in association with Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation to promote tourism in Rajasthan.
The Palace on Wheels started on 26th January, 1982. The train service was refurbished and re-launched in August 2009 with a new decor, itinerary and cuisine.
The concept of the Palace on Wheels was derived from the royal background of the coaches, which were originally meant to be the personal railway coaches of the erstwhile rulers of the princely states of Rajputana, Baroda, Nizam of Hyderabad and the Viceroy of British India.
There are 23 coaches in the train. 104 tourists can travel in the train. Each coach is named after former Rajput states and matches the aesthetics and interiors of the royal past viz. Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Dholpur, Dungargarh, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Jodhpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Sirohi and Udaipur. Each coach has four cabins which are named as chambers or saloons by the company with luxury amenities and Wi-Fi internet. The train has two restaurants, The Maharaja and The Maharani, with a Rajasthani ambiance serving continental, Chinese cuisine, one bar-cum-lounge, 14 saloons and a spa.
The train has a 7 nights & 8 days itinerary which departs from New Delhi (Day 1), and covers Jaipur (Day 2), Sawai Madhopur and Chittaurgarh (Day 3), Udaipur (Day 4), Jaisalmer (Day 5), Jodhpur (Day 6), Bharatpur and Agra (Day 7), return to New Delhi (Day 9).
Buses are available from other cities like Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur to Thar Desert Bus Stand (Jai Narayan Vyas Colony), Jaisalmer which is a local bus stop with limited bus frequency. Bus takes approximately 10-11 hours from Jaipur.
Driving (Car/taxi) from major nearest cities
From Jaipur to Jaisalmer, the distance is 600 kms and takes about 9-10 hrs on road. From Delhi to Jaisalmer, the distance is 787 Kms and takes about 13-14 hrs on road. From Ahmedabad to Jaisalmer, the distance is 537 kms and takes about 9 hrs on road.
Best time to visit Thar Desert
November to Early March:
During this time, the weather is pleasant with temperature ranges from 5 to 24°C. This is the ideal time to get explore the streets, the monuments, the grand palaces which are splendidly built by using yellow sandstone and the temples with intricate carvings in Jaisalmer.
Enjoy the sandy terrain of the Thar Desert by indulging in some winter activities like the Camel ride and Desert safari. Sometimes, the windy weather makes these activities even more pleasurable.
In January-February, a desert festival is also organized in Jaisalmer which fill the whole place with colours, music, dance and other activities too.
Late March to August:
During summer, the Jaisalmer and Thar Desert region becomes extremely hot with temperature going up to 50°C. The scorching heat put a brake on your journey as you wouldn’t be able to walk and explore Jaisalmer without feeling tired and dehydrated. Dust storms and dust-raising winds are very common in May and June and often blowing with velocities of 140 to 150 km per hour.
September to October:
The Monsoon witnesses very little or no rainfall. The weather is hot with unbearable humidity and the temperatures ranges from 25-35°C. However, it becomes pleasant after rain for a while.
Popular destinations of Thar Desert
The Thar Desert comprised of following main cities or sites:
But anyone may also include some other popular tourist destinations in their bucket list or itinerary for Thar Desert like Mount Abu (only Hill Station of Rajasthan), Udaipur, Pushkar, Ajmer, Jaipur.
How to visit popular tourist destinations of Thar Desert?
You can club the popular tourist places of the Thar Desert, according to your choice and time you have in your hands. But if you want to enjoy the Thar Desert along with its nearby places, prepare at least 10-14 days programme:
Some permutations and combinations are suggested for ease of visit and also for covering major tourist destinations by taxi or own car in one go:
1. New Delhi – Jaipur (270Km) – Ajmer (135 KM) – Udaipur (263KM)-Mount Abu (163 KM)-Barmer (291 KM)-Jaisalmer (153 KM)-(via Pokhran) Jodhpur (281 KM)-Bikaner(254 KM)-New Delhi (454 KM). Total distance: 2264 KM appx.
2. New Delhi -Jaipur (270Km)- Ajmer (135 KM)-Udaipur (263KM) – Mount Abu (163 KM)-Jodhpur (261 KM) -Barmer (198 KM)-Jaisalmer (153 KM)-(via Pokhran) Bikaner (330KM)- New Delhi (454 KM). Total distance: 2227 KM appx.
3. New Delhi -Bikaner (450 KM)-(via Pokhran) Jaisalmer (331 KM)-Barmer(157 KM) -Jodhpur (197 KM) – Mount Abu (260 KM)- Udaipur (163KM) – Ajmer (265 KM) – Jaipur (132 Km)-New Delhi (262 KM). Total distance: 2217 KM appx.
4. New Delhi – Bikaner (450 KM) – Jaisalmer (331 KM)- (via Pokhran) Jodhpur (281 KM) -Barmer (198 KM) – Mount Abu (275 KM)- Udaipur (163KM)- Ajmer (265 KM) – Jaipur (132 Km)-New Delhi (262 KM). Total distance: 2357 KM appx.
5. India Gate, New Delhi – Bikaner (450 KM) -Jaisalmer (331 KM)-(via Pokhran) Jodhpur (281 KM)-(via Pushkar and Ajmer) Jaipur (336Km) -New Delhi (262 KM). Total distance: 1660 KM appx.
However, my favorite Travel itinerary by Self-driving Car is:
New Delhi/Ghaziabad (NCR)– Bikaner (450 KM) – (via Pokhran) Jaisalmer (331 KM) – Jodhpur (281 KM) – Pushkar (185 KM) – Ajmer (16 KM) – Jaipur (132 Km)– New Delhi (260 KM).Total distance: 1702 KM appx.
Day 1: Ghaziabad (NCR) – Bikaner (498 KM).
Start your journey, early in the morning, preferably between 05.00 to 06.00 AM. Pack your baggage and essential items a day before your journey. First take Eastern Peripheral Expressway upto Rai (place) then continue on Western Peripheral Expressway take exit to continue on Delhi-Rohtak Corridor. This Corridor changes its name with the places where it passes but it takes you to Sampla, Rohtak, Kalanaur, Bhiwani, Taranagar, Sardarshahr, Shri Dungargarh and finally to Bikaner. It will take around 09 hours to reach Bikaner from your starting place in Delhi-NCR like Ghaziabad, Delhi, Noida or Gurugram.
Another option is to take Delhi Jaipur Highway upto Shahpura then turn on to Shahpura road upto Ajeetgarh. Take Jaipur Road from Ajeetgarh and after 2-3 km take Road Number 37 upto Reengus. From here take Bikaner- Agra-Highway and reach Bikaner. The total distance of this road is about 40 Km more but it would also take around 9 hours. So choice is yours that which road would you like to prefer.
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Check-in your hotel and take rest. Wake up early in the morning get ready for local visit in Bikaner.
What to see or things to do in Bikaner:
National Research Centre on Camel
Shri Laxminath Temple
Ganga Singh Museum
Day 2: Local visit in Bikaner
In the year 1593, Raja Rai Singh constructed Junagarh Fort which is a fine blend of Mughal, Gujarati and Rajput style of architecture. It is believed that crocodiles were bred in the water moat (A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water that is dug and surrounds a castle, fortification, building or town, historically to provide it with a first line of defence) surrounding the formidable fort. The picturesque courtyards and inside architecture of the fort will amaze you. Major attractions of the fort are Diwan-e-khas, Hawa Mahal, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Dungar Mahal and Ganga Mahal.
It is famous among tourists for its history, architecture and Photography. It opens on all days from 10.00 AM to 04.30 PM and took at least 1 to 1.5 hours to complete the tour. The entry ticket is Rs.50/- for Indians and Rs.300/- for foreigners however for students get it after concession at Rs.30/- for Indians and Rs.150/- for foreigners. Fort’s museum and its armoury section are the must visit places.
Lalgarh Palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the year 1902. It is a red sandstone marvel blend of architectural brilliance of Mughal, Rajput and European style. Lalgarh Palace is a feast to your eyes and architects’ delight. Most of the palace apart from the museum is not accessible to the public as this palace has been converted into a luxury hotel. It is famous for its history, architecture and Photography. It is open on all days except Sundays from 10.00 AM to 05.00 PM. The museum entry ticket is Rs.25/- per person.
National Research Center on Camel
The National Research Center on Camel is a must visit place to observe camels in their best habitat. This center is devoted entirely to camels. There are over 400 camels of over four breeds. Bikaner is well known for its camel population and a well-known breeding center for camels.
Try some sample food made from camel milk like ice creams. Shop for souvenirs and go for camel ride. Entry ticket is Rs.30/- for Indians and Rs. 100/- for foreigners and Camera charges are Rs.50/-. It is open on all days between 03.00 PM – 06.00 PM.
Shri Laxminath Temple
It is one of the oldest temples of Bikaner. It is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi who are considered to be the main deities of Bikaner. It was built from white marble and red sandstone from Jaisalmer. The temple is magnificently decorated with many beautiful paintings and sculptures. Entry is free in the Temple. It is open on all days from 05.00 AM to 01.00 PM and 05.00 PM to 11.00 PM.
Ganga Singh Museum
In 1937, it was founded by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The Museum houses articles of historical importance which show that the society was civilized even before the emergence of Harappan civilization. Some of the stunning collections include paintings, pottery, weapons used by Rajputs and a lot more. It is open on all days except Fridays and Govt. holidays between 10.00 AM to 04.30 PM.
This temple is located in Deshnoke which is about 30 kms from Bikaner. It is also known as Karni Mata Temple or Rat Temple. The temple is about 600 years old. It is believed that there are around 20,000 rats in the Temple. They are very sacred and seen everywhere in this temple. Be careful, walk slowly while entering in this temple. If somebody sees white rat it is his/her luck.
Day 3: Bikaner to Jaisalmer via Pokhran (331KM)
Start early from the Hotel to visit en-route Gajner Palace, Lake and Wildlife Sanctuary which is just 35 Km from Bikaner. However, this Palace has been converted in a luxurious hotel and if you want to stay here you can do by spending some more bucks. And you have to go Bikaner City to see the above described places.
Move ahead through Kanji ki Sird, Phalodi to reach Pokhran which is 232 Km from Bikaner and 197 Km from Gajner Palace.
It is a heritage city in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan which is surrounded by rocks, sand and five salt ranges. Its Hindi name Pokhran (पोखरण) means “palace of five mirages”. It is a well-known destination of India where India carried out its first nuclear test on 18th May, 1974 with codenamed Operation ‘Smiling Buddha’. Take a visit to Pokhran Fort and do some souvenir shopping here.
From Pokhran, Jaisalmer is about 110 Km via Khavolai and Chandan on the Jodhpur-Jaisalmer Road. Visit en route Jaisalmer War Museum which is 10 Km before the Jaisalmer City on the Jodhpur-Jaisalmer Rd.
Jaisalmer War Museum
The Jaisalmer War Museum was dedicated to the Nation on 24thAugust 2015. The inauguration of the Museum took place in the Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year of the 1965 India Pakistan War. The Museum displays war exhibits which include vehicles and equipment captured during the course of operations in 1965 and 1971.
The Jaisalmer War Museum, popularly known as JWM, has an Honour Wall engraved with the names of the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra gallantry award winners. The Museum has two large Information Display Halls – Indian Army Hall and Laungewala Hall. It also housed an Audio Visual Room, a souvenir shop and a cafeteria.
A Hunter Aircraft of the Indian Air Force, which destroyed enemy tank columns during the Battle of Laungewala is also displayed.
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Day 4: Jaisalmer Fort – Jain Tirthankar Temples -Folklore Museum – Desert Cultural Centre – Gadisar Lake – Kuldhara Village.
Jaisalmer- The Golden City:
Jaisalmer nicknamed as “The Golden city” located at a distance of 575 Kms from the state capital Jaipur and 790 Kms from Delhi-NCR. The town lies in the heart of the Thar Desert which was once the capital of Jaisalmer State.
The Golden City is famous for its alluring magnificent Forts, Haveli(s), Palaces, Jain Temples and the Camel Safari, Jeep Safari in the Sam Sand Dunes area. It is also known for its leather messenger bags, made from wild camels native to the area.
Places to see in Jaisalmer and nearby:
Jaisalmer War Museum (On Delhi or Jaipur highway 10 Km before Jaisalmer)
Jain Tirthankar Temples (within Fort)
Folklore Museum (1 Km from Fort)
Desert Cultural Centre (1.3 Km from Fort)
Gadisar Lake (1.8 Km from Fort)
Kuldhara Village (27 Km from Fort)
TanotMata Temple(122 Km from Fort)
Desert National Park (11.5 Km from Fort)
Royal memorial, BadaBagh(13 Km from Fort)
Sam Sand Dunes (42 Km from Fort)
Akal Wood Fossil Park (18.2 Km from Fort)
It was built by Bhati Rajput ruler Maharaja Jaisal in 1156 which is situated on Meru Hill and named as Trikoot Garh. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets.
The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film − Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort.
Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple are the main attractions inside the fort.
Jain Tirthankar temples
There are 7 Jain temples, devoted to Jain tirthankars (spiritual teachers), inside the Jaisalmer Fort. Among these temples, the biggest is the Paraswanath Temple; the others are Chandraprabhu temple, Rishabdev temple, Shitalnath Temple, Kunthunath Temple, and Shantinath Temple.
These temples known for their exquisite work of art and architecture that was predominant in the medieval era. The temples are built out of yellow sandstone and have intricate engravings on them.
All temples are connected with each other through gates and corridors. You have to wear decent clothes before entering these temples.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jaisalmer. The Folklore is around 3 decades old which was founded in the year 1984. It is placed on the banks of Gadsisar Lake in the Mehar Bagh Garden.
The museum is a treasure trove and an amazing showcase of the heritage as well as history of the city. It has various Sections like Fossils, Jewelry, Costumes, Ornaments of Horse and Camel, Photographs and Coterie of Paintings. If you want to learn about the art and traditions of Jaisalmer, it is the right place for this.
Entry fee is Rs.5/- only and opens on every day from 08:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
Desert Cultural Centre
It may be a favorite attraction for scholars and researchers to acquire the knowledge of the rich cultural heritage, craftsmanship, artistic talents, traditional instruments and rich collections of ancient and medieval coins, utensils and other artifacts etc of this area.
The other attraction of this Centre is half-hour puppet shows with English commentary from 06.30 PM to 08.30. Here, entry fee is Rs.50/- and camera fee is also Rs.50/-.
The Gadisar Lake is a famous tourist place of Jaisalmer which was built by Raja Rawal Jaisal. It is located towards the south of Jaisalmer city and the entrance to the lake is through Tilon-Ki-Pol, a magnificent and artistically carved yellow sandstone archway.
The bank of the Gadisar Lake is surrounded by artistically carved Chattris, Temples, Shrines, and Ghats. Its charm lies in the fact that it was the only source of water for the Jaisalmer city in the olden days. Different migratory birds may also be seen on the bank of the lake.
It is the most popular point to take photographs of Jaisalmer fort early in the morning when the fort looks golden with the first rays of the Sun.
Perhaps you have heard about some abandoned forts and villages of Rajasthan which have some unusual sightings. Kuldhara village is one of its kind which is believed to be a haunted place. It was established around the 13th century and was once a prosperous village inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. It was abandoned by the early 19th century for unknown reasons. Different theories suggest the possibility of dwindling water supply or earthquake or persecution by a Jaisalmer State’s minister behind it.
Over the years, Kuldhara has acquired a reputation of a haunted site, and the Government of Rajasthan decided to develop it as a tourist spot in the 2010s.
Day 5: Desert National Park (11.5 Km from Fort)- Royal memorial, BadaBagh (2.7 Km)- Tanot Mata Temple (121 Km)- Return to Sam Sand Dunes (127 Km from Tanot)
Desert National Park
It is situated near the towns of Jaisalmer and Barmer which is one of the largest national parks covering an area of 3162 km². The Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert. The Sand dunes covers around 20% area of the Park.
Despite a fragile ecosystem, there is an abundance of bird life. Many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures are spotted here. Short-toed eagles, tawny eagles, spotted eagles, laggar falcons and kestrels are the most common among these. Sand grouse are spotted near small ponds or lakes.
The endangered Great Indian Bustard is a magnificent bird found in relatively fair numbers. It migrates locally in different seasons.
The Desert National Park has a huge collection of fossils of animals and plants which are 180 million years old. Some fossils of dinosaurs are 60 million years old which have been found in the area.
Royal memorial, Bada Bagh
Bada Bagh or Bara bagh or Grand garden is a garden complex situated on a small hill. It is basically a Cremation ground of Royals. The memorial chhatri cenotaphs have been carved out of sandstone blocks and built in four different sizes – for the ruling kings, their queens, their princes, and other royal family members. Each cenotaph has a marble slab with inscriptions about the deceased royal and a symbolic image of a man on a horse.
Jaisalmer Wind Park
It is the India’s 2nd largest operational onshore wind farm. Its installed capacity is 1,064 MW which makes it one of world’s largest operational onshore wind farms.
Tanot Mata Temple
Tanot Mata temple is situated about 130 km from Jaisalmer City. Tanot Mata is an incarnation of divine goddess Hinglaj Mata. The Tanot village is close to the Pakistan border and is very close to the battle site of Longewala of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. About 450 bombs are kept here which were shelled by Pakistan during the said war.
Tourists are forbidden to go beyond this temple to see the Indo–Pak Border unless one gets the relevant documentation in advance from the District and Military Authorities. The area is said to have oil and gas reserves.
The area has a high average wind speed and as a result there are a large number of wind-based renewable energy projects in the area. The road to Tanot is surrounded with miles and miles of sand dunes and sand mountains. Return to Sam Sand Dunes for night stay.
Sam Sand Dunes (Sunset, Sunrise, Stargazing, Jeep or Camel Safari, Night Stay)
Book Desert Camp for night stay here.
It is the most authentic desert dune site in Jaisalmer which is known for Desert Safari on camels or jeep. Sam is just 45 km away from Jaisalmer city. You may stay in one of many desert camps, built in 2-3 km radius of sand dunes.
The best time to reach Sam sand dunes is around evening (sunset) at around 04.00 to 07.00 PM or early morning at dawn i.e. 04.00 AM to 06.00 AM. Book Camel Safari or Jeep Safari from the desert camps and explore the area. Enjoy the Sunrise, Sunset or Sand Dunes as per your wish and convenience.
If you really want to get a life time experience forget the luxuries of the cities. Spend one night in the middle of nowhere in one of the desert camps with little facilities. Enjoy the evening with musical programs and feast on the mouthwatering local cuisine in natural environment.
Spend some time in Stargazing and search your sunshine, favorite stars, planets and galaxies and make memory forever.
Day 6: Akal Wood Fossil Park (60 Km from Sam)-Jodhpur (274 Km from Fossil Park)
Akal Wood Fossil Park
Wake up before dawn, watch sunrise behind the Dunes and move for Akal Wood Fossil Park. It is a National Geological Monument of India which is in 21 hectares Biodiversity Heritage Site located in Akal village. From Jaisalmer, its distance is 17–18 km but from Sam Sand Dunes it is about 59 Km. The terrain is barren and rocky. The park lies in Jaisalmer’s fossil belt, a region noted to have the potential for geological parks. Fossils and footprints of Pterosaurs have been found in the nearby Thaiyat area.
The park contains fossils of petrophyllum, ptillophyllum, equisetitis species and dicotyledonous wood and gastropod shells of the Early Jurassic period. There are about a dozen fossilized wood logs lying horizontally oriented in random directions, the largest of which is 13.4 m in length and 0.9 m in width. There are a total of 25 petrified tree trunks. The fossils date back 180 million years.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) declared the site as a National Geological Monument in 1972. Now, the park is maintained by the authorities of the Desert National Park. The exposed tree trunks have been protected by iron grill cages with tin sheet roofing.
Jodhpur- The Blue City
The Blue City or Sun City is the second largest city in Rajasthan which is famous for Handicrafts. This blue hued city was founded in the 15th century where most of the houses and buildings are painted blue.
Its major attractions are the huge old Mehrangarh Fort perched on the top of a hill. The other attractions of blue by lanes of the old city are Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Mandore Garden and the Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower.
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What to see in Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort& Museum
Umaid Bhawan Palace,
Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower
Mehrangarh Fort & Museum
This fort is also known as the Fort of the sun which was built by Rao Jodha, a fifteenth-century chief of the Rathore clan. The isolated strategic location was chosen because of its high elevation which provides it a good natural defense. This rocky hill rises 400 feet above the surrounding plain and appears both to command and to meld with the landscape. It is one of the largest forts in Rajasthan which contains fine palaces and preserves many priceless relics in its museum.
The fort is known for its exquisite latticed windows, carved panels, intricately decorated windows and walls of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. The Mehrangarh Museum has a repository of the artistic and cultural history of the Rajasthan. The museum boasts exemplary examples of 17th, 18th and 19th-century collections for the fields of Miniature Paintings, Arms and Armours, Textiles, Decorative Arts and Furniture.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
The Maharaja Umaid Singh built this Palace in 1929 to counter a famine which had hit the state at the time. The stones were brought from Chittar hill because of which it was also known as the Chittar Palace.
The palace was built with sandstone and marble and its architecture is a fine blend of lndo-Saracenic, Classical Revival and Western Art Deco styles. It is recognized as one of the largest private homes in the world.
This milky white memorial built towards the end of the 19th century as a tribute to its ruler Jaswant Singh. He made attempts to bring down the level of crime, subdue dacoits, built railways and broadly worked on raising the economy of Marwar. There is a Museum in Jaswant Thada which display portraits of Marwar rulers along with informative didactics to understand the history of Marwar through the Portraits.
Shri Sardar Singh of Jodhpur constructed the Ghanta Ghar or the clock tower. It is situated in one of the busiest areas of Jodhpur, the Sadar Bazaar. The Sadar Market is quite popular among tourists, who swarm the streets to purchase Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewellery.
Mandore Garden/ Temple
The Mandore was the ancient capital of Marwar. It is located at 09 km north of Jodhpur city. The place is known as the birthplace of Ravana’s wife Mandodari. Ravan is treated as son in law among some local Brahmins whose temple is another attraction at Mandore.
The Mandore Gardens also house a government museum, a ‘Hall of Heroes’. They were the popular folk heroes of the region. Various artifacts and statues found in the area are housed at the museum.
Day 7: Jodhpur to Mount Abu (260 Km)
Reach Mount Abu and relax in you pre-booked hotel. If you want, you can visit Nakki Lake,leisurely.
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Mount Abu- Hill Station
It is the only hill station in Rajasthan. It has an elevation of 1,220 m (4,003 ft) and situated on a rocky plateau which is 22 km long by 9 km wide. The highest peak on the mountain is Guru Shikhar at 1,722 m (5,650 ft) above sea level. Someone has referred it is as ‘an oasis in the desert’ because its heights are home to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and evergreen forests.
The ancient name of Mount Abu is Arbudaanchal. In the Puranas, this region has been referred to as Arbudaranya (“forest of Arbhuda”).It is also described in the epic Mahabharata which is mentioned in the travels of Arjuna during his twelve-year pilgrimage.
How to reach to Mount Abu
Mount Abu is connected with Airways, Railways and Roadways.
Nearest airport is Maharana Pratap Airport, Udaipur which is 210 Km from Mount Abu.
The nearest Railway station is Abu Road railway station which is 28 km.
It is also well connected with private (luxury and deluxe bus) and state-run buses from Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Delhi. It is also connected with daily bus services from the cities like Vadodara and Ahmedabad.
What to see in Mount Abu:
Nakki Lake, Arbuda Devi Temple, Dattatreya Temple, Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple, Dilwara Jain Temples, Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, Adventure activities
Day 8: Nakki Lake, Temples, Mount Abu wild life sanctuary and do adventure activities as per your choice.
The Nakki Lake is center of attractions in Mount Abu. The lake is about half mile long and a quarter mile wide with 20 to 30 ft. deep towards the dam. Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed in this Holy Lake on 12th February 1948 and Gandhi Ghat was constructed.
Boating in the lake and horse rides around the lake is available. You can do some shopping at Nakki Lake market.
The Toad Rock is a rock facing the lake which looks like a toad about to jump into the lake. The Sunset Point is also a nearby attraction but going towards it is forbidden because of safety and security. Hence, watch sunset from the lake and not from the sunset point.
Raghunath Temple and Maharaja Jaipur Palace are also on hills near the Lake.
Mount Abu is famous for its Hindu and Jain Temples including:
The Arbuda Devi Temple or Adhar Devi Temple was carved out of solid rock.
The Dattatreya Temple was built atop the Guru Shikhar peak.
The Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple is a popular Shiva temple.
The Dilwara Jain Temples are a complex of temples carved out of white marble which are located about 2½ kilometres from the Mount Abu settlement.
The spiritual headquarter of the faith community of Brahma Kumaris is also located here.
Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary
The Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary is just 3 km away from the Dilwara Temples and is home to leopards, foxes, deer, and bears.
Adventure other popular activities like hiking, rock climbing, camping, rappelling and some more are waiting for your indulgence.
Day 9: Mount Abu to Udaipur (163KM)
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Udaipur-the Lake City
In 1558, it was founded by Udai Singh II of the Sisodia clan of Rajput when he shifted his capital from the city of Chittorgarh to Udaipur. It is also known as the ‘City of Lakes’ and ‘Venice of East’ because it has most beautiful lakes as Pichola Lake, Fatah Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar, Rang Sagar Lake and Swaroop Sagar.
Besides lakes, Udaipur is also known for its historic forts and palaces, museums, galleries, natural locations and gardens, architectural temples, as well as traditional fairs, festivals and structures.
The lakes of the city are interconnected and form a lake system. This supports and sustains the groundwater recharge, water availability for drinking, agriculture, industries. It is a source of employment through tourism.
How to reach Udaipur:
It is well connected with major cities of the country through Airways, Railways and Roadways.
Maharana Pratap Airport is a small domestic airport situated about 20 kilometres away from Udaipur. Daily flights connect Udaipur with Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat and Varanasi. Air India, IndiGo and Spice Jet are operational at present.
Udaipur City railway station and RanaPratap Nagar railway station are two railway stations in Udaipur. These are connected with major cities of India. Some luxurious trains like The Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Maharaja Express have scheduled stop too.
The city lies on the intersection point of East West Corridor, Golden Quadrilateral, National Highway (NH) 76 and National Highway (NH). It is around 660 km from Delhi, 394 KM from Jaipur, 249 KM from Jodhpur, 163 Km from Mount Abu, 262 Km from Ahmedabad and 760 km from Mumbai.
What to see in Udaipur:
City Palace, Pichola Lake, FatehSagar Lake, Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir, DeenDayalUpadhyay Park, DoodhTalai Lake, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, Badi Lake and Shilpgram,
It is a 400-year-old palace located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola. Its main entrance is through the triple-arched gate – the Tripolia, built in 1725. This gate leads to a series of courtyards, overlapping partitions, terraces, corridors and gardens. The palace now houses a museum with many antique articles, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils from the royal era.
Monuments like the Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple, Monsoon Palace, and Neemach Mata temple, are all in the vicinity of the palace complex. City palace was also used for shooting of movies like Octopussy and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela.
It is an artificial fresh water lake created in the year 1362 AD. The lake was built by Banjara, a gypsy “Banjara” tribesman who transported grain, during the reign of Maharana Lakha. Later, Maharana Udai Singh, impressed by the charm of this lake with the backdrop of green hills, founded the city of Udaipur on the banks of the lake and also enlarged the Lake by constructing a stone masonry dam in the Badipol region on the shore of the lake.
There are four islands on the lake viz.
- Jag Niwas, where is built the Lake Palace
- Jag Mandir, with the palace of the same name
- Mohan Mandir, from where the king would watch the annual Gangaur festival celebration
- Arsi Vilas, a small island which was an ammunition depot, and also a small palace
Jag Niwas or Lake Palace
Lake Palace was known as Jag Niwas. Earlier, it was the private summer resort of the erstwhile royal family which has been turned into a luxury hotel. It is located at one of the island of Lake Pichola which has 83 rooms and suites featuring white marble walls. Its natural foundation spans 4 acres (16,000 m2). The hotel has been ranked the best luxury heritage hotels in the country.
It is built on an island in Lake Pichola and is known for its beautiful interiors and grand style of architecture. It is also known as the “Lake Garden Palace”. This palace is now the Jagmandir Island Palace, a heritage hotel.
Day 10: Fateh Sagar Lake, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park, DoodhTalai Lake, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, Badi Lake and Shilpgram
Fateh Sagar Lake
It is an artificial lake situated to the north of the Lake Pichola, in the north-west of Udaipur city, around 6 km from Udaipur City Railway Station. It was named after Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur and Mewar.
Doodh Talai Lake
It is a small pond located adjacent to the Lake Pichola which is surrounded by small hillocks which hosts Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park and ManikyaLalVerma Garden or Rock Garden or Musical Fountain Garden. It provides few options for fast food centers, camel and horse rides and boat ride.
Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park
This is a garden developed around the DudhTalai by Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) Udaipur, the local development authority. Visitors may enjoy watching a musical fountain here. A ropeway has been set up here to reach Karni Mata Temple at the top of Machhla Mangra.
Monsoon Palace at the hilltop
Monsoon Palace was built in 1884 by Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty giving it the name Sajjangarh. The palace is near FatehSagar Lake. The palace was also used in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.
Sajjangarh Biological Park
It is a zoological garden which is situated just beneath the Monsoon Palace or SajjajgarhGarh Palace around 4 km from the city center. The zoo houses vast varieties of animals and birds brought in from different parts of the world. At present, it has more than 60 animals of 21 species including tigers, panthers, lions, ostriches, alligators, and rhesus monkeys.
Saheliyon-ki-Bari or ‘Courtyard of the Maidens’ is a garden and a popular tourist destination. With fountains, kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants it was built for the royal ladies. This renowned garden is located on the banks of FatehSagar Lake and also has a small museum with the collection of royal households.
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, a cultural institution, is engaged in studying folk art, culture, songs and festivals of various regions of India, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. It also aims at popularizing and propagating folk arts, folk dances and folk literature.
Badi Lake is an artificial fresh water lake built in the village of Badi, about 12 km from the city of Udaipur. Built by Maharana Raj Singh I (1652–1680), it was aimed to counteract the devastating effects of a famine. This lake covers an area of 155 km2., and is graced by three artistic chhatris (kiosks or pavilions). Devoid of any commercial activity, the Badi Lake gives a view of a never-ending expanse providing a serene and calm atmosphere to the visitors.
It is a rural arts and crafts complex, situated 3 km west of the city of Udaipur. The complex was established with a purpose to depict the lifestyles of the folk and tribal people of the region. With an objective of increasing awareness and knowledge about the rural arts and crafts, the Shilpgram provides opportunity to rural and urban artists to come together and interact through camps and workshops.
Day 11: Udaipur – Pushkar Lake (277KM)- Ajmer (15.7KM)-Jaipur (132 KM)
Start early from Udaipur and move on to Udaipur-Jaipur Highway till Ajmer then turn towards Pushkar lake after that visit Ajmer and then Jaipur.
Pushkar Temple and Lake:
It is a pilgrimage site which is one of the five sacred dhams associated to Lord Brahma. ‘Pushkar’ means ‘lotus flower’ and it is believed that it is a former seat of Brahma, the creator of the world.
Pushkar Temple is the only temple in the world dedicated to the important Hindu deity of Brahma.
Pushkar is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Sikhs as well. The Gurdwara is dedicated to Guru Nanak Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
The city is lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake and is famous for its annual Pushkar Camel Fair.The famous Pushkar Lake is considered by Hindu’s to be as old as the earth.
Ajmer or Ajayameru (original name)
The city was established as “Ajayameru” by a Shakambhari Chahamana (Chauhan) rajput ruler. It was the Chahamana capital until the 12th century. Ajmer is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains and is situated on the lower slopes of the Taragarh Hill of that range. Ajmer is famous for the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
Ana Sagar Lake
It is an artificial lake situated in the city. It was built by Arnoraja, the grandfather of Prithviraj Chauhan, in 1135 -1150 AD. The catchments were built with the help of local populace. The lake is spread over 13 km (8.1 mi). There is an island in the center of the lake which is accessible by boat. Boats could be hired from the east side of the Daulat Bagh.
Nareli Jain Temple
It is a new Jain temple located on the outskirts of Ajmer. It is situated 7 kilometers from the city center at main National Highway 8.
After visiting Pushkar and Ajmer, move ahead to the Capital city of Rajasthan i.e. Jaipur. It is 132 Km from Ajmer.
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Jaipur: The Pink City
The capital and the largest city of Rajasthan is also popularly known as the ‘Pink City’. Jaipur was planned and built as per rules & regulations of the Vastu Shastra and the Shilpa Shastra. The buildings of the city were painted pink (a dusty light terracotta color) for the royal arrival of the Prince of Wales in 1853.
Jaipur is a major tourist destination in India forming a part of the Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Agra.
Famous tourist places of Jaipur:
Albert Hall Museum,
Chokhi Dhani Village
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed Jaipur the ‘Pink City of India’ among its World Heritage Sites. The city is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar. Hawa Mahal is a five-storey pyramidal shaped monument with 953 windows.
Sisodiya Rani Bagh and Kanak Vrindavan are the major parks in Jaipur. Raj Mandir is a notable cinema hall in Jaipur.
Day 12: City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Albert Hall Museum, Jaipur Zoo, Birla Mandir
Jaipur has a lot of things to do for tourists including Palaces, historical places, Temples, Museums, Markets etc. So decide your own itinerary according to your wish. But have a look on my itinerary which is based on the convenience and optimizing maximum time.
Visit City Palace which will take around 01 hour to complete it. The City Palace was established by the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It is a unique and special complex of several courtyards, buildings, pavilions, gardens, and temples. The most prominent and most visited structures in the complex are the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple, and the City Palace Museum.
As soon as you exit from the City Palace, you may see a ticket counter of the Jantar Mantar, at right hand side. The Jantar Mantar is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II. It features the world’s largest stone sundial. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The instruments allow the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye.The observatory consists of nineteen instruments for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking location of major stars as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.
Jantar Mantar takes almost 01 hour to see the entire complex. If you want to understand and know about purpose of these instruments, shapes and designs then hire a tourist guide else these structures happens to be a showcase for you.
Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds or Palace of Breeze is a palace made with the red and pink sandstone. It is situated at the edge of the City Palace and extends to the women’s chambers.
It was designed by Lal Chand Ustad. Its unique five floors exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows called Jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. The original intent of the lattice design was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivals celebrated in the street below without being seen.
It takes almost 1 hour to see the Hawa Mahal. Entry is from backside which is basically its front-side. If you want take a complete photo of the Hawa Mahal. Cross the road and go to roof or balcony of the opposite side building.
Albert Hall Museum
The Albert Hall Museum is the oldest museum of the state. The building is situated in Ram Niwas garden outside the city wall. It is 3.5 Km from the Hawa Mahal. It is also called the Government Central Museum.
The museum has a rich collection of artifacts including paintings, jewelry, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures, and works in crystal. The collection includes coins from the Gupta, Kushan, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal and British periods.
An Egyptian mummy is the main attraction of this museum. You need at least 1-1.5 hours to see the entire museum.
Jaipur Zoo is located near to the Albert Hall Museum and Ram Nivas Garden. It is divided into two parts: one for mammals and other for birds and reptiles. Nearly 50 species of different birds and animals from all over the world can be seen here. However, most of the mammals have been shifted to other places and they have planned to develop it especially for birds.
In year 1999, a Ghariyal breeding farm established in the Zoo is the fourth largest breeding farm in India. A museum was also constructed inside the zoo which exhibits the wildlife of Rajasthan. Spend 1-2 hours to view the entire zoo.
Birla Mandir (Temple) & Moti Dungri Fort/Temple
From Zoo or Albert Hall Museum head to Birla Mandir and Moti Dungri Fort which is just 3 Km.
It is made up of white marble. There are four distinct parts of the temple: its sanctum, tower, main hall, and entrance. It is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu (Narayan). The temple is open daily with visiting hours between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM, as well as from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Moti Dungri Temple
It is a Hindu temple complex dedicated to lord Ganesha. The temple is situated at bottom of the Moti Dungri hill and the Moti Dungri fort. The layout and structure of Moti Dungri is built in the Nagara style and is based on the model of Scottish castle.
Shopping in Jaipur:
There is a proper market around the Hawa Mahal in the City Wall. Do some shopping in the evening or at your convenience.
Day 13: Amber Fort or Amer Fort, Anokhi Museum, Nahargarh fort, Jaigarh fort, Jal Mahal, ChokhiDhani Village.
Amber fort or Amer fort
The Amer Fort or Amber Fort is located 11 KM from Jaipur City. The Amer town has an area of 4 square Km. The Fort was constructed with red sandstone and marble. It consists of the Diwan-e-Aam or Hall of Public Audience, the Diwan-e-Khas, or Hall of Private Audience, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace.
Amer Fort is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Fort is open from 08.30 AM to 05.30 PM. It will take around 2-3 hours to see the entire fort.
It is situated on the cliff called the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the Aravalli range. The fort is also known as Victory Fort. The fort features a cannon named “Jaivana”(Jaivana Cannon), which was manufactured in the fort precincts and was then the world’s largest cannon on wheels.
Jaigarh Fort and Amer Fort are connected by subterranean passages and considered as one complex. So, its better to visit by this passages to Jaigarh Fort from Amer Fort. It will take around 2 hours to complete your visit.
Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing (AMHP) is located in a magnificently restored haveli or mansion near the Amer Fort. The museum displays a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects. They provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition. Spend at least 1 hour to familiar yourself with the art of traditional hand printing along with the instruments used in this process along with preparation of different dyes.
Nahargarh Fort stands on the edge of the Aravalli Hills.The fort was originally named Sudarshangarh but is now known as Nahargarh, which means ‘abode of tigers’. Along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh once provide a strong defense ring for the city.
The Nahargarh fort is open from 10 a.m. to 05.30 p.m. Spend at least 02 hours here. The Entry ticket is Rs.50/- for Indian nationals and Rs. 200/- for foreign tourists. Whereas, it costs Rs. 25/- foreign students and Rs.5/- for Indian students.
Jal Mahal or Water Palace is a palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. It is an architectural showcase of the Rajput style of architecture. The palace, built-in red sandstone, is a five storied building, of which four floors remain underwater when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed. On the terrace of the palace, a garden was built with arched passages. Before going to Jal Mahal, please check whether it’s open or not?
Chokhi Dhani Village
It is a well-known tourist attraction in Jaipur. The aim of the resort is to give tourists a full experience of Rajasthani culture. The entire resort’s theme is inspired by a village setting, with many cultural activities held here like Traditional Folk Dance, Puppet Show, Magic Show etc.
Dine in traditional way at Chaupal, KesarKyari Barbeque restaurant – an outdoor restaurant, Aragosta Restaurant or Bindola Restaurant. Enjoy Camel ride here with some nominal fee. You can to some shopping at Kalagram, a social initiative with the aim of promoting local artisans who make handicrafts.
The Chokhi Dhani is around 20 KM from City Palace in Jaipur. It is open from 05 pm to 11 pm (all days of the week). The entry fee is around Rs. 700 to Rs. 1100 (adults); Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 (children). The entry fee is depends upon your choice of dinner.
Day 14: If you want to see a haunted place, visit haunted Bhangarh Fort before return to Delhi or your sweet Home which is 75 Km from Jaipur and Delhi is 280 Km from the Fort.
The Bhangarh Fort is a 17th-century fort built by Bhagwant Das for his younger son Madho Singh I. It is located on the border of the Sariska Bio Reserve near the Gola ka Baas village in Alwar. The fort is situated at the foot of the hills on sloping terrain in the Aravali range of hills. The ruins of the king’s palace are located on the lower slope of the hills; trees surround the pond area and a natural stream falls into the pond within the premises of the palace. However, the fort and its precincts are well preserved.
There are two different stories about the curse on the fort and nearby areas. But, if you really want to know about the fort and its stories, you can visit the place. However, the entry in the Bhangarh Fort is forbidden before sunrise and after sunset i.e. from 06.00 PM to 06.00 AM. Some people have claimed that they have heard screams and shadows of ghosts, voices of crying women, sounds of bangles in the rooms, strange lights and unusual sounds of music & dance etc. So think before to visit or not.