Rajasthan - Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer - With a magic of its own, this golden
desert city lies near
Rajasthan's remote western border, surrounded by undulating sand
dunes. Standing 100 metres over the city, the Jaisalmer Fort, made of
yellow sandstone, seems to rise out of the desert haze and is bathed in a
golden glow when the sun soars into the sky. It houses an entire living area
within its ramparts. Jaisalmer is famous for its exquisitely carved sandstone
havelis, cobbled streets and ancient Jain temples. Its most popular festival,
which attracts people from far and near, is the Desert Festival held in
January or February. With camels silhouetted against the setting sun providing
a backdrop, Rajasthan's finest musicians and dancers come out and enthral
visitors on the sand dunes late into a moonlit night.
Bikaner, Jodhpur, Chittorgarh and many other cities of Rajasthan are worth a visit.
Each has a fort, a palace, a carved victory tower, among other things, to
offer. And the region abounds in stories of legendary rulers - their loves,
intrigues and foibles.
But the Kami Mata Temple at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, is unique. The temple is famous for the legions of rats that
are feted and worshipped here. The choicest of foods are prepared and served to
them - often in silver salvers. Visitors tread warily to reach the inner
recesses of the temple, for injury to a rat would not be tolerated by the local
An interesting shop at the entrance of the Junagarh fort at
Bikaner, run by the Urmul Trust, sells high quality cotton and woollen
handlooms - cushion covers, shawls, durries, carpets, clothes, ethnic furniture
(stools, chairs, etc.) and knick-knacks made by the people from neighbouring
villages. The heartening thing is that the proceeds go directly to the
villagers for funding education and health programmes.
Jhalawar - A 19th century
offshoot of Kota, its verdant landscape is unusual for a desert state. Its fort
functions as a government office but the 9th century Gagron Fort close by is
one of the most important citadels of Rajput history.
Jodhpur - The 16th century capital of the Rathore Rajputs, Jodhpur's history is evident in the hilltop
eyrie, Mehrangarh, from where its destiny was written. Narrow paths wind up the
steep path, leading to the innards of the fort. Once within, the architecture
is less formidable, with delicate windows and painted chambers. From its
ramparts one has a view of the 20th century art deco Umaid Bhawan
Kota - One
of the few perennial rivers in Rajasthan, the Chambal is flanked by verdure and
fertile plains. Located on its banks, Kota is a modern, industrialized city,
but its antecedents are as romantic as any other Rajput kingdom. This is
evident in its many palace, and the large fort with its fabulous paintings
known for their hunting scenes.
kumbalgarh - Built in the 15th century by Rana
Kumbha of Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh is Rajasthan's highest fort, and its most
formidable. If its air is rife with medieval tales of intrigue and treachery,
it is because its history is characterized by some of the pivotal points that
characterized the Sisodia dynasty.
Mount Abu - In the South-western corner of
Rajasthan, close to the Gujarat border, is Mount Abu, the only hill station in
the State. It is also an important pilgrim centre, particularly for the Jains.
Lying about 5 kmsto the South east, the famous Dilwara Jain Temples are
among the finest in the world. The intricate marble carvings and the sheer
beauty of these temples, especially the Vimal Vashi (built in 1031) and
Tejpal Temple (built in 1230), takes ones breath away. Mount Abu has
excellent walks and the Nakki Lake, said to have been carved out by the
Gods with their nails, is a favourite spot for boating. The best time to vistit
Mount Abu is March to June and September to November.
Nagaur - Located between
Bikaner and Jodhpur, yet largely bypassed, Nagaur serves as an important link
in the state's martial history, and its fort has frescos in the Mughal and