Rajasthan is literally the Land of the Kings. It is home to the chivalrous Rajputs, and its battle-scarred heritage has bestowed legacies of pride and tradition. The upper echelons of this medieval society built magnifi cent palaces and forts, many of which are now glorious hotels and museums. In addition, stunning handicrafts and fine arts were developed and nurtured through patronage of the maharajas. At the other end, village Rajasthan is so steeped in tradition that it has been one of the slowest segments of Indian society to modernise. But, just like the rest of India, the pace of change is ever accelerating. Witnessing turbaned men bartering for
decorated camels brings history to life, even if the successful deal is relayed home by a mobile phone. Snapshots of the everyday in Rajasthan capture India at its most evocative – the twirl of a moustache, a veiled glance or a puff of blue hashish smoke. It will fi ll your memory card many times over.
HARVEY KIMBERLEY COOLE Against a backdrop of desert sands, fairy-tale palaces and massive forts, modern and traditional India puts on its greatest show. From elephant rides to colourful festivals, this is India at its high-definition, surround-sound best.
Why Travel Rajasthan?
It is said there is more history in Rajasthan than the rest of India put together. Welcome to the Land of the Kings; a fabled realm of maharajas and their majestic forts and lav-ish palaces. India is littered with splendid ruined bastions, but nowhere will you find fortresses quite as magnificent as those here; rising up imperiously from the desert landscape like fairy-tale mirages of a bygone era. As enchanting as they are, though, there is more to this most royal of regions than its seemingly timeless architec-tural wonders. This is also a land of sand dunes and jungle, of camel trains and wild tigers, of glittering
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan
jewels, vivid col-ours and vibrant culture. There are enough festivals here to fill a calendar (and an artist’s palette), and the shopping and cuisine are nothing short of spectacular. In truth, Rajasthan just about has it all; it is the must-see state of this must-see country; brimming with startling, thought-provoking and, ultimately, unforgettable attractions.
As with the rest of the north, Mughal-influenced curries and smoky tandoori food are extremely popular, but there are a few favourites with a regional twist that are worth hunt-ing down.
Kachori is a round-shaped, masala-dhal-filled, samosa-like package that hits the spot for a street snack. A favourite Rajasthani meal is gatta, gram-flour dumplings cooked in a yoghurt sauce. For refreshment you can’t go past a thick and creamy makhania (saffron-flavoured) lassi, or a light, fragrant kheer (rice pudding).