11 days in India

Rajasthan and the Golden Triangle

Rajasthan is a state located in northern India. It is the largest Indian state by area and the seventh largest by population. Rajasthan is located on the northwestern side of India, where it comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert and shares a border with Pakistan.
Its proximity to New Delhi and being part of the so called Golden Triangle(India’s golden triangle is a tourist circuit which connects the national capital Delhi, Agra and Jaipur)make it at my opinion the perfect Introduction to India s enormous touristic Potential. The huge controversies may not be suitable for everyone but for sure is a place that awakens all your senses and invites you on a Timetraveljourney that will remain in our memory forever

Day 2 : Mandawa Bikaner

Hotel Mandawa Haveli is the best hotel choice thus it has been renovated.A remote feudal principality in the centre of the Shekhawati region, Mandawa was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East.Mandawa is part of the Shekhawati region. Mandawa is situated 190 km off Jaipur in the north. The fort of Mandawa was founded in the 18th century. The fort dominates the town with a painted arched gateway adorned with frescoes of Lord Krishna and his cows.

Situated in the middle of the town, the Mandawa Fort has been converted into a heritage hotel.In the historical Towncentre there are a lot of havelis .A haveli is a traditional townhouse or mansion in the Indian subcontinent, usually one with historical and architectural significance. The word haveli is derived from Arabic hawali, meaning “partition” or “private space”, popularised under the Mughal Empire, and was devoid of any architectural affiliations. Later, the word haveli came to be used as a generic term for various styles of regional mansions, townhouse and temples found in the Indian subcontinent

After Mandawa we are heading to Bikaner.
Bikaner is home of the Junagarh fort
Junagarh fort is located in the arid region of the Tar desert of Rajasthan bordered on the northwest by the Aravalli range, a range of mountains in western India , a huge complex of ornate buildings and halls. Within the fort, the Prachina Museum displays traditional textiles and royal portraits. Part of the desert area is in Bikaner city, which is one of the three desert triangle cities; the other two cities are Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. Nearby, the Karni Mata Temple is home to many rats considered sacred by Hindu devotees.

General Maharaja Ganga Singh, who ruled from 1887 to 1943, was the best-known of the Rajasthan princes and was a favourite of the British Viceroys of India. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India, served as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet, represented India at the Imperial Conferences during the First World War and the British Empire at the Versailles Peace Conference. His contribution to the building activity in Junagarh involved separate halls for public and private audiences in the Ganga Mahal and a durbar hall for formal functions. He also built the Ganga Niwas Palace, which has towers at the entrance patio. This palace was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, the third of the new palaces built in Bikaner. He named the building Lalgarh Palace in honour of his father and moved his main residence there from Junagarh Fort in 1902. The hall where he held his Golden Jubilee (in 1938) as Bikaner’s ruler is now a museum.

The Royal Family still lives in a suite in Lalgarh Palace, which they have converted into a heritage hotel.

Day 3 : Karni Mata Rat Temple arrival in Jaisalmer

Karni Mata Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner. It is also known as the Temple of Rats.

The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live, and are revered, in the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists

Day 4 : Jaisalmer

Then we headed northwest to the Pakistani indian borders to Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer , nicknamed “The Golden city”, though beiing a touristic hotspot nowadays it manages to retain its exotic atmosphere and some of the innocence of the past. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone and is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort. This fort contains a royal palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples of both the fort and of the town below are built of finely sculptured sandstone. The town lies in the heart of the Tar Desert very close to the borders with Pakistan

Day 5 : Jodhpur / Mehrangarh Fort

Jaswant Thada elaborately carved white marble funerary monument built to honor Maharaja Jaswant Singh II

Jodhpur also known as the Blue City is the second largest city in the State of Rajastan. Its 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort is a former palace that’s now a museum, displaying weapons, paintings and elaborate royal palanquins (sedan chairs). Set on on a rocky outcrop, the fort overlooks the walled city, where many buildings are painted the city’s iconic shade of blue.We headed directly to the Fort which has really a lot to see and is something you need to dedicate at least 2-3 hours.After that we paid a short visit to the Jaswant Thada Monument wich offers nice views towards the Fort ,the City and the luxurious Umaid Bhawan hotel.Jaswant Thada is an elaborately carved white marble funerary monument built to honor Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.At the end of the day we entered the chaotic ,vibrant but very interesting city centre and had another crazy tuk tuk ride.

If you have more time you can extend your Rajastan Trip to Udaipur with its beautiful Lake and the Magnificent Oberoi Lake Palace where James Bond film was shot.another importand destinations are Ranakpur withits Jain temple and the Chittorgah Fort.Sadly we didn t have more days so we headed to the so called Golden Triangle of India formed from Jaipur Agra and Delhi.

Day 6 : Jaipur

We arrived at afternoon in Jaipur so we wanted to just have a first contact with the City so we visited a rooftop af a building where an amazing Temple was situated and had at the same time the Chance to admire the urban chaos from above ..before getting into it and having a Riksha Ride.(double bicycle ).There are no traffic lights no rules are followed but somehow it works,there are no (or at least a few accidents)|:)Jaipur is the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. It evokes the royal family that once ruled the region and that, in 1727, founded what is now called the Old City, or “Pink City” for its trademark building color. On 6 July 2019, 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.

Day 7 : Jaipur

The next Morning after having a delicious breakfast we were ready for a full day tour of Jaipur and its Forts and Palaces.We started with Amer or Amber Palace with Hindu & Muslim elements offering traditional elephant rides.Allthough pretty touristic it is really an experience not to be missed.At the Area there are two Forts that are not to be missed Nahargarh and Jaigarh Forts offering sweeping views of the city.There is a convenient ticket which icludes all the major attractions in Jaipur.After that you can proceed to the Palace rooms

The Palace sitting on a hilltop can be seen from allover the city.There are plenty of rooms with different styles where you can admire the synthesis of Hindu and Muslim art.Opposite the Amber Palace we can see jal Mahal in the middle of Man Sagar Lake a former grand palace made of red sandstone, most of it submerged.The area there is beautiful and you can walk across the Lake and make some instagramable photos.Our next stop is Jantar Mantar |(previously mentined that is UNESCO World Heritage Site) a 18th-century park & heritage site with fixed instruments for making astronomical observations.There are a few in the world and it is really worth a visit.At noon we visited The City Palace a Lavish 1700s colonnaded Palace Complex with museums opulent gardens and courtyards . Part of it is still a royal residence and combines Rajput, Mughal and European influences.There are a lot of rooms and chambers but extremly unique and beautifull are the Peacock Gate and the Main Entrance or Rajendra Pol.

At the afternoon we our last stop was Birla Mandir a Hindu temple built with white Marble funded by a wealthy indian Family Lakshmi.It is a modern Structure but really beautiful.

Day 8 : Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds and Ranthambore National Park.

The Palace of Winds or Hawa Mahal is one of the major attractions in Jaipur and a beautiful building with a unique Architecture.The structure was built in 1799 and Its five floor exterior is akin to honeycomb with its 953 small windows 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, since they had to obey strict rules , which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings.This was our last day in the Pink City so we headed to the indian countryside on our way to Ranthambore National Park.

Ranthambore National Park hosts deciduous forests and wildlife such as Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambar, striped hyena, sloth bear, southern plains gray langur, rhesus macaque, mugger crocodile and chitah. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of trees, plants, birds and reptiles, as well as one of the largest banyan trees in India.

The park is known for its large tiger population. Ranthambore Fort is a formidable fort having been a focal point of the historical developments of Rajasthan.
In 2013 Ranthambore Fort, along with 5 other forts of Rajasthan, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan.

Day 9 : Ranthambore National Park-Karauli

This day we woke up very early before sunrise to have some better chances to capture wildlife and maybe with a little luck to witness a Tiger from a short distance.This was an organized jeep tour and you can find plenty of them.Our next stop was Karauli before heading to the touristic capital of india Agra home of the Taj Mahal.We arrived at the Bhanwar Villas Palace a historic B&B.

Day 10 : Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort

Today we left the State of Rajastan and entered Uttar Pradesh State.We made a Stop at Fatehpur Sikri on our way to Agra .Fatehpur Sikri is a small city in northern India, just a few kilometers west of Agra, founded by a 16th-century Mughal emperor. Red sandstone buildings cluster at its center. Buland Darwaza gate is the entrance to Jama Masjid mosque. .The mixture of Mughal-islamic and Hindu architecture and Culture is one of the interesting characteristics of the Area.

Agra Fort is a historical fort in the city of Agra . It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.In 1983, the Agra fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city.
The Fort as well as Taj Mahal sits at the banks of Jamuna River.

Day 11 : Taj Mahal

Today is a Day full of excitement.We were about to visit maybe the Highlight of the Trip the winner of the New Wonders of the World innitiative .The Taj Mahal lit. ‘Crown of the Palace’, is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643, but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 . The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”. It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and is definetelly one of the reasons to visit India (but trust me there are many more)

Our last stop was The Qutb Minar a minaret and “victory tower” that forms part of the Qutb complex. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in New Delhi. It is one of most visited tourist spots in the city and one of the earliest that survives in the Indian subcontinent.It is one of a kind because it represents in a unique Form a Synthesis of South Asian and Islamic Architecture,in a very good condition.