Rajasthan, which translates to Land of Kings, is located in the north of India. It is filled with majestic forts and opulent palaces of the maharajas of a bygone era. The best way to get a taste of Rajasthan especially on a tight schedule is to join one of the luxury train journeys. We took the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels which is an upgraded version of the famous Palace on Wheels.
There are 14 passenger coaches with 3 rooms in each coach. The rooms are on the small side but then again the train has a set width. Most of the rooms have 2 twin beds separated by a very narrow gap. There is a small desk and wardrobe and it is impossible to leave your suitcases open on the floor or anywhere. Each room has a decent sized bathroom with a walk-in shower. We opted to each take a room, using one bed for the opened luggage, and the other bed for sleeping. I don’t regret at all paying the single supplement.
Like on a cruise, each morning we arrived at a new place. After breakfast on board the train, we were led in small groups to buses waiting at the station to visit the important sites of the area. Lunch was usually buffet style at a large hotel in town and dinner was served after we return to the train.
We visited 7 places (Delhi –> Jodhpur –> Udaipur –> Chittogarh –> Jaipur –> Khajurahom –> Varanassi –> Agra –> Delhi) in 8 days which would be impossible if we did it ourselves. The road situation is very under developed so going from one place to another would easily take 5-6 hours. Although there were places I wished we could stay longer, but all in all, this is a very easy way to experience Rajasthan for the first time. I am going to split this journey into 3 separate posts: Rajasthan Part 1, Part 2, and Agra.
Our first stop after departing Delhi is Jodhpur. Jodhpur is the second largest city of the state of Rajasthan. Is is also referred to as the “Blue City” because of all the blue-painted houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort.
Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India, built on a cliff 120 meters above the city. Surrounded by walls up to 36 meters high are gardens, courtyards, and palaces with intricate carvings and elaborate balconies.
Our next stop was Udaipur, often referred to as Venice of the East. Udaipur is famous for its lakes and palaces in the middle of these lakes. One such palace, now the Taj Lake Palace hotel, was the setting of the James Bond movie, Octopussy. We took a boat ride around the Pichola Lake and also visited the Udaipur City Palace.
After visiting 2 beautiful cities, we arrived at an unoccupied fort complex. Chittorgarh is the largest fort complex in India surrounded on all sides by 150 meters-plus cliffs. It offers us an insight into the life of the great Rajput rulers. Chittorgarh is a place filled with valor and sacrifice as it was under attack three times in its history, and each time, its people chose death before dishonor. The most famous of such stories is that of Padmini. Padmini’s Palace is where Alauddin Khilji, second ruler of the Khilji Dynasty, was permitted to glimpse at the mirror reflection of Queen Padmini, wife of Maharana Rattan Singh. Padmini’s beauty had been compared to that of Cleopatra and it was believed that this glimpse of her beauty was what caused Alauddin to destroy Chittor in order to possess her. With Rattan Singh killed, Padmini committed jauhar which is an act of self immolation by burning oneself to death.
Stay tuned for Rajasthan Part 2…..