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Following our Golden Triangle itinerary, my friend and I continued travelling in Rajasthan. This princely state in northwestern India is known for cities full of colours and landscapes of grand proportions. My instinct was to pick up my phone and try to capture everything around me. From vibrant festivals to immense deserts, read about the best of Rajasthan in this itinerary of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer.
If you haven’t already, read about our Golden Triangle itinerary in this post.
Table of Contents
- Udaipur: 3 days
- Jodhpur: 2 days
- Jaisalmer: 6 days
Rajasthan Itinerary: Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer
Udaipur: 3 days
As our autorickshaw sped away from the train station, something about Udaipur felt immediately serene and romantic. Udaipur marks the second half of our Golden Triangle and Rajasthan itinerary. We were now moving on from the Golden Triangle, and this Rajasthani city made of glistening water, ornate havelis and narrow, hilly streets, felt refreshingly different. We came to experience a part of India that was much slower in pace. It felt like the perfect place to kick back and relax to the ebb and flow of Lake Pichola.
Getting to Udaipur from Jaipur
JP UDZ SF T SPL (09721)
This was an early morning, 7-hour train ride. For long rides like this, I recommend booking for 2A class or higher, and opt for the side berth beds for better comfort.
Getting around Udaipur
Udaipur’s narrow, crooked streets are perfect for foot travel. It can be a bit of a calf workout too, especially when walking up the steps with a backpack in tow. Nonetheless, with traditional murals on walls throughout the city, you naturally slow down your pace and want to pay more attention to the surroundings. Udaipur feels removed from the crowd and traffic. I loved strolling leisurely around the city in search of the perfect handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Nicknamed the City of Lakes, a boat ride is essential to the Udaipur experience. At the ghat, you can take a boat ride to lake palaces and enjoy the intoxicating view of sunset on the water.
Points of interest in Udaipur
Upon our arrival, our hostel staff had already prepared a list of recommendations for our short 3-day stay. Life in Udaipur revolves around water, and you can see the lakes either up close at Ambrai Ghat, or take in the panoramic view from City Palace. Next to the ghat is Bagore Ki Haveli, where the Dharohar Folk Dance Show is held nightly. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting City Palace, where history is brought to life with the incredible display of artifacts. Jagdish Temple is the main place of worship and draws a busy crowd. On the other hand, Karni Mata Temple is renowned for its beautiful hilltop view over the lake. It can be reached via ropeway or a short hike.
When in Udaipur, one simply cannot pass up on the opportunity to bring home a unique piece of local craft or artwork. In addition to buying a delicately painted silk painting, we also spent an afternoon on an art lesson. Many souvenir shops offer art lessons at Rs 500 per session. After finding a teacher, we were taken to his home and created unique pieces of our own.
Where to eat in Udaipur
The streets in Udaipur have no shortage of cafes and bistros catered to a western taste. There are also plenty of rooftop restaurants that offer a scenic view over the lake. Dining at these places can feel like a bit of a splurge compared to other cities on the itinerary. But the waterfront view, especially at sunset, does make it worthwhile. We also found Shree Ashapura, an unassuming eatery for an authentic taste of Udaipur.
Where to stay in Udaipur
When in Udaipur, what better place to stay than right by the water? Gypsy Child Lake is a small, Santorini-inspired hostel right next to Lake Pichola. I appreciated the care the staff put into making our stay comfortable. It was lovely being greeted by freshly prepared breakfast each morning and going on a street breakfast tour with Aasif, the manager.
P.S. If you haven’t had the chance to wear a sari yet, Aasif will make sure of it. He is also a TikTok extraordinaire and will take lots of videos for you!
Jodhpur: 2 days
Before arriving in Jodhpur, we’d heard about how there is something different about the people there. Dignified and proud of their ancient city, Jodhpur is full of individuals who quietly serve their communities and try to make it a better place.
Getting to Jodhpur from Udaipur
The drive from Udaipur to Jodhpur took the entire day. But with a private car and driver, we were able to enjoy the long, bumpy ride in comfort and with air conditioning. It was also nice to have the flexibility with how much time we could spend at each stop. On the way, we took a couple detours to visit Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur Jain Temple, both of which are marvellous sights.
We booked the private transfer after asking around several travel agencies in Udaipur and paid Rs 3500 for the entire day. Here is a comparable private transfer from Udaipur and Jodhpur that you can book online.
Getting around Jodhpur
Although Ola and Uber do exist in Jodhpur, we did not have any luck finding one. Thankfully, autorickshaws are aplenty on the street, and most places we visited were within walking distance from where we stayed. We did have to walk through some dodgy areas. I recommend that you always travel with someone and in daylight. Also, the walk up to the landmark Mehrangarh Fort can be rather steep, so you may want to keep that in mind and hire a cab for the day.
Points of interest in Jodhpur
Ghanta Ghar, with the clock tower, is an easy landmark to spot in the city. Aside from plenty of shopping and food options, it also makes a good starting point to embark on the Bluecity Walks. The walk to Mehrangarh Fort is steep but offers a sweeping view of the blue city. Wandering in the fort with an audio guide in hand, I felt transformed in history as I listened to moving stories of self-sacrifice. It was also eye-opening seeing the opulence of the royalty in their luxurious halls. Kaylana Lake is the go-to spot for sunset in the city. For a half-day trip, head to Osian, the oasis in the desert.
Where to eat in Jodhpur
Hands down, the best meal I’d had on this Rajasthan itinerary was an omelette sandwich. By mid-morning, the Omelette Shop was already filled with visitors choosing from a list of their famed omelettes. This simple dish consists of perfectly pan-fried eggs oozing with cheese and sandwiched between pita or toast. It was just what I needed after weeks of eating heavy spices.
Nearby, Shahi Samosa also buzzes with visitors for their samosas, which are quite big and filling. We were treated sweet pastries from Janta Sweet Home by a local family, and it was easy to see why this is such a coveted dessert for both locals and visitors. We also got the recommendation for Indigo Restaurant, which is on the rooftop of a stately haveli hotel. Facing the Mehrangarh Fort, the view, especially at dusk, was simply breathtaking.
Where to stay in Jodhpur
Honestly, I do not recommend our accommodation as it felt unsanitary and the staff were rather pushy. The next time I visit Jodhpur, I would definitely consider staying inside the old city, where beautiful havelis are transformed into boutique hotels with a gorgeous view of the Mehrangarh Fort. Pictured is Gouri Heritage Haveli Hotel, where Indigo Restaurant is situated. How gorgeous is that?!
Jaisalmer: 6 days
Known as the Golden City, sunsets in Jaisalmer are the prettiest I’ve seen. The sun saturates the city in a permanent state of gold. Interestingly, the city has become a popular destination for Korean tourists. Hotels and restaurants conduct business over KakaoTalk and offer a Korean menu, which oddly felt so satisfying after eating many weeks of spicy curry. Jaisalmer being the last stop on our Rajasthan itinerary, I had the experience of a lifetime visiting Thar Desert on a camel. After days of watching the glorious sunset in the Golden City, I left Jaisalmer feeling full of warmth for the vibrant city in the desert.
Getting to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur
RANIKHET EXPRESS (15014)
The train ride from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer takes 5 hours and 25 minutes. Our train arrived in Jaisalmer at midnight, so we had our hostel staff pick us up. You should also let your accommodation know about your arrival time so they can arrange for a pick up.
Getting around Jaisalmer
The streets in and around Jaisalmer Fort are narrow and winding and best enjoyed on foot. Further away from the fort, I recommend taking an auto and cool off in the car as the wind picks up. The desert city can be quite warm, even in winter! For desert safaris, there are tour agencies all around town offering fully guided tours to and from the desert.
Points of interest in Jaisalmer
A unique experience like the desert safari doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We booked our overnight camel safari with our hostel, which was around Rs 1500 per person. It was an experience like no other, basking under the sun in the vast desert and camping out in the open. The camels were adorable and full of personality. But be warned, both your back and butt are going to feel it for days after!
Desert Safari in Jaisalmer
Back in the city, Vyas Chhatri is a hillside cenotaph and a scenic sunset viewpoint. Incredibly, Gadisar Lake is actually an artificial lake that once provided water for the entire city. Swans and boats glide over the water and create a picturesque landscape in the desert city. Jaisalmer Fort is the city’s landmark and the gathering place for all. Its streets quickly became part of our daily routine in search of food and snacks. You can also find leather goods, fabrics, and everything else you might need. The Desert Festival in Jaisalmer typically takes place in February, three days before the full moon. The main sporting events take place on the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. In the city, we witnessed celebrations and a costume contest in the stadium.
What to eat in Jaisalmer
In Jaisalmer, variety is the name of the game. Head to the marketplace in the morning and wake up to a cup of chai, then go to one of the local restaurants for thali from different regions of India. We found Milan Restaurant after much walking and devoured the richly flavoured mutton and chicken curries. If you are craving something other than Indian cuisine, you can find Korean dishes at Gaji’s and many other restaurants around town.
Where to stay in Jaisalmer
Bob Cafe and Guesthouse is run by brothers and named after their favourite singer, Bob Dylan. Elsewhere, you’ll be able to find their sister store, the Dylan Cafe. I appreciate that the brothers are always around to offer help or otherwise have a chat.
I found myself depleted of energy after a day under the sun, and it was nice to relax in their rooftop restaurant with some homey Korean dishes (and bond with some Korean guests over soju). My only complaint would be the dodgy wifi. But it is the desert after all. Bob Cafe also offers a reasonably priced safari tour, making it the perfect one-stop shop for all your travel needs in Jaisalmer.
Other cities to check out…
Jaisalmer marked the end of our 3-week itinerary in the Golden Triangle and Rajasthan. However, if you have more time, many backpackers continue onto other cities.
I took a 20-hour train ride from Jaisalmer back to Delhi, where I spent a few days with a local family before leaving India. On the other hand, my friend stayed in Delhi for a couple days, then flew to Varanasi. Varanasi is an hour and a half away by plane from Delhi. The river Ganges holds spiritual significance and many come to Varanasi for this experience. For a personal account of the Varanasi experience, check out this blog post.
In contrast to northern India’s intense cultural experiences, Kerala in the south is known for its serene beauty and southern hospitality. Three hours away from Delhi by flight, Kerala is lush with coastal beaches and hill stations. For some ideas on what to do in Kerala, be sure to check out this guide!
Writing this after weeks of home isolation, I am reminded of just how special this Golden Triangle and Rajasthan itinerary had been. Even without the pandemic in the mix, India is a place full of surprises. I’m grateful that in such a short time, we got to experience so much. There is no doubt that all the wonderful surprises on our trip have become fond memories to reminisce over, now that we are home.
While some people like to hit up their country and city counts, I travel in search of places that I want to return to. After nearly one month, we felt like we’ve barely scratched the surface! It looks like India is one of those places that I’ll return over and over again.