Historical Places in Rajasthan – A 2-Week Itinerary
Follow our 2-week itinerary to take a Rajasthan road trip which will lead you to experience many of the unforgettable places to visit in Rajasthan. Your journey will finish in Agra in Uttar Pradesh because no first visit to northern India is complete without a glimpse of the Taj Mahal!
Our article shares the 2-week itinerary we used for our Rajasthan tour. It gives you the route to explore royal Rajasthan on wheels from city to city, starting and ending in Delhi. For inspiration, we’ve also included detailed information about all the Rajasthan points of interest we saw in each city and on the road. This is an ultimate guide to the best places to visit in Rajasthan.
Which Historical Places in Rajasthan will I visit?
By following our itinerary, you will visit 10 historical places in Rajasthan:
Aiming to get Off the Tourist Treadmill, we challenged ourselves to experience more than India’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Certainly, you can’t escape that many of cities have become well-known tourist places in Rajasthan. However, our driver was our local guide and introduced us to some hidden gems during our Rajasthan travels.
To some, this list of cities may look ambitious and, of course, you can build in 2-night stays to enjoy any of these Rajasthan destinations for longer. All we know is that this 2-week itinerary worked for us. We were utterly immersed in the history of Rajasthan and its culture and we returned home with lasting memories from profound experiences and encounters.
Check out our route of some of the best places in Rajasthan on the map below. India is a vast country, so driving between cities does take time. Fortunately, this presents an ideal opportunity to soak up the rugged landscape and Rajasthan beauty. Alternatively, you could travel around this state by train but book ahead if you want first class seats.
How to Visit the Historical Places in Rajasthan
To travel to India, we flew with Kuwait Airways from London Heathrow to Delhi with a stopover in Kuwait City. Not only was this the most economical option, it also enabled us to get an exit visa and visit Kuwait City on the way home. We never shy away from a new adventure! Click here for cheap flights and hotels in India.
To accomplish this 2-week Rajasthan itinerary, we decided to hire a car with a driver from a local company in Delhi. Our decision was based on the distance we wanted to cover in Rajasthan, plus the benefit of having a local as an experienced guide and fixer for our entire journey who could tell us about Rajasthan. The company we chose was extremely helpful and advised us about our itinerary via email. We ended up with a tailor-made experience for our Rajasthan trip.
Day 1 - Mandawa
Our first stop was Mandawa, a lesser-known town in the north of Rajasthan in the Shekhawati region. It probably wouldn’t feature on a typical Rajasthan tourist map, but we came here to explore traditional ‘havelis’.
What is a Haveli?
Fittingly, our home for the night was the Hotel Shekhawati ($15 per night – approximately £12). This was an ancient haveli covered in faded painted murals which now offers basic but clean and welcoming accommodation. Click here to book cheap hotels in India.
Day 2 - Bikaner
Bikaner itself is a city situated in the Thar desert. It’s a hectic place full of blaring horns, cars, buses, trucks, tuk-tuks, people and animals jostling for a place on the roads. Off the main street is a bustling labyrinth of bazaars selling anything and everything. Bikaner also boasts a famous Rajasthan fort, Junagarh Fort.
What to experience in Bikaner?
Laxmi Niwas Palace
Karni Mata Temple (Rat Temple), Deshnoke
If you want a truly unique experience, 30km outside of Bikaner at Deshnoke is the Karni Mata Temple also known as the Rat Temple. This is an extraordinary temple crawling with thousands of sacred rats. It may not be high on your Rajasthan temple list, but it’s a fascinating sight to behold.
Day 3 & 4 - Jaisalmer
The journey by car from Bikaner to Jaisalmer is 6 hours. As is customary it seems in this part of India, roads were unfinished, and the route was unremarkable. The outskirts of Jaisalmer are dominated by hundreds of make-shift tents alongside military bases as this city is relatively close to the Pakistani border.
Situated in the Thar desert, Jaisalmer is a World Heritage Site and is also known as ‘The Golden City’. The city has risen from a ridge of yellow sandstone and it is crowned by Jaisalmer Fort which looks uncannily like an impressive sandcastle. Within the confines of the fort’s walls are many palaces, residential dwellings and impressive Jain temples. Jaisalmer was one of our favourite places in Rajasthan.
What to experience in Jaisalmer?
Camel Ride in Thar Desert
On our first evening in Jaisalmer, our driver arranged a sunset camel ride in the Thar Desert. Don’t have visions of being in the Thar Desert on your own. This is a serious commercial operation for Rajasthan tourism. Nevertheless, we had a majestic ride into the desert and our camel guide soon left the train and found us a quiet spot to watch the sunset alone. My camel, Michael Jackson, had a rest while we enjoyed a cold beer (delivered by a runner!) and nature at her finest.
Gadsisar Lake & Tilon-Ki-Pol (Gate of Tilon)
Bada Bagh (Big Garden)
Day 5 - Jodhpur
Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan and is situated roughly in the middle of this region. This city is also known as ‘the blue city’ because the cube-shaped houses are painted blue. There are many theories about the reasons for the blue colour. Some say it is to keep the houses cool, others believe that it was an order from the founder of the city, Roa Jodha, to show which homes belonged to families of the priestly Brahmins caste. Another theory is that copper sulphate was added to whitewash to keep termites at bay, whilst others maintain the blue is from indigo dye. To this day, the reason appears to remain mysterious. Jodhpur is certainly one of the intriguing places to see in Rajasthan.
What to experience in Jodhpur?
Dominating the skyline and looking down on the old city of Jodhpur is an impressive stronghold – the mighty Mehrangarh Fort. Constructed by Roa Jodha in 1460, this is one of the largest forts in India spreading across 5 km and is possibly the best fort in Rajasthan. Majestically, the fort’s structure appears to merge completely with the 125 m hill on which it is built above Jodhpur. In some places, the fort’s impenetrable walls are 36 m high. A winding road leads up to the fort and you enter through 7 gates built by different rulers to mark battle victories. The museum in Mehrangarh Fort is full of Rajasthani treasures including old royal palanquins, elephant howdahs, intricately decorated armoury and paintings.
Not far from Mehrangarh Fort is Jaswant Thada, the serene memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II built in 1899. The cenotaph rests by a small lake and is set in tranquil, lush green gardens. Jaswant Thada is a beautiful example of Rajasthani architecture and is completely constructed of milky-white marble. In places, the marble has been so highly polished and finely carved that its translucent. This mausoleum offers fantastic views across the fort and city. Of all the monuments of Rajasthan, this place offers a quiet oasis in contrast to the bustling city of Jodhpur.
As dusk settled, we strolled around the maze of tiny backstreets of Jodhpur and explored the night market. We stayed in the Hare Krishna Guesthouse in Jodhpur (£10). This simple hotel was situated right under the Mehrangarh Fort and had a great view from the roof top terrace. It was also very close to the clock tower and market.
Day 6 & 7 - Udaipur
The drive to Udaipur offered a very different landscape. The route became increasingly green with arable land. High in the hills, our driver took us to the incredible Ranakpur Jain temple built in the sides of a valley in the Aravalli mountain range. You will be asked to remove your shoes and any leather goods (including belts) before entering the temple to observe religious beliefs.
Ranakpur Jain Temple
As soon as you enter this temple, you feel at peace and in the presence of a higher order. In fact, the temple has been described as a ‘heavenly plane’ and ‘heaven on earth’. It’s easy to see why. This temple has been designed with beautiful open spaces. These openings allow nature to be at one with the temple by framing views of the lush green valley and allowing visitors to admire the Rajasthani scenery. United with the magnificent marble structures, the temple transmits an ethereal feel. Any list of Rajasthan beautiful places must include Ranakpur.
What to experience in Udaipur?
Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Courtyard or Garden of the Maidens), Udaipur
Our first experience of Udaipur tourist places was the pretty gardens of Saheliyon-ki-Bari. The gardens are set on the Fateh Sagar Lake and contain beautiful elephant fountains and lotus pools. The gardens were built from 1710 as a green retreat for the Queen and her maids and female companions.
Udaipur City (the City of Lakes)
Udaipur is known as the ‘City of Lakes’ because it has 5 main lakes: Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar Lake, Rajsamand Lake and Jaisamand Lake. It’s hardly surprising that Udaipur has been described as ‘the Venice of the East’ and ‘the most romantic spot in India’. Udaipur is an overwhelmingly beautiful city and ranks among Rajasthan famous places to visit.
City Palace, Udaipur
There are many historical places in Udaipur. City Palace is a a magnificent example of a Rajasthan palace. It’s a sprawling palace complex built over the course of 400 years on the East of Lake Pichola. The palace complex is entirely built of granite and marble and has an amazing façade which is 244 m in length and 30.4 m high. The palaces are connected by chowks or courtyards with zig-zag corridors to avoid surprise attacks. The Mor Chowk or Peacock Courtyard was a favourite of ours. The interior of the palace is stunning as are the artefacts inside, including a decadent display of crystal furniture.
Jag Mandir, Udaipur
Jag Mandir is a palace built on a natural island in Lake Pichola. It was constructed in 1551 as a summer resort and pleasure island for the Royal Family. Today it is a small hotel which is open to visitors. The entry pavilion next to the landing jetty is lined with enormous elephants carved in stone. Even today, the present Maharana hosts parties here and Jag Mandir can also be rented for private parties. Alternatively, you can just admire the grounds and flower garden, visit the spa or enjoy the view from the restaurant/bar. Click here to read our full guide of the best places to visit in Udaipur.
Day 8 - Pushkar
Eklingji Temple, Eklingji (Kailashpuri). En route to Pushkar
What to experience in Pushkar?
Day 9 & 10 - Jaipur
Jaipur (or the Pink City) is the capital of Rajasthan and the largest city of the state. There are many places to visit in Jaipur because the city forms part of India’s Golden Triangle and has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Jantar Mantar and the Amber Fort. Other Jaipur attractions include the Hawa Mahal and Jaipur City Palace.
What to experience in Jaipur?
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal is a red and pink sandstone building which is also know as the ‘Palace of Winds’ or ‘Palace of the Breeze’. The Hawa Mahal is a palace built in 1799 for the royal ladies to watch everyday life and festivals being celebrated on the street without being seen. The extraordinary 5-storey façade looks like a honeycomb and has 953 windows called jharokhas decorated with detailed latticework. These windows were designed to let the wind pass through in the height of the summer.
Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
Other Jaipur points of interest include the Jantar Mantar which is an astronomical observatory built in 1726. They are enormous stone structures which were used to measure the distances and positions of celestial objects with the naked eye. Jaipur’s observatory has 19 instruments. The most significant is the Samrat Yantra which is the largest sundial in India.
Jaipur City Palace
The City Palace or Jaipur Palace is another of the places to see in Jaipur. It is a palace complex built in 1729 and was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The greatest part of the palace is still a royal residence, but the commanding 7-storied Chandra Mahal palace is a museum.
Amber Fort, Amer
Places to visit near Jaipur include the Amber Fort in Amer. On our second day, we headed off to this imposing fort which is set high above the city with a wall which can be seen for miles. Elephants take tourists up and down the hill to the fort but animal welfare groups are concerned about the well-being of these animals. Construction of this red sandstone and marble palace started in the 1600s. It is an opulent palace which has four storeys, each with a courtyard:
– 1. Diwan-i-Aam (‘Hall of Public Audience’)
– 2. Diwan-i-Khas, (‘Hall of Private Audience’)
– 3. Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir
– 4. Sukh Niwas (where a cool climate is artificially created by winds blowing over a fountain within the palace)
Despite the crowds at the Amber Fort, it offers some beautiful sights and it is fun exploring the labyrinth of corridors and stairs which link parts of the palace complex. If you want to visit historical places in Jaipur, make sure you plan a visit here. No Jaipur trip can be complete without a visit to this Rajasthan tourist spot.
Walking Tour of Jaipur
After visiting Amber Fort, our driver dropped us back in the old part of the city. To get a feel for local life, traditions and customs in Jaipur, we followed one of the Lonely Planet’s walking tours at lonelyplanet. We found the city easy to navigate and if you get lost, just ask a local! Jaipur sightseeing on foot was a great way to soak up the sights and sounds of the various bazaars which circle the old city.
LMB Hotel, Jaipur
Day 11 - Ranthambhore National Park
If you want a chance of seeing tigers in their natural habitat, it is worth making the long drive from Jaipur to Ranthambhore National Park. Although numbers of tigers have declined here owing to poaching, Ranthambhore is reputed to be one of the best national parks in the country for spotting tigers. When you visit Rajasthan, you may want to take this opportunity for a chance to see them.
If you book a safari, you have the option of a 20-seater or 6-seater open top vehicle. The tours operate in the morning starting at about 6.30 am or the evening from about 2.30 pm. Our choice was an evening tour in a 6-seater vehicle. We booked through a private company online. Having read many subsequent forum posts, booking with the official government website or through the hotel might have been cheaper and a better experience.
Day 12 - Agra
Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
In contrast to the historical places in Rajasthan, Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh was extremely touristy. Be prepared to say no to a lot of sellers, including young children.
What to experience in Agra?
Taj Mahal, Agra
Agra Fort’s double walls tower 20 m above the Yamuna River and measure 2.5 km in circumference. The fort was built in red sandstone brought from Rajasthan but some of the structures were later rebuilt in white marble by Shah Jahan. Originally, it was built for military purposes, but Shah Jahan transformed Agra Fort into a palace. Fatefully, Agra Fort later became his prison.
The Tomb of I’timad-Ud-Daulah (Baby Taj)
Day 13 - Delhi
The Land of the Kings certainly lived up to its name. The architectural magnitude and beauty of Rajasthan’s forts, palaces, temples and lakes are overwhelming and awe-inspiring. Instantly, the past is brought back to life. Visitors to this state are transported back to ancient times of bloodshed, bravery, romance and sacrifice. However, Rajasthan’s true treasure is not the opulent displays of wealth or the gold, silver and precious stones. What stays with you is the people who live around these stunning historical places in Rajasthan, their culture, their deep beliefs, the chaos, the vibrancy and a feeling of being alive. It’s an adventure not to be missed! We certainly saw the best of Rajasthan on our epic road trip.