We’ve told you about European walled cities, now it’s the time to head to India. Here we show you a Rajasthan you may not have seen before – from a lake city with no lake, to the best omelettes ever, via giant sundials. Read on!

Rajasthan is an arid land, with hilltop castles and fortified cities appearing suddenly, out of the desert expanse. It was made out of princely states, each of which with its own capital, mazes of streets crowded around a castle or a city palace.

Nowadays, Rajasthan may be one of the most touristy parts of India, but it is also one of the most picturesque. Here, we’ve tried to go beyond the obvious. Each of these cities may be on many travellers’ radar, but we would like to show you a quirky, unusual side to each of them.

1) Udaipur, the lake city, with no lake

Udaipur shepherd

A shepherd sitting on the dry lake bed

Google Udaipur. You’ll get a fairytale-like view of a whitewashed city, twisting alleyways around a blue lake shimmering in the desert sun. That is, if you travel between July/August and March/April.

During the scorching pre-monsoon season, the lake dries out. When we visited, not a single drop of water was left. Shepherds grazed their sheep, kids played cricket and boats sat tilted on the dry lake bed.

Udaipur shepherd and sheep

A shepherd chasing his flock

Now, I know of a traveller or two who would have got annoyed and left without giving the place much of a chance. What’s to do in Udaipur, the lake city, if there’s no lake? We loved wandering around the lake bed, seeing a side of the city that is not featured in any guidebook.

2) Jodhpur, the omelette city

Jodhpur cannon

The blue city, indeed

Most people will remember Jodhpur as the blue city. The city and its fort are perhaps the most picturesque in all of Rajasthan; a maze of blue streets, with cows ambling up and down and wedding parades (for some reason) on every other street corner. For us, though, Jodhpur will be omelette city, forever and ever.

The Omelette Man in Jodhpur. Credits: bens1franklin

The Omelette Man in Jodhpur. Credits: bens1franklin

Why is that? The reason lies in that be all and end all of all travel books, the mighty Lonely Planet. The legend goes that once upon a time, a LP writer was hungry in Jodhpur and fancied an omelette, so he stopped off at a stall in the centre of Jodhpur and asked the seller if he could make him one.

The seller said yes, and whipped up an Indian style omelette, flavoured with chilli and coriander, and with a dash of masala spices. We loved that omelette so much, we must have had about ten during the four days we spent in Jodhpur.

Jodhpur fort man

A man napping in Jodhpur’s fort (too many omelettes?)

3) Jaisalmer, and its beautiful Jain temples

Jaisalmer Jain elephant

The carving of an elephant in the Jain temples

Say Jaisalmer and most will answer camel safari. This town on the edges of the Thar desert is famous for being the departure for several-day jaunts into the desert. The town itself is well worth exploring, not only for the city fort that dominates the view.

The place we loved most in Jaisalmer were its beautiful Jain temples. There are seven temples, each of them intricately carved, with images of deities and animals. The golden Jaisalmer sandstone in the afternoon sunlight, and the peace and quiet, made this place unforgettable.

Jaisalmer Jain Temple bell

A bell and a carved pillar

4) Jaipur and Jantar Mantar

Jaipur jantar mantar clocks

A Jantar Mantar sundial

Jaipur, also known as the pink city on account of the colour of its buildings, is the capital of Rajasthan and one of the most visited cities. From the lace-like façade of the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds, to the majesty of Amber Fort, to the beautiful city palace, there’s plenty to see and do in Jaipur. One place we loved was Jantar Mantar, Jaipur’s astronomic observatory.

Jaipur Jantar Mantar 2

The access ramp to the samrat yantra

If you have visited India, you’ll be familiar with the Indian obsession with astrology. One of Jaipur’s rulers, who was also an astronomer and mathematician, built the observatory which is still used today by astrologers to determine auspicious dates for weddings and other events.

It is a collection of fourteen fixed structures, each used for a specific purpose. The craftsmanship and the level of precision of each instrument is incredible; the samrat yantra, one of the world’s largest sundials, can tell the time with a two-second accuracy.

Jaipur Jantar Mantar 1

A view of Jantar Mantar

If it’s your first time in India and you don’t want to explore independently, there are many Rajasthan tour packages on offer to enjoy this wonderful region with no worries whatsoever!

Have you ever visited Rajasthan? Do you have any more quirky tips?

Jaipur Amber fort rain

Amber Fort after a monsoon downpour

22 Responses

  1. Antonette

    It’s interesting how google (or any other search engine) can make you believe a landscape looks a certain way, however just because they show the famous pictures and not the less famous ones… that happened to me in Chile recently, I just had this picture in mind with waterfall and a volcano but I am sure it’s been photoshop all over because there was no volcano behind it 🙂 We’ve not been to India and doubt we’ll ever go as esp. Martijn gets stomach sick easily but maybe the far north for trekking one day. A friend of mine went here recently though and I loved the pictures, so maybe once I’m too old for trekking …

    • Margherita

      Hey Anto! Thanks for your comment, and you’re right about hiking in India, it’s incredible. If you’re careful, I’m sure you’ll find a way to avoid stomach upsets. It’s an amazing place!

  2. Hannah

    That’s really neat that the lake is only there part of the year! Looks like a beautiful city and I love your shot of the shepherd chasing his flock!

    • Margherita

      Hey Hannah! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked it!

  3. Alli

    Gosh – what amazing photos. I really like the first photo of the man sitting in the dry river bed and the also the boy flying his kite. Your India posts sure are inspiring.

    • Margherita

      Hey Alli! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked our India series. The month is nearly over, but I have so many stories to tell, I might do another India month in the future!

  4. Scott

    I was watching something on Netflix the other day that talked about the omelettes you can get on the street in India! They looked so good!

    • Margherita

      Hey Scott! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked it! Wonder if Netflix went to the same guy…

  5. Bonnie Gean

    The blue city looks pretty crowded. WOW… what a way to spend the day going through that maze and trying to find your way back to your starting point. 🙂

    Also, I would have loved to look at the lake bed… did you find some treasures there?

    • Margherita

      Jodhpur is amazing Bonnie! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked it!

  6. Chris Boothman

    You never truly get a picture of a city or location until you visit it for yourself. Even Google and other websites pretty much show you what they want you to see but the reality is whenever you visit the region you can see for yourself what it is like. I love the first image of the shepherd and then I have to admit I started laughing when I saw the next one where he is chasing his flock of sheep. This is a really great post and love the array of images that are so diverse but give a great impression on Rajasthan.

    • Margherita

      Hey Chris! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the article! I didn’t want to show the usual Rajasthan of forts and deserts, so I decided to write something different!

  7. Dave Cole

    The omelette city? I’ll have to include this part of India on my eventual travel to the subcontinent just to try a few of those creations. If that story about the LP writer is true, it’s a great example of the beneficial aspects of travel.

    I’ve had the same issue with disappearing lakes in Ethiopia – if it’s not marked as a seasonal lake, I end up hiking a bit too far. I’m glad there were some side pluses to seeing the city as it is in the low tourist season. Overall, a very interesting part of India.

    • Margherita

      Hey Dave! Thanks for your comment, glad you liked it! I have had the same feelings about the omelette guy. I’m not a big LP person, but I can’t disagree it changed this guy’s life.

  8. Tim

    I spent a couple of months in Rajasthan in 1998. The lake was full and the city lived up to it’s reputation with ease. It is amazing for me to see the lake completely dried up. Has that always been the way?
    Rajasthan is such a gorgeous area of India surpassed only, in my opinion, by Kasmir which is the polar opposite of a desert. Thanks for the memories and seeing how things are now. Beautiful.

    • Margherita

      Thanks Tim. I’m glad you liked the article. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Kashmir, there was some unrest when we visited and we were turned away at the border twice. Another reason to return to India!

  9. Lauren

    Wow wow! I would love to visit the Jain temples – your pictures are amazing! I also love that sundial. It looks like an incredible region of the world to visit, very unique and beautiful.

    • Margherita

      It’s fantastic indeed! Here I’ve tried to offer some alternative sights, but even the main ones are incredible!

  10. Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy

    That’s crazy about the lake – that would be weird for there to be a lake there part of the year and then gone. I haven’t visited any of India yet, but I’m really excited to – maybe after SEA this/next year? We’ll see! 🙂

  11. Aneesa

    Rajasthan is my favourite state in India! Loved your blog brought back happy memories of a fun road trip from Jaipur to Jodhpur via Udaipur (Lake was full). Jodhpur was my favourite I just loved the way the fort towered over the tiny blue houses.
    I feel I need to go back as didn’t get to Jaisalmer.

    PS They do great omlettes in Pondicherry too!

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