Rajasthan is without a doubt one of the most ethnic places in India. It is truly the one state in India that gives you a genuine taste of Indian history, culture, architecture and splendor. It is therefore not surprising that Rajasthan is always bustling with enthusiastic foreign and Indian tourists throughout the year. The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is one of India’s most popular tourist attractions and full of amazing places to visit like the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Amer fort and Hawa Mahal. It has enough to keep you enchanted for a while as you immerse yourself in history and ethnicity. However, once you are done exploring the city and start looking for some weekend getaways from Jaipur, you will be amazed at how much more Rajasthan has to offer. Jaipur is surrounded by some of the finest destinations in the country which will stun you with their history, architecture, splendor and sometimes just their location. From temples and palaces to forts and deserts, these places near Jaipur have something or the other to keep you interested.
Here are a few such weekend getaways from Jaipur you must consider when you are planning your next short trip:
Jodhpur is one of the largest cities in the state of Rajasthan and is renowned as the Blue city. This is due to the sea of blue you see when you look at the houses of the city from the beautiful and humongous Mehrangarh fort. Famous for its marveous handicrafts, folk singing and dacning and the unparalleled enthusiasm of people during festivals like the famous Marwar, Jodhpur is an ideal getaway with a great mix of history and culture. If you like shopping, you will love the bazaars of Jodhpur which have numerous options in embroidered leather shoes, carpets, clay figurines, antiques, textiles, and classic silver jewelry.
Distance from Jaipur: 336 km (approximately 5 hours)
Best time to go: Jodhpur is lovely throughout the year except the summer. The best time to visit Jodhpur is from October to February.
Where to stay: Jodhpur has a large number of options when it comes to accommodation as it is one of the prime tourist places of the country. From the luxurious Umain Bhawan Palace which will cost you around Rs 55,000 a night to 3-star hotels like The Kothi heritage (0291 264 1700) where you will only be set which will only set you back by around Rs 2400.
Sightseeing: Jodhpur has several places for sight-seeing which are mostly renowned for their historic significance. The magnificent Mehrangarh fort is the most important and also the most spectacular. Jawant Thada memorial and Umaid Bhawan palace epitomize luxurious, splendid architecture.
Tips to keep in mind: Do try the zip-line tour at Mehrangarh fort organized by Flying Fox It is totally worth it. India Tailors located along the High Court Road is one of the best places to get yourself a perfectly tailored Jodhpuri jacket.
A mention of Jaisalmer often conjures up images of the vast desert with camel riders and men wearing turbans. Jaisalmer is that and more. A couple of days in Jaisalmer and you will not want to leave. From the spectacular Jaisalmer fort to the small lanes of the city, Jaisalmer has a charm of its own. It takes you back in time and transports you to a place which exudes the aura of a different era. Although not located very close to Jaipur, Jaisalmer is perfect for a long weekend as it will make the road trip totally worth it.
Distance from Jaipur: 614 km (approximately 9 hours 15 mins)
Best time to go: November to February is the best time to visit Jaisalmer and Rajasthan in general.
Where to stay: The Gulaal (02992 251 450) at Bera road is a great choice for a mid-range stay with rooms costing around Rs 4200 per night. Dylan cafe and guest house (098285 61818) in the old city is a great budget stay option (Rs 700 per night) and a delight for Bob Dylan lovers.
Sightseeing: India’s only live in fort, the Jaisalmer fort, is a must visit and provides a great view of the golden city from cannon point. The Gadsar lake is perfect for a calm evening. Take a walk in the bazaar and enjoy the stunning view of the Jaisalmer fort at night. And do not miss a desert safari in the beautiful Khuri desert located just 50 km from Jaisalmer. Camping under the stars in the middle of the desert will be one of the best experiences of your life.
Tips to keep in mind: Apply sunscreen as the rays here are quite harsh. Reach early for your desert safari (typically by 4.30 pm) so that you don’t miss the sunset. There is a german bakery inside the Jaisalmer fort which serves some delicious pastries.
Popular for the famous Dargah Sharif, Ajmer is one of the closest getaways from Jaipur and is visited by tourists all year round. The dargah of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti is visited by Hindus and Muslims alike. Ajmer is a historic city with small, crowded streets and a busy daily life. Despite that, it is one of India’s most visited tourist attractions on account of the famous dargah. Since Ajmer is located at the foothills of the Aravalli range, Ajmer offers some stunning views too.
Distance from Jaipur: 140 km (approximately 2 hours 15 mins)
Best time to go: Ajmer too is best visited between November and February as the weather is pleasant but it can be visited all year round.
Where to stay: There are severalaccommodation options in Ajmer for all kinds of budgets. There are some popular heritage hotels here like Hotel Mansingh Palace (0145 242 5702) which costs around Rs 5200 a night and Hotel Ropangarh Fort, Hotel Haveli Inn and Hotel Bijay Niwas Palace. Mid-range options includes The Royal Melange (0145 263 0146) which costs around Rs 2500.
Sightseeing: The biggest tourist attraction here is obviously the Dargah sharif.The Mayo College and museum which is considered the largest college museum in the world is also worth a visit. And then there is Akbar’s palace and museum built way back in 1570.
Tips to keep in mind: Try Daulat Bagh for food as it houses a number of dhabas which serve delicious street food as well as local cuisine.
Located close to Ajmer and usually covered as a circuit, Pushkar is famous as one of the most ancient cities in India. The beautiful lake at the centre and the rare Brahma temples here are what make Pushkar a unique place to visit. It is a delight for backpackers as food and accommodation in Pushkar is fairly inexpensive. Pushkar is also popular for the Pushkar desert camel ride which attracts several foreigners to this quaint region in Rajasthan.
Distance from Jaipur: 145 km (approximately 2 hours and 40 mins)
Best time to go: Pushkar, like Ajmer, is best between November and February but can be visited all year round.
Where to stay: Premvillas (094146 66830) is a good option for a budget stay with casual rooms for Rs 960 a night. Hotel Kishan Palace (0145 277 3056) is a great mid-range hotel with rooms starting at Rs 2500 a night.
Sightseeing: Visit the Pushkar lake followed by the famous Brahma temples. Then, check out the Savitri temple which enshrines Brahma’s wife. Also, take a walk in the Pushkar market to experience the local life.
Tips to keep in mind: If you can visit Pushkar during the Pushkar fair in November, it will be an experience of a lifetime.
Ranthambore National Park
One of the best national parks in India, Ranthambore is a delight for wildlife lovers. It is located at a convenient driving distance from Jaipur making it one of the best weekend getaways from Jaipur. The tigers in Rathambore have been well looked after and are also accoustomed to human presence. This makes Ranthambore one of the best places for wildlife photography. Ranthambore is also surrounded by ancient temples and mosques, lakes full of crocodiles and cenotaphs which take you back in time.
Distance from Jaipur: 169 km (approximately 3 hours and mins)
Best time to go: Ranthambore Nationak park is only open from October to June. It remains closed the rest of the year (during monsoon).
Where to stay: Ranthambore is an extremely popular destination with several accommodation options for tourists.
Sightseeing: The wildlife safari is the first and foremost thing to do when you visit Ranthambore. The 10th century Ranthambore fort is located right in the middle of the park and is worth a visit. The Surwal lake and Jogi Mahal are also places worth checking out.
Tips to keep in mind: It might be a good idea to visit the villages around the park to get a taste of local life in the rural areas of Rajasthan.
What can we say about the city which is home to India’s biggest tourist attraction – the Taj Mahal?!? Agra is one of the most historic places to visit in the country. It forms the golden triangle with Delhi and Jaipur and attracts visitors all year round. Agra’s association with the Mughals makes it an incredible and substantial part of India’s history. Be it the food and culture of this city or the architecture of its monuments, Agra is a delightful must-visit for anyone who is interested in India.
Distance from Jaipur: 240 km (approximately 4 hours)
Best time to go: Agra can be visited all year round but it is best to visit it during winter in the months of November to February.
Where to stay: Since Agra is such a huge tourist spot, there are several accommodation options available here for all kinds of budgets. The Oberoi Amarvilas (0562 223 1515) costing around Rs 26000 a night is a good luxury option. In the mid-range, Hotel Trident (0562 223 5000) costing Rs 5100 per night is a good choice.
Sightseeing: Agra’s primary attraction is of course the Taj Mahal which is deemed as one of the greatest and most beautiful monuments ever made. A fine epitome of Mughal architecture and also a structure that has a fantastic love story associated with it makes Taj Mahal a big hit amongst visitors. Your visit to the Taj can be followed by a visit to the historic Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s city which is now in ruins. The Agra fort is also a great place to visit for history buffs.
Tips to keep in mind: The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. Do try the famous sweet petha of Agra when you are there.
India’s capital city is actually just a convenient drive from Jaipur. One of the most vibrant cities of the country, Delhi has an aura like no other city in India. Delhi has played a major role in Indian history. It is a city that has been destroyed and re-built several times. You can see two facets of Delhi’s personality when you visit it. One is old Delhi which reminds you of the Mughals and their splendid architecture. The other is New Delhi which reminds you of the British rule in India and the mark they left behind. From temples to mosques, museums to art galleries, historical monuments to modern high-rise buildings, Delhi has it all. In no other city can you witness such a wide range of landmarks from so many eras.
Distance from Jaipur: 273 km (approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes)
Best time to go: Delhi summers are extremely harsh and therefore, October to March is the best time to visit the city of Delhi especially if you have sight-seeing on your mind.
Where to stay: The JW Marriot (011 4521 2121) near Delhi Aerocity metro station is a great choice for a luxurious stay with rooms starting at around Rs 13000 a night. So is Vivanta by Taj (011 6600 3000) in Dwarka which starts at around Rs 7000. Other posh options like The Oberoi, The Leela Palace and The Lodhi are also available. When it comes to budget stays, the Pahar Ganj area near the railway station is full of them.
Sightseeing: Delhi will spoil you for options when it comes to sight-seeing.You can start with the famous Red fort which has an amazing audio tour. Then carry on to the lively Chandni chowk to get a taste of Delhi’s street delicacies and also see one of the busiest bazaars of India in action. Head to the wonderful Akshradham temple and take the boat tour which is a fantastic summary to India’s history. Check out the famous Jama masjid and the huge Qutub minar minaret. Finally, check out Connought place and Hauz Khas village, Delhi’s hip-and-happening areas with a busy nightlife.
Tips to keep in mind: Use the Delhi metro for inter-city transport. It is extremely fast and super-efficient.
Known as one of the most romantic cities in India, Udaipur is considered perfect for family holidays as well as honeymoons. It has earned sobriquets like Venice of the east and City of lakes due to its scenic beauty. Udaipur has a whole bunch of interesting places to visit ranging from palaces and lakes to temples and hillocks. Located at the foothills of the Aravalli ranges, Udaipur has several places that offer spectacular mountain views.
Distance from Jaipur: 394 km (approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes)
Best time to go: Like most of Rajasthan, the best time to visit Udaipur is between October and March when the weather is pleasant and one can enjoy sight-seeing without any hindrances.
Where to stay: Udaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India flocked by several visitors all year round. It therefore has several accommodation options for all kinds of pockets. With close to 400 hotels in the city, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. The Taj Lake Palace (0294 242 8800) is a 5-star hotel and perhaps one of the finest choices for a luxurious stay. It costs around Rs 32, 500 per night. Hotel Jaiwana Haveli (0294 241 1103) is a good budget option costing Rs 2628 per night. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, try out the Oberoi Udaivilas (0294 243 3300) overlooking lake Pichola. It costs Rs 81,000 per night.
Sightseeing: Udaipur has some amazing places to visit. The most prominent attractions are the beautiful City Palace and the spectacular Lake Pichola. The Eklingji temple is popular with those who have an inclination towards religion.
Tips to keep in mind: Do try the Rajasthani thali when in Udaipur. It is an absolute delight.
Known primarily for the 7th century Chittorgarh fort, Chittorgarh is a place of great historic significance. Chittorgarh is actually where several battles were fought by the Rajputs. The most historic battle that Chittorgarh is remembered for is the siege by Ala-ud-din Khilji when the women had committed jauhar (self-immolation) rather than falling into the hands of the attackers while the men went to war. Chittorgarh was the erstwhile capital of the Mewars. Chittorgarh is also famous for the the biggest Rajput festival called Jauhar Mela which is celebrated annually in honor of the the sacrifice and bravery of the ancestors.
Distance from Jaipur: 310 km (approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes)
Best time to go: Best time to visit Chittorgarh is during the months of October to March. The winter months are extremely pleasant here.
Where to stay: There are not many luxury stay options at Chittorgarh but plenty of mid-range and budget ones. Hotel Castle (094141 11510) is one of the prime properties here with rooms starting at Rs 8100 per night. Budget options like Hotel Meera Chittorgarh (099284 13024) are also available.
Sightseeing: Chittorgarh fort, the structure that the city is named after, is its prime tourist attraction. Built by the Mauryans in 7th century AD, the Chittorgarh fort stands atop a 180 m high hill. It is spread over 700 acres and has 22 water bodies, palaces, towers and temples. It also has two commemoration towers named Kirti Stambh, built to honor the first Jain Tirthankar and Vijay Stambh, built to commemorate Mohammed Khilji’s victory.
Tips to keep in mind: You can shop for several items like fabrics, leather shoes, handmade toys, and jewelry in Chittorgarh.
One might think that Rajasthan is all about deserts, forts, and palaces but it also has one beautiful hill station which can be visited all year round. Mount Abu is a very popular holiday destination in India. It offers fantastic views of the plains from atop. It is treated as the summer capital of Rajasthan as the coniferous trees and flowering shrubs which cover the hillside keep the climate cool all year round. Mount Abu also has a three-day summer festival which comprises classical music and folk dance performances. Hotel Hilltone is a good 3-star hotel on the Main road with rooms starting at around Rs 5300 a night.
Distance from Jaipur: 498 km (approximately 7 hours and 15 minutes via NH 48)
Best time to go: Mount Abu can be visited throughout the year. November to February is the best time to visit Mount Abu as the winters are quite pleasant here making it a great time for sight-seeing.
Where to stay: Hotel Good luck Residency (02974 235 445) is a great budget option with rooms beginning at Rs 1900 a night. Hotel Hillock (02974 238 463) costing Rs 10000 a night is a good 4-star option if you are looking for a luxurious stay.
Sightseeing: Mount Abu has quite a few interesting places to visit. The most prominent are the Dilwara Jain temples known for their intricate carvings and splendid architecture. The Nakki lake too is a must-visit for nature lovers. Wildlife lovers should not miss the Mount Abu wildlife sanctuary. The Arbuda Devi temple is popular among pilgrims and tourists who are interested in religion.
Tips to keep in mind: Some of the most unique Rajasthani handicrafts are available in Mount Abu. So you may want to go shopping on one of your evenings here.
Bikaner is one of the biggest cities in Rajasthan. It is known for its rich historical and architectural legacy. Bikaner is home to some magnificent forts and palaces. The marvelous architecture characterized by the use of reddish-pink sandstone, the colourful bazaars which come to life in the evenings and the bright and cheerful locals all add to Bikaner’s charm. Bikaner has the biggest camel farm of Asia. Bikaner’s intricately carved jharokas are quite well-known. Bikaner is also famous for the Usta art, which is characterized by miniature paintings and gold embossing on marble, walls , ceilings, pillars, wooden and glass wares and ivory. Pieces of camel hide too showcase this kind of art.
Distance from Jaipur: 335 km (approximately 5 hours)
Best time to go: Best time to visit Bikaner is from October to March. Summer in Rajasthan is quite harsh and is avoidable.
Where to stay: Bikaner has several options for accommodation for all kinds of budgets. Located close to the railway station is Hotel Heeralal (0151 220 5551) which costs around Rs 2000 per night. The Heritage resort in Bikaner (080031 92393) located on the Jaipur highway has rooms starting at Rs 3200 and is a good mid-range choice. For a luxurious stay, you can pick the heritage hotel Lalgarh palace (0 151 - 2540201) where a room costs around Rs 7000 per night but is totally worth it.
Sightseeing: Bikaner has a wide range of options when it comes to sight-seeing. You can start with the famous Karni Mata temple which 600 years old and has a huge resident population of rats. The Junagarh fort is one of the most popular forts in the country. Bikaner is also home to some magnificent palaces like the Gajner palace and the Lalgarh palace. A visit to Bikaner is like a trip down history.
Tips to keep in mind: You must buy the Bikaneri Bhujia that this city is famous for. Also, Bikaner’s sweets are popular all cross India. You can also shop for handicrafts and leather articles.
Sariska National Park
Rajasthan is extremely rich and diverse when it comes to wildlife. It has some fine national parks and reserves and the Sariska is one of them. It is located at a short distance from Jaipur and is an extremely wonderful getaway for wildlife and especially tiger lovers. From grasslands to forests and rocky terrains to hill tops, Sariska has all kinds of topography and is perfect for a vacation amidst nature. Sariska National Park is also known to be larger than the other tiger reserves in India in terms of area. It is spread across an area of around 850 sq km. From the Bengal tiger to golden jackals, four-horned antelopes and sambars, Sariska has several species of wildlife. Sariska's success in animal conservations is all thanks to Maharaja Jai Singh of the princely state of Jaipur who in the 20th century, started a campaign to convert the region to a protected area. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1958 and eventually a national park in 1979. Since then, Sariska has remained a popular tourist attraction in India and a preferred weekend getaway from Jaipur and Delhi.
Distance from Jaipur: 122 km (approximately 2 hours 45 minutes)
Best time to go: Sariska is open all year round but it is best to avoid the scorching heat during summer in Rajasthan. So,October to March is the best time to visit Sariska National Park.
Where to stay: Sariskatiger camp (093140 17210) is perhaps the best choice for a comfortable stay with rooms starting at around Rs 4700 per night.
Sightseeing: Sariska National Park is the prime tourist attraction in Sariska. You can take the wildlife safari between 8 am to 6.30 pm when the park remains open. The safari timings are 6:00 am to 09:30 am and 03:00 pm to 07:00 pm during summers AND 06.00 am to 10.00 pm and 2:00 pm to 06.00 pm during winters. Sariska Palace in the park has now been turned into a hotel now but worth a visit. You can also check out the Kankwari fort and the Naldeshwar shrine in Alwar.
Tips to keep in mind: Sariska National Park is closed on national holidays.Bhangarh Fort, Ajaibgarh and Pratapgarh are located close to Sariska and are totally worth a visit.
Osian is one of the most quaint temple towns you will see in India. It is best for those who like to visit temples and are looking for a budget trip or a short getaway. It is located very close to Jodhpur so can be covered as a circuit. Surrounded by beautiful hamlets and golden sand dunes, Osian is visited by a good number of tourists every year. Osian was an important trading center on the silk route between 8th and 12th century AD. It was also a major pilgrimage centre between the 6th and 11th century. Most of Osian lies in ruins as of today but it still gives you a glimpse of the history of this region. Osian is often referred to as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan. It actually forms an oasis in the great Indian Thar desert. It is a major pilgrimage center for the Oswal Jain community and its temples are known for their magnificent architecture.
Distance from Jaipur: 382 km (approximately 6 hours)
Best time to go: Osian, like most other parts of Rajasthan, is best during winter. So, the best time to visit Osian is from November to March. The temples in Osian are open all throughout the year but it is best to avoid Rajasthan during summer in order to stay away from the scorching heat.
Where to stay: Accommodation options in Osian are limited. There are several budget dharamshalas for pilgrims but nothing too lavish is available here. For those looking for better staying options, it is best to book a room at Jodhpur (see options above) and travel to Osian. Camel safaris can easily be arranged too.
Sightseeing: Thereare 16 prominent temples in Osian worth visiting.The most famous attraction in Osian is the Sachiya Mata temple which is visited by people from all across India. Other popular temples include Sun temple and Mahaveera Jain temple which date back to the 8th to the 11th century. These temples, especially the Sachiya Mata and Mahaveera temple, are known for their intricate carvings, and stand out on account of their grace and stunning architecture.
Tips to keep in mind: While Osian is mainly famous for its temples, you can also take camel safaris in the areas around Osian. Also remember that Osian is a predominantly vegetarian region and you may not find non-vegetarian food here. Restaurants here serve a sweet dish called before the meals. This process is called "mithi manuhar".