No visit to India would be complete without exploring India’s biggest state – Rajasthan. The name ‘Rajasthan’ translates into English as the ‘Land of Kings’, and it certainly lives up to its name. With an abundance of ancient forts and intricate palaces, Rajasthan proudly showcases the tales of its regal past.
Beyond the beaten down tourist track of the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan is a goldmine of cultural delights, ready to welcome its visitors and share a piece of Rajasthan’s rich heritage. Whilst it’s certainly well worth visiting the iconic landmarks of north India, there are plenty more experiences which should be included on your India ‘to-do’ list.
Take a cooking class with a local
Take home something more than just a souvenir. Learn the skills and secrets of true Indian cuisine from an experienced local. You can inform your teacher in advance what you’re particularly interested in cooking, or she can show you the staples of Rajasthan. You’ll visit her home and learn the tips and tricks of Indian cooking in a real Indian kitchen. Not just an observation, you’ll really get involved with every step of the process. When the feast is ready, sit down and eat with your teacher to sample your dishes.
Visit a traditional Rajasthani village
Villages make up a large percentage of Rajasthan’s population, and keep Rajasthani traditions alive. Instead of just driving by them on the highway, get to know the traditional way of life by stopping off in a village for the afternoon with a translator. The locals will be proud to introduce you to the traditional way of life and give you a tour of their home. Villagers in Rajasthan typically produce fruits and vegetables, along with dairy produce. Gandhi once said that ‘India lives in its villages’; get to know the real India and interact with local Rajasthani people.
Stay in an authentic converted palace
Many of Rajasthan’s most opulent palaces have since been converted into luxurious heritage hotels. Experience the life of Rajasthani royalty by spending the night in a genuine palace.
The Raj Palace, in the capital city of Rajasthan, was the first haveli (mansion) of Jaipur. Built in 1728 by the then Prime Minister, the Raj Palace was converted into a luxury hotel in 1997. The family renovated and repaired the Palace to showcase its original glory, and each room has a unique theme. The Palace presents intricate Rajasthani detailing throughout, from its architecture to furniture. The Historical Rooms even feature mini-museums inside, housing genuine Rajasthani antique items passed down through the generations. Waking up at the Raj Palace, there’ll be no mistaking that you’re in Rajasthan!
Madeleine Hann is CEO and Co-Founder of Indian Excursions Co.