Falling In Love with Rajasthan
by Cecilia Yee.
No word describes India better than 'diversity'. Both a land of virtuous spiritual wisdom and the home of mighty empires; a powerful trading nation and a fountain of culture and civilization, India has captivated and intrigued the world through most of human history.
India is a vivid kaleidoscope of landscapes, magnificent historical sites and royal cities, rich cultures and festivities. Nothing in India can ever be described as small - the country is like a drug for those who thrive on sensory overload.
I fell in love with the country when I visited Rajasthan. This majestic region is alive with the vivacious colors, religions, traditions, festivals and sights that India is known for.
Despite growing into a bustling metropolis, it still retains its character and history - a beautiful fusion of the olden days and modernity.
Known as the Pink City, Jaipur thrills the soul with its magnificent palaces, exquisite temples and lush gardens... and of course, massive forts like the Amber Fort. It's among the best hilltop forts in the country.
Hawa Mahal is Jaipur's most famous building. The pink sandstone facade of a place built for the ladies of the harem. The facade contains small casements under a huge curve, each with a balcony and crowning arch. The windows enable cool air to circulate and the zenana to watch processions below without being seen.
The second largest city in Rajasthan is also called the Blue City. The pride and joy of Jodhpur - the temples, monuments and gardens depict a multifaceted grandeur.
The city was situated on the ancient silk - route that linked Central Asia to northern India, as a result of which Jodhpur became a major trading centre and is still the leading trade centre for cattle, camels, wood, salt and agricultural crops.
Don't forget to check out Mehrangarh Fort. This impregnable fort on a steep hill is one of the best in India, with charmingly latticed windows, elaborately carved panels and porches. Every part of the fort has a special appeal and contributes to the exotic ambiance o the fort. Fun fact: the fort was one of the filming locations for The Dark Knight Rises.
Romantic, wistful and serene Udaipur - a city built around shimmering, clear blue water lakes which reflect the green hills of the Aravali ranges. The famous lake palaces that seem to emerge from the placid Lake Pichola, whisper the memories of a bygone era. Udaipur is assimilated around three lakes - Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Udai Sagar.
A visit to Udaipur is incomplete without a boat ride on Lake Pichola. An unforgettable sight on the lake is the island of Jag Mandir. The Palace was built as a pleasure palace for royal parties and functions. This magnificent monument with its domes, marble pillars and fountains has a special approach of a row of marble elephants that seem to be guarding the island.
Make sure to visit the City Palace. It stands on a low ridge all along the shores of Lake Pichola. The paintings, mosaics, intricately carved chatries and of course the architecturally brilliant facade all contribute in making a visit to the palace a truly memorable experience.
The name Jaisalmer evokes a vivid picture of the sheer magic and brilliance of the desert.
Ages have gone by and the monuments of Jaisalmer have withstood the buffeting winds of time, which far from spoiling the monuments have instead honed their beauty to perfection. The city, with stunning monuments, leaves a lasting impression on every mind.
Standing proud to a height of 100m, looming over the city with its 99 bastions, the Jaisalmer Fort is a splendid sight bathed in the fading afternoon sun. Either seeing it from afar or be in it while watching the sun set across the horizon, there's something magical about the Jaislamer Fort.