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Enchanting Rajasthan

Rajasthan, much like India, is a land of contrasts - a place of lavish wealth and abject poverty, of proud warriors and desperate beggars, of extravagant buildings and dismal hovels, of rich wildlife and over-done commercialization.

A lot of tours seem to adopt a super-sanitized approach, prefering to stick to just the tried and trusted tourist hotspots, with carefully staged "cultural experiences" which studiously avoid all exposure to the grittier reality that is also a part of this region.

We don't believe in this ivory tower approach. While the most popular locations are popular for a good reason, there is more to see as well. As the late Galen Rowell said, the best photographs are made by participants, not spectators. We whole-hearted agree with this, and try to ensure that our trip participants experience the dichotomy of Rajasthan (and India as a whole).

Our highlights in Rajasthan include:

Jaipur

This is the most popular destination in Rajasthan and with good reason - with colorful markets, massive forts (towering Jaigarh, resplendent Ambar fort), an ancient and fascinating observatory, this single city encompasses all the highlights of Rajasthan.

Nearby attractions include: Sambal Lake, home to thousands of waterbirds; Sariska, home to over 300 species of birds and free of the tourst crowds of Ranthambhore; Shekawati region, with the old havelis of the nobles.

Agra

While technically not a part of Rajasthan, we are including it here because almost all itineraries in the region visit the numero uno "must see" destination in India: the Taj Mahal. Along with the Taj, the old city of Fatehpur Sikri makes for a fascinating insight into the life of the Mughal emperors.

For photography, we recommend atleast one and a half days in the region, including spending a morning shooting the Taj by boat from across the river.

Jaisalmer

The walled town of Jaisalmer, located on top of a hill on the periphery of the Thar desert, consists of a fascinating maze of narrow cobbled streets, old havelis (houses of the nobles and the rich), city palaces and more. Small shops line these streets, selling everything from sweets to kitchenware. The products and the clothes may have changed over the centuries, but the town itself still retains its old medieval flavor.

Nearby attractions inlude: Desert National Park, home to the great Indian bustard and numerous small predators; Sam sand dunes, the perfect place to photograph the sun setting over the dunes; camel safaris.

Camel Safaris

A camel safari is, in our opinion, one of the best ways to explore the villages of Rajasthan and take in the region's landscape. The multi-day itinerary takes you from village to village at a pace that is more in sync with the local rhythms than the speed and bustle of a car. . En route, you'll have a chance to meet friendly children, observe villagers go about their lives, see numerous species of wildlife and camp under the stars.

The typical camel safari in Rajasthan is not too well suited for photographers, as camel-back doesn't allow for stability, proper perspective or fruitful interaction. However, our safaris combine camels with carts, allowing you to either ride camel-back, sit in the comfort of a cart or even walk along side.

Wildlife and Birdlife

Ranthambhore National Park and Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, two of India's finest nature reserves, lie in Rajasthan. The Desert National Park offers unique scrub and desert fauna, including the endangered great Indian bustard. Several smaller game reserves offer chances to see species such as the endangered blackbuck and more.

Other attractions

  • Jodhpur, with the mighty Meherangarh fort towering over the blue city (so named for the fact that all the houses in the old town are painted blue)
  • Bikaner is a great alternative base from which to run camel safaris. The routes are less visited, and so afford a more authentic interaction
  • Udaipur, with the resplendent Lake Picchola, is called one of the most romantic cities of Rajasthan, and with good reason...
  • Gajner, where you can live in the hunting palace of a former maharaja, and view lots of game in the palace's private game reserve. The lake next to the palace provides for some fantastic birding

Trips

Trips to Rajasthan can vary significantly based on the amount of time one has to devote, as well as interests and budget. The possibilities are almost limitless, and we'd run out of space before we finished listing them all.

As such, if you are interested in a Rajasthan trip, we request that you contact us with your interests, planned trip duration and approximate budget, and we will work with you to develop the best itinerary for you.

 
 

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