India’s princely state of Rajasthan has a treasure chest of one-of-a-kind experiences that you can’t find elsewhere. Find out how many you’ve missed out on. By Ananya Bahl
Enjoy a Starry Night at Astroport Sariska
India’s first astroport, nestled in the Sariska National Park, is one of the darkest places in India. This is also the only facility in the country where you can have a tryst with stars while being guided by professionals. At Astroport Sariska, stay in Swiss tents, enjoy gourmet meals, and take help of scientific equipment to spot constellations.
Buy Exquisite Rajput Paintings
Buying miniature Rajput paintings is one of the must-do things when visiting Rajasthan. Borne out of a medieval traditional Mughal culture of painting pieces that depict romance and royal lifestyle, Rajput paintings have come a long way to become mainstream and widely appreciated. The best place to buy these paintings are in Amer at the Rajasthan Small Scale Cottage Industry outlets near Amer Fort.
Visit the Desert National Park
The Desert National Park, carved out of the Thar Desert, is a uniquely preserved ecosystem that educates visitors about sand dunes, salt lake bottoms, and jagged rocks typical of a desert. Making this habitat their home, are animals such as Indian foxes, desert foxes, desert cats, chinkaras, and the endangered Great Indian Bustards. Take a half-day trip with the kids and explore the only desert in India.
Embark on a Chudail Trail
Rajasthan has a fair share of stories of haunted palaces, forts, and medieval ruins. One of Jaisalmer’s landmark luxury properties, Suryagarh, is giving travellers a chance to embark on a ghost-hunt by organising Chudail Trails. Take a drive to all the spots that are said to be haunted, at midnight. These include the Paliwal cemeteries, the Shamshaan Ghats, the abandoned ghost town of Kuldhara and a dreaded dark lake!
Dig for Salt Crystals in Phalodi
Visit the salt pans of the Phalodi district to catch a gleaming sunset and learn from an expert, the art of digging crystals out of salt lakes. Bhap’s Barsingha Villa offers trips to these salt pans.
Trek to the Top of Aravalli’s Highest Peak
Try to trek up Guru Shikhar, the highest peak in the Aravallis. Located in Mount Abu, at a height of approximately 1,722 metres above sea level, the summit offers a breathtaking view of the hill station.
In Bikaner, the eclectic Narendra Bhawan hotel organises unique dining concepts, one of which is a literary luncheon that is inspired by classic novels. Here, you are blindfolded and treated to Rajasthani delicacies that you will have to savour only through taste and smell.
Learn the Art of Tie and Dye
Leheriya is a form of tie-and-dye resulting in diagonal designs on fabric used for saris, pagdis, safas and dupattas. You can learn this art at Bikaner’s Kote Gate Market.
Cast A Piece of Jewellery in Silver
Pushkar’s main market is famed for its many silver shops. Most of these let you work on the silver, inscribe them, carve something on them or simply buy lovely designs. Choose any shop and you will be guaranteed authenticity.