elephant in gangaur festival in jaipur

8 Ways to Experience the Cultural Treats of Rajasthan


The various unique cities within Rajasthan all offer interesting experiences in and of themselves, and the abundance of historic forts, palaces, temples, and Havelis scattered throughout Rajasthanare all worth a visit, which made it next to impossible to narrow things down for a more concise itinerary. However, for your convenience I have rounded up 8 of the most interesting and distinct cultural experiences that you must have when in Rajasthan. 1.    Experience the various cultural festivals You should definitely plan your trip at a time when you can experience the most number of festivals that take place in this princely state; and there are quite a lot. October can be a good time, as there is the Kota Dussehra in Kota, with performances and rituals to honor Lord Rama and celebrate his victory over Ravana, the Matasya Festival in Alwar with its cultural display of folk music, dances, sports and competitions, and the Ashwa Poojan in Udaipur City Palace, which consists of the worship of the Horse by the royal family of Udaipur. Jaipur also celebrates an annual Elephant Festival where elephants are bathed, groomed and beautifully decorated with chunky jewelry, gold embroidered velvets and colorful painted Indian motifs, and are treated like royalty. One of my favorites is the Gangaur Mela that takes place right after holy in Jaipur. This is a colorful celebration that goes on for two weeks and you can enjoy Rajasthani cuisine and watch various dances and performances. An interesting custom is that a man and woman can only get married by eloping during this festival, creating a Vegas in the East for all you love-birds! 2.    Visit the Many Historic Forts Mehrangarh-FortAlmost every city in this state boasts its own cultural heritage of forts. The Bundi Fort in the city of Bundi is one of the lesser known forts but its beautiful architecture deserves a visit. Kumbhalgarh and Chittorgarh Forts in Udaipur are a bit better known, and are both spectacular sites in this City of Lakes. If you visit the Blue City of Jodhpur, the Mehrangarh Fort is a must-see. The city itself is an interesting sight with its blue painted houses. The most famous, however, is probably the Amber Fort in the capital city of Jaipur. The pink city itself is the height of culture and history, but this fort sitting atop a cliff is a beautiful blend of the Mughal and Rajput schools of architecture executed in marble and red stone. The best part is, you can make the long climb to the fort on elephant back! 3.    Visit the Temples Rajasthan is home to some of the grandest and most beautiful temples in India. This is the best way to experience Hindu culture, religion and tradition and temples like Govind Devji Temple in the City Palace in Jaipur and the Moti Dungri Temple in the palace of Rajmata Gayatri Devi are both worth a visit. However, my favorite is the Galtaji Temple, also known as the “Monkey Temple” in Khaniya Balaji Town near Jaipur. It earned its name due to the large amounts of monkeys that have gained residence in the Ramgopalji Temple inside the main Temple complex. Another interesting Temple with pets is the Karni Mata Temple at Deshnoke, where 20,000 “holy” rats reside and are revered by the locals. They are considered to be reincarnations of Hindu gods and are fed by devotees. 4.    Visit the Rural Villages of Rajasthan Visiting one of the many rural villages is a great way to experience first-hand the local culture, traditions and way of life in an authentic setting. You can walk among the houses, mingle with the local residents, taste their home-cooked meals and learn about their ways of doing things. The best ones to visit are Ranakpur and Bishnoi, which have become popular with tourists looking for something a bit different, and there are even village safaris offered that you can take, with the option of overnight stays available. Don’t forget to check out the Jain Temple at Ranakpur with its intricate carvings and lovely architecture. jain-temple-ranakpur5.    Visit the Holy City of Pushkar Pushkar is a beautiful, low-key city by the lake which is famous for its many temples which attract crowds of pilgrims from all over India. Pushkar Lake is said to have been created by the tears of Lord Shiva, and the ancient city itself is believed to have roots in Hindu Mythology. Pilgrims visit the city annually for the baths on the various Ghats (steps) in the city for a chance to wash in the sacred water the lake. The city is a must-visit for anyone looking to chill out and get in touch with their spiritual side. You can experience Hindu religion and its various customs first-hand, and also get a chance enjoy the Camel Festival; that takes place here each year. 6.    Visit City Palace, Jaipur Another famous historical heritage site is the City Palace in Jaipur. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II Kachwaha Rajput, king of Amber in the 18th century, this is a magnificent architectural gem with ornate marble carvings and inlaid pillars and doorways. The architecture is a combination of Rajput, Mughal and European styles which enhances its grandeur and beauty. There are various temples and buildings within the palace complex which are worth visiting including the magnificent Hawa Mahal. Jaleb Chowk and Tripolia Gate are the two main entrances to the Palace. 7.    Watch the Kalbeliya Dance The Kalbeliya Dance is a sensuous form of folk dance performed to celebrate joyful occasions. Both men and women of the Kalbeliya tribe take part in this performance. The Kalbeliya tribe is known for capturing snakes and trading snake venom, which is why the dance incorporates hypnotic snake-like movements and costumes that resemble the elegant serpents. Catch one of these performances for a unique display of cultural identity. 8.    Visit the Chand Baori Step Well at Abhaneri This historical site is less of a tourist attraction, but I just had to include it here. It is one of the most exquisite architectural wonders, with a unique stairway design lining the walls in a geometric pattern. This ancient, 9th century water reservoir in the village of Abhaneri near Jaipur was built by King Chanda of Nikumbha and was dedicated to Harshat Mata, the Goddess of Joy and Happiness. It is the oldest and deepest step well in India. The splendors of Rajasthan can never be truly experienced in one trip. I would suggest concentrating on one or two cities during your stay and visiting again for the rest, as each city has its own historical and cultural charm and will have you captivated for weeks!

I am Shahil Shah, a traveler and blogger! I bring stories from the places for you to cherish the experiences of my travel. Stay tuned!”

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