Rajasthan, the desert state, is part fantasy and part reality. Once home to most of India’s pre-Independence maharajas and their kingdoms, its legends and colourful past loom larger than life even today. Northern Rajasthan is a grittier and relatively less explored portion of the state.
Begin at Samode, an utterly Rajput retreat just outside of Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur, before moving to Mandawa to see the fascinating frescoed 15th century homes of merchants. Skirt the edges of the Great Indian Thar desert to Bikaner; a town whose forts and old cities transport you back in time. Jaisalmer’s tawny, sandstone fort walls enclose a universe of havelis and temples, which are some of the most outstanding examples of handcrafting on stone. Stop at the desert camp of Manvar before ending your journey at the blue city Jodhpur: a fitting finale to a panoramic tour.