The land of colourful cities, vibrant palaces, a legacy of Maharajas and Havelis, Rajasthan always welcomes its guests with its royal essence. Rajasthan is an incredible state of India that has the majestic grandeur and age-old opulence. The pink city Jaipur is the capital of this state and home to one of the most notable architectural structures that is Amber Fort. The city of lakes and famously known as romantic city, Udaipur is one of the glorious places in Rajasthan. In Rajasthan, one can experience the wide spread desert of Jaisalmer to cold weather of Mount Abu. You will also get a chance to see the Tigers in their natural habitat in Ranthambore National Park and thousands of amazing birds at Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur). With such an amazing diversity within Rajasthan, we have put together a list of Top 12 Offbeat experiences of Rajasthan. We have arranged these offbeat experiences into various categories like Art, Adventure, Gastronomy, Wildlife, Lesser Known Forts and Architecture.
Block printing at Bagru Village near Jaipur
Known for its unique art of block printing, Bagru is a small typical village located approx. 30 km from Jaipur. Still this village keeps the three centuries old tradition of printing alive with the splendid efforts of the artisans. The communities in this village, Chhipa and Raiger, have passed on the art from one generation to another. The process starts with the designing of the prints that are etched on rosewood or teak wood. After the process of fabric washing, dyeing and drying in the sunlight, the fabric is placed on a large table and then the Chapai (Printing) starts. The printed fabric is then again washed, boiled (for fixing of colour) and kept in the sunlight for drying (process called Tapai). After this long arduous process, we get the awesome final product the Bagru fabric which is used both in modern and traditional collections. On your tour, you can create your own piece of art under the supervision of a mentor. You can take this art form with you as a souvenir of your travel to Bagru.
Bandhani art of Jodhpur
Art of Bandhani is a tie and dye technique that involves dyeing a fabric which is tied tightly with a thread at several points, thus producing a variety of patterns depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. Bandhani tying is often a family trade, and mostly the women of these families work at home to tie patterns. This art is 5000 years old and is among the oldest traditions of the state of Rajasthan that is still in practice. The process starts with bleaching of cloth, folding it across its length and width and carefully pinch-knotting fabric parts using cotton thread that emerges a pattern. The fabric is then dyed in stages moving from lighter shades to darker one. After dyeing, the fabric is washed and pulled apart releasing the knots and revealing their pattern. After this unique and time-consuming process, we get the stunning deep-coloured cloth with dots of various colours forming a pattern. On your tour to Jodhpur, get a chance to meet the family who has been involved in this art for almost 400 years.
Dune bashing in Jaisalmer
The Golden City Jaisalmer is known for its majestic Fort, splendid temples, Havelis and vibrant bazaars. The city also acts as the guard to western Rajasthan and is in close proximity to the Thar Desert. Approximately 42 km from the main city of Jaisalmer lies Sam Sand Dunes, where one gets a chance to explore the exotic desert in a sports utility vehicle (SUV). The dune bashing ride over the golden sands of Jaisalmer is a must do for adventure lovers. On arrival at Sam Sand Dunes you will be given a briefing on sand driving and dune maneuvering. The SUV’s are driven by expert professionals. A safety tip from us is for those having health issues like spine injury, severe back pain or the one wearing neck collar should avoid this activity. So, get into your SUV, buckle up, enjoy the bumpy ride and experience the thrill in the golden sand.
Hot air ballooning in Jaipur
The city of Palaces, Havelis, Forts, Heritage, rich history, temples and colourful markets, Jaipur forms part of golden triangle tour of India along with Delhi & Agra. Here, you may soar around 100 feet above the ground level to enjoy the breathtaking hilltop forts and beautiful carved temples of the city on a Hot Air Balloon. You may also see beautiful places from this flight like, Jal Mahal, Amer Fort, Shiv Vilas and Delhi-Jaipur Road. The entire experience lasts for approximately 2 to 3 hours, with a full hour in the skies. The combination of colors, rich culture and the monuments make the “Pink city” looks stunning and vibrant. This activity is operational from 1st September till 30th April since the weather is not too hot and is usually dry during this time. You may take this trip either early morning or evening. Indulge in this magical experience on your travel to Jaipur.
Cooking lesson at Dera Mandawa in Jaipur
Dera Mandawa is a boutique hotel. The Dera Mandawa was built by Thakur Jait Singhji of Mandawa in the 19th century. What would you say if, during your stay in Jaipur, you could enjoy an exclusive cooking demonstration, in a unique homestay? So, on your tour to Jaipur, discover the Dera Mandawa Homestay as their hosts, who are best in welcoming people, will make you feel at home. In this place, start your mornings by listening to the chirping of birds. The family Rajasthani recipes will delight your taste buds. Try your hands on the Rajasthani cooking experience in the Zanana Deorhi (Ladies Courtyard) garden of Dera Mandawa. If you wish you may also take a walk in the spice & vegetable market in the pink city.
Mystical dinner at The Step Well in Rawla Narlai
Revive the idea of luxury at the finest boutique hotel in Rajasthan, Rawla Narlai. This heritage hotel is situated approximately 121 km from Udaipur. It is a well recommended stopover between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The hotel offers many offbeat experiences like Horse riding, Elephant Hill walk, Village Walk, Countryside Safari, etc. One such experience which would always remain unmatched is the experience of Mystical Dinner at The Step Well. At Rawla Narlai, you will be transferred by a bullock cart passing through the village to the 6th Century stepwell. On arrival, you will be greeted by traditional Rajasthani music. Get amazed with the ambiance organised specially for you at the ancient stepwell with around 600 candles. Dine by candle light and the exclusive setting at the stepwell. If you are planning a honeymoon, a vacation for special occasion or just to spend a relaxing time with your spouse then add this experience in your bucket list.
Jawai leopard safari
Watch the big cats in their natural habitat at Jawai, which is located at 145 km from Udaipur and 165 km from Jodhpur. The Jawai is the home of Leopards as it has a dense population of leopards. Jawai Hills, also known as leopard hills are surrounded by Jawai Bandh and grasslands enclosed by Aravali Range. It is one of the hidden gems of Rajasthan state to explore the wildlife. You will be amazed with the raw beauty of the landscape, the inhabitants and the way they live their life in harmony with the wildlife. This is one of the rare places on earth where humans and leopards live together in peace. The cultural and spiritual belief of the locals help to conserve these extraordinary species. You may take a stroll with a charismatic Rabari herdsmen and get a chance to immerse in the local culture. On your 3-hour jeep safari try your luck to spot a leopard and their cubs in the hill.
Khichan Bird Sanctuary
Located in the deep quarters of Jodhpur, Khichan Bird Sanctuary is popular worldwide as the Demoiselle Crane village. To escape the extreme cold winters of South West Europe, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Black Sea region, North and South Africa and Mongolia the major three types of birds migrate to India. The locals acknowledge these birds as Kurjan, Karkara, and Kunch. The main variety among the migratory birds are Demoiselle Cranes. The Khichan Crane story began with a local Jain family feeding the pigeons. Not harming animals is one of the main principles of Jainism religion. The daily feeding apparently spread the word among the birds and more and more cranes began visiting Khichan every year. The season from November to February is the peak time for bird watching. So, while in Jodhpur, take a bird watching tour at Khichan and witness the feathery spectacle of thousands of cranes.
Located in the Aravali range of hills in Alwar District, 85 km from Jaipur, the 17th Century Bhangarh fort is known as the most haunted fort in India. The fort was built by Raja Bhagwant Singh, for his younger son Madho Singh in 1573 AD. The Archaeological Survey of India has banned visitors to visit post-sundown. The drive to Bhangarh fort is thrilling and strange passing through village where one could see the ruins of once-beautiful havelis. As you enter through the main gate of this ruined fort, you will come across many Hindu temples. See the Someshwar Temple with its beautiful stepwell. Engage in the local myths and legends that unfolds the facts behind isolation of this fort.
A place with immense emotional importance to the people of Mewar, Kumbhalgarh fort is the birthplace of legendary King Maharapan Pratap. Located at a distance of 85 km from Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh fort is known for its 36 km long wall which is second longest wall in the world. Every fort in India has its unique art & architecture, but there is no other fort that can match the grandeur of Kumbhalgarh Fort. The fort is situated strategically on the western Aravali Hills, where the hill serves as a boundary that is unbreakable. The lush green landscapes and narrow road approaching the fort will introduce you to the beauty of Sothern Rajasthan. Kumbhalgarh Fort stands tall at an elevation of 1100 meters on the Aravalli range and offers a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. Inside the fort see the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, which has intricately carved ceiling. Also, see the Kumbha Palace and its beautiful blue Durbar Hall. You may enjoy a light and sound show that sparkles the fort for 45 min and is held every evening.
Chand Boari Abhaneri
One of the biggest stepwells in Rajasthan and largest in the world, Chand Boari is a 13 storeyed and more than 100 feet deep stepwell. Chand Boari is a four-sided structure that has narrow steps in perfect symmetry hard to find in this age. In the deserts of Rajasthan, stepwells were the practical water management solutions that served as a natural cooler in summers. This stepwell is older than Taj Mahal and it was built by King Chanda of the Nikumbh Dynasty around 8-9 CE. This stepwell is no longer in use but has remained in a remarkable condition maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. You may visit this stepwell on the way while travelling from Agra to Jaipur. The architecture of the stepwell is mesmerizing with 3500 steps in a maze-like structure that portrays excellent geometry of the bygone era.
Rani Ji Ki Baori in Bundi
Another architectural marvel of Rajasthan, Rani ji ki Boari is a popular stepwell in Bundi Town. It has a narrow entrance with stone structures of elephants facing each other. The Stepwell is built by and named after Rani Nathavati who was the younger wife of ruler Rao Raja Anirudh Singh. The Stepwell is multi-storied and is 150 feet deep. It is covered with intricate and superb carvings. Each floor of the stepwell has a dedicated place for worship. You may spend a peaceful time here admiring the beauty of the stepwell. Experience the remarkable architectural style of the Rajputs.
Jay Kajaria is Founder of Bespoke India Holidays. Bespoke India Holidays is an award-winning company that specialises in creating luxury trips to India and the subcontinent.