President's Pick by David Craig - Rajasthan Deserts, Castles, and Palaces | Craig Travel

President's Pick by David Craig - Rajasthan Deserts, Castles, and Palaces

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It is the extreme contrasts and the diversity of experiences that place Rajasthan amongst the world’s most incredible travel destinations. Set in the northwest of India, Rajasthan or the “Land of the Kings” is a desert land broken by a variety of magnificent city states, several of which are know for their towering fortresses that overwhelm the surrounding landscapes. This is a region where festivals explode with colour, where cities pulse with life and where, just a few miles away, life in the countryside continues unchanged from centuries past.

For close to fifty years, I have had the pleasure to explore this land and I never tire of returning. It is a land of immense change, which never ceases to amaze the visitor. So, once again, Roslyn and I look forward with excitement and anticipation to yet another return this fall.

Highlights are many on this wonderful adventure. Massive forts, opulent palaces and majestic castles overshadow the chaos of the bazaar. In fabled Udaipur, a cruise on romantic Lake Pichola stops at Jag Mandir, the beautiful Lake Palace. Travel by special 4x4 vehicles through the arid mountains and valleys of Deogarh. Ride elephants up the steep slope to the beautiful Amber Palace in Jaipur and camels across the Thar Desert to enjoy a magnificent sunset with stunning views across the desert.

Being India, there are temples galore, but most impressive is the Jain Temple of Ranakpur, a spectacular structure with 1,444 beautifully carved white marble pillars, with no two alike. Later, a thrilling jeep ride will take us across the desert and over steep sand hills to two small villages where we will visit a tiny thatched-roof home and the local blacksmith shop.

Rajasthan, the 'Land of Palaces and Forts', is overflowing with alluring palaces, castles and magnificent forts and great houses (or Haveli). Jaisalmer, the Golden Fort, rises from the surrounding desert with its walls of golden sandstone, a beacon in the remote deserts of the west. Overshadowing the blue city of Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort is a series of palaces with overpowering defensive battlements that dominate the countryside.

For 2019, we have carefully selected our hotels to ensure our creature comforts are fully satisfied. With mostly two or three night stays, very comfortable deluxe and first class resorts and camps and a more leisurely pace from previous years (with far less overland driving than in the past), we are hopeful that this program will thrill most travellers.

A special treat will be the overnight at Samsara Desert Camp, a deluxe and truly magical experience! Built in the style of a village settlement against the backdrop of a desert landscape, beautiful, spacious white tents feature comfortable beds, a dresser, private bathroom complete with toilet, sink and shower and a lovely outdoor patio with loungers. Delicious meals are served buffet-style in a separate, open dining room a short walk through the warm sand. In the evening, once the sun sets, we can sit on blankets on the sand and enjoy a wonderful folkloric show of Rajasthani music and dances under the light of the moon. Yes, simply magical!

There is nothing quite like a festival in India and one of the best known is the Camel Fair in Pushkar. Planned around the full moon in late October or early November, the week-long event combines a massive animal exchange, a country fair and a most important religious festival dedicated to Brahma. The small village is built around one of the only temples in India dedicated to this all powerful God. But the highlight for most visitors are the thousands of locals that come from across northern India to take part in the camel fair – a time to show off their best clothing and their animals, to meet family and friends and to celebrate this annual event. Staying in Sunset Desert Camp (with facilities similar to Samsara), we have the opportunity to experience everything this wonderful fair has to offer.

A highlight and special treat has been arranged in Jaipur where the group will have dinner in a private home. This experience showcases life in a modern Indian home with delicious Rajastani cuisine.

No journey to Rajasthan would be complete without a visit to Agra and the splendour of the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his queen. On a few days each month at the time of the Full Moon, the Taj is open for an evening visit, a definite highlight of any journey to India. This journey is timed with this special evening excursion in mind.

Be sure to add this incredible destination to your personal list of unique places to explore, a place that assaults all of the senses in an exciting, colourful, mysterious, fascinating way unlike anywhere else in the world.

Reserve your space now and enjoy our Early Booking Bonus with savings of $200 per person on our October 26, 2029 departure!

Pushkar Pride by Isabelle Pollock, Photo Contest honourable mention 2018,The romantic Taj Mahal!,Bright face of Rajasthan by Isabelle Pollock, Photo Contest honourable mention 2018,The Blue City (Jodhpur) by Isabelle Pollock, Photo Contest honourable mention 2018,City Palace (Udaipur) by Isabelle Pollock, Photo Contest honourable mention 2018,Smiling Rajasthan - photo by Dan Connolly,Rajasthan - photo by Dan Connolly,Rajasthan - photo by Dan Connolly,Rajasthan - photo by Dan Connolly