Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.
Area : 1,484 Sq Kms
Population : 18.98 million
Delhi – The Capital City – is a city that connects two different worlds. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes with old havelis and mosques. Setting a contrast, the colonial city of New Delhi is composed of imposing government buildings and spacious, tree-lined avenues. Delhi has witnessed the supremacy of many rulers and kingdoms. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt many a times. Fascinatingly, various rulers Delhi, played a dual role, first as demolishers and then as makers.
The importance of Delhi is not constrained to the majestic history and magnificent structures, but also in the rich cultural diversity of the city. Chroniclers of Delhi Culture, right from Amir Khusro and Chand Bardai to present day writers, have never witnessed a shortage of topics. The city is dotted with dazzling gems, which include captivating ancient monuments, art galleries & museums, architectural wonders, fabulous eating places and vibrant markets.
Delhi has served as a India’s political hub, thus, roots of every political activity could easily be traced here. This legacy has been followed since the mythological era. Indraprastha, which geographically is believed to be the present Delhi, was the capital of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata.
As the history of Delhi is as ancient as the epic Mahabharata, earlier known as Indraprastha, eight more cities, adjacent to Indraprastha, came into light such as Lal Kot, Dinpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Siri, Quila Rai Pithora, Jahanpanah, and Shahjahanabad. Over 5 centuries, Delhi has been a spectator to the political turmoil. In succession to Tughlaqs and Khiljis, Delhi was ruled by the Mughals.
The traditional & present capital of India is not only recognized as the largest commercial center in Northern India, but has also marked its prominence as the largest center of small industries. The economy of Delhi is contributed by the IT sector, fashion, electronic, handloom, and textile industry. From October to March are the months to visit Delhi as the climatic condition is favorable. Along with this, the visitors also get the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of festivals in Incredible Delhi.
Jaipur, popular as “Pink City”, is known for housing some of the best architectural structures and heritage sights of the country. Everything in and around the city appears like the watermark of the rich heritage of the city in the erstwhile days. The local handicrafts, the ancient monuments, the Royal Palaces and the colorful saris, everything around Jaipur give a glimpse into the glorious lives of monarchy.
Area:111.8 sq. km
Established on: November 18, 1727
Founded by: Jai Singh II
Planned by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. He designed the city according to strong scientific principles of Shilpa Shastra, the traditional architectural manual and helped in forming Jaipur as India’s best planned city till date.
Renowned globally for its coloured gems, the capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. The bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the golden triangle that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The story goes that in 1876, the Prince of Wales visited India on a tour. Since the colour pink was symbolic of hospitality, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted the entire city pink. The pink that colours the city makes for a marvellous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple.
Jaipur traces back its origins to 1727 when it was established by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amber. He shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. His rivalry with rulers of Mewar, Sisodia Rajputs formed his alliance with Mughals and gave him importance in Rajasthan.
He ruled from Amber Fort and took over Mewar (Udaipur) and Marwar (Jodhpur) kingdoms. He tried to support Aurangzeb’s son Azam Shah to get the throne after Aurangzeb’s death, but it went to Bahadur Shah, who asked for his banishment from courts.
Jai Singh then formed alliance with other Rajput clans and defeated Mughals and reinstated his position.Jai Singh ordered construction of a city around Amber fort and named it as Jaipur.
Jaipur – The Modern City
There is no doubt in one’s mind why the Pink city is included in almost every itinerary when one plans a tour to India. Jaipur is a city like no other in the world.
The city of Jaipur definitely makes it to the top of the list if one talks about India’s most beautiful destination. The city which acted as the stronghold of varied erstwhile rulers of Rajasthan, the city is flushed with numerous heritage buildings all around itself. The city boasts about treating tourists from all over the world with traditional Royal hospitality.
The city of Jaipur is located right in the center of Thar Desert, and it is this strategic location that has provided her with a unique sense of lifestyle, architecture, culture and history.
Jaipur is ideal when it comes to shopping activities. Tourists travel from faraway lands to this exotic destination and use the opportunity smartly to shop for authentic Rajasthani ornaments, artifacts, embroidered shoes and clothes, pottery items and other exotic items.
Apart from shopping, Jaipur has other things to offer to tourists as well. The Jaipur fairs, pageants and festivals flushed with exceptional people in colorful clothes are as much a spectacle as the shops, houses and Havelis in the city that are all painted in Pink.
Walking around the old city, seeing the magnificent architecture of the town, feeding on the authentically cooked Jaipur cuisines, is just a magical experience. Truly this city is marked for some of the best sightseeing ventures.
The traditional outfit of Jaipur people is very appealing and one definitely would love to try them on himself/herself. For men, the outfit is white colored shirts and dhotis along with spectacularly colored turbans. For women, the colorful swaying saris are perfect.
Right in this magical demonstration of colors, Jaipur houses some of the best tourist attractions. These attractions showcase the significance of the rich cultural aspects of Jaipur. A tour to some of these attractions is an experience of a lifetime.
Area: 5042.99 sq km
Founded by: Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur
Founded in: 1756
Location: Around 146 km north-east of Jaipur
GATEWAY TO RANTHAMBORE
Cuddled up in the eastern zone of Rajasthan, Sawai Madhopur is one of the prominent conurbations of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the ‘Gateway to Ranthambore’, the town has seen many historic episodes and reigns. Sawai Madhopur has partly plain and partly undulating hilly terrain. The South and south east part of the district has hills and broken ground which form a part of a vast track of rugged region enclosing the narrow valley of the Chambal river. Surrounded by Vindhyas & Aravalis, this place is a treat for adventure enthusiasts as well as the ones with a fascination for history, with the Ranthambore National park- the most renowned national park in northern India and the Ranthambore Fort which was recently included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, being the main attractions.
Passed on from the Chauhan Rajput king, Govinda to Vagabhatta, from RanaKumbha to Akbar and Aurangzeb, the city has been patronized by almost all the rulers. Beautification and renovation of the city has been regularly undertaken in almost all the regimes. Under the rule of Rao Hammir, the last Chauhan ruler the Ranthambore region prospered magnificently. In ancient India the region was more popularly known as Ranthambore. It was much later that it received the name, Sawai Madhopurfrom Maharaja SawaiMadhoSinghji I who is believed to have given the city its current plan in 1765 AD. During the British Rule Sawai Man Singh built a railway line between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. As a result it became accessible from a central spot in the state of Rajasthan. Today it has grown as one of the popular tourist destination in India.
Former state of Karauli, Ranthambore was amongst the strongest forts of medieval India and is linked to Prithviraj, the ruler of Shakambhari who has golden cupolas put on the Jain temple of Ranthambore. To check the increasing incurious of the Marathas, Madho Singh, the ruler of Jaipur State requested for the grant of the fort of Ranthambore but did not succeed.
Area: 28 sq km
Location: On the banks of Berach and Gambhiri rivers
VISIT THE LAND OF INDIA’S FINEST FORT
Chittaurgarh (Chittorgarh) is among the most historic fort city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. In every tour itinerary to this part of India, a visit here is generally included. The reason for this is the rich history and cultural heritage of the city that is wrapped around with elements of chivalry, tragedy and Romanticism. The majestic Chittaurgarh Fort in here was the pride of erstwhile Rajput kings who ruled over here and stood mighty and proud even after facing several wars and attacks from enemy battalions. There are numerous minarets, forts, palaces and temples in and around Chittaurgarh which are a must-visit.
Chittorgarh Fort has had a tumultuous past. This bastion of the Rajputs has faced violent attacks thrice in its entire history. Chittorgarh resonates with stories of Rajputana bravery, pride and passion. The bards of Rajasthan sing tales of courage and sacrifice recounting stories that are known to every child and adult in the city.
Chittorgarh is named after its most imposing structure, the Chittorgarh Fort which stands atop a 180 metre high hill and is spread across 700 acres. The first was in 1303 when the Sultan of Delhi, Ala-ud-din Khilji, who was enamoured by Queen Padmini, launched an attack to abduct her. More than two centuries later, in 1533, it was Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, who caused immense destruction. Four decades later, in 1568, Mughal Emperor Akbar attacked and seized the fort. It was finally in 1616, under the rule of Mughal Emperor Jahangir that the fort was returned to the Rajputs.
One of the most popular cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is quite famous for its lakes and palaces. Known as ‘Jewel of Mewar’, this city was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, on the banks of Lake Pichola. Claimed as the most romantic city of the royal state of Rajasthan, it is one of the prime destinations of the week-long journey of the Palace on Wheels. Udaipur boasts of picturesque locations and scenic surroundings offering an amazing vacation option for discerning travellers. Today, it is a perfect mix of old-world charm and contemporary attractions.
Area : 64 sq. km
Established On : In year 1553
Founded by : Maharana Udai Singh
Location : On the Southern End of the Aravalli ranges
THE CITY OF LAKES AND PALACES
Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis. The famous Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful sights of Udaipur. It is also home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. The beautiful City Palace and Sajjangarh (Monsoon Palace) add to the architectural beauty and grandeur of the city. The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble. Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The ten-day Shilpgram Festival which starts from 21 Dec to 30 Dec pulls in a large number of people interested in arts and crafts.
Udaipur was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the new capital of Mewar Kingdom. It is located in the fertile, circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, which was the first capital of Mewar.
Popularly called as the “Golden City”, Jaisalmer is one of the most famous destinations in the state of Rajasthan. Situated in the westernmost region of Rajasthan, the town is known for its location right in the middle of Thar Desert. Tourists love going out for a Desert Safari amidst the vast sand dunes of the desert. Jaisalmer stands mighty and proud and welcome tourist from all over the world to get accustomed to her magical world of color, history and fable.
Area: 38,201 sq. km
Founded on: 1156 AD
Founded by: Maharawal Jaisal Singh
Location: Jaisalmer is located in Indian state of Rajasthan. From Jaipur, it is in the West direction
WHERE THE FORTS ARE STILL ALIVE
If geology interests you, then Jaisalmer is where you need to journey. The Wood Fossil Park or Aakal is located about 15 kilometres away from the city. Here, one can discover and trace geologic tragedies that occurred in the Thar Desert 180 million years ago. The city of Jaisalmer also acts as the guard to western Rajasthan (and India’s) frontier. This ‘Golden City’ is located close to the Pakistan border and in close proximity to the Thar Desert. The city’s most prominent landmark is the Jaisalmer Fort, also called Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). Unlike most other forts in India, Jaisalmer Fort is not just a tourist attraction. It houses shops, hotels and ancient havelis (homes) where generations continue to live.
Jaisalmer traces its inception to the 12th century. History tells us of Rawal Jaisal, the eldest heir of the Rawal of Deoraj, was passed over for the throne of Lodurva and a younger half-brother was crowned king. Rawal Jaisal went looking for a new location to set up his capital when he came across sage Eesul. The sage told him about Krishna’s prophecy which said that a descendant of his Yaduvanshi clan would found a new kingdom at this same spot. It was in 1156 that Rawal Jaisal constructed a mud fort, named it Jaisalmer after himself and declared it his capital.
Jodhpur is the second largest city of Rajasthan and a major tourist attraction in the country. Situated at the edge of the Thar Desert, it was founded by Rajput chief Rao Jodha in the year 1459. The erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur is dotted with a number of tourist attractions including forts, palaces, museums, and much more. Also known as the ‘Blue City’ or the ‘Sun City’, it is strategically placed on the road that links Delhi to the western Indian state of Gujarat.
Area : 112.40 square km
Established On :1459
Founded By : Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan
Location : Located towards the west of Jaipur (Distance: 338 km)
A DELIGHTFUL BLEND OF THE MODERN AND THE TRADITIONAL
Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan is popularly known as the Blue City. The name is clearly befitting as most of the architecture – forts, palaces, temples, havelis and even houses are built in vivid shades of blue. The strapping forts that tower this magnificent city sum up to a spectacle you would not want to miss. The mammoth, imposing fortress of Mehrangarh has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of the fortress. The new city is located outside the structure. Jodhpur is also known for the rare breed of horses known as Marwari or Malani, which are only found here.
Jodhpur marks its origin back to the year of 1459 AD. The history of this prosperous city revolves around the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. The city is known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar. Hence, the people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. Also, it is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be witnessed in the Mandore Gardens.
Also known as the ‘Eastern Gateway of Rajasthan’, Bharatpur was established by Maharaja Suraj Mal in the year 1733. It was the erstwhile region of Jat Maharajas and was situated in Mewat region. The royal family of Bharatpur traces its history to the 11th century A.D. Lohagarh is another name given to the town of Bharatpur. Although a territory of Rajasthan, Bharatpur is also considered as a part of New Delhi Capital Region (NCR). Being home to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur is a sheer heaven for ornithologists.
Altitude: 183 meters (600 feet)
Founded on: 1733
Founded by: Maharaja Suraj Mal Singh
Location: Bharatpur is located in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is 182 kilometers away from Delhi and 57 kilometers away from Agra.
WORLD’S MOST FASCINATING BIRD RESERVE
The history of Bharatpur dates back to 5th century BC, when the Matsya kingdom flourished here. The Matsyas were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. Legends say that the origin of the name Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, younger brother of Lord Ram. Laxman, the other brother, was given the most prestigious position as that of the family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms.
In the early 18th century, Maharaja Suraj Mal captured the fort of Bharatpur by vanquishing Khemkaran, the rival chieftain and laid the foundation for Bharatpur. The valiant Maharaja was very keen to expand the cities and is credited with building the numerous forts and palaces that dot the kingdom, including the Pleasure Palace Complex at Deeg.
Bharatpur is also home to one of the world’s best-known bird watching destinations, Keoladeo Ghana National Park (KNP). 250 years ago, the then ruler built embankments that allowed flooding of this land, turning it into a marsh. Named after the dense jungle that surrounded an old Shiva Temple, this 29 square kilometre man-made wetland is renowned for migratory birds – ducks, geese, waders, raptors, flycatchers and more. In winter, avid birders and ornithologists flock to the park to observe and study the feathered beauties. With more than 370 recorded species, KNP used to also host the Siberian crane. It is a World Heritage Site.
The Mughal City of Agra, fondly referred to as the city of the Taj, is one of the most well-known tourist destinations, all around the globe. Agra is placed on the western banks of the Yamuna also called the city of Taj Mahal is the perfect finale to your royal sojourn. Agra, the medieval city, is home to a number of tourist attractions including UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Area : 1, 880.40 km2
Established On : 1475
Founded By : Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king
Location : On the banks River Yamuna towards the southwest corner of Uttar Pradesh state
The great Hindu epic Mahabharata mentions Agra, as Agraban, a forest near Mathura. However, Agra was founded by 1475 by Raja Badal Singh, a Sikarwar Rajput king. Sultan Sikander Lodi made Agra his capital in 1501 but he was defeated in battle of Panipat in 1526 by Emperor Babur. Between the mid of 16th and the 17th century, Agra’s popularity was at its zenith when it was under the rule of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. This period was the time of construction of Taj Mahal also.
In the year 1761, Agra came into the hands of Jat rulers who also looted some of the most beautiful temples of the city. While in 1770, it was under the reign of the Marathas, the British took over in 1803. After the revolt of 1857, Allahabad became the administrative province of the British and Agra was left on its own. This is when; it developed as a hub of heavy industry. Today Agra is a must-visit destination for all.
The Agra city is inhabited by people of all religions and cultures and so one can witness a mix of various cultures here. Agra is an amalgamation of traditional and modern way of living. Being close to Lord Krishna’s land Mathura, a touch of Brij culture can be seen here on the language of the locals. However, the influence of Mughal culture can be seen in everything, mannerisms, food, language and buildings.
The people of Agra celebrate all the major festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Taj Mahoysav, Muharrum, Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Adha with great zeal Taj Mahotsav, an annual extravaganza, is a great show of classical dance and music, folk performances, poetry, camel and elephant rides, a food festival, a Craft Mela and more.
Agra has a lot to offer if you are one of those who love to indulge in shopping. You can get your hands on mini Taj replicas, as keepsakes and souvenirs. Another item which is a must-buy in Agra is its leather goods such as decorative stuff, bags, purses, sandals and much more. Be careful that you buy only original goods. The handicraft emporiums of Agra sell an array of rosewood and sandalwood items, stone-carved images and decorative pieces, made in brass.
One of the most sought-after items, which you can buy in Agra markets, is beautiful pieces of exquisite Zari work. You also get good-quality carpets and durries here as well. However, the most popular amidst the tourists are the local renditions of Dal Moth (salty) and Peetha (sweet). Some of the famous markets in Agra are Sadar Bazaar, The Taj Complex, Loha Mandi, Raja Mandi, Kinari Bazaar, and Fuhaara.