10 Offbeat Places to Visit in Rajasthan
Every time we think of Rajasthan, then the very first destinations that catch up our fancy are Jaipur, Jodhpur or Udaipur. The list here intends to highlight some of Rajasthan’s special offbeat places overlooked by the more popular destinations. These are the places which are nothing less than pockets of serenity amid the chaos that has overtaken so many Rajasthan's vacation spots.
1) Kumbhalgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh, nestled at height of 1100 meters. above sea level, in Aravali hills and located about 80 km from Udaipur is an easily overlooked destination by most tourists. Many people do not know the fact that Kumbhalgarh fort has our Indian version of Great Wall of China. Kumbhalgarh fort's walls stretch more than 36 km and are wide enough for eight horses to ride through in some places. This wall is second longest wall in the world second only to the Great Wall of China. Why this fort was never conquered becomes obvious once you set eyes on it. Kumbhalgarh fort is surrounded by thirteen mountain peaks; this mountain fortress has been a witness to many battles. Kumbhalgarh falls within Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and the rarely seen Indian wolf is one of the inhabitants. Visitors can see the wildlife sanctuary on a horseback!
Barmer is a desert town in western Rajasthan, about 150 km from Jaisalmer. Though most of it is barren desert land with harsh climate for most part of the year, Barmer is famous for its historical sites such as Siwana fort and Juna ruins. Barmer is becoming famous for the cattle fair organized in the Tilwara and Thar festival as well. Travelers can get a glimpse of rich culture of Rajasthan and taste the local cuisines as well.
Bundi is a little known gem of a place not hounded by tourists yet like some of the more famous places of Rajasthan. Just about 40 km from Kota, Bundi is surrounded by the Aravalli hills on 3 sides. Bundi has managed to retain its century's old magical charm. Bundi used to be the capital of the erstwhile princely states of Rajasthan. Bundi is rich in history and known for its forts and palaces and baolis (step wells).
Home to a thousand year old hill-top fort and Shekhawati style heritage Havelis, Kuchaman city is slowly making its mark on tourist maps of Rajasthan. The fort now converted into a hotel, is a major attraction of the place. Kuchaman city is even one of the stop of the famed Palace on Wheels journey. With rising tourist footfalls, few heritage havelis have started renting them out to tourists in winters. Kuchaman city is about 140 km from Jaipur.
Located in southeastern Rajasthan, Jhalawar is a former princely state known for its old temples, forts and palaces. Much of the city was destroyed during the reign of Aurangazeb, and one can find city dotted with many ruins of the past. Jhalawar Fort, popularly known as Garh Palace locally is the prime attraction here. There is some little known Buddhist Cavesin Kolvi near Jhalawar. There are more than 50 caves in this region belonging to 5th to 8th century AD.
An Oasis in the desert - Osian is the erstwhile capital of Marwar kingdom, about 65 km from Jodhpur. The city not popular among the tourists yet, has many old temples going as far back as 8th century. Though many temples are now in ruin, few of them are still in great shape and one can still admire their construction and design. Most important among them are the Sun Temple and Sachiya Mata temple.
A group of exquisitely carved stonework, the10th century temples by the Chambal River is the setting you would see if you arrive in Baroli village in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan. Well kept by the Archaeological Survey of India, the fascinating structures of Baroli Temple Complex constructed in Pratihara style of temple architecture will mesmerize you with their grandeur and finesse. Ghateswar Shiva temple is the main attraction here and believed to be the oldest temple in Rajasthan. Rana Pratap Sagar Dam and Dara Wildlife Sanctuary are in the vicinity and can be visited on a trip to Baroli.
Mandawa is a small town in Shekhawati region of Rajasthan and known for its fort and Havelis. A must see in Mandawa is its exquisite paintings on the walls of many mansions or Havelis situated here. These Havelis belong to old trading or Marwaris communities and quite a few of them are being restored and converted into heritage hotels. Thanks to its paintings city has earned the tag of "Open Air Art Gallery". The Mandawa Fort in the middle of town is notable structure and has been converted into a heritage hotel by the royal family.
Some of the Havelis that could be visited are Goenka Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli and Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli. Visitors can experience activities like camel rides as well here.
9) Tal Chhapar Sanctuary
The stunningly beautiful Tal Chhapar Sanctuary in Rajasthan is a delight for photographers and bird lovers. One of the last surviving grasslands in the plains, this regions witness hordes of Demoiselle cranes crossing over the great Himalayas to reach Keechan village. One can also spot the endangered Black bucks and Indian gazelle at close proximity here. The facilities are pretty basic but decent at Rajasthan Forest Dept. Guest House. Tal Chapar is about 350 km from Delhi and 200 km from Jaipur. Best time to visit would be from November to February.
If you want to get a peek at rural Rajasthan then Mahansar, a small village in Shekhawati region in Rajasthan should be your pick. Located in Jhunjhunu district, Mahansar is known for its one of the finest Havelis in Shekhavati region known as Sone-Chandi ki Dukan. This 18th century Haveli has intricate paintings made of gold leaf. These paintings or frescos on the ceilings depict scenes from Ramayana and life of Lord Krishna. Another specialty of the region is its traditional brew called ‘Mahansar liquor’.