We go to Rajasthan to experience India exactly as we dream it: The extraordinary sense of style and colour, the beautiful architecture, a whirlwind of intense emotions, a communicative joie de vivre, landscapes which from the fertile green of the east to the blond desert plains of the west offer a wide range of sensations, mythical animals, such as the tiger, chaos, smiles, breathtaking craftsmanship… More than a trip, an experience, one of a kind leaving a life-long impression, love at first sight or total rejection (it happens !), Rajasthan is only a small bit of India, but surely the one which sums-up best this immense country in all its abundance and diversity with a sure sense of style and easy manners. Are you coming? There is too much to write if we want to be exhaustive, so here are some of what we love in particular about Rajasthan, so that you also long for beautiful escapes.
The quartet of must-see cities
Let’s be clear: if you enjoy this first trip, you will only have one obsession, to come back! So there’s no need to overload the itinerary, especially as the distances are great and you spend a lot of time in the car (which is a magnificent adventure in itself as the show seen on the road is permanent). 4 sublime cities concentrate a diversity able to charm the most jaded of travellers: Jaipur, Jodphur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer.
Jaipur, the aptly named pink city with its facades painted from a burnt sienna pigment mixed with white to give it its characteristic pink hue. If we had to keep only one city in Rajasthan (even if it seems, in reality, impossible!) it would be this one, if only for the discovery of its crafts.
Jodphur, the blue city set in the middle of a mineral landscape, and its spectacular fort, Mehrangarh, which dominates the city, its secret courtyards, its vibrant market.
Udaipur, the romantic white city on the lake, with its dreamy palaces, sublime sunsets, mystical-spirit and tranquillity.
Jaisalmer, the ochre city in the heart of the Thar desert, a 12th century walled city that rises from the dust like a mirage, and the unique architecture of its rich merchants’ houses.
Craftsmanship as the driving force behind the journey
Rajasthan is the assurance that beyond the discovery and visits of its natural and architectural wonders, the excitement takes on an extra dimension when you discover the breathtaking richness of its crafts. We never return from India without suitcases filled with woodblock printed or embroidered textiles, wooden objects, semi-precious stone jewellery (or precious stones if you pass the doors of the Gem Palace!). Throughout Rajasthan there are wonderful craftsmen and craftswomen, but Jaipur is the place to find the best in India for sure. It is in this city and the small villages around that Usha Bora, the founder of Jamini, has her textile collections hand printed with wooden blocks by the most talented craftsmen of the region. This tradition is to be experienced again this season thanks to our Escadrille x Jamini 2nd collaboration, to be discovered here.
Two addresses we particularly like in Jaipur for artisan products:
Nila House: workshops around Indian crafts, elegant textile products and beautiful work around indigo. The place is great to visit too.
Bagru Studio: 40km from Jaipur in the village of Bagru you can spend a day visiting the workshops of textile artisans and participate in an atelier to print your own creations with wood blocks.
For a comprehensive list of recommended craft addresses in Jaipur, we recommend Fiona Caulfield’s guide “Love Jaipur, Rajasthan“, which is regularly updated. A gold mine!
Staying with the Maharajas
In Rajasthan, the palaces of the Maharajas and the beautiful houses of the rich merchants have, for many of them and so that they can be maintained, been transformed into fabulous hotels in which to spend dreamy nights without necessarily breaking the bank (all price categories exist). Unforgettable experiences especially when it is always the families living there as well, and you end up spending delicious moments with them. Magical!
Shahpura Bagh. On the road halfway between Jaipur and Udaipur, we can stay in the summer residence of the former ruling family of Shahpura, and we might share a moment with the descendants of this family, who have a thousand anecdotes to tell. A suspended moment.
Samode Haveli. In Jaipur, an oasis in the heart of the city, a rich house beautifully restored. We love dining under the stars there.
Rohet Garh and Mihir Garh are two hotels a few kilometres apart, close to Jodphur and owned by the same family. The first one is a sumptuous heritage hotel with an incredible value for money, the second one is recent, extraordinary (with a price accordingly), lost in the middle of the desert, from where you can discover small villages only accessible by foot.
Sher Bagh. In the Ranthambhore Park, 200km south-east of Jaipur, you can see tigers in the wild and if you want to take the idea of a stylish Anglo-Indian safari to the extreme, a stay at Sher Bagh is a great (but expensive) option. You get to sleep in very luxurious tents, a breathtaking experience!