Home' Horizons : Horizons Jun Jul 14 Contents 20 Horizons June / July 2014
14 day RAC Imperial Rajasthan luxury
escorted tour from Perth. Departs
15 February, 2015. To find out more
contact your local RAC Travel centre, call
1300 655 179 or visit rac.com.au/travel.
traditions. At each of the major cities
we visit – Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer,
Jodhpur and Udaipur – there’s
an opportunity to become more
closely acquainted with these and
also to buy exquisite souvenirs.
In Jaipur, it’s gemstones and
jewellery at Bhandari Jewellers. At
Jodhpur we meet Chitranjan Jain,
the owner of Maharani Textiles
and Handicrafts, who buys fabrics
from local communities as well as
employing almost 9000 people in
his factory making scarves, throws
and homewares for designer labels
including Donna Karan Home and
Kenzo. Richard Gere is said to have
bought everything he could lay his
hands on during one visit. Miniature
paintings – so called because of
their detail rather than size – are
on view (and for sale, of course) at
the Rajasthan Art School in Udaipur.
For those looking for less pricey
souvenirs, there are stops at various
markets along the way.
Legwork or luxury?
Before arriving in Delhi I considered
travelling on a group tour something
of a cheat. Surely half the fun of any
adventure is working out how to get
there, what to do while you’re there
and where to stay. Of course, you
can travel the country independently
and many thousands of tourists
do, but you’d have to remain calm,
take everything in your stride, and
have an equally Zen travel buddy.
This tour, however, is the perfect
toe-dipper, especially at those times
when the sheer humanity – after all,
Delhi alone is home to more than 17
million people – starts to make your
head spin. I am soon thoroughly
convinced by the luxury of having all
the legwork done for you.
On this tour everything is
organised from taking a camel ride
in dunes and attending an opium
tea ceremony in a Bishnoi village
outside Jodhpur to lunches along
the way and the gorgeous hotel
rooms, some in former palaces,
others in character-filled former
grand family estates. The Suryagarh
in Jaisalmer is a glorious replica
of a desert castle complete with
peacocks roaming the gardens.
The Laxmi Niwas Palace outside
Bikaner was built in 1904 - its
rooms are all different and its bar
and reading room are decorated
with antique furniture and dusty
Equally welcome on the tour,
however, is the chance to – and this may sound like a
cop-out – remove yourself from some of the realities
of what’s going on outside the bus. Everything you’ve
heard about the poverty here is true and it is confronting.
But there is also great beauty.
The long days spent driving through the desert are
almost meditative. The Rajasthani desert isn’t typically
defined by sand dunes. Tufts of dry grass are picked
over by varieties of skinny livestock and thousands of
hawks circle in the sky. By the road, tiny children wave
from rough gypsy camps and harnessed cows walk in
endless circles to drive the mill that extracts oil from
mustard seeds. Women dressed in vivid orange saris
crouch in emerald fields tending crops, while nearby
teenagers fly a kite made from plastic bags. It’s ruthless,
captivating and it’s one of the many reasons India
captures the hearts and imaginations of travellers like no
other place in the world. l
Where is it?
Rajasthan – the Land of the Kings – is
located in India’s west, partly on the
border of Pakistan.
Best time to go
Much of Rajasthan is covered
by desert, so avoid the heat and
travel in the cooler months, from
November to March.
The 13-day Imperial Rajasthan
tour with Insight Vacations
is offered between August and
April. Singapore Airlines has daily
flights to New Delhi from Perth
Bhandari Jewellers in Jaipur
a favourite with royalty and
superstars. Buy enamelled and
handcrafted jewellery or choose a
precious or semi-precious stone and
have it set in less than 24 hours.
Rise early at Rohet Garh, the
heritage hotel outside Jodhpur,
and visit the stables. The rare
and beautiful Marwari horses,
indigenous to the region, have
inward-turning ear tips.
See your doctor about the correct
vaccinations before you leave and
which medications to carry with you.
Drink only bottled water, and use
hand sanitiser regularly (especially
after handling money).
The people are incredibly kind
and friendly, but dress modestly,
especially when visiting religious
The local food is absolutely
delicious and ranges from mild to
spicy, although all the hotels serve
Western options, too.
Amber Palace was
built in 1592 by
Raja Man Singh.
The City Palace
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