Rajasthan | 19-day North India Tour

Rajasthan | 19-day North India Tour


Discover our North India tour, 19 days in the land of the Maharajas.


We were looking forward to discovering this country, and at the same time, we were a little apprehensive as we’d heard so much about Rajasthan: « you’ll see, it’s a country where corpses lie in the gutters, children surround you to ask for money and pens, rats swarm in public transport, thehe misery and poverty are hard to see, and the famous…. “either you love the country or you hate it! » So many words that already stress you out before you leave!

Well, we don’t totally agree with all that, for the following reasons. At the time, we didn’t say we loved or hated Rajasthan, as it’s a challenging trip on every level, but North India is a must-see region, to be visited at least once in your life! I’m telling you about our own experience, our lived experience, our feelings, but one thing’s for sure: I don’t agree with everyone’s prejudices, because India is a country that’s changed a lot!

I also invite you to read all our other articles on Rajasthan to help you prepare for your trip:


We chose to discover the Rajasthan region, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state with 200 million inhabitants, with its city Agra, world-renowned for the Taj Mahal and the Varanasi on the left bank of the Ganges.

We had a guide and driver for the duration of our stay, and drove in a Toyota-style car. Honestly, I advise you to rent a car because using the means of transport in the Rajasthan are feasible but very complicated (refer to our practical guide to pre-trip information). It’s best to be patient, even very patient! What’s more, with a driver, you can take full advantage of the scenery and stop whenever you like.

This 19-day itinerary gives you a good idea of Rajasthan, so you can enjoy your trip without having to run around. Be aware of road conditions and distances for this trip.


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Let’s discover the Rajasthan, formerly called Rajputana, which means ” Land of raspout” or Land of the Maharajas. For your information Rajasthan comes from “Rajas” which means king and “Than” which means Earth.






No sooner had we arrived in Delhi than we set off for a 5-hour drive to the city of Jaipur. Capital of Rajasthan, with 5 million inhabitants, it is also called the pink city for its many facades, havelis and palaces built in pink sandstone.

This modern city is surrounded by a fortified wall guarded by seven gates, and it’s inside that life is most interesting and authentic. For a first approach, it’s original to explore the city in a rikshaw (horse-drawn carriage driven by a local) to watch the city unfold from either side. A unique experience that allowed us to enter narrow streets where motorcycles, tuk tuks, cows and pedestrians pass by in the midst of small shops. Our eyes couldn’t take our eyes off the almost constant hustle and bustle. This means of transport also enabled us to spot buildings to visit such as the Wind Palace with its five-storey red sandstone façade, adorned with 593 windows and balconies. The wind palace is really just a facade, where air could easily circulate (hence its name). In the past, it was used as a screen for the ladies of the royal family, who sheltered in it to watch the street show without being seen by passers-by.

Our first evening, after a few hours in the air and a hectic day, ended in an old cinema, beautifully decorated to show a film Bollywood. And what a film! With a running time of 3 hours and 3 intermissions, we’ve only seen the first part of the film, but it’s already given you a good idea.


Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal)
Amber Fort
Amber Fort


We really wanted to take the time to stay 3 days in Jaipur because we wanted to celebrate the Holi festival and visit other sites such as the Observatoire Jantar Mantar, the City Palace, the Maharaja’s Palace, The Jal Mahal, palace in the middle of Lake Man Sagar and the incredible Amber Fort located 12km from the town. This fort is surrounded by the 2nd largest wall (after China’s), 10km long, and features incredible frescoes, some encrusted with semi-precious stones and mirrors.

This is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots! In high season, you’ll rarely get a selfie! Be aware that tourists wait an average of 2 hours in line to climb the fort on elephant back! Please, please don’t do it and boycott this useless and unethical activity! Prefer to climb on foot or in a 4×4 car.

Ramparts of Amber Fort
Jal Mahal



The third day in Jaipur was reserved exclusively for the Holi festival. This Hindu festival, celebrated every March, evokes the spring equinox. The Holi festival, also known as the festival of colors, refers to the colored powders thrown on Hindu believers, and lasts an average of 2 days, a moment to experience that we explain in our dedicated article.

At the end of the day or very early in the morning, I invite you to climb the ramparts of Amber Fort to enjoy the panorama and incredible views. If you’ve got a little time left, you can also see an astrologer – they’re reputed to be the best in the country! Don’t forget to buy silver and gold jewelry and handicrafts, for which Jaipur is famous. Discover our article on what you can bring back with you on your next trip..





About 5-6 hours’ drive from Jaipur, Ranthambhore is one of the best places to spot India’s wildlife, especially the famous Bengal tiger. In the past, this park was the hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today, it’s a protected park that shelters a few tigers over an area of 20,000 hectares.

Only 20% of the park is open to tourists, and this offers safaris in small 4x4s or large 4x4s (for around 30 people). If you’re lucky like us, in 2 hours we saw 2 tigers and a brown bear running at top speed up the mountainside. We didn’t see any leopards, but you can’t have everything! For your information, leopards are eaten by tigers, so they rarely come down from their trees, as their predators are wisely waiting below. If you too would like to live this experience, we invite you to read the article on this superb day.





5 hours from Ranthambhore, we discovered the pretty town of Bundi. It’s a long way to this slightly forgotten corner of Rajasthan, and the roads are very rough. Bundi is off the beaten track but well worth a visit. This picturesque city of around 13,000 inhabitants, enchanted us because in addition to having beautiful Havelis (these are former houses of wealthy merchants turned back into hotels today), it is enlivened by its Bazaar and located at the foot of a fortress and princely palace. The climb to the fort takes 30 minutes and the interior is remarkable for its marvellous 18th century murals, unique in Rajasthan.

It’s a place of authentic medieval charm, as the immense ochre palace clinging to the side of a mountain dominates the ancient town, with its houses often painted light blue, as in Jodhpur! Bundi is famous for its many staircase buildings (there are said to be as many as 65). If you have a guide, ask him to show you the famous Bundi wells. (stepwell in English), today dry, like that of Raniji-ki-Baori. The stairs are apparently remarkable







A 5h drive from Bundi (and what a drive, 1h jumping in the car because of the multiple pebbles on the asphalt), here we are in Udaipur, in this city built on water. Called the Venice of the East and City of Lakes, an oasis of greenery amidst the arid lands of Rajasthan awaits you! Udaipur has been the residence of the Maharajas since the 16th century. So don’t be surprised to see many palaces, some of which have been converted into hotels and restaurants. We stayed here for 2 nights. Accompanied by our guide, we took advantage of the afternoon to visit the Old Market, a huge souk-like market in Marrakech. You’ll find fabrics, furniture, trinkets, jewelry, vegetables, spices, etc., but be sure to allow a day for browsing and photography.

The next day, we headed to the state’s largest palace, the City Palace (entrance 30R/p without the museum) which houses numerous salons richly decorated with mirrors and featuring ivory doors overlooking the Lake Pichola. Below the palace is the departure point for the boats. Take a short one-hour tour to see the city from afar, the floating Palace in the middle of the lake, called Jag Mandir and take the opportunity to visit the magnificent gardens of Sahelion-ki-Bari also known as the “damsel garden”. A garden built in the early 18th century for the ladies of the court.

The tour continues with the famous ghats, staircases that plunge into the lake and Le Lake palace which is said to be a former palace converted into a luxury hotel on the advice of Jackie Kennedy. The palace was used for the filming of the James Bond movie Octopussy. In the evening, we took a cooking class at the local house and prepared Masala goat cheese. Discover the video and recipe here.

If you get bored in the evening, if you arrive before 6pm in Udaipur, you can attend the folk dance and puppet show (a bit kitsch but with Indian charm), the Dharohar Folk Dance (150R/p and 150R for the camera). There’s also a dance show organized every evening at 7pm at Lal Gat Udaipur. For those who prefer massages, we were recommended to the side of Hanuman Gat, Bharti massage center, apparently a genius! (he was in Germany the day we were there).

If you’re looking for a good restaurant with a great view, you’ve got the L’Ambrai located right next to Lake Pichola. It features a large terrace with a magical view of the lake and the City Palace. Expect to pay around 1100 R/P for a menu comprising a cocktail, two courses, dessert, naan, coffee and masala chai, otherwise known as chai tea.


Jag Mandir
Vegetable and spice market
Lake Palace
City Palace




The road to the temple of Ranakpur is winding and mountainous! Allow 2 hours from Udaipur to reach it. Beware, we had to deal with a few snowshoers who stopped the vehicle and asked for pennies! If you don’t, they either throw pebbles or Holi pigments at you. The choice is yours! Did you know that the Ranakpur temple is one of the largest in India, and according to our guide, it’s bigger than the Taj Mahal!

It took 63 years from 1433 to 1496 to build the marble temple with its 1,444 columns. 4,200 people contributed to this masterpiece, including 1,500 architects and 2,700 workers. A pure wonder of nature!




A 4-hour drive from Ranakpur, you will find Jodhpur. The advantage of having a driver and a car is that you can stop much earlier in the Indian countryside to get a glimpse of daily life, a more rural India. It’s a chance to chat with the locals, play with the kids over a masala chai and take some great photos.

Did you know? But why are the roofs and facades of Jodhpur blue? because locals found that the color repelled mosquitoes and other insects. So they used this color to color their homes.

Nicknamed the “Blue City” because of the many roofs painted in this color, this tradition is unfortunately lost on one side of the city and is barely visible as you stroll through the narrow streets. However, if you want to have a drink and relax, I recommend the rooftop of the Jhankar Haveli for its beautiful terrace. If you have time, we recommend a visit to the majestic Fort Mehrangarj at the top of the hill to enjoy the beautiful view, but also the Mandore garden with its magnificent cenotaphs erected in honour of the former maharajahs of Jodhpur and the Jaswant Thada’s cenotaph all in white marble, north of the old town.

We didn’t fall in love with this town, nor with its medieval fort, which is by far less interesting than other sites in Rajasthan. The city of Jodhpur is best known for its spice market with the « Clock Tower », the economic and nerve center of the old town. It was erected by Maharaja Sardar Singh in 1910 to imitate the British and, above all, to tell the time to the inhabitants. All around the Clock Tower stretches the Sardar Bazar, renowned for great deals on textile bags, discover our article to find out what you can bring back from Rajasthan.


Fort Mehrangarj




This town is more of a stopover, situated 1 hour’s drive from Jodhpur, i.e. around 60km before reaching Jaisalmer. This is a little corner of paradise, with luxury tents set in a magnificent garden with swimming pool! What better way to get some rest?

For reservations in these tents and to check availability, click here





We’ve fallen in love with this town lost deep in the Thar Desert and located some 100 km from the Pakistan border.

A visit to the Trikuta hilltop fort, dating from 1156, is a must. Inside, there’s real village life, with houses, merchants and vegetarian restaurants on one side, and non-vegetation on the other.

Just 1 hour from Jaisalmer, it is also the starting point for camel safaris in the dunes. An experience we didn’t necessarily enjoy, due to the abundance of garbage and the sheer volume of tourists.

Indeed, the safari lasts 1 hour maximum and I thought we would go further into the desert! You are pulled by a local Bedouin who takes you to the dunes close to the roads and makes you do a round trip! You may feel like you’re being taken for a pigeon, but Indians love it! The night show that followed was no better, and not the best memory of our stay!

Next time we go back, we’ll be sure to book a night in the desert for a real experience, sleeping under the stars.







A 6-hour drive from Jaisalmer, the town of Bikaner is a mandatory step because you do a lot of driving during the day and the commute can be tiring! We took the opportunity to rest in our beautiful hotel and visit the fort Junagarh. A restful, well-deserved stopover. You can also visit a superb painting studio. It’s the city of miniatures and a great souvenir to take home. Click here to find out what souvenirs to bring back from India.





This temple is dedicated to the Hindu sage Karni Mata, reincarnation of the goddess Durga. It is built of marble and is best known for its rats. Thousands of sacred rats, treated as such and respected as the ancestors of deceased and reincarnated inhabitants. According to rumors, there are only rats inside the enclosure, none outside (it’s true that I haven’t seen a single one running around the temple).

Among these rats is a single white rat! If you spot it, it’s a sign of good fortune for you! BINGO we’ve seen it, and not just one, there were two. Am I going to be super rich?

I couldn’t describe in detail what I saw in terms of sculptures, as I was concentrating on the rats and hoping they wouldn’t get on me! The only thing I remember is the temple door, with its representations of rats and tridents (symbol of Shiva). You can visit barefoot or in socks like me, because you’ll be walking through pee and rat droppings! The sensation isn’t very pleasant, but it’s an experience to be had. If you want to see this temple and these rats, click here to see the short video we made.





5 hours drive from Bikaner is the most important city in Shekhawati, Mandawa. Here, you’ll find numerous Havelis (old houses converted into hotels), charming frescoes and a superb castle converted into a hotel, where you can enjoy a coffee by the sumptuous swimming pool. At first glance, the city may seem hostile, but we loved the charm of the colorful paintings, an open-air art gallery that can be found everywhere. You’ll also come across flea markets, so if you’re a decorating enthusiast, beware – we wanted to bring it all back! Today, Mandawa is a major crafts center.





A 3-hour drive from Mandawa (allow between 3 and 5 hours depending on road conditions) is the Neemrana fort Palace, a magnificent fort built in the 15th century. We come here for its sumptuous setting, its famous swimming pool overlooking the entire valley, but above all for the flying Fox, a kind of zip line that gave us a whole new experience! You fly over the immense building at an altitude of 453 m! Count around 1450R if you pay online and 2100R on site. Click here to see our video of this activity.

Here, we took the time to do yoga in the fort’s gardens and eat the best breakfast of our stay. It’s important to eat well before any activity!

For reservations in this fort and to check availability, click here



J15 | AGRA


Around 5 hours’ drive from Neemrana (roads in good condition) is the city of Agra, with its famous Taj Mahal, one of the 7 most beautiful wonders of the world. With that name, it’s no wonder it attracts 7 to 8 million people every year!

Located on the bank Yamuna, this monument was erected by Emperor Shah Jahan to perpetuate the memory of his late favorite wife Multaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is just a perfect gem that’s part of humanity’s world heritage. It took 22 years and 20,000 men to build this masterpiece of white marble encrusted with semi-precious stones! It symbolizes the story of true love. We’ve covered it from every angle, and it’s pure bliss to be in front of this marvel. We sit on the park benches to admire it peacefully.

We were disappointed to find out that we wouldn’t be so alone in the photo. The site is visited by hundreds of people a day, given its worldwide success. A Unesco World Heritage site, it’s overrun with local and foreign tourists, but that’s the game. That’s why, you’ll be more relaxed either very early at the opening (get up at 5am to be in front of the entrance before the opening.) or around 4:30 pm, at the end of the day to enjoy golden hour and the last rays of sunshine. The Taj Mahal opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes before sunset, at 6.30pm, so plan well!

The cameras and tripods are not allowed in the enclosure, so don’t be fooled like we were, at the risk of having to go back to reception and leave all the equipment in lockers.

Before entering the site, you’ll be given protective footwear for walking inside the Taj Mahal (from you to me, the interior isn’t that spectacular). There’s nothing to see except 2 graves, as the monument is empty.

Remember to book your tickets in advance on their website (admission 1100R without mausoleum). Please note that it is closed on Fridays, as access is only available to worshippers visiting the mosque.


  • Far-off views of the Taj Mahal

As we were disappointed with our short visit the day before, we opted to revisit the Taj Mahal at sunrise on the other side of the riverbank. For roughly 500R, you take a tuk tuk around 5:30 am and 20 minutes later, you arrive at the site at Mehetapak 10km from Agra. Allow 100/p to enter the park and face the Taj Mahal, or take the free path beside it for a side view (just as good).

If you stay a full day in Agra, it’s possible accompanied by a guide to discover the surrounding countryside by bike and unique views of the site, such as from Fort Rouge. A great way to really enjoy this wonder of the world.


Sunrise over the Taj Mahal
View of the Red Fort



Agra train station « cantt rail wa » is about 20 minutes from the Taj Mahal and takes you to Jhansi. The one-way train costs 1629 R/p. Arrive there, en route to Orcha in the state of Pradesh, not Rajasthan. The town looks like a tiny little Lourdes, and it’s a nice place to stop for lunch. I also recommend the restaurant Ramraja just before entering the palace. We ate there very well and the welcome was friendly.



Khajuraho is a village in Madhya-Pradesh. It is an archaeological site famous for its erotic sculptures: the KAMA SUTRA. In reality, these make up only 5% of the total sculpted surface. We loved the fact that this site is surrounded by vegetation and gardens. Its excellent state of preservation makes it one of the most visited sites in India.





Departure at 11:40pm from Khajuraho station, arriving at 4pm in Varanasi! You’re about to experience the joys of transportation in India: 6 hours late on the scheduled arrival time (10am) not bad no ?

Below, the train 3 AC which offers very simple bunks with sheets. This is the basic class used by many tourists. You’ll also find “couchettes sleepers” very basic, the cheapest, no sheet and no pillow with essentially more indians around you watching you sleep! A word of advice: get your tickets from the station as soon as you can. If you can’t get there, many local agencies offer these services (purchase of plane/train tickets, etc.).





Also called Benares, its ancient name, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the holiest places in Hinduism. Every year, a good million pilgrims come to bathe and wash away all their sins.

Varanasi, it’s also the place where Hindus come to die. To breathe your last is to break the cycle of reincarnation and reach nirvana. Benares is the beating heart of Hinduism, a city that has left its mark on us and leaves no traveler indifferent.
We were struck by the crematorium and the open-air ceremony. In fact, human bodies are burned here in front of you every day. Of course, it’s impossible to take photos or film, but you should know that for Hindus, receiving the sacred fire means you’ll go straight to heaven. This fire has never been extinguished for 4,000 years and is paid for by protectors who make sure it never goes out. Here you better understand the expression “man is only dust and returns to dust or you are only passing through on this Earthe”, a feeling that worked on me for a few days to tell you the truth!

The whole body takes an average of 3 hours to burn (as the bones of the pelvis take longer to decompose, they are consequently thrown into the Gange just like the ashes collected! Do you still want to bathe in this sacred water?

You can easily stay 2 or 3 days in this city! If you’re beginning to tire of Indian cuisine, you can opt for the Mac do in town with a 169R tax-free menu, in the Mall Sigra, 3km from Varanasi town. A must-try, as you’ll always find Masala spices. Click here to see the short video about Varanasi.



After a 3-week stay, you’ll understand why this country is nicknamed “Incredible India

Please note that, as an accredited tailor-made travel designer, I can help you create your own personalized itinerary for your stay in India. Please send me an email at : contact@mademoiselle-voyage.fr

Before you leave, don’t forget to read all our other articles on Rajasthan to help you prepare for your trip: