For most travelers, Rajasthan conjures up images of opulent palaces, awe-inspiring fortresses and a rich culture that reflects in the state’s widely popular cuisine. But is this all there is to see and experience in Rajasthan? Surely not! There’s a lot more to this princely state beyond the typical Rajasthan tourist spots you’ve always heard about. Not to take anything away from Rajasthan’s popular historic sites, but there’s a wealth of overlooked destinations and underhyped experiences the state has to offer. With a vibrant local culture and a distinct natural landscape, Rajasthan definitely makes for an intriguing place to visit. So, the next time you want to plan a trip to this part of the country, give the usual palaces, forts, and lakes a miss and go on a journey to uncover these hidden gems.
Brush with history at the ‘Jauhar Mela’
As controversial and outdated as it may be, the concept of Jauhar is highly revered among certain groups of Rajputs. Chittorgarh, the erstwhile hot seat of Rajput kings and one of the most important historical places in Rajasthan, has witnessed 3 Jauhar ceremonies in the past, and it is not surprising that it has left a deep impression on the local culture. Even though the ceremony of Jauhar is not practiced today, every year there is a festival to pay respect to the women who gave their lives in Jauhar. Held within the premises of the massive Chittorgarh fort, the Jauhar Mela is touted to be the biggest Rajput festival held in Rajasthan. That itself is enough reason to pay a visit to the Jauhar Mela and experience the valor of the Rajput community
Get lost and found in Bundi
If you’ve had enough of the big cities of Rajasthan, it’s time for you to take the road less travelled. About 35 Kms from Kota and 210 Kms from Jaipur, lies the town of Bundi. The town may seem lackluster compared to the grandeur of the bigger royal cities, but it is definitely not obscure. With beautiful lakes, palaces and lush fruit orchards, there’s a certain authenticity about Bundi that is hard to find elsewhere in Rajasthan. Spend a day exploring the numerous step wells and pristine lakes of Bundi and we promise you’re going to thank yourself for taking this detour.
Get a taste of the forbidden fruit at an Amal sabha
Opium may be illegal in the rest of the country, but in Rajasthan, it is serious business. The Amal Sabha is a congregation of local men participating in a ritualistic consumption of opium, not as a forbidden drug, but as a mark of brotherhood and friendship. Amal Sabhas have been a part of the local culture for thousands of years and are still going strong. As part of the ceremony, opium is prepared and served by the eldest man of the community to everybody else at the gathering. As a tourist, you can also be a part of one of these ceremonies to experience what goes on inside the Amal Sabha and who knows, maybe you’ll also get a chance to taste the forbidden but precious local drink?
Learn an indigenous art form of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is home to myriad different forms of art and craft. Whether it is the iconic ‘Bandhani’ (tie and dye), traditional block printing or the handcrafted silver and gem jewellery, there is no dearth of handicrafts in Rajasthan. The local markets are flooded with products that are truly hard to resist. But how about you get a peek behind the scenes? Instead of just buying the final products, why not also learn how some of those products are made? If you are an art enthusiast, there’s no better place than Rajasthan to immerse yourself in learning different art forms and taking home more than just a readymade product.
Rajasthan has been on the tourist map for the longest time. But there is still so much left to see and experience in this vibrant state that the typical Rajasthan tour packages do not show you. Next time get a little adventurous and seek the unknown. You never know what surprise Rajasthan will spring at you next!