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Udaipur beguiles travelers with its Unmatched Charm

Udaipur Beguiles Travelers with Its Unmatched Charm

Once the capital city of the King of Mewar, a Rajput, Udaipur is what romance is to the poets. The magic of visiting Udaipur will never stop in your heart, as this city is filled with rich history, monuments, museums, palaces, forts, lakes, temples, colorful local festivals, and events. Also known to be ‘the most romantic city in India,’ and ‘Venice of India,’ this city of lakes carries the heroic spirit of valiant Rajput kings and warriors. A true place of inspiration for creative souls. You could paint your imagination with the kaleidoscopic view of this city of dawn that can ignite your romance for life! Udaipur is cocooned between the ranges of beautiful Aravalli Hills.

Palaces

The lake palace, which is surrounded by Lake Pichola, was built by Maharana Jagat Singh, and now turned into a five star hotel, gives a scenic view that depicts excellent artistic craftsmanship. The décor of this palace is made in the authentic ethnic theme embellished in fabrics and engravings of Rajasthan and Indian motifs. You can also take a walk on the royal corridors of Fateh Prakash Palace that are adorned with paintings as old as 17th century and decorated in velvet and silk curtains inside. If you want to take a look at the ornate style in which palaces are decorated, you must visit the Moti Mahal and Chini Mahal. These palaces depict the life and culture of the Mewar Dynasty.

Museums and forts

From the days of yore, these museums depict the lifestyle and day to day living conditions during the time of Mewar dynasty. Every palace and museum in Udaipur is popular for its enigmatic and intricate architecture and interiors. Inside the City Palace museum you will find antique pieces, artifacts, and armory collection of Kings of Mewar. There is a spot in this courtyard and it is said that on that very spot in the courtyard, a sage had told the King of Mewar to build a city around it. The Shilpagram museum depicts the arts and crafts created during the Mewar Dynasty. Shilpagram means a village of craftsmen. There is also a museum that has a collection of vintage cars. It is said that the Maharanas used these vintage luxury cars which depicts the splendor of their aristocracy.

If you would like to see the crystal collection of chairs, tables, chandeliers, sofas, and even beds, visit this exotic place called Durbar Hall which is on the southern side of the City Palace Museum. Imagine what a luxury it would be to sleep on a crystal bed!!You’d be dreaming in radiance! No other gallery has such unique artistry as that displayed in this Crystal Durbar Hall. Someone really loved jewels and precious stones a little more than women did, and then, Durbar Hall was created shimmering in artistic works made in crystal.

Pic Credits: Flickr

The Bagore ki Haveli that lies on the Lake Pichola is yet another popular tourist attraction. This haveli is dolled up with glass and mirror works. You can also get a glimpse of modern art paintings in the huge rooms that are spread across this place. This Haveli is now used for conducting dance and music events.

Nature and Wildlife

The Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary is a home for many endangered species. If you are lucky, you could see wolfs, antelopes, hyenas, jackals, leopards, chinkara, and many mammals that are now a rare species. Peacocks and doves are most commonly viewed birds in this sanctuary. You can also get a view of kingfishers, parakeets, golden Oriole, and hooting owls. You can take a horse safari to this wild life sanctuary.

Pic Credits: http://www.linkmesh2.com

Parks and gardens

You can enjoy the sight of musical fountain in the Dudh Talai Musical Garden. They do play Bollywood numbers, don’t they? This is also a place where you can get to see the beautiful sunset in the Aravalli Hills. This is the first musical fountain built in Rajasthan. You also get to see the magnificent view of Lake Pichola, Jag Mandir, and get a panoramic view of the entire Udaipur City. The Sukhadia Circle which lies in the northern side of Udaipur is best to be visited in the night. When the three tier fountains light up, you can see some auspicious motifs carved in this marble fountain. It is said that these motifs symbolize prosperity. This place which is called ‘the heart of Panchwati,’ is surrounded by many gardens and scenic landscapes.

Pic Credits: http://www.ghumakkar.com

Temples

The Jagadish Temple which lies on the Lake Pichola is a very popular temple, especially for its architecture, as it has been built on a higher altitude. In this temple lies the abode of Lord Lakshmi Narayana. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh, and is popular for its Indo-Aryan architecture. There is also a famous Karni Mata Temple also known as ‘the temple of rats,’ and can be reached by cable cars. This temple treats rats as sacred. Karni Mata is said to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga.

 

Vibrant Desert Camps near Jaisalmer

Destination Rajasthan: Unveiling its rich heritage

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Vibrant Desert Camps near Jaisalmer

Vibrant Desert Camps near Jaisalmer

Raw and unadulterated, the Great Thar Desert is the pride of India. There are many folklores and legends about the great majestic play of sun and sands, burning during day, and smoothening chilly at night. As people are getting adventurous to explore and experience the wonders of nature and challenge their own comforts, the sand dunes of Rajasthan have been beckoning and attracting tourists from across the world.

As a result, a number of camps and resorts have become operational in the region. An experience here is unlike anything else. It gives you an entirely new perspective to nature and its mysterious wonders. The magnanimous and endless stretches of bare sand are mesmerizing as well as daunting.

Jaisalmer and the dunes

The most popular area to experience desert first hand is in the areas of Jaisalmer. The terrain is at a distance of approx. 45 km from the historical city of Jaisalmer. Many camp operators have made it into a memorable amalgamation of culture and natural beauty, all rolled into one, sprinkled with the legendary Rajasthani hospitality.

The harsh desert expanses are complemented by well-set tents that you can find for a comfortable and even lavish accommodation. There are portable tents, modern, complete with running water in makeshift toilets and bath! These tent houses and the entire camp seem like a melting pot of activity against a sandy backdrop.

Sandy treat!

Get ready to be enthralled by the gaiety of Rajasthan culture, coming alive at these camps. Bedecked camels, the pride of the desert, seem to make one feel like royalty, as one rides these majestic beauties on the sandy terrain.

Here amidst the undulating dunes, is a feast for the eyes and soul. For, tucked away deeper into the sandy jungles, are a number of sunset view-points. The clear horizon and the orange glow of the setting sun in the West has motivated so many poets and has been weaved into many verses. Indeed an unforgettable and unparalleled experience!

For some fun, how about rolling down from the soft slopes? Pure ecstasy and clean fun! Do it yet again and feel the child in you burst with joy! Getting the sand into your clothes, shoes and every part of your body is a rewarding and letting-go-your-inhibitions experience! The sun can play tricks and you may see the sand changing colors. How about taking the adventurous and daring jeep safari? Go up and down, round and round, in an SUV! Fantastic!

The gala evening

Most of the caps will organize an enchanting show for you in the evening. The heat of the day gives way to cool and chilly nights so make sure that you have some warm wraps around. Enrapture yourself in the soul-stirring and foot-tapping music and watch the graceful Rajasthani locals dance to these tunes. Their attire with the exotic mirror-work and beads, the famous ghaghra cholis, look so gorgeous as they swirl to famed folk rhythms. If you are lucky, you may see the seven pots dancer, a lady who can dance with many earthen pots placed on top of one another, delicately balanced on her head as she dances around. The fire-players will leave you gaping!

Pic at Royal Desert Camp, Jaisalmer

Feel like shaking a leg yourself? Get up and join the dancers and see the energy that flows through your veins! Such is the power of their music!

Lip-smacking food!

The Rajasthani cuisine will be laid out for you in a lavish spread. The local flavors for the vegetarians, such as the famous daal-baati-choorma and the pure ghee used in preparations will have you licking your fingers. There is also the famous ‘lal-maas’ or the ‘red-meat’ cooked in simpering hot gravies! Awesome!

Sit on flat ‘charpai’ like beds and feel like a loCal!

Loosen your purse strings

Most of the camps will take you to nearby shopping areas where the spread of local fares, especially handicrafts will bowl you over. Pick up a few colorful fabrics, intricately colored and inlaid with exquisite mirrorwork and beadwork. How about some chunky jewelry? Or some artifacts for your home? It gives the local artisans a boost as well, so do make a few purchases.

You can take back memories in terms of some Rajasthani dry and ready-to-munch snacks as well. Hope that your suitcase has enough space, because you may find the wonderful local artifacts totally irresistible!

A last word

Jaisalmer and the sand-dunes are very unique, as they give you a fine taste of the enigma and mysteries of a desert and its life. Their heritage and tradition is also very alluring. This is surely a trip worth making!


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Destination Rajasthan: Unveiling its rich heritage

Do not get carried away by the title because Rajasthan has much more to it than what meets the eye. Now that we have your attention, let us address the elephant in the room – the gem of a place that is Rajasthan. Without one shadow of a doubt, it is one of the most vivacious and vibrant states in India. Not only does it boast of a rich cultural heritage that is preserved in pockets till date, but it is also the home to many magnificent palaces, sumptuous and lip smacking food and most importantly, it is a popular shopping hub for traditional clothes, jewellery and artifacts! Let us take a sneak peek into the beauty and richness that thrives in every nook and corner of Rajasthan.

Rajasthan has always attracted tourists because of the grand hospitality that runs down its history along with some spectacular sites. There is something for everyone here. In fact, Rajasthan has lately emerged as the most sought after site for destination weddings. Not only Indians, but couples from overseas as well are choosing Rajasthan to take their vows. Much credit needs to be given to Bollywood, which is the linchpin when it comes to recreating the magical Rajasthan on celluloid and taking it across countries.

Here we have listed a multitude of places that are a must visit if you are planning to have a piece of Rajasthan anytime soon. There is just so much to discover, travel and unleash in Rajasthan that any no matter how much time you spend there, you can never have enough of the place!

Jaipur: This is the most obvious entry in our list. The ‘gulabi town’ is indeed one of the most important cities in Rajasthan. It is the capital city in true measure and has successfully managed to preserve the cultural heritage while taking forward strides into the modern world. It has all the elements that define a developed city, like commercial malls, broad clean roads, fancy restaurants, picturesque palaces and the constituents of the old world charm. No matter what you do, do not forget to splurge in the local Johri Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar and indulge in the ultra famous Rawat ki kachori.

Udaipur: The city of lakes is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rajasthan, which comes as no surprise really. Laden with aesthetically pleasing scenic beauty and serenity, Udaipur was previously called the Venice of East. The plethora of lakes and innumerable palaces make for the most spectacular sites in the city. Do make a point to stop by the Kumbhalgarh Fort, lake Pichola, and Fateh Prakash Palace among other sites. In fact, a heritage walk in Udaipur will be a great idea.

Jodhpur: One of our personal favourites, Jodhpur is a place we just can’t get enough of. It is the second largest city in Rajasthan and has a tremendous and fascinating history behind it. The Umaid Bhawan Palace is one grand site to stop by. The Mehrangarh Fort is one of the most popular tourist places in Jodhpur. It rises above the city and is a site of sheer cultural heritage. You must also visit the old market and the Clock Tower. It is chaotic, colourful and beautiful all at once, known for colourful handicrafts, accessories and home utility products. Though overcrowded at times, but it transcends the actual essence of the city.

Jaisalmer: Like every city in Rajasthan that has a unique past to boast about, Jaisalmer has a tale of valour that runs down history. This of course, is in conjunction with the vibrancy and colourfulness that is a trademark of Rajasthan on a whole. The Golden Fort of Rajasthan or the Jaislamer Fort is nothing short of magical. The architecture too is simply majestic. The positioning of the Fort amidst the desert speaks of the finesse and genius that went behind its planning. Other noteworthy sites include Patwon-ki-Haveli, Sam Sand Dunes (perfect for a desert safari) and Gadisar Lake among many others.

Chittorgarh: Another fascinating location in Rajasthan is Chittorgarh. The place is sure to immerse you in the rich historical traditions reflected in the architecture and the serenity of the city. Sites which you just can’t afford to miss out on are Vijay Stambh, Chittorgarh Fort, Padmini’s Palace and Fatta Haveli. There are innumerable temples that are architecturally rich and enable you to get in touch with your religious selves. Moreover, Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary is one to watch out for all nature lovers out there.

Mount Abu: The only hill station in the desert state, Mount Abu has enjoyed an unparalleled status since years. In a nutshell, the site is beautiful, peaceful, and serene and stands in sharp contrast to the other cities of Rajasthan that are replete with forts and palaces. That being said, it is not without its share of historical and cultural importance. Mount Abu has a number of pilgrimage sites and temples that attract tourists all year round. It provides respite from the scorching sun and takes you in the lap of nature surrounded by lush greenery and pleasant weather. Ergo, it should come first in the pecking order in your Rajasthan travel itinerary.

Pushkar: Everyone has heard of the famous Pushkar Fair that is central to the mythical town of Pushkar. It is a beautiful small town to visit in Rajasthan that has a unique mythological history behind it. Bordering the one and only Thar Desert, the town is set on Pushkar Lake which is considered as a sacred holy Hindu site laden with 52 stone staircases. Once there, you are bound to visit Brahma’s Temple and Dargah Sharif as well.

Ranthambore National Park: After having visited a number of opulent forts and palaces and experiencing the cool breeze of Mount Abu, you ought to pay visit to the Ranthambore National Park, one of the largest national parks in North India. In case you happen to be a photography aficionado, then this wildlife experience is surely meant to satisfy your senses.

So, go and immerse yourself in the rich history of Rajasthan and revel in the true spirit of the vibrant land!


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India for a solo traveler

India is a mine of cultural gems, vibrant and poignant. There are many ways to experience its warmth, charms, romance and intriguing traditions. Many travelers, both from the country’s own soils and others from global lands, like to traverse the length and breadth of this huge country alone.

Whilst this gives you a chance to travel as you like and is the perfect recipe for adventure, it is good to travel responsibly to enjoy and cherish your trip. Here are a few tips that can come in handy while you take the solo path to enjoy ‘Incredible India’!

 

  • Take it slow

India is a vast country and it simply cannot be covered in a single trip, unless you are stretching it on for months. Instead of making your trip hectic, localize your visit to cover destinations that are close to each other. This saves time, is budget friendly and can give you more time to explore the intricacies of each place that you visit. If you desire, make multiple trips to cover different parts of this beautiful country. The more you see of this wonderful land, the more you will be left yearning for – that is a promise!!

  • Carry first-aid and some handy snacks

Pack in come usual medicines and a first-aid kit, in case you need them when you travel alone. Medical shops may not be available everywhere and in any case may not stock up what you need. Likewise, pack in a few energy bars and light snacks, at least for the initial days till you get familiar how to move around.

  • Understand the Indian culture and mindset

India is a traditional land, and one with many religions. The culture by and large is one that respects people. Before visiting a place, read up about its culture and the general thought-process of the inhabitants.  This will help you mingle in better especially when you interact with the locals. Dress moderately, especially if you plan to visit places of religious worship, as some of these have some basic rules for dress codes.

  • Give Indian hospitality a chance

Indians by nature are very friendly and open up easily in fluent and warm verbal exchanges. These are valuable opportunities to get insights about their beliefs, lifestyles and you might learn a few things that may not be available in any tourist brochure. These glimpses of local life will stay with you forever! You can get handy and practical tips from the locals as well. You never know, you could end up forging a real friendship!

  • Taste the local flavors first hand

If you have been to India and not savored its gastronomic delights, you’ve missed something awesome! India is a land of spices, and flavor and food habits change every few miles. Pamper your taste buds with the local dishes. Most of the hotels and restaurants will dole out these for you lovingly, being their pride and tradition! If you are the adventurous type, ditch the expensive hotels and head down the by-lanes and streets for the true Indian cuisine wonders.

Be aware that some of these eating joints may have hygiene issues, so be sure to check them out well. Also, Indians go high on spices, masala and oil, so be careful what you pick to eat!

  • Avoid travel at night

It is advisable to travel during the day, since you are traveling alone, as far as possible. Avoid going into the city or desolate areas around dusk and later. This is even more important if you are a woman. If you do have to travel at night, be sure to use public and well-habited modes of transport such as trains or planes.

  • Stay Connected and Safe

Enjoy the joys of the virtual connectivity, and keep your family and loved ones informed about your safety. Use Wi-Fi hot-spots and Internet mobility to send regular updates back home. Buy a local calling card or a local mobile SIM card and talk to your family at least once a day. You can purchase a SIM card at the International Airport on arrival and saves you a lot of hassles/formalities to procure one outside. Every International Airport in India has telecom operators, selling these cards inside the airport. Download some of the safety apps on your mobile and configure them for emergency contact numbers for emergency.

  • Never compromise on your accommodation

Save in other places, but never compromise on the quality of your accommodation, since this is linked to safety and your well-being. Having a good manager with helpful staff is very important to make you feel happy and relaxed. Choose a budget hotel or warm family home-stay options if you want to cut costs, but one that is well known and has good reviews.

  • Don’t be wary of public transport

Public transport is safer as compared to taxis. They are cheaper too, especially the buses and trains. They also give you a good chance to meet locals and interact with them! Check out the bus, metro and train routes well in advance when you make your detailed plans. Download mobile apps of Indian Railways, Metro routes & bus routes. India is a technologically advanced country now, we have a lot of such technology readily available.

  • Don’t stick to the tourist hot-spots

Touristy places may sound ‘safer’, but are also commercialized and overcrowded. You may find a pleasant village tucked away nearby, relatively untouched by the money-making frenzy. This could be the perfect quaint place to visit, even though it may not have fancy offerings. This shall give you genuine first-hand experience to soak in the local ambience, perhaps at the cost of a bit of compromise on comfort. Don’t miss it!

  • Don’t forget to keep a self-defense weapon with you

Being safe and well-equipped for any unforeseen emergency is always good. Carry a handy weapon like a pocket-knife or the very suave and effective pepper-spray with you. Hopefully, you shall never need it, but it’s always good to be prepared, isn’t it?

So go on let the country soak you in its myriad colors and inspire you. Never cease to be surprised, as each of the 29 states has its own set of unique dialects, languages, food, culture and traditions. Travel well, travel smartly, safely and enjoy a memorable trip!

You might like to read more on traveling to India below:


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Varanasi travel Guide

 

Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) , is known as one of the oldest living cities in the world. According to the ‘Vamana Purana’,  one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, the Varuna and the Assi rivers originated from the body of the primordial Person at the beginning of time itself. The tract of land lying between them is believed to be ‘Varanasi’, the holiest of all pilgrimages.

This place has always been a centre of gravity for the tourists searching to experience pure bliss & to self discover an eternal oneness of the body & soul.

Best time to visit Varanasi: October till March

Plan: After Breakfast at Hotel, you can proceed to explore Kashi, visiting Major Places of Interest.

Major Places of Interest

River Ganga & Ghats: Its not only a river, but its Mother Ganges for Indians. Prime Attractions at this place includes a A boat tour in the morning, watching the aarti from the Ganges. A walk along the ghat especially in early morning or evening will make you amazingly fresh., the ghats Marikarnika, Assi & Dasaswamedh are must to see. The Ganga Ghats at Varanasi are full of pilgrims who flock to the place to take a dip in the holy Ganges, which is believed to absolve one from all sins.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple: This temple does not need much of description. It is situated at Western Bank of Holy River &  is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, belonging to Lord Shiva.

Durga Temple/ Monkey Temple

ISKCON Temple

Sarnath: 20kms from Varanasi lies this small town of Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave the first sermon to his 5 disciples. This is the place from where Buddhism actually started moving to all the four directions of UniverseDhamek Stupa (height of 43.6 meters and having a diameter of 28 meters) & the Sarnath Archaeological Museum are other places of Tourist Interest even to a non Buddhist.  Lion Capital of Ashoka , the National emblem of India is also preserved in the Sarnath Museum in India.

 

Extension Tours:

  • You can plan 2 day trip to Bodhgaya (255kms/4-5 Hrs), place where Gautam Buddha achieved enlightment. One can further extend the Tour  (450kms/ 8hrs) to primeval Calcutta, better known as Kolkatta, bustling Metro City of India.
  • Towards the North of Varanasi, one can plan trip to Lumbini (Nepal), the birth place of Gautam Buddha.

 

Must do:

  • Boat ride along the Ganges- reason why you are here!
  • Be here during a festival. Huge celebrations at Dushehra, Bharat Milap in September, followed by Diwali in October and Ganga Festival in November.
  • Stroll around the Ghats. Every ghat has a different story to speak! Assi is popular for bathing, others for worshipping. Its believed that by bathing near Tulsi Ghat, one get rid of leprosy. So , yes go and experience the story behind the scenes.
  • Be a part of evening Aarti and experience teh devotion that each heart carries for the Almighty

 

“Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together” – Mark Twain


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Jaisalmer Travel Guide

Jaisalmer “the Golden City of India” is a land of fascinating sand dunes, magnificient havelis and stunning Jain temples.  Come here to loose yourself in the sand dunes, stay in a camp, experience the solitude, witness the sunset behind the horizon and live the rich cultural heritage as part of ALifetimeTrip of the Thar Desert.

Best time to visit: October till March

Plan: Drive to Jaisalmer ”the Golden city”, check-in at hotel, and then visit Sam sand dunes that would give you a fun filled evening, enjoy the camel safari and feast your eyes with cultural bonanza in the undulating sea of sand.
Next day, enjoy city tour of Jaisalmer visiting The Golden fort or Sonar Killa- the living Fort with almost 4000 families living inside the fort walls, trace the former opulence in the havelis called Patwon ki haveli, Salim singh ki haveli & Nathmal ki haveli.

If you have sufficient days with you, a night’s stay at desert camps offered with a Traditional Rajasthani dinner & evening folk Dance is not to miss.

Shopping Around: Look for pretty embroidery work, mirror work, traditional rugs, hand woven blankets and antiques. Popular shopping bazaars are within the fort and include Sadar Bazar and Sonaron ka Bass.

Also Explore: Enroll into a dance class with Queen Harish; Bada Bagh if you are looking for some beautiful but peaceful place to watch the sunset; go on a camel safari at the Desert Nation park if you are a wildlife lover.

Celebrations: Desert Festival that takes place In the month of February.


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Jaipur Travel Guide

Jaipur- the Pink city and the mighty capital of Rajasthan- is one of the ten most beautiful cities of India. The mere mention of Jaipur transcends one to a world that is rich in culture and heritage. Jaipur today is a mega city that retains its medieval charm. Come here to experience the rich colors in the bustling markets, the world class hotels, sophisticated jewellery stores, huge standing forts and stunning palaces. Jaipur attracts everyone- be it art lovers, shopping freaks, film shoots, wildlife enthusiasts or the modern businessmen.

When to visit: October to March

Plan: After check in at your hotel and some rest, proceed to visit the city attractions i.e. City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Next day you can plan Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Jal Mahal along with a visit to City Museum and Birla Temple.

Do Explore: Sheesh Mahal in Amber Fort to realise the grandeur in which the royalty lived; watch a movie at Rajmandir Cinema to experience the Midas touch that makes the theatre more like a royal palace.

Evenings- Shop around at MI road or Johari Bazaar; witness the glorious Light and sound show at Amber Fort; give your taste buds the original flavour of Rajasthan at Chaukhi Dhani/ Kanchan Kesari.

Celebrations- The most notable celebrations are Gangnaur Festival (March/ April) and the Teej (August).

Extension tours-
1. You might like to experience one of the seven wonders of the world- the great Taj Mahal.
2. You can head to Ranthambore, Bharatpur or Sariska if you are a wildlife enthusiast
3. Make a day trip to Bhangarh- the most Haunted Site of India , where staying after 5 PM is not allowed. Enjoy the visit of Ruined forts and palace at Bhangarh and then proceed towards Abhaneri – famous for Chand Baori(one of the most finest geometrically designed step well of India) and Harshat Mata temple.
4. Explore Ajmer and Pushkar to visit the Dargah (tomb) of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti and Brahma Temple, known to be only temple of its kind across the Universe. Note that Pushkar Fair is mostly during Oct-Nov months.
5. If you have more days in your vacation calendar, head to the deserts of Jaisalmer to experience the shimmering san dunes and brilliant turbans. The Arabian nights fantasy comes alive HERE!

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