I want to... explore
An extended weekend, or for that matter even a week, is too little time to explore Rajasthan. This is the state of royalty, of forts, palaces, lakes and deserts, of vibrant dance and music, of incredible food and swirling colour. But a couple of days is just right to get a closer look at Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan and a slice of what the state is all about.
Start your visit with a trip to the City Palace, a beautiful and sprawling urban palace with a mélange of structures that have been obviously built during various periods. There are eclectic collections as well – from royal artefacts to weaving traditions to a collection of vintage vehicles. Many other sights are clustered around this, such as the Hawa Mahal with its stunning facade of windows and Jantar Mantar, a fascinating collection of scientific instruments in the form of solid structures, including a massive sundial. Round the corner from all these monuments is the intensely busy warren of narrow streets housing Jaipur’s many markets where you can buy beautiful fabric and exquisite samples of Jaipur’s famous blue pottery.
For a true sense of a fort and castle, head a bit out of town to Amer Fort located on a hill overlooking Jaipur, stopping at Jal Mahal, a dramatic structure in the middle of a lake.
Stay at Zone by the Park Jaipur, a quirky, fun and colourful hotel located in a quieter part of the city that offers a contrast to the hectic pace of the old town. Filled with colourful paintings and stylish décor, the hotel’s rooftop pool and spa are wonderful boltholes after a hectic day. Rooms start from Dh136 over the Eid period.
I want to... unwind
The smorgasbord of sights and experiences that Rajasthan has to offer can often overwhelm and leave the visitor wired. The city of lakes, Udaipur’s affectionate sobriquet, will soften and smoothen the edges. Five major lakes dot the city and are actually connected by a system of canals and it is on these lakes that royalty previously built stunning palaces and royal edifices which have been adapted into havens of tranquillity and relaxation. The city has a plethora of sights and is known for its dances and cultural festivals, but the lakes are beautifully seductive and it is easy to give in to the temptation of just lazing around and lotus-eating, while gazing into the rippling waters of the lakes.
Stay at Jagat Niwas Hotel on Lake Pichola, a charming 17th century palace with stunning views of the lake. There’s nothing much to do than relax and unwind. Stir only to imbibe the delectable local fare laid out by the hotel in its handful of restaurants. Rooms start from $66 per night.