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An essential ingredient in Rajasthan’s mix is its incredible forts and palaces, erected over the centuries by its self-proclaimed aristocratic rulers, the charismatic warrior Rajputs. There are literally dozens of forts and citadels, on top of craggy hills, spread along ridges or on cliffs towering above rivers, many very often in a spot perfect for spotting the enemy from afar. In summer 2013 UNESCO created a new group listing - the first of its kind - for six of Rajasthan's hill forts.
The most well known of these edifices are now surrounded by cities, such as Jaipur or Jodhpur where dreamy views of the blue washed houses below can be enjoyed from Meherangarh fort, or even a zipline zooming over ravines and lakes with the wind your hair if you fancy a little more fun. Other forts that take a bit more getting to blissfully seem almost forgotten, despite their dramatic pasts, and can offer fabulous walking opportunities. These are the ones we'd urge you not to overlook; clambering over ruins at Chittorgarh brings Indiana Jones to mind while at Kumbalgarh there are nooks and crannies to explore without another soul in sight and perimeter walls snaking 35km (22 miles) along a series of hills to walk. The countryside views from the bastions and ramparts at both are simply spectacular and often you can enjoy entirely to yourself.
Monuments are all very well, but Jaisalmer is still vigorously alive. India’s last living fort it has been inhabited for more than 850 years and rises from the deserts of western Rajasthan like a giant sandcastle. It’s always been a busy trading outpost, though wood carvings and cushion covers are what’s on offer today, but push past the tie-dye bed spreads and the narrow alleyways lined with intricately carved haveli town houses are hugely atmospheric and beg for a full day of exploration.
For the ultimate Rajput experience, why not stay in a fort? Rooms often come with a fabulous view and you can expore crenellations, parapets and turrets at your leisure. If you're interested in staying in a converted fort some of our favourites include:
For a suggestion of how to include some of Rajasthan's incredible forts in your trip take a look at our suggested itinerary or get in touch and we'll happy to plan your tailor-made tour.
Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.