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No visit to Rajasthan is complete without including one of its iconic cities but to find the real, rural India head off the beaten track to some of its villages and smaller towns. Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue – and that’s just the cow horns. Rural Rajasthan is the stuff of your imagination; sweeping deserts and craggy hills, forgotten forts and fairy-tale palaces, snooty camels and wandering cows, the very essence of India all in eye-popping glorious technicolour.
After the hullabaloo of the cities the Rajasthan countryside presents a great opportunity to slow down to a pace of life no faster than a trundling bullock cart. Rural India is where the majority of Indians live, in small towns such as Rohet, Deogarh and Bundi where deposed royalty are still held in the highest esteem, and in villages like Bhainsrorgarh, Ramathra and Narlai centred round holy trees or elaborately decorated wells with tall pillars for travellers to find when crossing the deserts.
Our approach is to use small locally owned properties where the family has a strong relationship with the surrounding community so that you are welcomed into nearby villages. You’ll know that you’re on to a good thing when the road signs peter out, the potholes get bigger and a man on a moped is sent to meet you and show you the last secret mile to your lodgings. Swop your car for a jeep, bicycle or your own two feet and you’ll soon discover some hidden gems.
With our local guide to show you the way you’ll meet tribes with eco-friendly lifestyles, discover uses for fruit and vegetables you never knew existed and loop garlands of orange marigolds around blue faced gods. Linger a little longer and you’ll learn why voluminous shocking pink turbans are the local fashion and stand in awe as women in pea green saris elegantly saunter by with pots of water on their heads. Bring your camera as children in particular love to have their picture taken – in a seemingly quiet spot dozens appear out of nowhere at the sight of a Nikon. Don’t be shy as people will be curious about you too; be prepared to answer questions about your age, how many children you have and, perhaps, how many cows or goats you own.
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.