Perfect Travel Blueprint for ARJ: Ajmer, Ranthambore and Jaipur
Combine the best of the royal state of Rajasthan on this wonderfully handcrafted perfect travel blueprint! Explore the remarkable attractions and rich grandeur of the pink city-Jaipur,
holiest shrines of the country Ajmer Sharif and discover the diverse wildlife and sanctuary of the royal Bengal tiger, Ranthambore on this spectacular journey of Rajasthan.
From Mumbai to Ajmer
The cheapest and convenient way to reach Ajmer is via railway. Ajmer has rail connectivity with major cities. The nearest airport is in Jaipur which is just 3 hours away. Due to excellent train connectivity, it makes sense to explore Ajmer as a day trip or combine it along with Pushkar over the weekend.
From Mumbai, 12995- Bandra Terminus Udaipur Express on Friday which leaves from Bandra at 4:15 PM which will reach Ajmer around 09:50 AM next day
Day One: Ajmer
Considered to be one of the holiest shrines of the country, be ready to face a good crowd here, any time of the day you visit. Located around the very funnily named ‘Nag Pahad’ or Snake Mountain in the Aravali Hills, Ajmer is an otherwise unattractive town and most travellers prefer to make a pit-stop on the way to Pushkar. Ajmer is said to have been founded in the 7th Century and is home to the most sacred Islamic shrine in India, and for Muslims, a pilgrimage here is considered second in importance only to a visit to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Ajmer is also famous for its food (Veg and Non-Veg) and a particular dish called Kachori (special samosa smothered in sweet chutney sauce). So try that first and you will find it in every corner of the city. I highly recommend trying at Dhanna Kachori which is nearby Ajmer Railway Station.
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah built-in 13th Century is among the holiest Muslim shrine in India and is thronged by thousands of pilgrims every day. The slender path to the Dargah is lined with flower stall, food stalls and shops selling paraphernalia.
There is no best time to visit dargah sharif, early morning its claim and you can feel the holiness and in the evening you can enjoy Qawwalis.
Soniji Ki Nasiyan - Ajmer Jain Temple
Built in the late nineteenth century, Soniji Ki Nasiyan is an architecturally rich Jain Temple. Popularly known as the Ajmer Temple, or the Lal Mandir, it is situated in Prithvi Raj Marg in Ajmer, Rajasthan and is very close to Akbar Fort. This temple is worshipped for Lord Rishabhdev (Agnidev) who was the first of the Tirthankaras, and its disciples and followers mainly owe its origin to the Digambhar Sect.
Entry Ticket: INR 10.00 per person for Indian and INR 25.00 per person for Non-Indian
Timing: 09:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Kebabs & Curries Company (K&CC)
For lunch head to amazing restaurant just opposite Ana Sagar Lake Chowpatty - Kebabs & Curries Company (K&CC) they serve amazing Non-Veg Food. Some must-try dishes - Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Kolhapuri with Rulami Food and Chicken Biryani.
Akbar's Fort & Museum
Akbar Fort & Museum is situated on the Museum Road in Naya Bazar, Ajmer. Boasting of striking architecture - a blend of Mughal and Rajputana styles, the fort was built by the emperor Akbar, it was once the residence of Prince Salim.
This is a fort turned museum. The Akbar fort itself is a very significant fort in history as a lot of important decisions were taken here by the Mughal emperors, the most important one being Shahjahan's first meeting with Thomas Roe from East India Company, granting him rights to set up a factory in Surat. The EIC later expanded throughout the country and paved way for British Raj.
Entry Ticket: INR 20.00 per person for Indian and INR 100.00 per person for Non-Indian
Timing: 09:45 AM to 5:15 PM (Weekly Holiday on Monday)
Dhai Din Ka Jhopra
Dhai Din ka Jhopra is the exquisite seven arched screen in front of the hall. Each arch is different and there are delicate and elaborate carvings.
Ana Sagar Lake
The breathtaking and gorgeous Ana Sagar Lake is a magnificent artificial lake that is located in the city of Ajmer. This lake, which dries up every year in the summer season, is best visited during the sunsets when the views are extraordinarily marvellous to look at. Do not forget to take a camera to capture the fantastic and heavenly views that you behold here.
All in all, a visit to the Ana Sagar Lake is a must when you are in Ajmer, for the beauty of this lake can be enjoyed and cherished with friends and family alike. Today, the Ana Sagar Lake is one of Ajmer's most popular lakes and is also one of the largest lakes that India is home to.
The Ana Sagar Lake is surrounded by Daulat Bagh Gardens, which is a splendid garden full of vast open spaces and lush greenery, and the Khobra Behroon temple- two popular attractions of Ajmer that tourists prefer to visit along with a day trip to the beautiful lake. The lake is only 13 kilometres away from the main city of Ajmer. An island can be spotted in the centre of the lake. Tourists love to indulge in boating or water scooter rides here. The lake is about 4.4 metres deep and spreads over an area of 12 kilometres.
You can enjoy the cool breeze and beautiful view of Ana Sagar Lake while enjoying coffee at Budan Uncle - coffee shop just opposite to Ana Sagar Lake next to Kebabs & Curries Company (K&CC).
From Ajmer to Jaipur
In the evening you can enjoy Qawwalis at Dargah Sharif before leaving the city.
For Ajmer, I took 19031-Haridwar Mail on Saturday which leaves from Ajmer at 08:50 PM which will reach Jaipur around 11:05 PM same day.
Where to Stay In Jaipur?
Zostel Jaipur centrally located within the walled city at Hawa Mahal and it is close to all the major attractions of Jaipur. The colourful interiors of the hostel mirror the spirit of the city perfectly. The charges for the stay at Zostel are INR 499 per night for a bed in a dormitory. But I prefer to have my own space, so took a private suite which cost me INR 2199 per night.
Some other places to places are
Day Two: Pink City - Jaipur
Majestic buildings, tales of heroic battles, resplendent forts and palaces, and multi-faceted characters, Jaipur has long been one of the shiniest cultural jewels in the history of the Indian subcontinent. With friendly people known for their hospitality, Jaipur offers a plethora of options for travellers and can be easily explored over the weekend from Mumbai.
Breakfast @ The Tattoo Cafe & Lounge
Hawa Mahal is on view from this chill rooftop cafe with an outdoor seating arrangement and the restaurant serves only veg food. I will mark it 5/5 for location and view. For food and service 4 out 5
Jaipur’s most iconic landmark, the red and pink sandstone facade of Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds is widely recognized. Within its chambers, hidden from public view, the women of the royal house would secretly observe the activities on the street, through the palace’s latticework openings. A fine example of Mughal architecture, the pyramidal design of Hawa Mahal rises five-storeys from the ground
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Ticket: Indian INR 50.00 per person and INR 200.00 per person for Foreigner.
Located just behind the Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s famous City Palace, the centrepiece of the city and the heart of founder Jai Singh II’s reign. The City Palace includes Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal as well as a number of other structures. Built with highly trained architectural care. While a part of the palace remains the residence of the royal family of Jaipur even today, visitors have access to other parts of the palace complex. The City Palace also houses a temple and a museum with a fine collection of artefacts.
Timing: 09:30 AM to 05:00 PM & 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 100 per person and INR 400 per person for Foreigner.
Dating back to the 18th century, Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site and a testimony to the scholarly brilliance of a bygone era. Among the 20 instruments found at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest sundial in the world.
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 50 per person and INR 200 per person for Foreigner.
Jal Mahal, a palace half-submerged prettily right in the centre of the Man Sagar Lake on the outskirts of Jaipur. A masterful creation, it is bordered by the Nahargarh Hills. This low rise symmetrical Palace was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajas and now fascinates many visitors from all over the world.
Timing: Always Open
Entry Fees: No Entry Fees
Amer Fort & Palace
The charm of Amber Fort is undeniable. Perched on a hilltop, this 15th century fort is impressive –- both in terms of size and architecture. Built using Mughal-style architecture, the golden frontage is complemented by elaborate interiors. The ornate archways lead to expansive chambers, featuring hand-painted and mirror worked ceilings and walls. The fort houses the Diwan-e-Aam, or ‘Hall of Public Audience’, the Diwan-e-Khas, or ‘Hall of Private Audience’, and also the Sheesh Mahal, the ‘Mirror Palace’. The splendour of Amber Fort is heightened during the Light and Sound Show in the evening.
Timing: 08:00 AM to 05:30 PM & 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 100 per person and INR 500 per person for Foreigner.
Sound & Light Show: In English 07:30 PM and In Hindi 08:30 PM
Jaigarh Fort is another very popular destination on the outskirts of Jaipur city. Jaigarh was built in 1726 to protect the city of Jaipur. A true fortress, this fort lacks the intricacies of the fort-palace architecture found elsewhere in Jaipur. Fortunately, this fort never served in any serious conflicts and thus has remained essentially intact in its original structure. It offers visitors a breath-taking view of the surrounding mountainous landscape.
Jaigarh Fort was also the set of famous Bollywood movie song Yu Karke from Dabangg 3 featuring Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha
Timing: 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 35 per person and INR 85 per person for Foreigner.
Set on the edge of the Aravalli Hills, Nahargarh Fort is striking in stature. Built as the summer palace for the royal family, the main palace within the fort is known as Madhavendra Bhawan. In addition, there are nine other double-storied living spaces within the fort.
An example of Indo-European architectural style, the royal frescos, and marble engravings can still be seen on the interior walls here. The views of Jaipur city are stunning from Nahargarh Fort since it is perched over a hill overlooking the city. It is also the most popular place in Jaipur to watch a sunrise and sunset. It’s not surprising why it is so.
The sunrise point in Nahargarh Fort is on the east face near the Baori. It is close to the Baori where famous song Masti ki Pathshala from Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti was filmed. It’s known as Rang De Basanti shooting point or location.
Timing: 05:00 AM to 08:30 PM
Entry Fees: For Indian INR 50 per person and INR 200 per person for Foreigner.
Dinner @ Chokhi Dhani
Chokhi Dhani is a must-visit place when you are in Jaipur. This place gives you feel of a Rajasthan village, here the proper traditional Rajasthani meal is served which includes gatte ki sabji, daal baati, sarso da saag aur makki ki roti, curry, dum aloo, lasaan ki chutney, pudhina ki chutney,sangriya achaar, white butter, khichdi, bajra roti, malpua and churma. The ambience is beautiful and worth praising. Also, there are various activities taking place like folk dance, camel ride, live music, magic show, elephant ride, games, etc. Visit here with an ample amount of time. Must try Traditional Buffet for INR 750.00.
Timing: 06:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Day 3: Ranthambore
Love the thrill involved in waiting for that perfect moment to spot tigers in a dense forest then head to Ranthambore National Park.
From Jaipur to Ranthambore
The cheapest and convenient way to reach Ranthambore is to take a train to Sawai Madhopur Railway Station. Sawai Madhopur has rail connectivity with major cities. Train connectivity is excellent, and it makes sense to either explore it as a weekend trip from Mumbai
From Jaipur, you can take 19808-Jaipur Kota Express on Monday (Sunday Night) leaves from Jaipur Railway Station at 12:30 AM and will reach Sawai Madhopur Railway Station same day around 3:05 AM
It's around 200 kms from Jaipur to Ranthambore by road which will take around 4 hours via NH52. If you are travelling in a group hire a sedan car from Jaipur. It will cost around INR 3500 round way for 2 days.
Where to Stay At Ranthambore?
Abrar Palace & Jungle Camps are situated in the heart of Ranthambhore. For an excellent experience stay out in a jungle tent. The Abrar Palace & Jungle Camps have all that you need. You can enjoy a nature walk in the surrounded property have a lemon, Gooseberry (Amla), Guava, teak wood tree and in the evening you can enjoy Rajasthani & Classical folk dance and music show.
Ranthambore Jungle Safari
Safari booking at Ranthambhore National Park is controlled by the Dept. of Forest (Govt. of India). As per the current policy 20 jeeps (06 seater) and 20 canters (20 seater) are allowed to enter the park per drive (morning and afternoon). I paid around INR 850 per person for a canter and INR 1400 for a jeep through an agent. Of course, the best option would be to book directly online on the Rajasthan govt's wildlife portal http://www.rajasthanwildlife.in
There are 10 different safari zones for tourists inside the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. You can book your safari and choose your preferred safari zone 90 days before date of visit. After 90 days required zones are subject to availability. We found that zone 5 had the best views. Don't even bother getting onto other Buffer zones 6, 7 or 8 as the topography is barren and you will hardly find any animals over there.
The Ranthambore National Park is well known for tigers whose populace has been hazardously decreasing in recent decades. This place is the breeding ground for the various creatures-the panther, hyena, sloth bear, wild pig etc. No certification that you will see a tiger, however, if you do, you will always remember the excitement.
And if you're asking me the million-dollar question - did we spot any tigers? Yes; I was lucky to spot is twice in a day. Do checkout well planned one-page itinerary to explore Ranthambore.
Ranthambore Fort: World Heritage Site
Ranthambore is a formidable hill fort and has been made more famous by the determination with which it underlined and defended its freedom, even if that meant defying the Empire of Delhi. If Chittod is famous for the valour of Sisodias, it has been the bastion of the Chauhans. It has seen the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan and witnessed the legendary valour of Raja Hammir Dev. Today Ranthambore Fort remains an important historical and religious destination and has been accorded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ranthambore Fort is located on a 700 feet high hill and covers the whole top of the hill. The fortifications are 7 km long and wind around the place like a coiled serpent. All around the fort, there are ruins of old palaces, royal court, temples – some of them still living, houses of the nobles and commoners, cenotaphs, pavilions, offices, barracks, markets and ponds. There is a Ganesh Temple very near to the main gate of the fort, which is frequented by a large number of pilgrims every day.
The fort is not entirely deserted, some locals still seem to be living there, nor is it a living fort like the one in Jaisalmer; it seems to hang onto life with a thin thread. The interiors of the fort are mostly in ruins, barring a few buildings, two ponds, and a few temples which were abuzz with activity. The gates are majestic though and still stand tall, especially the Haathi Pol (Elephant Gate) and the Naulakha Pol. 32 pillars chhatri, a beautiful cenotaph on one side of the hill. Under the cenotaph, there is a “hidden” Shiva temple, which Raja Hammir used to visit regularly. Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace) is another important building, though in ruins.
You can move around in circles exploring the fort as much as you could with the time you have, and enjoy the panoramic view of the jungles surrounding the fort; it looks really impressive from the top. The view of the Jungle from the top of the Ranthambore Fort was truly captivating.
The temple itself is mystifying as it is said the idol emerged from the rocks on its own and is the only idol of Lord Ganesha which has three eyes and is rightfully called the Trinetra Ganesha.
Do It My Way
Was lucky to get an early check-in at hotel so that for morning jungle safari they can pick me from the hotel or just request them to allow you to keep the luggage so that you only need to carry day bag.
Post safari I was dropped at the hotel. Enjoyed delicious breakfast and took some rest.
Around 12:00 pm left for Ranthambore Fort in a shared vehicle. Remember you won't get a mobile network inside the fort, so before 2:30 PM you have to reach pickup point for evening safari.
For evening jungle safari, I asked for the pickup from Ranthambore Forest Main Gate, since fort and jungle safari start point is same main gate but drop at the hotel so that post safari, I can take my luggage and move toward the station.
From Ranthambore to Mumbai
From Ranthambore i.e. Sawai Madhopur, 12954-August Kranti Raj Express on Monday Night leaves from Sawai Madhopur Railway Station at 08:35 PM and will reach Mumbai Central Railway Station next day around 09:45 AM
With this, you conclude your amazing Rajasthan trip with lots of memories and pictures for Instagram.
Listen to Me:
You cannot take bags inside Dargah Sharif and you have to remove your footwear before entering Dargah Sharif. You can find a shoe keeper at the gate they charge INR 5.00 per pair.
Before entering any Dargah Sharif / Mosque observe the locals that go into them for clues and if you’re uncertain, please ask someone.
For convenient you can hire a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw for INR 800.00 to see all the places or rent a bike for INR 500 for a full day.
Jaipur is a city built around tourism. Especially foreign tourism. One has to be prepared to be pestered by the rickshaw drivers who follow you to the point of stalking. It's best to dress modestly and act conservatively.
Consider buying a composite ticket for INR 300.00 (Indian) and INR 1000 (Foreigner), which gives you entry to Amber Fort, Central Museum, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Isarlat and Nahargarh and is valid for two days from the time of purchase. It can be bought from any of the listed sites
Guides can speak foreign languages. They insisted on speaking in English even when we answered back in Hindi. But nobody meant any harm.
It was interesting to hear people still refer to royalty as “Hamare Maharaj” (our king).
Go for light clothing with sun cap or hat sunglasses if you’re going in summer and warmer clothing and thermals if you're going in winter.
For sightseeing, you can book a full-day tour conducted by RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation) for INR 500 per person.
If you wish to do it at your own pace you can hire a bike on rent for INR 600.00 per day, tuk-tuk for Rs. 1000 per day and AC sedan car for INR 1600.00 per day.
It is advisable to book your safaris in advance.
Avoid Monsoon which is from July to September. It is advised to visit the National Park in October and June to appreciate at the fullest. Summer has been the favourite time for tight sight but heat is tremendous.
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