Ever since my first trip to India when I covered the Golden Triangle (Dehli, Agra, and Jaipur), I’ve been wanting to go back to see more of Rajasthan. Rajasthan gets very hot in summer and most of the year, so I was limited to the relatively warm winter months. This time of year made it a great opportunity to combine with an additional week in nearby Sri Lanka.

PLAN
Day 0: depart JFK, overnight flight to Amsterdam
Day X: missed connection in Amsterdam, unplanned overnight in Amsterdam
Day 1: connecting flight from Amsterdam to Delhi, overnight in Delhi
Day 2: visit Qutub Minar, Sarfarjung Tomb, Lodhi Gardens, and other sites in southern part of Delhi, overnight in Delhi
Day 3: early flight to Udaipur, visit City Palace and lakes, overnight in Udaipur
Day 4: drive to Jodhpur, visit Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh en route, overnight in Jodhpur
Day 5: visit Mandore Gardens and other sites outside Jodhpur center, Mehrangargh Fort, overnight in Jodhpur
Day 6: visit stepwells, markets, and sites in central Jodhpur, evening train to Jaisalmer, overnight in Jaisalmer
Day 7: Jaisalmer Fort and temples, havelis, afternoon/evening trip to the desert, overnight in Jaisalmer
Day 8: free time in Jaisalmer, afternoon flight to Delhi, evening flight to Sri Lanka

FLIGHTS
Delta/KLM (economy): JFK-AMS, AMS-DEL
I paid 40k Delta Skymiles for both flights. The Delta flight was 3 hours late departing, so I missed my connection in Amsterdam. I was originally booked to fly on Jet Airways on Friday, but was rebooked on KLM’s direct flight on Saturday after pressuring KLM. I was originally rebooked to fly Amsterdam to Kuwait to Abu Dhabi to Delhi.  Hotel (Tulip Inn Amsterdam Airport) and meals were provided by the airline for my unplanned night in Amsterdam.

IndiGo (economy): DEL-UDR
Short, cheap flight.

SpiceJet (economy): JSA-DEL
Short, comfortable flight with free snacks.

HOTELS
Hotels in India are generally inexpensive and offer great points redemptions for high-end properties. Unfortunately, the brand hotels were not located in the central areas of the cities I visited. I stayed with a friend for 2 nights in Delhi and stayed in havelis and guesthouses for the rest of the week.

Zostel Udaipur – basic+
Zostel is a hostel overlooking a lake in Udaipur. The hostel has two private rooms on the upper floor and I stayed in the king bed room with lake views. It had an ensuite bathroom and was nicely decorated.
Recommend: Yes

Arch Boutique – moderate
Very nice room in a renovated haveli in the center of Jodhpur. The rooftop has great views of Mehrangargh Fort and the nearby stepwell.
Recommend: Yes

Hotel Pleasant Haveli – moderate
Nice, comfortable room and very helpful staff. The hotel is a 10 minute walk to Jaisalmer Fort. The owner arranged a great desert tour for me on very short notice.
Recommend: Yes

HIGHLIGHTS
Evening in Thar Desert, Jaisalmer
This excursion was only possible due to the diligence of the hotel staff. I was taxied out into the desert at the last minute to meet a trio of travelers already en route. We rode camels for an hour across the desert and ended in beautiful dunes where we had an excellent meal and stargazed before returning to Jaisalmer.

Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur
Mandore Gardens are located outside of Jodhpur and contain a nice collection of interesting temples, beautiful vegetation, and tons of monkeys. The museum is temporarily closed for renovations. Also, the area could use some TLC and trash cleanup.

Qutub Minar and Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi
This World Heritage site in South Delhi contains a five story minaret and a much larger incomplete minaret. The remaining structures are covered in intricate carvings. Adjacent to Qutub Minar is Mehrauli Archaeological Park with several tombs, a stepwell, lakes, and a mosque.

City Palace, Udaipur
I love palaces and City Palace did not disappoint. It’s filled with brightly colored, ornate rooms and courtyards, and some interesting artifacts belonging to the royal family.

Mehrangargh Fort, Jodhpur
This fort has one of the best museums in Rajasthan. The exhibitions were interesting and located in beautifully decorated rooms. The fort is perched on a hill and offers incredible views of Jodhpur from all angles.

NEXT TIME
Old City, Delhi
I’ve been to Delhi twice now and haven’t really visited the main sights in the Old City: Chandni Chowk market, Red Fort, and Jama Masqid. This will be my priority next time I’m in Delhi.

Smaller cities in Rajasthan: Bikaner, Shekhawati, Ajmer, Chittogarh, Mt. Abu
Now I have visited all of the major towns in Rajasthan and have seen the highlights of the region, I would like to return to visit some of the smaller cities and their forts, temples, and havelis.

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