Rajasthan to me is the essence of India. While India is a vast and diverse country I truly felt that I experienced India more in Rajasthan. It is dry and dusty yet colourful and full of life. Farming communities herding goats, working their crops, whole families working together. Life seems simple here but you can see they work hard. We didn’t see the slum living that we see everyday in Mumbai.
Our first trip to Rajasthan was to Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort, City Palace and stay at the fabulous Tree of Life. We thoroughly enjoyed Jaipur and we chose to spend a long weekend there which can be done from Mumbai.
Another Rajasthan trip included Jodphur and its amazing Fort and Umaid Bhavan (2 nights), Manvar desert camp (1 night) and a drive to Udaipur via Rankapur Temple (5 hour drive) and finishing with 2 nights in Udaipur visiting the City Palace and Museum, Monsoon Palace and touring the lake.
A third trip to Rajasthan we came with friends and visited again Jodphur (which I could easily visit for a third time and is so far my favourite Rajasthan City), we drove to Jaisalmer (5 hour drive) for 1 night and explored the amazing desert Fort. Another trip to Manvar desert camp was even better than our first experience and I highly recommend this itinerary.
Travelling as a family
I remember from my backpacking days watching the world go by whilst in a car, bus or train was a great way to watch people and their environments – these days we’re checking that the selection of iDevices brought along are sufficiently charged, the children are shielded from the sun, handing out water bottles and snacks and generally ensuring our little travellers are happy. They are usually totally oblivious to the world outside of the car window which means you need to decide who’s holiday is it? In our case its for all of us. Mum and Dad are trying to take in as much of the culture as much as we can in our limited time here in India. While the children, really want to play in a pool, run around outside, chase birds and order room service.
What I’m saying is there has to be something for everyone. If, like me, you like to roam around historical places, reading all the plaques and imagining life centuries ago, then you’re in for a treat. However, with the heat, crowds of eager local and western tourists, its tough sightseeing for even the hardiest of traveller. Add 3 little travellers into the mix and you really need to make sure everyone is happy. Do what you can with the time you have. Luckily in India families are always welcome. Children will most likely get a pinch on the cheek or a pat on the head from total strangers, mostly this is purely friendliness, but you do need to be on guard. Sometimes this kind of friendliness can be too much for our children and you need to ensure they are safe and with you at all times.
Tips for little travellers
The best way to keep everyone happy when travelling with young children is to pick your best time to visit sights. In India this is early in the morning when tourist attractions are quieter and less crowded. I recommend if at all possible you choose a hotel with a pool. No matter where in the world you are, a pool will always be an instant “holiday” for children. Their holiday time is also important.
Keep them engaged, create checklist lists or drawing opportunities, a mini quiz of things they might find on a trip. This is easy to prepare in a car ride and using a guide book like the Lonely Planet as reference.