Image Credits: Rajesh
When it comes to Indian culture, Rajasthan, the land of kings and princes simply cannot be excluded. From varied topography, diverse population, forts, palaces, havelis, fairs and festivals this state has it all. To top that, the people here are warm, welcoming and offer hospitality at its very best. Giving a majestic sense of all this is the Rajasthan heritage tours. It is here one gets to experience a unique culture that leaves you asking for more. Every place is mystic, mesmerizing, and truly out of the world.
1. Amber Fort Palace
Image Credits: Honza Soukup
Amber Fort Palace is located fourteen kilometers from Jaipur. Once upon a time, it was the capital and center of power for the Kachwahas from Amber. Later, the capital was shifted to Jaipur. The fort is a confluence of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
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Built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh I, the main constituents of the construction are red sand stone and white marble. The exterior of this structure is rugged while the interior is well decorated and welcoming. Amber Fort Palace is a romantic palace given its beautifully architected interiors. The carvings on display are intricate and so are the numerous paintings that make it truly an abode of luxury for the royals.
2. Hawa Mahal
Image Credits: Ranjith Shenoy
Also known as the Palace of the Winds, Hawa Mahal in Jaipur is one of the main attractions from the heritage tour of Rajasthan. A five storey palace, this Mahal was mainly constructed with red and pink sandstone. It was built by Lal Chand Ustad with the design that resembled a crown.
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This palace reflects the quintessential Rajputana culture. Having more than nine hundred and fifty three windows is no mean feat. All of these windows or jharokas are designed intricately. The main purpose of this structure was to provide royal women a way to view the outside world through numerous windows. These women supposedly never walked and talked in public. They were mostly confined indoors.
3. City Palace
Image Credit: Amit Rawat
The City Palace is located in the heart of Jaipur and includes two sub-palaces namely Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal. The palace is characterized by numerous courtyards and buildings. It was built by Sawai Jai Singh II who was the ruler of Amer during 1729 and 1732 AD. The architecture of the structure is a blend of Rajputana, Mughal and European architectural styles.
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Chandra Mahal, which is inside the palace has now become a museum. On display are handcrafted items, costumes of rulers, and many miscellaneous items of heritage. The palace is designed to the principles of Vaastushastra, the Indian version of Feng Shui. The walls and gates of the structure are designed ornately.
4. Jantar Mantar
Image Credit: Richard Moross
The Jantar Mantar is an observatory that is one of the largest in the world. This structure is a combined manifestation of religion, science, and architecture. At Jantar Mantar, you can see the largest sundial in the world. Maharaja Jai Singh II was interested in the cosmos and planets and this observatory was an effort in that direction.
The words Jantar and Mantar have been derived from Yantra and Mantra, both of which are Sanskrit words. The meaning of the former word is instrument and the latter is formula. Yantra was replaced with Jantar, which means magic. This was a more dramatic name and it stuck in people’s minds. On display in this building are architectural and astrological items of interest.
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5. Pushkar Lake
Image Credits: Nick Kenrick
Pushkar Lake holds religious significance for Hindus and is considered a sacred heritage of Rajasthan. The temple of Brahma is located at Pushkar and lake is related to the presence of Brahma. It is here that you have fifty two bathing ghats (stepped surfaces leading to the lake) surrounding the freshwater. Mentions of this very lakes were found in coins dating back to the fourth century BC. This indicates that the water body existed well beyond that time.
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During October and November thousands of pilgrims visit the Pushkar Lake to take a holy dip. Pilgrims also visit the Hindu temples that are present around this place. Around 500 temples surround this area.
6. Brahma Temple
Brahma Temple or Jagatpita Brahma Mandir is one of the important temples of Pushkar. It is located close to the Puskhar Lake. Among the few Brahma temples in India, this place of worship is believed to be thousands of years old. Built of marble and stone, the temple’s identity is in its pinnacle and bird motif.
The temple is built on a high plinth and the marble steps leading to it is the only way to approach this place. Noted features of the temple include the archway entrance and the pillared canopies. Outside of the shrine is a grand pillared outdoor hall. The temple is generally visited only after taking a holy dip in the Pushkar Lake.
7. Savitri Temple
This temple is dedicated to Savitri, the desolate wife of Brahma. Built in 1687, the temple is atop the Ratnagiri Hill. Savitri is supposed to have taken to the hills and lived here upon hearing that Brahma had married another woman. She rested here refusing to join her husband. Her temple gives a good view of the Brahma Temple.
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In fact, it is believed that this temple was built so that Savitri could have an eye on her philandering husband. It takes an hour to get to this shrine and one has to go through the hills to reach here.
8. City Fort Palace
The City Fort Palace is one of the popular and bigger fort palaces in Rajasthan. It is located around the eastern area of the Chambal River and stands beside the Kota Barrage. From the fort palace, you can see the Chambal River.
Image Credits: Dave Morris
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One of the entries to this place is through the Naya Darwaza gate. On the right side of the City Fort Palace is a museum known as the Rao Madho Singh Museum. Here, you can find an assortment of Rajput miniature paintings along with sculptures, and armoury. Undoubtedly, there is much to explore and see in and around the City Fort Palace.
9. Jagmandir Palace
Photo Credit :Manoj Vasanth
It is not often that you see and hear about a palace being built by a queen when you take the Rajasthan heritage tours. Believe it or not, the Jagmandir Palace at Kota was built by a queen. Constructed in the year 1740, the palace is situated in the middle of an artificial lake called Kishor Sagar Lake. This water body was built in 1346 AD by the ruling prince Dehra Deh.
Comprised mainly of red sandstone, Jagmandir Palace was chiefly used as a place of leisure and pleasure. The kings of Kota frequented this place like they would do to a holiday spot. Given that this palace is the middle of a lake, tourists can take boat rides here.
10. Rao Madho Singh Museum
This museum is yet another palace that has been converted into a museum in efforts to conserve the heritage of Rajasthan. The Rajasthan Tourism Board has changed many palaces into museums to preserve its rich cultural heritage. The Rao Madho Singh Museum is considered one of the oldest and finest museums in the state.
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The exquisitely crafted murals and sculptures present here are a delight to watch. Also on display is an armoury section that features the warfare collection of the rulers. It includes swords, pistols, knives, and arrows. Do not miss the several creative artifacts that were made during the reign of kings and princes in the state. A visit to the museum is an eye opener to a glorious past.
11. Haveli of Deaji
There are hundreds of havelis or old buildings in Rajasthan. In Kota, the most famous haveli is the Haveli of Deaji. Built of yellow sandstone, the whole structure resonates with a yellowish tinge. Inside as well as outside the haveli, intricate carvings are part of the architecture. The stone carvings will leave you spellbound.
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Once a place of residence for the rich and powerful, the Haveli of Deaji is now a heritage site. The best aspects here are its architectural brilliance for every inch of the building has something to it. Nowhere in the architecture is a staid or plain design. The whole haveli seems to be built with a central theme of design and elegance.
12. Taragarh Fort
Photo Credit :Le Batteur De Lune
Also called the Star Fort, this fort is one of the eye-catching structures in Bundi. It was built in 1354 AD on a steep hillside. Three gateways lead to the fort. When it was in operation during its heydays, the Taragarh Fort had a set of tunnels. These tunnels crisscrossed the entire landscape of the hillside. However, today they remain inaccessible given that they are not mapped to perfection.
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Tourists enter the fort through the Hathia Pol gateway. Inside the palace are two magnificent structures namely the Chattar Mahal and Chitrasala. There are impressive murals in these buildings which are considered one of the finest in Rajputana arts and crafts.
13. Bundi Palace
Photo Credit :Andrea Kirkby
The Bundi Palace is located close to the Taragarh Fort. This palace has been turned into an art gallery. On first impressions, the structure will mesmerize you with its beautiful well maintained lawns and old architecture. Although the building has been restored, nothing new has been built here.
While it looks desolate and abandoned, inside the Bundi Palace is a treasure trove of items. Hosted here are the precious collections of the Bundi School of Art. The Chitrashala paintings are some of the best in the region and probably the world. The art gallery is worth visiting not once but a thousand times. While on the Rajasthan heritage tours, the expositions in the art gallery will leave you asking for more.
14. Chittorgarh Fort
Image Credits: Saad Akhtar
This fort has a unique distinction of being the largest one in the country. A main center where the Mewars ruled, it is now a prime heritage of Rajasthan. The fort is spread over an area of six hundred acres where the Berach River ran once. The fort itself has many palaces apart from temples and commemoration towers.
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These ruins are architecturally brilliant and defy your imagination. Also called as the Water Fort, there were around eighty four water bodies here. Today, only about twenty odd remain. The water bodies include ponds, step-wells, and wells. During the rainy season, water used to be stored in these water bodies for the remaining of the year.
15. Rana Kumbha Palace
Image Credits: John and Melanie
This palace was built in the fifteenth century and reflects quintessential Rajputana architecture. Once the abode of the mighty emperor, it was here that counsels, meetings, and administrative discussions were held. The massive ruins may not tell you that story but the sheer majesty of the architecture surely indicate this.
Although it is not confirmed, there are signs that this palace has underground cellars. Onsite the Rana Kumbha Palace present are elephant and horse stables. With your power of imagination, you can envision the kind of glory that existed here once upon a time. There is also a Shiva temple in the vicinity where you can visit to offer your prayers.
16. Padmini Palace
Photo Credit : Amit Rawat
The Padmini Palace is the palace of queen Padmini who was known for her ravishing beauty. This palace stands as a signature of this very beauty. Located on a high hill, this structure is spread over an area of seven hundred acres.
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It was specifically built for Padmini in the seventh century by Maurya Rulers. She was responsible for the war between Allauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh. Such was the nature of her looks that anyone who would see her would be smitten. Having heard so much, the Sultan of Delhi Allauddin Khilji had a desire to see Padmini. It was Rana Rata Singh who gave him a glimpse of her, but only her through the reflection in the mirror.
17. Vijay Stambh
Also called the Tower of Victory, the Vijay Stambh was built to celebrate the defeat of Mahmud Khilji of Malwa. Built in 1440 AD by Rana Kumbha, the structure is a storied one with the height of thirty seven meters. The Vijay Stambh has been built using the pure form of Rajputana architecture. It is located in the vicinity of Mahasati area, which is a site used for burial of royals.
When you visit this area, you hear stories about how women immolated themselves at the funeral pyre of their husbands. This form of practice was known as Sati and does not exist anymore. When in Chittorgarh on Rajasthan heritage tours, a visit to this imposing structure is a must.
18. Kirti Stambh
Photo Credit : Nagarjun Kandukuru
Kirti Stambh is also called as the Tower of Fame. This twenty two meter high tower was built in the twelfth century by Jijaji Kathod, a Jain merchant. The building is comprised of seven stories. The stairway connecting to these stories is cramped.
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On the way through them you can see images from Jain pantheon. The architecture of the tower is based on the Solanki style. The base of the tower is around thirty feet and the structure narrows as it ascends. On the outside are impressive Jain structures. The fort was built as a commemoration for Adinath, the first Jain spiritual teacher. There is a five feet statue of Adinath in the tower.
19. Kalika Mata Temple
Built as early as the eight century, this is one of the oldest temples in Chittorgarh. It is dedicated to Goddess Kalika who is considered to be the divine contributor for the prosperity of Chittorgarh. The goddess is a symbol of power and courage. Doing this temple exploration and praying to this divinity is considered a way to gain strength, courage, and happiness.
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A section of people believe that this temple was originally the Sun Temple. This temple was supposedly built during the Sisodya Dynasty. In the fourteenth century, an idol of the goddess was installed here. From that time till now, this goddess is the presiding deity of this region. The temple is noted for its superbly articulated intricate carvings and sculptures.
20. Jag Mandir
Photo Credit : Ashit Parikh
Located on the southern island of Lake Pichola, this palace is one of the most beautiful ones in Rajasthan making it a treasured heritage of Rajasthan. The Jag Mandir in Udaipur is a three storied structure. Made chiefly of yellow sandstone and marble, the palace was built in the seventeenth century. Initially, the palace was built to serve as a hiding place for Shah Jahan.
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The highlight of this palace is Gul Mahal where Shah Jahan lived with his family. The architecture of this place is different from other structures. It is constructed using the Muslim form of architecture. The hall of the palace is eye catching with breath-taking interiors. Most of it is decorated with the symbol of the Muslim crescent.
21. Lake Palace
The Lake Palace is located on the Jag Niwas Island and is spread over 1.5 hectares of land. This magnificent structure was built in 1723 by Maharana Jagat Singh as a place of relaxation during summer. The palace is located in the most serene of settings. It is surrounded by the Pichola Lake and hence gets its name as the Lake Palace. Tourists from around the world rate this palace as one of the most beautiful in the world. An image of this palace is like an illustration that is taken from a fairy tale book.
A popular garden space in Udaipur, in Saheliyon-Ki-Bari lay fountains, kiosks, lotus pool, and elephant statues. The place was developed and built by Maharana Bhopal Singh. There is also a museum in this Garden of the Maidens. Nature here is clean and beautiful. With a garden made to indicate the salubrious lifestyle of royal maidens, this place also oversees the Fatehsagar Lake.
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Built in the eighteenth century, this land was primarily used for the recreation of royal ladies. They frequented the place and strolled through the gardens. Maharana’s queen and her attendants enjoyed the natural pleasures of this place. Saheliyon-Ki-Bari is a garden like no other for it is spectacular and well-maintained.
23. City Palace
Image Credit: Dennis Jarvis
A part of the Rajasthan heritage tours, the City Palace in Udaipur is one of the architectural marvels of this city. Situated on the banks of Lake Pichola, it is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Udaipur and is known to have one of the largest palace complexes in the state. The architecture of the palace is a combination of Chinese, European, and medieval designs.
There are numerous towers, domes and arches in this palace. There are also random courtyards, pavilions, rooms, and terraces that make a part of this palace. Some of the hanging gardens are legendary. Built using granite and marble, the City Palace is a majestic exposition of architectural ingenuity. Subsequent fortifications have been made to the palace to make it the imposing structure as it is now.
24. Jagdish Temple
This temple is located in the City Palace complex. Made using the Indo-Aryan architectural style, the Jagdish Temple was created in 1651. Built in honour of Lord Vishnu, the temple is the largest in Udaipur. A three storied wonder, this structure has exquisitely crafted pillars.
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Be it the ceilings, walls, or halls, everything is decorated to perfection. More than a million rupees was spent for this purpose, which mind you was an exorbitant amount in the 1600s. The highlight of the temple is the spire which is seventy nine feet high. At the entrance are two stone statues of elephants. These massive structures lead you to the main shrine of the temple. This place of worship is based on a pyramidal spire structure.
25. Fateh Sagar
Udaipur is known as the city of lakes with The Fateh Sagar Lake being a main attraction. Although it is an artificial lake, it was constructed in 1678. This water body is situated to the north of Lake Pichola. Known for its beauty, no amount of superlatives can describe the pure serenity of this place.
The lake is surrounded by hills on its three sides with the Pratap Memorial is to the north of it. The middle of the lake is reserved for a lush garden called the Nehru Park. Essentially this is a garden island and has a boat shaped café. This café is visited by tourists by boating on the Fateh Sagar.
26. Mehrangarh Fort
When the Rathore Rajputs setup Jodhpur as their capital, they built this fort. The fascinating part of this structure is that it is the same colour of the hill on which it stands thus making it difficult to estimate where the hill ends and the wall of the fort begins. Even the gateways are constructed in a manner so as to deny enemies any advantage.
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On the outside the rugged exterior defies what lies inside. The fort palace has breath-taking interiors. The huge courtyards amaze you and lead you to the palatial apartments. The walls of this fort are more than hundred feet high. This fort can be visited on all days of the week between 9 am – 5 pm.
27. Umaid Bhawan Palace
Image Credit: Nathan Hughes Hamilton
Also known as the Chittar Palace, Umaid Bhawan was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh. The main constituent used in construction of the palace is chittar sandstone. Built in the early 1900s, all the sandstone blocks have been handcrafted. The interlocking system of the blocks is unique. No mortar has been used to bind the sandstones.
A part of the palace is now a hotel. The remaining part it is decked in grandeur and makes for eye catching visuals. There is also a museum in the vicinity that displays aeroplane models, antique clocks, crockery and a range of exquisite paraphernalia.
28. Jaswant Thada
Image Credit: Hector Garcia
This is one of the most beautiful marble cenotaph buildings ever present. The Jaswant Thada was built in remembrance of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II by his son. There is a memorial in the vicinity which has been built like a temple. The main constituent used in the construction of the temple is marble stone.
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On display are artistic and genius carvings from a bygone era. A visit to this place is through natural settings and rocky hills. It makes you feel like a pilgrimage when you finally arrive. The scenic aura and mystic essence of the place is unmistakable. Jaswant Thada is indeed a delightful piece of architecture made from marble and worth visiting several times.
29. Balsamand Lake and Palace
The Balsamand Lake and Palace was frequented by the royals of Rajasthan as their summer retreat center and is currently it is a five star hotel. The palace displays the finest aspects of Rajasthan’s rich legacy of palace architecture. Also known as Jag Niwas, this structure was built on being inspired by the Taj Mahal in Agra. The face of the structure is directed to the east so that the people can pray to the Sun God early morning.
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The Balsamand Lake and Palace has everything that a Rajasthan palace has to have. Pillared terraces, hanging gardens, expansive courtyards, fountains, gardens, palatial rooms and more. The palace overlooks the Balsamand Lake and surrounding it are well-maintained gardens.
30. Jaisalmer Fort
Image Credit: David Lowry
The Jaisalmer Fort lies amidst the Thar Desert and is the crowning glory of this region. It represents the architectural ingenuity prevalent during that time. Today it is displayed in royal splendour as part of the Rajasthan heritage tours. Made primarily of yellow sandstone, this fort is located atop a hill. Built in twelfth century, the Jaisalmer Fort is one of the oldest in Jaisalmer.
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The structure is two hundred and fifty feet tall and is surrounded by walls made of yellow sandstone. The fort is a spectacular feat considering that it was built in the middle of the desert. The main highlight of the structure is the edifice that stands tall imposing its presence over the fort.
31. Jaisalmer Havelis
There are plenty of old buildings or havelis in Jaisalmer that attract the tourists. Most havelis were built using the Rajputana form of architecture. There are also subtle traces of Islamic architecture in here. They were primarily used by ministers and landlords as a place of residence. For those who are not aware, Havelis are enormous with big courtyards and lots of rooms.
The Patwon Ji ki Haveli is among the well-known havelis in Jaisalmer. It has five smaller havelis inside and became the benchmark for many other havelis that were built subsequently. The Nathmal Ji ki Haveli is another such palace that combines Rajasthani and Islamic architecture with subtlety. Salim Ji ki haveli is also a must visit considering that it is built based on the Peacock architecture.
32. Gadsisar Sagar Lake
This lake was built in the thirteenth century by Maharawal Gadsi. It all started with a tract of low-land being chosen to capture rain water. Later this low land was dammed and created into a lake. The Gadsisar Sagar Lake was the main source of water for the people here for a long time. There is a beautiful gateway that leads to the water body called Teelon-ki prol. Atop the gate resides a small temple of Lord Vishnu.
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The carvings on the gateway are intricate. The structure has been constructed using yellow sandstone. Surrounding the lake are shrines and temples. Some of them are Shiva temples and some are dedicated to Vishnu. In the winter, exotic birds visit this lake.
33. Tazia Tower
This tower is located next to the Badal Palace complex. A five storied building, Tazia Tower was home to the Jaisalmer royal family. The tower is characterized by intricate carvings and architecture that is a fusion of Rajputana and Mughal styles. A balcony is constructed for every floor of the tower and each one has its own identity and style.
The entire building was constructed and designed by Muslim craftsmen although the rulers were Hindus. By 1886, the Tazia Tower was ready for occupancy. It is believed that the design of this structure was inspired by the mausoleum of several Imams. The building was gifted by the craftsmen to the then ruler Maharawal Berisal Singh.
34. Junagarh Fort
Photo Credit : Parth Joshi
The Junagarh Fort reflects the different architectural influences that this region had. The architecture is a blend of Rajputana and Mughal designs and the interiors are decked with Mughal paintings. The stone inlay works have intricate carvings which are typical of Mughal arts. There is also a hint of Gujarati design in the mosaic stone carvings.
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As a consequence of the culmination of such architectural styles, the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner is one of the precious monuments in the country. The fort was not built in a hurry, it was built over a period of sixteen generations. Each ruler made his additions to the fort. Thus, this fort reflects the style adopted by successive rulers.
35. Lalgadh Palace
Made of red sandstone, this structure is an imposing one. It was built in the early 1900s. The architecture is hybrid with a mix of Rajputana, Mughal, and European styles. There is also a strong influence of Muslim craftsmanship in the interiors. The palace is a jewel in the desert and has hosted dignitaries from across the world. No matter who comes to the palace, everyone is spellbound at the sheer brilliance on display.
36. Fort Museum
Also called the Ganga Mahal, the Fort Museum was the abode of Maharaja Ganga Singh. Now this palace has been converted into a museum that displays a collection of weaponry used by the Rajputs for wars. You can see an assortment of items be it the jade hand daggers, handguns, or camel guns, everything about these weapons is intriguing.
These items reflect the technology prevalent during that time when it came to warfare. One of the other attractions in the museum is a pair of drums by a famous saint. These belonged to Jambhoji – a future teller. He foretold that the Rao Bika dynasty will last for a period of 450 years.
37. The Har Mandir
This is an impressively built place of worship that was primarily for the royals of the family. The monarchs would frequent this place and offer their prayers to the gods and goddesses. Onsite is also a museum that houses an impressive collection of memorabilia.
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On display are a range of antique items of collector interest. The temple has been constructed beautifully and inspires awe and admiration.
38. Bhandeshwar and Sandeshwar Jain Temples
These are one of the oldest temples in the state. Built in the fourteenth century, these temples are named after two brothers named Bhandeshwar and Sandeshwar respectively. These temples were built in commemoration of the twenty third Tirthankara Parshvanathji. Made chiefly of red stone, the flooring here is based of marble.
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Inside the temple you will find intricate carvings, paintings, and glass works. These structures are a tribute to the religious grandeur of Rajasthan. When you visit these temples on a heritage tour of Rajasthan, you are bedazzled by them.
39. Camel Breeding Farms
Photo Credit : Gillian McLaughlin
This place is also known as Government Camel Breeding Farm and holds the distinction of being the largest Asian camel breeding farm. They are located at Jorbeer Bikaner and are spread over 2000 acres. The objective of these farms is to breed camels and conduct research to proliferate their species.
40. Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli
A popular haveli in Mandawa, the Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli is visited by hundreds of tourists every year. It is a well-preserved haveli and there is a splendid painting in here that should not be missed.
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This painting depicts Indra Dev who is portrayed as riding an elephant. Lord Shiva is seen seated on his vehicle – the Nandi, which is a divine bull.
41. Goenka Double Haveli
The best thing about this haveli would be the balcony (there are several of them). In this magnificent structure lies two massive gates. There also exists a monumental façade comprising of elephants and horses in the vicinity. The jutting balconies never cease to amaze you. The upper stories are mostly overhanging structures. Also present are multiple patterns and paintings part of the architectural ensemble.
42. Jhunjhunwala Haveli
A visit to this haveli is quite an experience. Though similar to the other havelis, the highlight of this place lies one is the gold leaf painted room located to the right of the main courtyard. The gold leaf painted room is one of the most beautiful vision to be seen.
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The design aesthetics of this haveli is breath-taking and you will be certainly be in awe of the ingenuity of the artisans who crafted the ostentatious interiors.
43. Castle of Mandawa
Beautiful frescoes adorn this castle and the rooms are decorated with great detail. Adding to the charm are the paintings of Lord Krishna on the walls. The castle of Mandawa is also known as Mandawa Fort and is located in the middle of the town.
The highlight of the castle is its durbar hall. Over here numerous paintings adorn the walls. There are many ethnic and antique items that will leave you wonderstruck when on a heritage tour of Rajasthan.
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