What to see in India? India is such a vast country (it is a sub-continent) that it is not possible to make a general list of things to see, so I will limit myself to telling you what there is to visit in a itinerario in rajasthan, based on my personal experience.
Ours was a rather classic itinerary through the Rajasthan region, the land of the Maharajas, to finish with one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal and two days on the banks of the Ganges, in mystic Varanasi (who has read my post Varanasi in the belly of Shiva knows what I'm talking about).
Itinerary of our trip to India
Bikaner and the Rat Temple (Karni Mata Temple)
Actually this temple is located in the town of Deshnoke about thirty km from the city of Bikaner which does not have in itself great attractions to visit if not its strong and beautiful Lalgarh Palace a red sandstone palace.
Il temple of mice it is an experience let's call it mystical in which only the bravest will be able to participate. Yes, because it is not so much the thousands of mice (it seems that there are at least 20.000 of them inside the temple) that whiz around or drink very enjoyably the bowls of milk that the devotees fill with care, but rather that this experience is will live barefoot.
If the temple itself is nothing special, it is certainly one of the things to see especially because it is not easy to find other places where mice are treated as true gods, are fed, pampered and protected from external dangers.
Do not run away in horror if a mouse walks on your feet: this is a sign of luck; the reason why the faithful come here and spend entire days here is the hope of seeing one of the very rare white mice, "Whoever sees one, even for a few seconds, is propitiated by the graces of the Goddess, attracting luck to him and his loved ones"
The fort of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer it is certainly one of the most beautiful things that can be seen in India. The city emerges in the fearsome Thar desert and at first glance it might seem almost a mirage.
Jaisalmer was a very important strategic point for the caravans that were preparing to challenge the desert on the trade routes to the West.
Thus it was that the merchants who lived there built beautiful finely decorated havelis (the most beautiful is undoubtedly the Patron-ki Haveli) in the citadel below the fortress. A tour of the fortress is a must. Although erosion is doing immense damage, inside the fortress there are decorated havelis and delicately crafted Jain temples. The air you breathe is ancient, medieval. Stopping in some luxury hotel to have a tea is a must especially to observe these buildings from the inside and for the view that is lost in the void of the desert around.
And who doesn't know the famous blue city? Yes, exactly the one portrayed in many
Jodhpur it is called the blue city for the particular coloring of the Brahmins' houses, a millenary tradition that continues today and even if many disagree with me, honestly it is a bit disappointed, I expected it to be bluer despite its fortress (Mehrangarh Fort, ) is really worth seeing.
The fortress, which overlooks the city from its 120 meters high, is accessed via a challenging climb. A short distance from the fort you can admire the Jaswant Thada, , a stunning royal cenotaph of white marble built in memory of a maharaja.
However, it can be a good source to take some nice pictures (did you doubt it?) Wandering around the streets of the blue city trying to capture some scenes of normal life.
Ranakpur Temples and Kumbhalgarh Fort
The temple of Ranakpur
Among the most important Jain temples in all of India this complex is truly fabulous, a must see. The main temple, in white marble, consists of 29 rooms and 1444 columns all finely inlaid, all different from each other.
Unfortunately, of three floors of the main temple, only the first can be visited, which is accessed via a staircase also in white marble.
But the real reason I think it's really worth it see Ranakpur it is the air of mystical serenity that you breathe inside the temple and the setting in which the temples are located, inside a lush and green forest from which the pinnacles of the temples rise up towards the sky.
The way to get to Kumbhalgarh Fort it is quite long and full of curves, but on arrival it pays off. If the fort itself is not very well maintained, its walls are truly impressive with their length of over 30 km. Inside the walls there is the real fort which is accessed by a steep road, some houses of those who live there and a complex of temples. However, the thing for which the fort is worth seeing is the view from its elevated position above the surrounding jungle.
Also known as the white city, it has a beautiful hotel, the That Lake Palace, famous for a 007 movie in the middle of its lake. The boat trip is worthwhile, it is nice, beautiful views of its fairytale palace that is reflected on the banks of the lake Pichola. I was also screwed by a salesman (well in India many tried to screw me, this one succeeded) maybe that's why I don't have a great memory of the city.
Il Fort of Chittorgarh it is the largest Indian fortress in Rajasthan and is famous for the story of courage of the inhabitants who fought valiantly during the sieges put in place to conquer the fort. So much so the legend tells that the first siege was unleashed by a woman, the beautiful Padmini, of whom the sultan of Delhi fell madly in love but who had a husband in love who did not even think about giving up on her. A long wall encloses an area of about 300 hectares, dotted with palaces, temples, two extraordinary towers (Kirti Stambh e Vijay Stambh), water basins and which can be accessed through 7 access doors.
Absolutely worth seeing is this small town, which in my opinion is together with the temples of Ranakpur, Jaisalmer and the Taj one of the reasons to organize a trip to Rajasthan. Push means flower and kar means hand: the legend says that Brahma, one day he dropped a lotus flower and in that point a sacred lake was formed that looks a bit is just what it laps today Pushkar. The first reason to visit this town is precisely this: the magic that its legend manages to arouse in the mind of the traveler.
But this reason is not the only one, there are others such as that in Pushkar there is the only temple in all of India dedicated to the god Brahma, or that every year there is a huge party, the Kartika Purnima (the full moon) with a lot of camel fair or even that the ashes of Ghandi have been scattered here. Among the things to see in India, not only in Rajasthan.
Jaipur e Amber fort
La pink city it is the one that, on the whole, disappointed me the most. The town center buildings were painted this color to welcome the Prince of Wales. Nice to see the palace of the winds (Hawa Mahal) even if in front of the traffic and the smog of the street do not do it due justice. It is also worth a visit City Palace a huge complex which is still the residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur and Jantar Mantar an outdoor astronomical observatory complete with huge astronomical instruments, a bit extravagant as a whole.
Il Amber Fort it's really impressive. The fort has sumptuous interiors and is famous for being able to reach the entrance to the top of the steep climb on the back of an elephant, which to me seemed a little too touristy with all these elephants waiting for tourists. .
Agra e il Taj Mahal
The literally take your breath away Taj Mahal it is one of the seven wonders of the world and not surprisingly, I would add. Truly the greatest monument to love that man could ever build, the Taj is a symphony of white marble and delicate decorations and inlays in precious stones.
But in Agra there is not only the Taj, also yours The Red Fort worth a visit, you can get there very easily with a taxi ride from the city center.
Finally Varanasi even if it is not Rajasthan it is definitely an experience to live and anyone who loves India (and even those who don't) should see it sooner or later because certainly words are not enough to describe the time dimension of this place. Millennial rituals are still performed here every day, impossible to see elsewhere. Varanasi leaves you astonished and makes you think.
This list of things to see in India it is based on my personal experience and though India and I did not understand each other I cannot but admit that there are many things that are worth visiting. Clearly for reasons of time I have not been able to see everything there is in Rajasthan so if you know other things to visit it would be nice to report it in the comments.
If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading the articles of travel to India in the Life's a Journey blog of my friend Enrico.