Lonely Planet's top 10 splendours of Rajasthan
Still run by the descendants of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Mehrangarh is captivating. As you approach, the walls soar overhead in a mesmerizing demonstration of the skills of the builders. Inside the fort walls is a deep-terracotta coloured, latticed palace complex and network of courtyards, beautiful examples of the asymmetry and symmetry that mark Rajput buildings. Of the fort's seven gates, look out for Lohapol (Iron Gate), which has numerous tragic tiny hand prints, the sati marks of Maharaja Man Singh's widows, who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843. They still attract devotional attention and are usually covered in red powder.
8. Jaisalmer Fort
The fort of Jaisalmer is a breathtaking sight: a massive sandcastle rising from the sandy plains like a mirage from a bygone era. No place better evokes exotic camel-train trade routes and desert mystery. Ninety-nine colossal bastions encircle the still-inhabited narrow streets. Inside are shops swaddled in bright embroideries, a royal palace and numerous businesses looking for your tourist rupee. Despite the commercialism it is hard not to be enchanted by this desert citadel. Beneath the ramparts the twisting lanes of the old city conceal magnificent havelis of crumbling beauty. The havelis, the fort and its enclosed palace are all carved from the same golden honey sandstone, hence the city's designation as the Golden City.
9. Sand dunes
The Desert National Park has been established in the Great Thar Desert, 42km from Jaisalmer. One of the most popular excursions is to the sand dunes on the edge of the park. This is Jaisalmer's Sahara-like desert, with huge, silky, undulating folds of sand. It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset, and many camel safaris spend a night here, but it is still possible to frame pictures of solitary camels against lonely dunes.
Bundi is a captivating town, with narrow lanes of Brahmin-blue houses, assorted temples and a picturesque palace. This - or at least the old town beneath the palace - is the Rajasthan of the travel brochures, virtually free from noisy polluting engines and choking crowds. It still has an atmosphere of past wonders (as Kipling appreciated while he lived and wrote here), most readily felt around the cupola-clad fairy-tale palace that spills down the hillside. From January to March, delicate pink poppies fill surrounding fields. Here you will find a welcome break from the customary tourist trail. Bundi is still the place to explore laneways or just sit and soak up the history or gaze at contemporary life.