When the motor car first made its appearance in India, the Maharajas and the affluent of Rajasthan were the first to get their hands on them. In doing so, they managed to procure some of the finest automobiles from the golden era of automotive design. Today, a lot of these automobiles are still around, and their proud owners display them at the prestigious Vintage Car Rally held in Jaipur during the month of January. However, during the rest of the year, these vintage beauties can be rented out for special occasions or simply for a ride. If you’re a car buff and want to experience a bygone era of automotive history, there is no better place to do so than in Rajasthan, especially Jaipur and Udaipur.
Buses, taxis and rickshaws are passé! When in Rajasthan do as the Rajasthanis do and opt for a tonga instead. A tonga is a horse-drawn carriage that has been used as a form of public transport within cities for years. In fact, there was a time when the royals would to travel in horse-drawn carriages called ‘baggis’ to get around, but the advent of the motor car changed all that. You can ride in tongas in most cities in Rajasthan, but they aren’t as common as they once were. For the rarity of the experience and also for the low fares involved, a tonga ride is something one shouldn’t miss out on.
Back in the day of the Rathores and the Rajputs, horses were considered to be divine beings and were meant strictly for royalty as well as members of the Kshatriya warrior caste, who rode the magnificent Marwari stallions out to battle. Today, these hardy beasts provide a thrilling adventure to those who are keen on making short excursions out of the city. The rides include a spot of camping as well and the duration of the rides differ, depending on the operator you choose. Some operators even offer a package which includes riding to the Pushkar and Nagaur fairs.
There was a time not long ago, when travelling by camel, the animal referred to as ‘the ship of the desert’, was the norm in Rajasthan. In fact, many Rajasthanis remember a life without roads, rail and electricity, a simpler life when the hardy camel was all you needed to get around. Nevertheless, you can still experience this rustic way of getting around in the cities of Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Mandwa by embarking on a camel safari. You can choose to go on a multi-day trek out in the desert or instead make it a day long affair. A word of advice to travelers is to spend some time researching on the best tour operators around so as to have as amazing and authentic an experience as possible.
Ranthambore National Park is a treasure-trove of flora and fauna native to Rajasthan. From flocks of migratory birds and crocodiles, to elegant deer and fearsome tigers, a varied species of wildlife can be observed at Ranthambore. Getting around the park is an experience in itself and the most preferred way to do this is to join a jeep safari. You can choose between an open top or canter jeep, or opt for a hard top Gypsy; either way there’s plenty of fun to be had and photographs to be clicked of the splendid array of creatures you’ll encounter. The jeep safaris are operational both in summer as well as winter, making it an experience that should not be missed.
The cities of Rajasthan are quite exquisite, and with numerous attractions to see you could explore them on foot. But if walking isn’t exactly your idea of a fun way to get around Rajasthan, then all you have to do is hire a bicycle and embark on your own little adventure. Bicycles are available on hire in almost all cities in Rajasthan, and can be hired for a few hours to a few days depending on your itinerary. Sturdy, convenient and most importantly economical, this one is apt for the traveler on a budget.
HOT AIR BALLOON
Get a whole new perspective on Rajasthan by taking to the skies. The hot air balloon is an exciting way to travel short distances between towns or historic resorts, and it certainly beats sitting in traffic. Jaipur is considered to be the centre for hot air balloon rides, but the service is also available in Ranthambore and Pushkar, where you can coast over the Pushkar fair and view it in all its stunning glory. Hot air balloon rides are only available from September-March, so remember to plan your trip accordingly.
Ever wanted to fly in your very own private jet? Well here’s one way to live that dream. The Government of Rajasthan runs an air taxi service, providing you with the luxury to fly to any airport/airstrip within the state and the country. The fares are charged on an hourly basis and the price of admission is high, but there couldn’t possibly be a better way to get a taste of the jet set lifestyle.