India is synonymous with tranquillity and mindfulness with people around the world visiting the destination to attain spiritual peace and inner happiness. From the Himalayas, down to Rajasthan and further south to Kerala and around the country, mindfulness can be found in different practices and forms. Mindfulness’ roots are seeped in ancient Eastern, primarily Buddhist, traditions. However, Indian scriptures depict an emphasis on meditation, inner silence, and acceptance, which lay the foundation for mindfulness. As the birthplace of spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness, India offers unrivalled opportunities for enlightenment and soul nourishment.
In a series of articles covering wellness destinations in India that offer strong therapeutic and mindfulness elements to help develop inner strength and awareness, we’re commencing with the state of Rajasthan.
When you think of Rajasthan, you think of the magnificent forts, the vibrant culture and clothes, the delicious delicacies, and the traditions that make the state iconic. Long known for its healing legacy and rich ecosystem, Rajasthan has, over the years, built itself as a sustainable and culturally rich wellness destination attracting enthusiastic travellers to its enchanting locale. After a lengthy period of forced solitude, people are craving mindful movement in the form of adventure activities, connecting with nature, going on a spiritual journey, and much more. Which is why Rajasthan makes the perfect wellness destination offering a mix of everything from serene lakes to gaze upon and majestic temples and palaces to find solace in to endless sand dunes that instill silence of the mind. Pick mindfully or try all, based on which wellness experience calls out to you.
Bathe In The Eternal Beauty Of Nature
As India’s largest state, Rajasthan has a myriad of natural attractions to explore. From rocky terrains and barren tracts filled with thorny scrubs to plateaus, rolling sand dunes, and salt lakes and rivers, Rajasthan offers every opportunity to connect with nature.
Bask In The Serene Calmness Of Lakes
Surrounded by grand palaces, and piles of striking white salt while being enveloped by the Aravalli hills, the mesmerising Rajasthani lakes are the crown jewels of the state. Built by many Kings to address the shortage of water, these artificial lakes have an unmatchable charm.
One of the most popular and oldest lakes in the state is Lake Pichola, also known as The Jewel of Udaipur. Surrounded by elevated hills, bathing ghats, and heritage structures that capture the architectural essence of Rajasthan, a number of monumental buildings like Lake Palace, City Palace, Mohan Mandir, and Jag Mandir adorn various corners of the lake. As the sun slowly glides below the horizon, enjoy a sunset boat ride bathed in the balmy golden rays of the setting sun.
If you’re in search of a more spiritual connection with a higher power, seize the opportunity of taking a dip in the sacred waters of Pushkar Lake. Located northwest of Ajmer, this religious destination calls to an influx of devotees from all around the world. Cocooned by 52 holy bathing ghats, the peaceful embankment of the lake is dotted with 500 age-old Hindu temples.
Sambhar Salt Lake
For those who are in search of something secluded but just as spectacular, the Sambhar Salt Lake cannot be missed. As the country’s largest inland salt lake and one of the least explored Rajasthani lakes, the lake shelters India’s biggest salt production facility. A two-hour drive from Jaipur, and roughly 300 km from Delhi, the Sambhar Lake touches three distinct districts of Rajasthan – Jaipur, Ajmer, and Nagaur. Hours will go by as you indulge in a peaceful walk across the banks of the lake as the pure white scenery lulls you into a restful haze.
Connect With The Wildlife
Apart from the colourful culture, traditions, and festivals of Rajasthan, the vibrant state also attracts a swarm of tropical birds that make the state their home for a couple of months. The semi-green forests and beautiful dry grasslands of the desert house a plethora of wild animals and rare creatures.
Ranthambore National Park
A paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, a Rajasthan trip is incomplete without a visit to Ranthambore. Widely recognised for its National Park and Tiger Reserve, Ranthambore’s mesmerising locales make it more than just a wildlife destination. A safari ride amidst the lush forests can bring you face-to-face with wild tigers roaming freely in the jungle. At the centre of the park lie the ruins of the Ranthambore Fort which is one of the most iconic landmarks to visit in Rajasthan.
Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary
Lengthen your rendezvous with the rare wildlife of Rajasthan by visiting the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary, an extension of the Ranthambore National Park. The sanctuary serves as a beaming example of community-initiated forest protection committees referred to as kulhadi bandh panchayats. You’ll be fortunate enough to get a glimpse of sloth bears, nilgai, sambar, cheetals, or spotted deer, striped hyena, and Indian porcupine, among other species.
Jhalana Leopard Reserve
Nestled in the lap of the Aravalli Hills sits the Jhalana Leopard Reserve, a mere 10 km drive from the heart of Jaipur. Spanning 23 square kilometers, Jhalana is the world’s most densely populated leopard reserve with almost 40 leopards inhabiting the park. Wildlife enthusiasts, riding high on their visit to Ranthambore and looking for an extended adrenaline rush can find delight amidst nature as not just leopards but other animals like langoors and blue bulls grace their jungle safari.
Sleep Under The Stars Surrounded By Sand Dunes
The most wonderful time to visit Rajasthan is during the winters when the crisp, sunny days flow into cool, wonderful evenings and the towns gear up for cultural festivals. The desert becomes a sight to see, and you feel like you’ve travelled into the Arabian Nights, surrounded by ancient ruins and endless sand dunes.
One of the most iconic spots in the entire state, Thar Desert sits at the heart of adventure when it comes to Rajasthan. The most serene way to embrace the desert is to camp under the stars. The cool evening air and the endless star-filled skies, away from the city, leave you in an awe-inspiring haze. Camping expeditions in Rajasthan are a one-of-a-kind experience, with a blend of sparkling skies, camel safaris, and folk performances during the annual Desert Festival makes for a well-rounded culture trip.
Reside in one of the cosy huts in the dunes of Khimsar, about 90 kms from Jodhpur, enveloped by rolling dunes, palms, and a tiny azure lake. Sleep under a billion stars as a campfire keeps you warm and experience the serenity and calmness of the desert.
Sam Sand Dunes
If you’re inclined towards the athletic side and want the adrenaline to rush through your body, indulge in dune bashing in the Sam Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer. The dune bashing has you holding on for dear life as you’re driven around by an experienced driver over mountains of sand for an hour. Once done, you can take a mindful moment to embrace the muted tones of the earth and rest your eyes on the beauty of the endless sand dunes as the sun peeks from the horizon.
Jodhpur Desert Safari
Explore the quaint farms of Jodhpur on the back of a camel, have a home-cooked fare at one of these magnificent farms along the ride, and extend your day into a night under the star-kissed skies. The Jodhpur Desert Safari is an experience that will be etched in your heart for years to come as the endless skies and sand dunes will offer you the opportunity to step away from the noise and chaos and find a relaxing moment for yourself.
Connect With The Divine Wisdom Of Ancient Temples
Post the pandemic, people discovered the joy of spiritual travel and visiting places of worship to spiritually connect with the higher power. Many people have experienced that certain kinds of stress can be easily released at places of worship as they believe the higher power does not judge but lifts you up.
Journey through the mystical desert land and find yourself in the middle of the golden dunes of Osian. Home to a cluster of ruined Hindu and Jain temples dating back to 8th to 12th centuries, the city marks the religious centre of the Kingdom of Marwar during the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty. Known as the ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’, the architecturally crafted marvels inculcate a sense of awe within you. The places you must explore during your visit there include Sacchiyay Mata Temple, Mahaveer Jain temples, Sun Temple, and the Katan Baori stepwell.
If you’re looking to attain tranquility amidst the busy city life, you must visit the Birla Mandir in Jaipur, one of the most visited temples in Rajasthan. Also known as the Lakshmi-Narayan Temple, if you choose to visit the place of worship around twilight, you’ll be gifted with the most gorgeous, balmy view of the South Jaipur skyline. Bathed in white marble, the monument is an oasis of absolute calm, giving you a moment to sit in silence and find peace within.
Home to the Harshat Mata Temple and the iconic Chand Baori, Abhaneri is a small village in the Dasua district of Jaipur. Harshat Mata, who is known as the goddess of happiness, blessed Abhaneri with peace, prosperity, and endless happiness, making it a must-visit for those trying to define what happiness means to them. Apart from this historically beautiful temple, you must also plan a trip to the Chand Baori, India’s largest and deepest step well that serves as a rainwater harvesting source of water for the entire village.
Brahma Temple, Pushkar
Despite being worshipped as the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma has only one temple dedicated to him in the entire world which is situated in Pushkar. The restored structure goes back to the 14th century, while the original structure is believed to go back 2000 years. The mesmerising Rajasthani style of architecture enhances the beauty of this place of worship, adding to its meditative aura. Legend believes that a visit to this temple will bring immense peace and serenity to the visitors as Lord Brahma blesses them with good health and happiness.
Located on the banks of the river Banas, a mere 48 kms from the gorgeous city of Udaipur, the glorious Shrinathji Temple of Nathdwara is home to one of the avatars of Lord Krishna. The origin of the temple is a juxtaposition of both reality and legend, designed to mimic the temple of Nanda Maharaj in Vrindavan. The temple is also known as Nanda Bhavan or Nandalaya and a trip is incomplete without indulging in a holy feast at the temple that serves hundreds of visitors every year.
Ajmer Sharif is one of India’s most ancient and famous dargahs and the tomb of the most revered Sufi Saint, Moinuddin Chishti, a Persian Sufi saint. Pilgrims from different walks of life visit to seek the blessings of the Sufi saint and it is believed that no prayer goes unanswered. Apart from offering ancient wisdom and a spiritual connection, the Dargah also offers a meal for those who wish to savour food cooked in the holy kitchen. And if your mannat is to offer your prayers in the form of feeding people at the Dargah, you can contribute to preparing saffroned sweet rice or meethe chawal for the devotees.
Rajasthan has a plethora of experiences that can only be enjoyed over a longer vacation or if you choose to visit the state in short bursts to cover different cities. However, we recommend you time your trip according to the various vibrant events, especially India’s most exciting literature festivals, The Jaipur Literature Fest that happens late January. Take a palatial train journey across Rajasthan on the Palace of Wheels and don’t forget to load your plate with scrumptious dal bati churma, gatte ki khichdi, kachoris and mouth-watering imartis. Happy Travels!