Visiting Rajasthan, India with Kesari Tours & Travels.
My wife & I did a 15 day Rajasthan Mewar & Marwad Coach Tour with Kesari Tours.
The organization by Kesari reminded us of tours of Europe with COSMOS. This Company has all the required clout and the Tour Conductors were knowledgable, polite & respectfully firm. Guides provided by the tour operators were knowledgeable, patient, humorous & eloquent in Hindi. Hotels were beautiful specially Udaivilas at Udaipur, Bhanwar Singh Palace at Pushkar, Sarovar Portico Jaipur (car parking outside hotel on kerbside) & Desert Tulip at Jaisalmer. The places covered included Mt. Abu, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Ranthambor Natural Reserve (with a safari), Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Pushkar, Jaipur, Bikaner, the famous rat temple, Natdwar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Pokaran & Jodhpur.
The rich history of Mewar and Maharana Pratap with his horse Chetak were depicted in all their pristine glory at Udaipur & Chittorgarh. The castles which often included several steps to be climbed were indeed fascinating. History revealed once again that wars are fought for religion, plunder or beauty. The abundance of temples and the possibility to conclude different forms of last rites for the 'departed' at Pushkar was a boon to the Hindu travellers. The visit to the famous Chisty Dargah at Ajmer to pay homage to the Sufi Saint was a chance of a life time.
The museums intrigued us all but the battle of Haldighati as related in the museum at Haldighati took the cake. This was followed by a delicious lunch served with Rajasthani cuisine, by far the best meal on the tour. Vegetarian & adorable. For that matter all the hotels where we dined served excellent food. The Chef at hotel Sarovar Portico in Jaipur needs special mention. Visiting Choki-re-dhani at Jaipur proved a damp squib. The much anticipated visit was disappointing as the fare in the meal and the village atmosphere created were nothing to write home about.
At Jaisalmer the camel ride on camel back or the camel cart was enjoyable but the optional trip by camel cart into the Thar Dessert is a disappointment & at the mercy of the camel cart drivers who promise much but deliver nothing extra. Jeep Dessert Safari is available. The lure of the markets can be experienced at Jodhpur. Advisable to cater an empty bag for purchases like 'Juties' (shoes), semi precious stones jewelry & Rajasthani traditional clothes. The shop at the lunch halt hotel in Pokaran offers a decent array of buyable items at 25-30% discount. The items here were more classy than those available in other places & cheaper because of the discount. Credit Card accepted. This place is revisited on the return leg to Jodhpur from Jaisalmer.
The light & sound show at Udaipur City Palace repeats the history already described and is more of an audio presentation. The Lake Palace & Jag Mandir get automatically excluded at Udaipur because of paucity of time and heavy INR as cover charges. The war museum at Jaisalmer and its Indian Army shop was a big draw. A must visit area.
Wifi at Udaivilas & Bhanwar Singh Palace hotels was tricky & mostly unavailable. February weather was excellent in Rajasthan and a light sweater was enough. Kesari had included tips, guide remuneration & all entry tickets in the tour price so there was no extra expense on these counts. Some of the places had a Rs 30-50 camera charge and some places photography was not permitted. The ride on the 'hand pushed cart' up the slope to the sunset point at Mt Abu was an experience. Continuous hygienically packed snacks provided by Kesari kept us occupied through out the tour. The facility breaks were evenly spaced. Most days we had the 6, 7, 8 AM regime of wake-up call, breakfast and the day's departure respectively. Though it was a busy 15 days we as Senior Citizens could cope this tour with ease. We would like to do more of such tours in the Kesari Itinerary. We found co-travellers who had done 6-9 tours with Kesari already.