Rajasthan is an arid region, with a rich history of a proud people, a land of contrasts with splendid palaces alongside the humbler town dwellings. Our first stop was Jaipur - the “pink city”. The central old town buildings are all pink, as decreed by a rajah centuries ago. The culinary highlight here was a vegetarian thali in an ornate place setting, with folk dancing and traditional music. Also a great place to shop for jewellery and leather - I much regret not buying a beautiful chess set at Jaipur fort.
The next highlight was Udaipur, with its lakes and palaces. We stayed in a palace hotel overlooking the lake, and had open-air breakfast beside the swimming pool. Dinner was again al-fresco, high on a hillside, with traditional dancers, singers and musicians accompanying an excellent meal. In many ways our tour highlight was our palace stay in Jodhpur - a unique and fascinating hotel - our “rustic” suite featured a circular bedroom. We had a cooking lesson, and learned to cook a local speciality - ker sangri - which is a dried seed pod! Our guide took us to a wonderful shop - actually a huge warehouse crammed with manifold Indian artifacts and wonderful fabrics which thoroughly exercised our wallets - we came away with some beautiful fabrics and a gorgeous statuette. Throughout we enjoyed the famous cuisine of Rajasthan, particularly the ubiquitous laal maas - a delicious goat curry. A great tour, and highly recommended for the food, culture and shopping.