The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
New film set in Rajasthan, India
In honour of the opening of the new film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — which is set in Rajasthan and was filmed on location in Udaipur, Jaipur and several other glorious Rajasthani locations — here’s a photo essay of some of my fave pics of Rajasthan. I have probably taken 2,000 photos of ”the Land of Kings;” these are just a few.
I’ve been to Rajasthan about four-five times, and I am always ready to go back. It is the India you’ve dreamt about: historical and colourful, full of fantastical palaces and storybook scenes of peacocks flying low over the desert, camel caravans and graceful women in neon-bright saris.
Some of my favourite places in Rajasthan include Jaisalmer, Udapiur, Pushkar, Roopangarh, Jodhpur and of course the desert. The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is one of the world’s largest. Most of Rajasthan — India’s largest, and most touristed state — is desert.
There is so much achingly evocative beauty in Rajasthan, including of course the art and architecture — and they very often go together. Havelis are intricately carved out of stone, walls and ceilings are covered in detailed paintings. The whole state is a living work of art!
And like all desert people, no doubt, Rajasthanis love water. There are many beautiful fountains and “monsoon gardens” in Rajasthan. This picturesque lake is just outside the small town of Bundi, a gothic-meets-Mughal treasure trove of art and architecture.
Udaipur must be one of the world’s most romantic cities. Palaces and havelis line Lake Pichola — whose serene surface belies the crocodile living within — and in the centre sits a confection, a former maharajah’s palace, now a luxury hotel. Lake Palace Hotel is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Obviously (see top picture).
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the walls and buildings in the old city, it is a large, bustling and prosperous place, with lots to see and do, like the City Palace, Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar observatory and the bazaars and markets. But I prefer the smaller towns and rural Rajasthan.
Jaisalmer, on the far outskirts of Rajasthan, deep in the heart of the desert, is my favourite place in Rajasthan. Here is an 11th century fort, continuously inhabited, on a hill top in the centre of the small golden town; and here you can take a camel safari out onto the dunes and see the stars like you’ve never seen them.
Amber Fort, which sits atop a hill overlooking Jaipur is filled with murals, frescoes, stained glass, painted walls — it’s dazzling. Below is one small window that caught my attention — a scene from the life of Krishna.