Rajasthan is a beautiful state north-west of India. With a vibrant culture and varying landscapes, it remains one of my favorite destinations. Within the geographically large state, a number of cities have become famous tourist attractions. From the historical city of Jaipur to Udaipur- the lake city, to Pushkar’s camel festival and Jodhpur, India’s ‘Blue City,’ Rajasthan is full of adventure. Yet, one of my favorite cities-Alwar is seldom mentioned within the list of must-visits when it comes to Rajasthan tourism.
Truth be told, this is not much of a surprise. Alwar’s relatively small size and less accessible location have made itself invisible to avid tourism. However, the beauty of Alwar is not just with its buzzing markets and magnificent town, but also with its historical groupings and peaceful atmosphere. Just outside the relatively busy streets, sits its city palace.
Alwar City Palace
The city palace is made up of a grand structure and a massive courtyard. There were little people aside from a group of enthusiastic sportsmen, which gave my friend and me ample reason to maneuver around the space and photograph its exquisite architectural designs.
After admiring the palace for some time, we went up a flight of stairs that led to the most grandiose setting. It looked like a movie set-up. A single hill served as a backdrop to an emerald green man-made pond.
Mid-pond sat a gazebo with a faded, rounded roof and a coral-tainted body. While there was a walkway leading towards it, a curator later called us to step off the path due to the chemicals in the water. On the right, similar structures sat atop the waters while on the left, there was a tiny collection of houses that dotted the already spectacular scenery.
Moosi Maharani Ki Chhatri
Behind us, sat Moosi Maharani Ki Chhatri, a cenotaph that exemplifies Rajput architecture. It is a two-story structure made of red sandstone, with white marble pillars at its base. Fine, inlaid Rajasthan craftsmanship can be found on the ceilings inside the historical palace. Steps away from the terrace, there is a beautiful view of the city and hills surrounding the Palace. As a largely forgotten historical site, it has become a setting for locals to pass time or seek peace.
Getting to Alwar was not an easy task. While my friend and I followed the route recommended by GPS- a single 3-hour journey just north-west of New Delhi, we ended up taking 9 hours to get into the city. For those who’ve experienced Delhi’s traffic, driving out of India’s capital can be a complete nightmare. It’s often a miracle if I don’t spend at least twice to thrice the amount of travel time as suggested by Google. There are so many variables to be aware of when driving in India; I know for a fact that those who survive here will have the capability to drive anywhere.
I know for a fact that those who survive here will have the capability to drive anywhere.
For instance, I love riding tuk-tuks. But driving amongst them is definitely a challenge. Most tuk-tuk drivers are experienced professionals that put any moving being to shame. The way they move inches away from each other often scare the living crap out of me. Sometimes, cows and other creatures will squat mid-street.
Due to its religious significance and ethical sentiments, people generally leave cows unattended than to usher them away from blocking traffic.
Let’s be honest here- even the most precise GPS can’t accurately display the streets and alleyways in India, which leads to lots of confusion when trying to navigate unknown roads that can branch off into 3 different destinations. The only way to combat this, I found, was getting help from locals.
There were several checkpoints that led us to the city space. The night streets were still crowded with people when we finally arrived. Instead of stopping, we drove around for a bit more until we came across a plaza with several hotels. A great tip for getting cheap rates in a foreign city is to ask every hotel how much they charge. Seeing clients having a number of choices, these guest houses will greatly lower their prices to compete for the guest.
Personally, Alwar will undoubtedly remain on my short, but a handy list of must-revisits 🙂 Want to see where else to travel in India? Check out some of my favorites here. Or, other getaways in the Himalayas should definitely become a regular retreat.