India’s Rajasthan: 4 Photo Tour Hotspots
India is a country with no equal and needs hardly any introduction. It is home to over a billion people in arguably the world’s richest cultural landscape, and boasts a staggering geographical diversity ranging from deserts and forests to tropical, palm-lined shores and snow-capped peaks. India is of course also famous for its rich avifauna and iconic mammalian mega fauna, foremost of which is the regal Bengal Tiger. All-in-all, India offers the itinerant photographer a diverse palette of wildlife, culture, architecture and more.
But instead of focusing on all the fascinating areas of this vast and varied land, we wanted to show you four photography hotspots in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is known for its cultural colours, impressive forts, regal palaces, local food, sand dunes, not to mention the iconic wildlife of Ranthambore. With these attractions bringing in 1.6 million international tourists and 4.9 million domestic tourists in 2017, this Indian state knows how to draw a crowd.
Jawai is the new frontier, opening up a truly experiential way to travel and an even more rewarding arrival into a land of adventure and antiquity. A varied menu of photographic experiences awaits in this lap of the former kingdoms of Mewar and Marwar. The region is home to the charismatic Rabari herdsmen, a people at peace with the indigenous wildlife, including the resident spotted cat, the ultimate showstopper that captivates guests both at camp and on safari.
At the heart of an untrammelled wilderness, where leopards roam wild and free, is the luxury tented camp, SUJÁN JAWAI. Designed by the owners, Anjali and Jaisal Singh, JAWAI represents a style that combines subtle opulence with abundant adventure. Staying true to their goals for conservation without compromising comfort, the camp has 9 luxurious tents including one royal suite, each with oodles of space and privacy encapsulated by a landscape of towering granite formations, caves, kopjes, Anogeissus scrub and winding sand riverbeds.
The vibrant Rabari herdsmen who have shared this land with wildlife for centuries endorse the organic and continuing link between local culture and wildlife. This is a relationship that SUJÁN is deeply committed to nurturing in the face of rapid change, as a means of fulfilling their commitment to conservation, to cultures and wildlife. It is these experiences that we are proud and delighted to share with guests at in this region.
Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan and is divided into two parts by a 10km long wall that surrounds the “Old City”, separating it from the “New City”.
This is a very popular tourist destination with mesmerizing landscape scenery, as well as many beautiful palaces and forts such as Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhavan Palace and Raika Bag Palace. Other charms of Jodhpur include Government museum and it’s beautiful Umed garden.
Umaid Bhawan Palace is named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owner Gaj Singh. It is a magnificent piece of Rajasthan’s heritage, and a symbol of new Jodhpur, being home of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family and currently the world’s sixth-largest private residence. Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan Palace inspires many with exotic views of the historic Blue City, vast sand dunes, and intimidating Mehrangarh Fort. Soak in the original architecture of a fascinating bygone era and discover the rich history of a palace that has enjoyed actual royal company, namely Maharani BadanKanwar of Jodhpur who once lived there.
In the heart of the Thar Desert lies Jaisalmer, a simply unmatched, dynamic place known as the “Golden City” due to the yellow sandstone used in its construction.
Historically speaking, it was a thriving trade centre on the famous Silk Road (the ancient camel-train route that ran through India and Central Asia) and had a business relationship with Persian countries. It is the reason for the existence of havelis and bungalows apart from structures built by local kings.
To put it plainly, photographing Jaisalmer is a real treat, with many other architectural marvels, including: Jaisalmer Fort, Patwa Ki Haveli, Nathmal Ki Haveli, Bada Bagh, Vyas Chhatri and Gadisar Lake.
Ranthambore National Park is one of India’s largest parks, protecting over 380 square kilometres (almost 1400 square kilometres including the buffer zone) of a rich mosaic of deciduous woodland, bamboo thickets, lakes and marshes.
Dominated by the 10th century Ranthambore Fort which sits atop a plateau 700ft above the plains, this scenic reserve contains high concentrations of herbivores such as Spotted Deer, Sambar and Wild Boar. This abundance of prey species is a key support to one of the healthiest populations of Tiger anywhere on Earth.
Over 60 Tigers currently inhabit the park, quite a few of which are habituated to the presence of tourists, and are often regarded as the most spectacular of all the world’s felines!
Using an open-top jeep to explore the park for Tigers, one can really enjoy the area’s prolific wildlife. The rangers look out for tell-tale signs of these striped beauties, such as pugmarks or scat in the road, and are also ever on the alert for alarm calls from Sambar, Spotted Deer and Hanuman Langur.
Although the relatively open nature of the terrain accounts in part for Ranthambore’s high rate of Tiger sightings, it is the reserve’s skilled team of local guides that has made it one of the foremost parks for seeing this elusive predator.
Looking into the amber eyes of this, the largest of all cats, undoubtedly ranks as one of the world’s ultimate wildlife experiences, and is sure to keep you enthralled and photographing like mad.
In addition to Tigers and their favourite prey species – Indian Gazelle – Jungle Cat, Striped Hyaena and if we are extremely fortunate, Leopard and Sloth Bear are also key highlights to look out for. Also, the interesting mixture of deciduous woodland and chaurs on the valley floors support good numbers of birds, with arguably the most spectacular of all being the resplendent Indian Peafowl, which is both gaudy and noisy!
The interesting mixture of deciduous woodland and chaurs on the valley floors support good numbers of birds, with arguably the most spectacular of all being the resplendent Indian Peafowl, which is both gaudy and noisy!
If this has whet your appetite to embark on your own India photography tour, then feel free to consider one of the following two options: