India is geographically blessed with different terrains throughout the country. The three deserted terrains of India, Rann of Kutch, Ladakh and the Thar desert are practically diverse offering different architectural marvels, wildlife and of course excellent trails for bikers and hikers.
If you are looking to escape from the strenuous city life or the heavy monsoon showers, go take on one of these top-notch desert getaways and soak yourself in an enchanting experience filled with sun, sand dunes and camels.
Located in the semi-arid lands of Rajasthan, Jaipur- the Pink city embraces royalty. Towering forts, opulent palaces, holy temples and festivals elucidate the city’s royal roots.
Attractions: Hawamahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh, Ishwari Minar Swarga sal, Royal Gaitor and Jaipur’s star attraction Amber Fort.
Best time to visit: November to February is the best time to plan your trip. If you consider going during summer don’t forget to book air-conditioned hotels and drink plenty of water.
Eat: Ghewar – a deep fried Rajasthani traditional sweet, Kachori, Laal mas and dal Baati- these are Rajasthan’s famous local delicacies that you shouldn’t miss.
The golden sand dunes surrounds Jaisalmer city and reflects the golden hues on the vibrant city structures, though the label ‘Golden city’ is procured through the yellow sandstone edifices.
Attractions: Jaisalmer desert festival, Jaisalmer fort, Gadiyar lake, Tanot mata temple and Camel safari on the sand dunes, camping in Jaisalmer
Best time to visit: November to February. Night temperatures in winter drop down to 4°C.
Eat: Daal-bati-choorma, Lassi, Moong dal halwa are the famous local delicacies.
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Nubra valley, a cold arid desert in the lap of Himalayas, separates Ladakh from Karakoram ranges. High altitude passes, beautiful lakes and mesmerising valleys remain untouched and will simply take your breath away.
Attractions: Diskit Gompa, Ensa monastery, Wari La, Khardung La Pass, Bacterian camel safari in Hunder.
Best time to visit: May to August. April is when Apricot flowers bloom all over the valley.
Eat: Thukpa and momos are the famous traditional Tibetan delicacies.
Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
An eight-hour drive from Ahmedabad airport will take you to the salt desert of Kutch. The golden-yellow rays of the sun on the crystal-white salt during the sunset or sunrise and the full-moon nights with the moonlight reflecting on the white sands -adds on to the beauty of the place and is an eye feast. A perfect place for silhouette snaps!
Attractions: Great Rann of Kutch, Kutch desert wild life sanctuary, Kutch museum, Mandvi beach
Best time to visit: November to February. The famous Rann festival is held during this time. Don’t dare to plan to visit in summers as the temperature goes up to 45°C.
Eat: Kutch has it’s own distinct flavours with a variety of curries, dals and sweets – Khari Bhat, Loda vali Khichdi, Rotlo, Besan Gatta vegetable, Kersangli, buttermilk, Bhajiya, Churmu, Mag ni fotravali dal, Mesub and Gulab pak are some of them. Kutch Rann Utsav also promotes the local delicacies.
Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Ladakh’s lesser known cousin ‘Spiti’ is practically cut-off from the rest of the world for almost 6 months a year. It is a ” world with in a world” as described by ‘Rudyard Kipling’.
Attractions: ‘Tabo’ – a 100o-year-old cave monastery, Pin valley national park – where you can spot a lot of snow leopards , Dhankar- once a castle of a local ruler, Geu- a picturesque village.
Best time to visit: May to October. The temperature is around 15°C and pleasant. During winters Spiti valley is covered with thick sheets of ice and the journey is quite challenging.
Eat: One should not miss the Spitian specials like ‘Thupka’ (thick noodles in soup), momos, ‘Chang’ a locally extracted beer, ‘Arkah’ a locally made whiskey, butter tea and more.
This teeny-tiny village amidst the unending Thar desert is a perfect getaway to explore history, desert and Rajasthan’s wildlife.
Attractions: Khimsar fort- a 16th century fort, Sand dunes village with ceaseless sand dunes and a beautiful mini-lake in the middle of no-where appears as a drop in the vast desert, surrounded by eco-friendly quaint huts gives a romantic and rustic feel. Ride on a camel back into the wild desert or on a horse back.
Best time to visit: Khimsar has extreme climatic conditions. However, from November to February the climate is pleasant to wander around. Nagaur festival which is India’s second largest cattle fair is also held during this period.
Eat: Dal is used extensively in this region and the food ranges high on spice meter. Sarson Murgh ke pasande, Duadhar kebab, Dal-baati-churma, Lal Mirch ka paneer are some of the popular Khimsar dishes.
The small, rustic town of Bundi was once vibrant with Rajput glory. The Palaces, Forts and Baolis(step wells) depict the Rajput splendour.
Attractions: Taragarh fort – 14th century fort, Bundi Palace, Nawal sagar lake, Sukh Mahal, Dabhai Kund are some of the famous spots in Bundi.
Best time to visit: Needless to say that winters are the best for a trip to Rajasthan. October to February is the best time to go. However, the famous Kajli-teej festival is held during July-August if one might want to go.
Eat: The Bundi cuisine is traditionally served in a Thali. Due to the Marwari influence most of the dishes are vegetarian- Dal Baati Churma, Gatte ki Sabzi, Laal Maas and Kesariya Murg are some must try dishes when you are here.
Pushkar is one of the most ancient cities of India. Located amidst the Aravalli ranges, Pushkar is famous with the pilgrims, they visit Pushkar lake to take a dip which is believed to be sacred by Hindus.
Attractions: Pushkar has umpteen number of temples, Brahma temple here is a famous pilgrim site-one of the few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma in the world, Savithri mata temple dedicated to Brahma’s wife Savithri, Papa mochani temple, old Rangji temple, Gurdwara, Jain temple. And camel safari here is not be missed!
Best time to visit: Annula Pushkar camel fair is held in November which is totally worth your time. The town bustles with cultural activities for six days. Anyhow, October to March is the best to visit Pushkar.
Eat: Alcohol and non-vegetarian is strictly prohibited in this sacred town. One of the must-try here is lassi and traditional Rajasthani cuisine as well.
Ajmer is within a stone’s throw distance from Pushkar. It has many important Muslim pilgrimage centres, Rajput & Mughal – architecture & monuments, which make this place exquisite.
Attractions: Ajmer Sharif Dargah – one of the holiest places of worship in India not just for Muslims for all who have faith, Nasiyan Jain temple, Ana sagar Lake, Adhai-din ka Jhonpra- one of the oldest Sanskrit colleges turned mosque, Akbar’s Palace and museum are the major attractions.
Best time to visit: Although Ajmer is a year-round destination, October to March can be the best time to visit.
Eat: Ajmer is a Muslim majority region, which makes it famous for Non-vegetarian dishes like- Lal Mas, Sula kebabs, mutton & chicken curries.
Chittorgarh is an architectural marvel, with the most prettiest fort built on hilltop. Like the fort, the Rajput’s triumph stands tall for all the glorious battles fought. Every corner the town has a story to tell, the story of Rani Padmini stands as a symbol of valor.
Attractions: Padmini’s Palace, Chittorgarh fort, Tower of Fame, Maha Sati, Gau Mukh Kund tower of Victory, Rana Kumbha Palace, Meera temple.
Best time to visit: September to March
Eat: Chittorgarh cuisine consists of typical Rajasthani dishes. The restaurants here serve sumptuous varieties of dishes – Parathas, Rajasthani food, Mughal delicacies and desserts.
If you are in search of an oasis of serenity and tranquility, you will definitely find it here!