Colorful Rajasthan shines brightly in the desert

Dave Stamboulis for USA TODAY 10Best

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India’s Rajasthan conjures up an "Arabian Nights" fantasy. Each city has its own color code, covering a spectrum of the artist’s palette.

The Pink City

Jaipur is known as the "Pink City." In 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh had the center of the city painted pink in order to impress Albert, the Prince of Wales, during his visit to Rajasthan.

ROyal Amer Fort

A sandstone and white marble fortress on a hill, the Amer Fort (a.k.a. Amber Fort) of Jaipur blends in with its surroundings.

The most notable reddish-pink building is the majestic Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds, a palace made from red and pink sandstone.

Hawa Mahal

With 953 windows, it originally served as a private ladies' chamber, where royal women could watch public gatherings below without being observed.

rhapsody in blue

The city of Jodhpur is known as the "blue city," its tangle of streets and alleys a perfect backdrop for colorful photography.

There are several theories as to why it's blue. Some say that it’s due to the fact that many of the original residents here were from the Brahmin caste, whose homes were painted blue.

Others say that it has more to do with the weather, and that the shaded blue color helped to cool down local homes in a hot desert climate.

jewel of Rajasthan

While white might not be the most captivating of colors, Udaipur, the "white city," certainly is Rajasthan’s most captivating and romantic spot.

Taj Lake Palace

The star attraction is the glistening Taj Lake Palace, an elegant five-star resort which sits on an islet in the middle of Lake Pichola.

City Palace

The City Palace is another gleaming white building, dating from the mid-1500s, and built by rulers of the Mewar dynasty.

Golden City

Jaisalmer perhaps best represents the deserts of Rajasthan. It's known as the "Golden City” for its sandstone architecture and beautiful golden hues when illuminated by the late afternoon sun.

Bada Bagh

The cenotaphs of Bada Bagh, located just outside of town, face west and are lit up by the last rays of sunlight in the desert.

Golden Hour

To see Jaisalmer at its most golden, head out into the Thar Desert at sunset. The sun going down over the sand dunes is one of Rajasthan’s most iconic experiences.

The architecture isn't the only colorful thing about Rajasthan, either.

A study in color

Saris, bangles and turbans here are often more colorful than other spots in India, and any market visit will reveal a bright display of spices, clothing and other luminous wares.


Traditional Rajasthani dances make use of brightly colored costumes, and the ghoomar dance is perhaps the most famous.

Festival of Color

Rajasthan is at its most colorful in February and March during the annual Holi celebration.

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