Rooftops of Rajasthan

India at street level is nothing less than chaotic.

Street cows of Varanasi

No one ‘strolls’ down the street in India.

It would be like trying to have a romantic meander down the track during the Indy 500. You just wouldn’t do it.

For example: In Delhi, I looked too long at one of the shopfronts and almost walked into a group of men carrying a shrouded corpse on a plank.

You certainly can walk around in India, but make sure you have your wits about you. Getting smashed by a speeding rickshaw probably isn’t on anyone’s to-do list.

It’s unfortunate, because walking around a city is one of the best ways to soak it in and explore. While walking around the streets will certainly give you a feel for India, it’s not exactly relaxing.

So what’s a traveler to do?

Rooftops. Rooftops are the answer.

Luckily, they are plentiful, particularly throughout the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Many guesthouses and restaurants boast of their wonderful rooftop views, and in my experience, they don’t disappoint. Sitting on a rooftop gives you peace. Grab a cup of chai, pull up a plastic chair, and breathe – there are no rickshaws up here.


Bundi is a small town where tourism has yet to explode. You can almost – almost – walk down the street without feeling the need for body armor, which is refreshing in itself. The town is sandwiched between mountains and wraps around a lake. I can easily say it was my favorite place in Rajasthan.

Women making chapatis in Bundi
Nice spot for a kitchen. And yes, I was kind of spying on these people.


Bundi monkey
Probably both deciding whose rooftop they're going to poo on next.


Bundi Palace daytime
Bundi Palace. Never got old.



City of Romance, or so they say. What’s more romantic than rooftop views?

Tents, that’s what.

Mewargarh Palace rooftop restaurant, Udaipur
Do you have a 'tent' section? Oh, good. Rooftop restaurant of our guesthouse: Mewargarh Palace, Udaipur.


Udaipur city view
Udaipur. Much nicer at altitude. From the Mewargarh Palace.


Legend has it that top-God Lord Brahma dropped a lotus flower from the sky, resulting in this lake. This is where they scattered Gandhi’s ashes, and it’s the place to go on pilgrimage. Which still doesn’t explain the overwhelming amount of dreadlocked white people I saw. What is up with that, anyway?

The lake is surrounded by a practically impenetrable force field of touts, insisting that you give a ‘donation’ for a free holy flower or a holy view. I say, get yourself to a rooftop and drop some money for a lassi. Way better than a crushed handful of petals.

Lake Pushkar
The holiest of holy lakes, Lake Pushkar. As seen from the 'Out of the Blue' rooftop restaurant.


Sugar cane man waits for customers in Pushkar
Don't mind me. Just snappin' pictures like a stalker again. Sugarcane juice vendor, Pushkar.


The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is bursting at the seams with rooftops to discover. Any time of day is good for rooftop-sitting, but the ideal time has got to be sunset.

Jaipur Peacock Restaurant
The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant at the Hotel Pearl Palace in Jaipur.


Jaipur city view
The neverending city of Jaipur. Disappointingly un-pink outside of the old town.



OK, so Varanasi’s not exactly in Rajasthan. It’s in the other direction, in the eastern state of Uttar Pradesh. But it’s still a great place to find a rooftop and fly some kites.

Varanasi kite flying
The owner of the Shubh Laxmi Guesthouse shows us how it's done.


Varanasi boy
Observing kite-flying techiniques. What a heart-breaker.


The secret’s out – if you want to survive India and keep your sanity intact, get on a rooftop whenever you can.

Chaos is best observed as an outsider.


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  1. Oh man, 100% correct!

    Rooftops are the answer to all of my problems. I think. Wait no, rooftops are DEFINITELY the answer to all my problems.

    I’m actually just writing about the rooftops in Pushkar right now and I honestly think I could have easily outstayed my visa entry on a Pushkar rooftop.

    I doubt anyone would even spot me there either…

    1. For real. Rooftops were the surprise highlight of India for me. I think I would have been disappointed in Pushkar without them – you definitely could still be sitting there now and no one would track you down.

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