Written quickly for friends; ignore typos. Some random tips.
I was away from Rajasthan from 12th morning to 16th morning (April) with a friend. Travelled by bus, totally unplanned. Earlier I had passed through Jaipur and gone twice to Ajmer.
I went to Alwar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur in that order and took return train from Ajmer: Bhartri in Alwar, Sariska palace hotel (couldn’t do safari in jungle due to lack of quorum for vehicle), Mehrangarh fort, Amber palace, Umaid bhawan etc. We travelled to all major places recommended in these cities except some forts around Udaipur. We spent about 7000 Rupees between us. One can save more if one wants to but it would really pinch.
Some tips: mostly for budget travelling.
When/If you go to these places, always stay in Dharmshalas. Up to 200 or 300 Rupees. They are abundantly available. Hostelworld dot com and lonely planet (and web) has lists cheap and good places for staying. Pandit Dharmshala near bus stand (hotel gali) in Udaipur is 250 Rs but like a hotel only. Looks like All places in Rajsthan have dharmshalas (just like most tourist places) run by trusts, caste associations etc. A good indicator of quality of place is the state of its bathroom. Avoid Agarwal dharmshala near Alwar bus stand (horrible people; we had to genuflect to get out at 4.30 am thanks to tactless handling!). Carry Mosquito cream; we didn’t need it though.
We travelled by Auto; we booked it for a day (until 5 pm). Jaipur day trip govt rate for pre-paid auto is 438 Rs, some nearby forts excluded in this. Do check that and ask everything. Do consult autowallah on your own (and not through your hotel or dharmshalas). Alwar is good by foot only (and local buses, autos etc.). City HoHo buses (Jaipur) are about 350 Rs per person, so it is more expensive with less freedom unlike what obtains in an auto.
Bus trip is okay. normal RSTC buses okay. Our most expensive trip was one Volvo that cost us over 400 per ticket. Avoid private buses; use govt buses. Online booking is there. Avoid buying eatables around bus stands.
Zip tours are available at Jodhpur. See flying fox website. I would have done it if I wanted to spend more and had the time. http://www.flyingfox.asia/ Check the special rates and discounts on its site.
Student discounts at places; carry your ID and photocopy of ID (carry many, also for staying). Letter by Univ/warden works more at tourist sites. Also carry one small lock.
For Sariska tiger reserve Safari, go in group and book it online (with student discount). We didn’t had quorum and so we didn’t do it to avoid paying all 2500 ourselves. Any bus from bus stand goingto Jaipur will go to Sarika (starts at 4 am): 35 kms and 25 Rupees per person. Link for online booking of Sariska is http://www.rajasthanwildlife.com/wild-life/Sariska-National-Park.htm You have open gypsy (6 people sitting) or open canter (20 ppl sitting) option. Gypsy is about 2500 Rs and canter is about 400 Rs including guide (mandatory) and other charges. If you don’t go in group or if you don’t find others there, then you will have to incur the full costs if you want to go.
Summer season has sugarcane juice shops everywhere in Rajasthan and it is good. We had no stomach problems anywhere during the trip.
Do treks at alwar (like go uphill to Bala fort from Chhatri by foot); Udaipur walk the Sajjangarh sancturay etc. if you have time and fitness. Even get/hire a cycle if you can. I wish I had a cycle there and I had gone there in winters.
Give more time to places/forts near Udaipur if you have time/money. We avoided city palace at Udaipur (thanks to the entry fee of almost 400 Rs) but most others recommend it.
Buy Kurtas from shops near the Jantar Mantar. I got two in 400 Rs and I realized I could have paid even 350 and they would have agreed. But it’s good. Jaipur has other authentic places where original rajai (650 onwards), kurtas etc is sold.
Museums at all places could be boring thanks to the usual dull presentation; read more about Rajasthan Royalty to excite yourself. Mehrangarh fort is very good. Walking is preferable at all places lest it becomes mechanical. We didn’t use the audio tapes at all places (foreigners use it most of the time). Many sites do charge for camera but there is no restriction on mobile camera (we secretly used digicam without paying for it as you can take it inside).
One week for these cities is very okay. Do Jaisalmer in winters. We left it deliberately. Doing it in 4 days like we did is like a crash course and suitable if you are fit and do not seek luxury.
Go to Mt. Abu and Bikaner too. I plan to do it later. Mt. Abu has reputed and very affordable dharmshalas/hotels.
Avoid heavy foods/restaurants. Carry chana (grams), soak it overnight. Carry your own gur (jaggery). We eat ‘gur-chana’ on Himalayan treks and it works great. We ate Dal-Bati only once and it could be heavy for most of you. If you have to eat, eat after you book/enquire about your bus at the bus stand or you may find that you missed it because you were eating even if near/around the bus stand.
Overall all places seemed safe (even for women). We didn’t had any problem (except nonsensical behavior by some people at some places).
Do check train seat availability even when train is due in an hour or so and chart is made. We got return ticket from Ajmer (only visited it for transit) to Delhi an two hours before the train scheduled time (though the official booking agents at station said they wanted some ‘chai pani’ kharcha which we agreed for but didn’t give after we got the ticket .
Aquafina is most pirated brand there; always buy ‘Kinley or Bisleri’. Avoid paying more than MRP (if you can) for bottles. I carried my own 2-lt bottle from hostel and filled it with ordinary or cold water available at stations etc. unlike my fellow traveller who preferred mostly cold, bottled water.
Keep your belongings safe, be alert. My friend lost his phone in Ajmer. Fortunately, it was a cheap Samsung guru phone and he didn’t lose much monetarily.
Outlook one year subscription 1200 Rs will give you one thick travel India guide priced 595 Rs; so get it. It’s good.
Pichola lake ride (in Udaipur, 100 Rs for 20 mins).