Jaipur has always fascinated me for it’s rich cultural, colours and heritage. It is the capital of Rajasthan and is also known as the Pink city. The city was painted Pink as a gesture of welcome to the Prince of Wales. Here is my travelogue, exploring Jaipur.
The Trip : Jaipur > Agra > Jaipur > Ajmer > Pushkar > Udaipur
The best time to visit Jaipur is from October to March, as the climate gets less harsh around this time. Days are not unbearably hot and nights are quite cool and pleasant.
We made all the bookings online, much ahead of the travel dates. We compared the prices listed in different sites and went with the most affordable option, near the areas we wanted to visit.
We reached Jaipur around 9 am. Our stay was booked at Hotel Vimal Heritage for 3 nights and it was around 14kms away, from the airport. So after much enquiries on the local transportation costs, we decided to book an Ola share as it was the cheapest option. The hotel turned out to be a house renovated into a haveli, with cordial staff and very beautiful decor.
The spacious room we got, was next to the indoor pool and had a wall full of colourful tinted glass work. Quite happy and excited so far. I will review the hotel in detailed in another post.
CITY PALACE Museum:
Timings: 9.00am to 5.00pm
Ticket cost : 190 Rs per person
Our first stop was at the city palace museum. This is just a part of the city palace, opened to public. The Palace itself is accessible to public but the entry fee is very steep. So we skipped that. The museum mostly displays the items used by the royal family, including silk attires with elaborate gold and silver detailing, weapons and chariots. The architecture is another highlight. It is a harmonious mix of both Mughal and Rajput architecture. Like the famous miniature paintings, the art work on doors, walls and ceilings are quite colorful.
The big courtyard of the palace, has 4 doorways depicting each season, which has elaborate and very detailed art work with all natural plant based paints.
These paints have successfully passed the test of time and leaves you in awe of the then artisans.The intricate hand drawn patterns and vibrant colors has to be seen in person, as no picture does true justice to the craftsmanship.
There was also a puppet show for the visitors in the courtyard.
Right outside the city palace, at a walkable distance is the Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. But we hadn’t had breakfast and our stomachs were growling at this point. So we decided to first fill our tummy before exploring more. We booked ola again but the traffic was terrible and the driver was not able to find the location even after we waited for 20min. So we decided to walk to the famous Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar (the only restaurant we could find nearby).This one was already on my list of must visit restaurants. It was quite a walk, but a very interesting one along the shops of Johari bazar.The shops extends along the walls of the city palace and Hawa mahal and are numbered with name and details in Hindi in the same template.
To our delight we found a lassi shop(again, a must visit) in a corner of the bazar, but decided to visit it after lunch. And just ahead we found the LMB restaurant. They had their famous thalis as well as alacarte items with rajasthani and punjabi dishes. We went with Kashmiri pulao, punjabi paneer masala and rotis. The food turned out to be very tasty and rich.
After the scrumptious lunch, we headed to the lassiwala and had the most yummy lassi I had ever tasted. Now, I have read reviews of lassiwala shops in many other areas of Jaipur but let me tell you, of all the places we tried lassi at, this was the best. It is served in a disposable madka (clay cup) and is topped with a block of thick malai(milk cream). You can understand how much we loved it, by the fact that we were getting lassis everytime we pass the shop while shopping in the bazaar.This is something I am going to miss for sure.
We walked back to hawa mahal, or the Palace of the winds and spend some time exploring the place. The palace is essentially a high screen wall built so that the women of the royal family could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside. The mahal looks stunning from the outside with its many tiny windows facing the street.
The mahal is 5 storys high and once can see the Jantar Mantar and City palce from the top. We explored the inside rooms but it didn’t look that well maintained like the city palace.
There was puppet show for kids, here as well. And I bought a puppet couple for 200 Rs. It was more of a gesture of encouragement to the puppeters. But later I found that the same puppets are sold for Rs 100 or less for a pair in Johari Bazar. So incase you would like to take home puppets, do bargain and buy from the street shops.Also the puppets you see here are not the ones with flexible joints. These are more of decor pieces, mostly aimed at attracting kids. We found the original puppets in Udaipur and that was priced at around 700Rs.
We spent some time in Johari bazaar asking prices of things and walking around enjoying the colorful textiles and traditional prints. We headed back to the hotel in an electric tuk-tuk or an open auto. I wouldn’t say this was the most comfortable option for long rides, but it was fun going at a slow pace, wriggling out of traffic jams and enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city in the evening. These electric vehicles are available in plenty here and takes you in groups to nearby areas at a very low fare.
Our plan was to take rest and start to Chokhi Dhani later in the evening. Most of the people we talked to, had suggested this place. It is an ethnic resort, set like a Rajasthani village. There will be small huts or mud podiums for the cultural shows like folk dances, magic shows, music and other entertainments like camel and horse rides along with Rajasthani food. In addition to that there are shops selling local textiles, paintings and decor items. The cab ride from the hotel to the resort took around 45-1 hour, as we chose share cab.
To be frank, I didn’t feel it was worth the hype. Yes incase you don’t really explore the older city and cultural aspects of it, this is one place you can see it all in one go. There was this mehendi counter, where women clad in traditional Rajasthani attire was applying mehendi designs for free. The lady who applied it on my hand, did a terrible job and it looked like a mess.
By the time we started exploring the place, the dancers were just sitting around and chit chatting and not very enthusiastic to perform. Once the crowd starts gathering around, they started performing.
The camel ride (just few metres) was fun. Well, I didn’t feel so while having the ride, as I was holding on to my husband for dear life. He apparently enjoyed it and I guess must have felt like riding godzilla. As for the other amusements, magician sitting under a huge snake hood (who made objects disappear and pigeons appear out of nowhere); the hut where an old lady was cooking bajra rotis live in a chulha; and the general traditional settings were interesting.
The food was mediocre compared to the restaurant food and the street food. It was not particularly tasty but I guess people go there for the ambiance than for anything else.
So in case you are planning to go there, you must start early in the evening, so that you make the most of the visit and get to explore everything they offer.
It is quite far from the city, so incase you are dependent on uber or ola, it is better to start early.
We didn’t visit Jantar Mantar, the observatory. So if you have more time at hand, you can add that after City Palace.Also you can jam in, some shopping time at Johari Bazaar.
Jaipur, eventhough a very busy city with its malls and cafes(Cafe Coffee Day is present even inside palaces now), still holds its ancient charm and exquisite royalness. The sheer magnificence left me awestruck and craving for more. More on the travel coming soon.
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