So, this time I am going to write about my homeland India. It was December and a nice winter in India. I wanted to make a family trip since we haven’t travelled together anywhere in the last 4 years. It’s kind of sad to also tell someone that I haven’t travelled at all in India apart from some small trips. While looking for some cool destinations with culture, history, heritage and nice food I started googling over. The natural and the obvious choice that came to my mind was the state of Rajasthan. It’s undoubtedly one of the colourful and beautiful states in India and it’s so vastly diverse that it makes difficult to settle on an itinerary. Diverse in the sense that you have to the east a desert, to the south a national park and throughout the state are huge forts and palaces. Also, this state is geographically divided into 9 sub-regions, each showcasing different historical background, foods and some rituals and cultural differences.
Covering most of the diversities in a week I had planned our trip which included the cities Jaipur- capital city, Pushkar- the holy or the spiritual town and Udaipur- also the capital of Mewar region. If you have more than a week you should definitely include Jaisalmer- which is the heart of the Thar desert. It’s a bit on the off path but accessible by train or car. Jaipur and Udaipur are accessible by all means of transport. From big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, you can buy first class AC train tickets which is also an amazing experience. We started in Jaipur and ended in Udaipur. In this article, I will just stick to Jaipur and cover Pushkar and Udaipur in the next part.
Historical view to the Pink City
Jaipur, as said earlier is the capital city of Rajasthan and also called the pink city, portraying the trademark hue on all of the old buildings in the old city. The buildings were painted pink first in 1876 to welcome Queen Victoria’s husband Albert (who later became emperor of India) giving the city its identity as the Pink City.
The city was built in 1727 by Maharaj Jai Singh II whose prior capital was the Fort Amer or also referred to as Amer Palace. The increasing foreign threats, as well as his interest in culture and architecture, led to this brilliant wonder which now is home to two UNESCO world heritage sites: Jantar Mantar and Amer Fort.
Amer Fort is one of the admirable sites in Jaipur, built out of red sandstone. The fort consists of four courtyards, a series of gates and huge walls overlooking the Maota Lake.
It houses the famous ‘Sheesh Mahal” or the Palace of mirrors, a beautiful artistic piece. It easily takes 4 hours to explore the fort thoroughly. Elephant ride to the top of the fort is a nice experience if you can ignore the cruel side of that. This ride costs 1200INR for 2 people.
One can also take a Jeep ride to the top of the Amer fort which costs 80-100INR per person (depending on your bargaining skills). In any case, there is the option to walk. If you want, there are private guides available as well and they don’t charge much. Starting early in the day is a better option and also the elephant ride closes at 11 am. If your energy levels are still not that depreciated, one could also give a visit to the Jaigarh Fort standing just behind the Amer Fort, built to protect the Amer fort. From Amer fort, we went to the Nahargarh fort to witness the sunset. On the top, Padao restaurant offers visitors a relaxed sunset view while sipping a beer.
This fort also gives a beautiful glimpse of Jaipur from the top. Well, this fort is also a beautiful site for Sunrise. The Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort are both accessible from Jaipur by Taxis or Tuk-tuks. On the way to the fort, we get a glimpse of ‘Jal Mahal’, a palace in water. You can stop there and take photographs but the entry to this palace is prohibited.
What to see in the city?
Back in the city if you have any interest in any kind of astronomy or astrology do visit the UNESCO heritage site Jantar Mantar, one of the five Jantar Mantar’s built by Maharaj Jai Singh. The site features a stone sundial along with some other instruments to predict the times and the movement of Sun, moon and other planets. It is open for the public between 6 am to 6 pm.
While strolling through the old city one comes across a huge red and white sandstone building which is nothing but the Hawa Mahal meaning Palace of Breeze. This is the back view of this Hawa Mahal. This palace was built to allow the royal ladies to have the street view of the daily city life. This architectural wonder allows a cool breeze to flow through even during high temperatures and hence the name Hawa Mahal. Just near to the edge of this is the City Palace of Jaipur. But since we were supposed to visit the City Palace of Udaipur we had skipped this.
On one of the evenings, I strongly recommend you to visit the concept village “Chokhi Dhani”.
It portrays the traditional Rajasthani culture with folk dance performances, magic shows and camel ride for children, handicraft and some other art forms. They have an immense variety of food which is offered at various corners in this small concept village. Do try the hot drink ‘ Raabdi’ served at some food counter (It’s my favourite drink and I had 3 glasses of it).
It’s one of the traditional beverages of Rajasthan made out of Baajra. Don’t stuff yourself otherwise you would regret not being able to enjoy the exotic dinner.
This dinner consists of some 12-13 typical food items(only vegetarian) served on a big plate and they taste delicious, believe me! When you ask for Rajasthani food, a few common names that you would hear are Dal- Bati-Choorma, Gatte ki Sabzi, Makka Roti, Saag, etc. They serve all these food items there and are unlimited. Especially, the people serving the dinner make you feel at home which doubles the savouriness. Also, experience the head massage offered at some counter there, it’s relaxing after a tired day.
The entry there costs approx INR 2000 and it’s accessible from Jaipur city by taxi or Tuk-tuk. Reach there by 7 pm and you can easily spend 3-4 hours.
Rajasthani Savouries in Jaipur
For the milk product fans, there is a famous shop named ‘Laasiwala’ selling sweet lassi in a clay glass. The crowd at the and its fame makes the lassi special one which is already special with a spoonful of thick cream on top. It’s so famous that it is open only till 4 pm. There is also a special place for ice cream lovers called Jal Mahal, having 60 years of history. It’s special and famous for its collection of more than 70 flavours. Both these places are on the MI road and can be reached easily.
We spent the evening in the colourful markets of Jaipur namely Baapu Bazar and the Johri Bazar. Both the markets offer a huge collection of typical embroidered garments and beautiful necklaces at a very decent price (of course only if you bargain). I remember, that after every half an hour I was giving try at a different street food stall, majorly trying Gol Gappa.
Getting around in Jaipur: Tuk Tuk (rickshaws) is the cheapest means of transport available in Jaipur. Other than that just download Uber or Ola app and you are done with finding a taxi.
Dine: Peacock rooftop restaurant is a worthwhile option due to its beautiful ambience and the menu consisting of a variety of north Indian dishes, Govindam multicuisine retreat (vegetarian).
Niro’s restaurant- one of the best budget north Indian restaurants in Jaipur, Giardino (Italian cuisine)
Nightlife: I personally didn’t go out at night. But if you as a reader are interested in a night scene in Jaipur, then I can mention few. Bar Palladio and the Shikhar Bagh are the best in bars or lounges in town where there are quite a lot of travellers and young people. Also do check out this blog: hippie-in-heels.
From Jaipur, we headed towards Pushkar and then Udaipur. Follow this blog for the next part.
To catch the beautiful glimpses of my trips and more, follow me on Instagram.
[email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]