India Diaries: Jaipur in 24 hours!

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Jaipur was more or less the last squeeze in our Rajasthan road trip.

(You can catch up with the remaining trip here, onwards).

 

 

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Jaipur came across as more of an ‘orange city’ than ‘pink city’ as it is called.
Never mind, I love both the colours πŸ™‚

 

 

Only 24 hours in Jaipur, sounds like a ridiculously small time to even call it a trip but enough time to squash all the fun, sight-seeing, shopping and grabbing grub (well, only figuratively) if you do it right.

 

 

 

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Hawa Mahal while entering Jaipur.
Orange/Pink (you decide) but exquisite structure!

 

 

 

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Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is basically a tall wall of latticed windows that allowed the females to watch the processions, parades & festivities while remaining veiled.

 

Here’s my recipe for ‘Jaipur in 24 hours’.

Take 24 hours.

Divide into 3 parts.

Part 1: Shop & Eat & visit City Palace!

Part 2: Get good nights’ rest!

Part 3: See Amer Fort.

For best results make the 24 hour stay from noon to noon.

Enjoy with your loved ones!



Part 1 : Shop, Eat & See City Palace

For the success of ‘Part 1’ of our trip I’m eternally grateful to friends (Big thanks Yogita! πŸ™‚ ) who have lived/are living in Jaipur owing to whom we did some amazing quick shopping and ate like kings! Also this part has no pictures because when I shop I’m laser-focused on it. More than when I was in a surgery room. After shopping I usually arrive famished at a restaurant, where I’m too disinclined to spend another joule of energy fishing for my phone or getting the camera ready or getting myself camera ready. That feels like too big an ordeal to me.

For shopping and food, you might find some good recommendations Β here. Jaipur hosts an annual shopping fest in September – October (which is also a really good time to visit). You can find a list of participating markets here.

For more information you can read a good article on shopping here. Another article here gives a list of five high end stores that you’ll definitely love! (I’ve shopped in some of the stores listed here and they happen to be one of my favourites).

Shopping in India (and especially cities like Jaipur) can be overwhelming and not for the faint-hearted so a set of skills like – patience, bargaining, good observation & plenty of time at hand, will lead you to some great finds, that no place in world can match! πŸ™‚

For adding some sugar and spice to your Jaipur visit you can go to Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar (popularly known as LMB), Rawat Mishtan Bhandar (all the guide books and Jaipurites will suggest you these) and pick some suggestions from here.

 

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With Holi (Colour festival) a day away, mounds of colour everywhere made the already colourful palette busier than ever!

 

 

 

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A turban store in Bapu Bazaar. Even if you’re not a shopper, strolling in this bazaar would be a unique experience in itself.

 

With our focussed approach to shopping, a quick but necessary visit to City Palace is 100% achievable! Here’s how we saw it (and you can follow too).

 

 

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City Palace.
And I still think it’s orange.

 

 

 

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Catching the culmination of a show in Mubarak Mahal.
Mubarak Mahal is one of the stunning palaces in the City Palace complex and the first one that I visit everytime I go there.
Because there is a wonderful textile museum and I just love looking at the meticulously preserved royal wardrobe.

 

 

 

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Unfortunately show was over and done with and these were left to the imagination of those who missed πŸ™

 

 

 

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The gorgeous, immaculate and intricate carvings on Mubarak Mahal.

 

 

 

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I made sure to be pictured all around it!
πŸ˜‰

 

 

 


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Don’t get me wrong, I love all the sun.
Just not in the eyes!

 

 

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Chandra Mahal.
The current king resides here.
On another note, I told Adi the pointers will not be necessary here, he is not visible in the pictures anyway.

 

 

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Pitam Niwas Chowk is a square/courtyard inside City Palace that has four gates representing the four seasons.
This is ‘The Peacock Gate’ representing autumn. And the most photographed one.

 

 

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This is ‘Lotus Gate’ representing summer season and dedicated to Shiva-Parvati.

 

 

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I deeply admire the Indian architectural legacy for being a near perfect blend of design and function and for being an amalgamation of Β the architectural concepts from the world over!
One such lovely gateway in City Palace.

 

 

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One such place where I caught Adi off guard, in a pensive mood.



Part 2 : Sleep tight, don't let the bugs bite :)

For Part 2 we picked Trident, Jaipur, which I’ve reviewed on TripAdvisor. We chose to stay here for it lead us to Part 3 quicker than any other place in the city. It’s a beautiful hotel and the food is mouthwatering even when I’m trying to recall it. Since it’s a bit out of the jam packed city so be assured of a good night sleep. Plus you get to wake up to these beautiful views from the balcony!

 

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Hot air balloons riding up the morning sky!

 

 

 

 

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Jal Mahal in nascent sunlight, as viewed from the hotel room.

 

Β Part 3 : See Amer Fort

In a situation like ours, with no more than 24hours at hand, Amer Fort (aka Amber Fort) is the recommended sight to see. Expansive but irrefutably one of the best kept forts in India.

Too beautiful for words, right from its first sight to its microscopic details, I’ll let the word space be taken by pictures which are definitely going to do the job better.

 

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Amer Fort.
Oh! correction : A part of Amer Fort.
It’s too expansile, even for all the fancy cameras that one carries.

 

 

Here’s what happened. Hitherto, I had been going on and on about Mehrangarh Fort but this striking, vast, tawny fort did quieten me up at the first sight. Okay, this is something! And I may have been a tad hasty in my opinion.

 

 

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On getting closer I saw this.
Some red things moving up in a row.
Which were, elephants taking up tourists to the entrance of the fort.

 

 

The deal was this, either ride up on an elephant’s back or take up walking and climbing stairs. The elephants were out of question as we do not like doing/watching/supporting any kind of animal activities that require them to undergo captive training or out of natural habitat or setting (these include the likes of patting/walking a tiger, watching a dolphin dance and flip to please an audience, lolling with a python or alligator or taking such rides!)

 

There is another way (of getting ripped off and) reaching the main entrance, the jeep + (unofficial) guide combo. You will find a lot of persistent sellers of the said scheme.

 

Climbing the stairs it was.

 

 

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A beautiful morning in Jaipur.
And already I had seen monkeys, elephants, horses on my way to Amer!
Think about it, how often do you start your day like this πŸ™‚

 

 

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Flocking at the foot of the Fort.

 

 

 

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Long way up.
Being partially successful with my smile effort here.

 

We started walking our way up while I was incessantly asking (which Adi secretly wants to replace with the word ‘bothering’) Adi, ”really? there’s no other way?!? I’m sure there is another way! there must be!!!”. The asking turned to Β grumbling and mumbling and panting, till I reached the top. Breathing overpowered the complaining and I was just relieved to reach the top (in my shoes that were cut out more for fashion than for weather beaten slippery steps).

Adi must’ve been super-relieved.

And then there was just a passage to cross and we were in. But then I saw this.

 

 

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There was just one common passage with two way traffic of elephants where you were supposed to cross and a combined effort of a security guard and policeman that kept the traffic going!
Unbelievable!! 

 

 

Once again, like a valve on a tap broke off, came my grumblings back! It’s still beyond me to grasp how can there be a common passage for humans and elephants. ELEPHANTS!! Almost 3ooo kgs of flesh and bones!!!

God forbid for some reason the elephant, very innocuously, should take a step back or forward or towards the side, one will end up being a two-dimensional object. One can loose a ‘whole dimension’ to being! I was shocked for moving!! And began my rant, over riding Adi’s coaxing to cross, ”I’m sure there is another way! There must be!!”.

It did not take long getting convinced standing in Incredible India, there is no other way. It was a ‘their way or highway’.

At one opportune moment we crossed it. However, I still think it is very unsafe. I mean there are walls on both sides, too tall to climb and no where to run, in case there is a ‘situation’.Β The passage is insufficient even for the elephants own morning shadow!

Oh, and the splatter from elephant’s pee that falls from quite a height and occasional gastric distress that the poor ‘elphie’ gets should be the least of your worries. If, from what you see in the picture, you think the passage is wide enough then, I hate to break it to you but there’s a very narrow gate that you need to cross/enter along with the elephants.

 

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I have to agree, the beautifully adorned elephants do make the picture pretty and the fort to look even grander and probably one of its kind experience but no thanks!

 

Also I do hear the drum beat that the cavalcade marches to in many bollywood period dramas filmed here. Okay, I think now I sound somewhere between ‘melodramatic filmy crazy’ to ‘a nutcase’. But I do hear it.

 

 

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Close to the ticket counter.

 

 

We hired one Mr. Meena to keep us from getting lost and to fill us up with all the stories. Known for a fact that some of the stories the guides tell you are made-up but I don’t care much until and unless it’s a good story told well.

The fort’s layout has four courtyards leading to one another via impressive staircases. That’s an easy way to understand and go about this humungous fort.

 

 

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A stairway from Jaleb Chowk (where you find yourself after buying tickets) lead you to an intensively frescoed Ganesh Pol (Ganesh Gate).

 

 

 

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Mughal and Persian school of art motifs adorn the gate dedicated to the hindu elephant god, Ganesha, in the first courtyard.
This is what is so beautiful about these structures, impressively harmonious merger of various art forms.

 

 

These frescos have inspired many designer jewellery and apparel collections. For I have witnessed, first hand, these motifs being reproduced with such accuracy on a small note pad that a lady carried around AND I have a dress bearing a motif, and an exact one, from here (third from top in the small window-like section)!!

 

 

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Diwan-e-Aam or the Public Audience Hall in second courtyard.
A raised courtyard with 27 columns where the king would lend an ear to the public woes.

 

 

 

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Diwan-e-Khas or the Hall of the Private Audience. A pair of colonnades demarcating an office.

 

 

 

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Well, the difference between Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas is anything but subtle.

 

 

 

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It is one of the prettiest places in the fort.

 

 

 

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Another important and popular feature of this fort is Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace in the third courtyard.
Once resplendent with mirror mosaics, inlaid glass and exquisite carvings on mirrors, it, now stands grey and glitter-less.

 

 

 

 

 

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Adi & I visited this place as kids. We have a picture right in front of this very palace. Mr. Meena had caught on our story while showing us around and was so kind (and probably as excited as us) to take our picture at the same place. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d already know that I love the windows/jharokhas in forts & palaces.
Here is an example of beautifully crafted sandstone jharokha atop Ganesh Gate.

 

 

 

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Spend a moment or two in these breezy lattice work windows.

 

 

 

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Do you see, what I see?

 

 

 

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”I see light and I see shade,
while some stays, a lot of it goes fade!”

 

 

 

 

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No, really, this is what I saw. Mosaic view of Jaleb Chowk through the same window.

 

 

 

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Up close or long shot they are a thing of beauty!

 

 

 

 

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Kesar-Kyari Bagh or the Saffron Garden. The star shaped sections in the garden were originally meant for saffron flowers. Despite the best efforts, the harsh desert climate was not suitable for the mountain flower. However, I must say it’s being kept beautifully and makes a stunning view nestled in rugged Aravali mountains.

 

 

 

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Like other forts, it has those long tunnel like passages turning at sharp angles to limit the number of invaders and to take them by surprise at the sharp angles.

 

 

 

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The fort has too many intriguing spaces and little nuances for a day or even a visit.
But the guides will cherry pick the important places for you.

 

 

 

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The ceiling that many kings have slept and woken to.

 

Most of the forts in India are extremely vast with rich interiors that sky rockets the maintenance cost and skill required for the up keep. Also irresponsible tourist and/or citizens and some film crews have incurred enough damage to such reverent, magnificent & matchless reflections of our history that you feel sorry to see the crumbling, decaying parts of fort or rather history.

I don’t know if I’d still be able to see the Krishna fresco when I visit next.

 

 

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Fading frescoes in Zenana or the Ladies chambers in fourth courtyard.

 

 

With so much to see and grasp you might call it a day in some corner of fort but try not to quantify your experience because it will be a beautiful memory. When you go back and see the pictures, you’ll only be glad you made it.

 

 

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Like I am πŸ™‚

 

And if you still want more, there’s always enough to see in India. For example,

 

 

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Jaigarh Fort, overlooking the Amer Fort and Maota Lake.

 

 

 

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Sometimes all it takes is looking through a different window*.
*also applies to shopping πŸ˜‰

 

 

General tips and recommendations

Keep your shopping and sight seeing segregated as carrying a load around these forts and palaces is not particularly good idea.

Since forts and palaces are HUGE do wear not only comfortable shoes but ones that don’t slip. The marble stairs and polished stone could be very slippery and no, there are no warning signs to indicate them.You might realise it when it’s already too late. So heed my advice.

Rajasthan is basically a sunny place throughout the year and sun can be very relentless so wear good sunblock, sunglasses and additionally a stole/hat/cap might keep you from roasting.

Keep a water bottle/juice with you, it might be a long time before you get to a kiosk once you’ve begun sight seeing.

Take care of your belongings. Even the monkeys can be very notorious.

There’s quite a bit of walking, climbing and stalling in the forts (especially Amer Fort) so having rested well the previous night should keep your energies up!

 

 

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Bye, for now, from the sunny Pink City!

 

Whether your idea of Rajasthan was a jungle thick with forts and palaces or a land dunked so deep in history that makes you feel you’re on sets of a period drama. Or a place that could be a painters colour bombed palette, that you might still look dull in the brightest bits of your wardrobe or a place where you could shop and shop and shop and still come back with a nagging feeling of having missed something. Or a place where you find more flavours in food than colours you can recognise, whatever is your idea of Rajasthan – it has it all to its claim.

Your quest shall be satisfied. And you’ll still be back for more. πŸ™‚

This was the final chapter in my India Diaries 2014, hope I was of some help or inspiration or at least, you enjoyed going through the trip vicariously. I’ll be back with more pages to fill from India, soon.

Comments

  1. Once again, AN AMAZING READ!!! Felt like reliving the moments of my umpteen visits to the city.

    Photography provides a beautiful support to the words penned down. The bright couple in the foreground & the dark backgrounds form a great contrast.

    Regards.. PM

  2. Again a beautiful chapter—Indian Diaries is finished on a beautiful note ,Pink or orange Jaipur is always full of colours of life.Very informative and interesting blog.Good job done.Keep the pen rolling.