The trip was planned from 14-Feb to 17-Feb. We stayed at a home-stay which was a one room set with an open terrace and an amazing view of the Aravali Hills. We live in Delhi-NCR so this was a self-drive trip. The itinerary included Albert Hall, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Johri Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar, Birla Mandir & Lake Palace. We had already visited the Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort & Nahargarh Fort an year back.
We reached in the afternoon of Friday (14-Feb), left our bags at the home-stay, had a cup of tea with this wonderful family managing the place and then left for the Birla Mandir which was a 10mins drive. This one in Jaipur is made of pure White Marble stones and the carvings are just amazingly intricate and beautiful. The statues of Swami-Narayan are beautifully decorated and there is also a small Temple of Lord Shiva in the complex where Lord Shiva’s statue is in a seated posture with His eyes half closed in a meditative state. Next was the famous Moti Dungri Lord Ganesh Temple which is barely 50 yards walking distance from the Birla Mandir. We visited Lord Ganesh’s Temple where He is in an authoritative sitting posture and offered Prasad in this Temple. Right in front of this Temple is the Panch-Mukhi Lord Hanuman’s Temple which was also visited by us. After this we went to have our dinner at a restaurant before heading back to the home-stay.
The next day we visited the Albert Hall which is an architectural masterpiece. It is a huge library that houses the history of Rajasthan, specifically that of Jaipur. Its rulers and their families and the society including the different types of sections of societies and the tools used by the people across generations and the clothes and ornaments worn by them. The place is a treasure cove for any Historian. It took us about 4 hours to cover the entire place before going to the famous Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar (LMB) to have their famous Rajasthani Thali. LMB is in the middle of Johri Bazaar which incidentally does not have many jewellery shops now. There are lot of Rajasthani ornament and footwear shops along with some shops selling Rajasthani clothes. Once we covered Johri Bazaar, we went to the adjacent Bapu Bazaar which is a shopper’s delight. All kind of clothes, home upholstery including curtains, bed-sheets, door-mats everything. You name it and they have it. The Bapu Bazaar is on one single street which goes on for a kilometre and it is on both sides of this street so you can pick and choose and do not forget to bargain hard. After so much of walking we decided to end the day with an early dinner and retired to our home-stay.
The next day was a Sunday and we started early to visit the City Palace. The City Palace, Jantar Mantar & the Hawa Mahal are in the same vicinity and have a common parking lot. We were informed by the parking lot guy about the darshan at the famous Shri Govinddevji Maharaj. We rushed to the Temple which is a 10mins walk from the parking lot and fortunately were able to attend the Aarti and the Darshan. There are 7 Aartis that happen everyday at 4.30am, 7.30am, 9.30am, 11.00am, 5.45pm, 6.45pm and 9.00pm. Then we went to the nearby Maharani Market City Center Mall which houses the handicraft & weaver’s market of Jaipur. This one is a must visit if you need stuff to decorate your home at a very reasonable price. Once we bought a few things from here, we walked back to the City Palace. There are 2 types of tickets, the ₹200 one gives you access to the Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas (Darbar Hall), the Armory and the Bagghi Khana. The ₹3000 ticket gives you access to the inner courtyards and living areas of the Palace. Once we were done with the City Palace, we walked to the Jantar Mantar. This one is miles ahead of the one in Delhi and as a star-gazer I spent about a couple of hours here. The instruments built in that era can calculate the movement of the farthest of the stars down to the exact degree, minute and second. An e-rickshaw of ₹10 took us to the entrance of Hawa Mahal which has so many chambers behind that beautiful facade. We explored every roof top and chamber of the Hawa Mahal and in doing so kept moving from one storey to the next till we reached the top of the Hawa Mahal and got a bird’s eye view of the city and its outskirts. It was already afternoon and LMB was a 10mins walk so the lunch was again at LMB after which we went to the Lake Palace which was a 15mins drive. The Palace is closed due to an ongoing legal dispute and so you can take pictures from the main road which also has a great footpath market selling a variety of stuff and snacks. We called it a day and headed back to our home-stay to enjoy the setting Sun and the evening views of the Aravalis.
Our trip was done and a success and the drive back to Delhi-NCR was decent as the highway is in a great condition. A complete tour of Jaipur is a 4-5 days trip in my opinion but it depends how quickly or slowly one covers the tourist spots.