A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience

Tripoto
29th Sep 2017
Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

It was taught in our schools that Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan is popularly known as The Pink City. I never knew why it was called so. But the stories of the marvelous forts and palaces of Jaipur was well known to my ears (thanks to Bollywood for making use of this brilliant location). Hence we, a bunch of seven, decided to explore the beautiful pink city during our Mid-Sem Break.

Day 1

We boarded an overnight train from Bairagarh Raliway Station (near Bhopal) and reached Jaipur Railway Station by 9:30 am. The metro station is just nearby and we boarded the metro till Chandpole. We had a cup of tea just in front of the metro station and started searching for a room to freshen up. A cycle rickshaw driver took us to Simla Hotel which satisfied our needs as it was at a walkable distance from all the spots that we wanted to cover that day. We got two big rooms for quite reasonable price. After refreshing a bit, we entered into the sights of Jaipur.

As soon as you will step into the streets of Jaipur, you will get to know why its called The Pink City. All the buildings across the street are painted in a terracotta “pink” colour which represents welcoming and hospitality. The paint was produced from a Calcium Oxide compound and is extremely durable in the arid conditions of Jaipur.

The Pink streets of Jaipur

Photo of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

We first went to Jantar Mantar which was nearly 1 km from our hotel. It was built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II and has a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments. It features the world's largest stone sundial, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. One will be amazed to know that all these instruments were built in the early 18 th century. It indeed showcases the scientific knowledge that India possessed during those times.

There is a practice of composite ticket throughout Jaipur for the convenience of tourists. It is a common entrance ticket to almost all the monuments of Jaipur (except City Palace and Jaigarh Fort) for a relatively low price. Students will get a considerable reduction in the fee on showing the student ID cards. We took the composite ticket from the entrance counter of Jantar Mantar.

Since we reached Jantar Mantar at noon, the Sun was way too intense. Being a South Indian, it was a serious discomfort for me and I had to find someone's umbrella frequently to escape from the heat ( I forgot to take one - bad choice. A piece of advice - Carry sunglasses; it really helps). It took us nearly an hour to properly see the entire compound.

Photo of Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias
Photo of Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias
Photo of Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias
Photo of Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

After spending an hour in Jantar Mantar under the scorching Sun, we moved to City Palace which is just nearby. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur for years and even today the royal family resides there. Composite ticket doesn't work here and separate ticket must be issued. The palace complex consists of two mahals: Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal. As we entered the palace complex, we were welcomed to the Mubarak Mahal. It is a museum where the royal clothings and armoury of the Maharaja's are exhibited. One can also purchase antique royal collections from here.

Mubarak Mahal

Photo of City Palace Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

Just in front of the Chandra Mahal is Diwan-i-Aam, the Hall of Public Audience. The main exhibit here is a pair of 'Gangajalis'- the largest silver objects in the world. A few armories are exhibited too.

Diwan-i-Aam

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

One of the Gangajali

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Then we entered Diwan-E-Khas (Sabha Niwas), the Hall of Private Audience. It is a luxurious chamber with enchanting ceilings and lights. The Royal Throne is exhibited here. It also has one of the largest chandeliers in India. Photography is prohibited inside this beautiful chamber.

The Chandra Mahal is a 7-storeyed building and is the residence of the Royal family. The public has access only to the ground floor where a museum is located. A highlight of this Mahal is the unique One and a quarter flag. The quarter flag is of the king and the bigger one is of the queen. The quarter flag is hoisted only when the King is in the city. We saw a one and a quarter flag meaning King was in the city.

One and a quarter Flag hoisted above Chandra Mahal

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Chandra Mahal

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

There were many souvenir shops in the courtyard where one could get the so called "Jaipur Specials". But I felt those shops were diminishing the lustre of the brilliant architecture of these palaces. On one side we are encouraging tourism, but on the other side we are also destroying our vibrant culture.

Our next destination was the famous Hawa Mahal which is also a trademark of Jaipur Tourism. It is at a walkable distance from City Palace. Hawa Mahal- translated as The Palace of Winds is a 5-storeyed building in red and pink sandstone built with the intention to allow the royal ladies to watch the festivals over the street without being seen. The unique pattern of the windows allows proper air circulation throughout the structure air conditioning the whole area during the high temperatures in summer hence the name Hawa Mahal.

The view of Hawa Mahal from the street

Photo of Hawa Mahal, Hawa Mahal Road, Badi Choupad, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

Inner view of Hawa Mahal

Photo of Hawa Mahal, Hawa Mahal Road, Badi Choupad, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

We reached the top of the Mahal and understood why it got its name. Cold breeze will blow to your face and since it was evening time, the sun was not a hot customer. From the top, one will get a clear view of Jantar Mantar and City Palace down below as well as that of Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort above the hills. It was indeed a treat to watch.

We had been walking since noon and was in high need of having some food. We found a restaurant nearby and had our meal. Since everyone of us were tired, we decided to go back to our hotel.

After resting at our hotel for couple of hours, we decided to explore the night life of Jaipur. It was the day prior to Dussehra and the streets were almost lit up. We took a rickshaw and headed to Jal Mahal, nearly 5 km from our hotel. It is a palace situated at the center of a lake and one could only get a glimpse of the palace from the road.

Night view of Jal Mahal

Photo of Jal Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

We were a bit dissatisfied by it as there was nothing else to do there and hence tried to find some other place to go. Someone told us that there is a mela(fest) going on a bit ahead on the occasion of Dussehra. Since we had nothing else to do we decided to have a go. We indeed reached there but had to walk almost 2.5 kms thanks to the "distance tellers". It was a small mela and a mythological drama was being played on the stage. Since we doesn't had any interest at all, we soon left the place. It was almost 10 at night and hence we decided to go back to the hotel.

Day 2

The next day, we woke up early in the morning and began our sightseeing. We had a cup of tea from a shop just in front of our hotel. The tea was served in clay cups which was thrown away after use. This was the first time that I had used clay cup for sipping tea and it was a unique experience.

Our first destination was the world famous Amer Fort. We got in a bus near our hotel and it took us to the entrance gate of the fort. The first view of the fort was marvelous. It was a gigantic fort and it was the first time that I was seeing such a huge fort. Above the Amer Fort over the hills is the Jaigarh Fort which was also visible from the entrance.

View of Amer Fort from the entrance gate. Jaigarh Fort can also be seen over the hills.

Photo of Amer Fort, Amer, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

Amer Fort is built using red sandstone and marble and it is the birthplace of Jodhaa- the wife of Akbar. A large portion of the movie 'Jodhaa Akbar' was shoot here and many more movies have utilized the fort as a shooting location. From the entrance gate, there is walkway leading to the entrance of the fort.

The walkway leads to the entrance

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias
Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

As soon as we crossed the entrance, we were greeted to a large courtyard. This was were the army hold the victory parades. Soon we got a guide who promised us that he will cover the entire palace complex within an hour for an optimal rate. We agreed and it was worth it. He described all the tiny aspects of the history and architecture of the fort. Without a guide, visiting Amer Fort is of no use. One will be amazed to know how much hard work and skill went into the construction of the fort.

Saffron Garden in the middle of Maota Lake.

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Ganesh Pol is the entrance to the private palaces of the Maharaja's

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

The private palaces of the Maharaja's are accessed from the Ganesh Pol entrance. Our guide told us that the paintings on the entrance were painted using vegetable colours. It still remains as such even after centuries. The entrance opens to another courtyard which consists of a garden and the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). As the name suggests, the palace is made using mirrors which gives it a glittering appearance. The entry into the inner room of the Mahal is blocked since tourists began to tamper with the glass pieces embedded onto the walls. A major attraction of Sheesh Mahal is the marble carving of Magic Flower. The flower has seven unique designs including a fish tail, lotus, hooded cobra, elephant trunk, lion's tail, cob of corn, and scorpion, each one of which is visible by a special way of partially hiding the panel with the hands. Our guide showed each one of them perfectly.

Sheesh Mahal

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Glass pieces embedded onto the walls of Sheesh Mahal

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Marble carving of the Magic Flower

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

The garden and the building opposite to Sheesh Mahal

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

Next we entered into another courtyard. Surrounding this courtyard are 12 rooms for each of the wives of Raja Man Singh I who built this part of the palace. Connecting every room, there is a secret pathway accessed only by the king so that he could reach the room of one wife without the others knowing. Indeed a brilliant idea. At the center of the courtyard is a square shaped pavilion with 3 rooms on one side, one for each wives and the central one for the king. This was where they discussed their "family matters". This courtyard is where the famous sword fighting scene between Aiswarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan was shot for the movie 'Jodhaa Akbar'.

The pavilion in the middle of the courtyard

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

The secret pathway connecting the rooms of the wives of the king

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

This courtyard opens to the outside of the fort. Again as the case is for every tourist spots in India, there were plenty of souvenir shops outside. As I had no interest, I continued walking. Our guide then took us to a local shop where a guy demonstrated how vegetable paintings were made. Then he showed a few Jaipur special sarees and other clothings. As always, the girls in our gang got busy with the salesman and the guys with the cushion chairs. We spent around 20 min there (one of them bought a saree by the way) and then bid farewell to our wonderful guide.

We were really tired of walking around and hence decided to have our lunch from a nearby dhaba. After having our lunch we set off to our next destination- Jaigarh Fort. It is just 1 km walk uphill from the Amer Fort through the connecting pathway but since the heat was very intense we decided to go in an auto. The auto drivers here charges a lot for the distance of 6 kms and bargaining doesn't work as everyone is very adamant. Nonetheless, left with no other option we get into an auto.

Upon reaching there, we experienced what a scorching sun really is. We were really burning in the heat. As composite ticket is not accepted here, we took a ticket from the counter and entered the fort complex. As soon as we entered the complex, what we saw was a shop selling water. Everyone of us were so relieved to see the sight and we bought a bottle for each of us. We then moved to a platform where many people where seen. It is where the world's largest cannon on wheels - 'Jaivana' is exhibited. It is believed that the one and only test fire of the cannon propelled the cannonball to a distance of 35 km bursting the eardrums of the artillery man.

Jaivana- The world's largest cannon on wheels

Photo of Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

Within the courtyard itself there is a museum that showcases the armoury of the army. Different types of guns, barrels, and arrows are exhibited here. Then we entered the main building of the fort. It is a series of pathways with each one leading to more and more rooms. Since Jaigarh Fort was more used for military purposes, the carvings and paintings as seen in Amer Fort is not present here. There is a small balcony in the fort from where we will get a brilliant aerial view of Amer Fort and premises. The vast Aravalli Ranges can be well seen from here.

Amer Fort as seen from Jaigarh Fort

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

The subterranean passages of Amer is the second longest of its kind in India

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

After roaming around the palace and drinking plenty of water, we got outside the fort. It was almost 4 in the evening and we had one more destination to cover. We got in an auto and headed to Nahargarh Fort 6 km away.

Nahargarh Fort is also situated on top of a hill. But as we reached there in the evening time, the heat was bearable. We entered the fort through the entrance and it lead us to a small courtyard. On both sides are rooms which once was occupied by the king and queens. The vegetable paintings as seen in Amer Fort can be seen here also. As we reached the terrace the view was marvelous. The entire Jaipur city, till the very end can be seen from here. The fort is divided into 9 apartments and hence the dome of each apartment was well seen from the terrace. The views from the terrace was a treat to watch.

The entire Jaipur city can be seen from the terrace of Nahargarh Fort

Photo of Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

The roof terrace of Nahargarh Fort

Photo of Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Eldho Elias

After seeing every nook and corner of the fort we got outside. I had read that the Baoli where the famous "Khalbali Hai Khalbali" song of the movie 'Rang De Basanti' was shot is somewhere near. So I started searching for it. I soon found one just in front of the fort but soon realised it was not the one I was searching for. After asking couple of guys, I got to know that it was a few meters ahead. After walking a bit I finally reached there. 'Rang De Basanti' is a movie that I adore a lot and hence seeing this location was a wonderful experience for me. The entry to the Baoli is restricted but me along with another friend jumped onto the stepwell. I never ever imagined I would be standing at the exact spot where the classic movie was shot with the dancing and enjoyment around. It was the perfect ending to my marvelous Jaipur experience.

The "Khalbali Hai Khalbali" Baoli

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

We jumped onto the stepwell just for nothing - the perfect ending of the trip.

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias

The clock was ticking almost 6 and we had to catch a train by night. Hence we departed in an auto and reached the city. After having our supper, we decided to go to the station. As it was the Dussehra night, the streets were heavily crowded and someone told us that there won't be any buses going till railway station at this time. So we took the help of a rickshawala who took us through many inroads of Jaipur finally reaching the station. The streets were all lit up and firecrackers were been bursted everywhere. It felt like the city was giving us the perfect goodbye.

Finally, a picture of our entire gang:

Photo of A Forever Vibrant Jaipur Experience by Eldho Elias
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