My weekend in Jaipur, the pink city, had its ups and downs. At first you are bound to see only the shabby buildings and overcrowded city within the forts. It takes some amount of warming up before you understand the city and see its magnificence and the glorious stories of the past. Thanks to my wonderful friend/tour guide, Tanveer, I was briefed well about the history of each fort, palace, brick and stone.
Jaipur is a straight 4-5 hours drive from Delhi and we reached well within time to our royal and luxurious hotel, ITC Rajputana. ITC did add to the royal feeling that Jaipur promises its visitors. The Bukhara restaurant offers great North Indian food; a Sikandari Raan (soft shredded mutton) with Dal Makhani was our lullaby while we climbed into the heavy royal bed and rested our tired self.
The first day after a lovely laid out buffet breakfast, we moved on to the first tourist spot the Amber Palace, the pre-historic abode of the Jaipur Kachwaha dynasty. Walking in with a guide for the whole palace is well worth the money as he has all the information and interesting details, even about the royal ‘potty scene’. Most of the stories and anecdotes may have been passed down generations with a slight bit of twist here and there but the content remains mostly true and accurate to what you find online.The royal family currently residing in Jaipur has opened up a section of the city palace to the people and also a small exhibition in honor of the generations before them. Walking through these palaces got me thinking not just about the money they had, but also about the kind of manual work that were done in the yesteryears for which we only need a single switch or a click. To service a family of 10, they have around 300 odd help, if not more. It was fascinating to see their summer palace in between a man made lake to escape the heat and the winter palace with the huge water pipes going beneath the flooring to keep it warm. The long empty corridors and the tall forts to attack the enemies with great precision impressed us. The day long palace visit ended with a sound and light show to showcase the glorious history of the Jaipur Kachwaha Dynasty. The history was a little skewed to portray the King of Jaipur as a great man who won the Battle of Haldighati against Maharana Pratap and his heroic horse Chetak, while the historic documents tell a different story. There is also a luxury restaurant ‘1135 A.D’ at the palace and we had plans to have our dinner there after the light show but as we drove up the palace, we noticed the place was really empty and spooky enough to make us turn back.
The next day, we hopped between the great astronomical wonder of Jantar Mantar and a couple of shopping streets. The calculations and the numbers put forward by the guide during our visit to the Jantar Mantar went right above my head and so, I left there with my mouth wide open trying to figure out how someone back in the 16th century built something so precise to understand the constellations and the time using just shadows cast by the sun at different times and angles.
Shopping was easy and it took us only one hour as we discovered the brilliant ‘Friends emporium- shop #23’ in Bapu Bazaar where all the Jaipur saris and bedspreads were sold at a ready-to-jump-on price. There are different places where one has to go to satisfy their urge whether it is to buy blue pottery or gems or the famous Jaipuri joothis.
People say a visit to Jaipur is not complete without going to ‘Choki Dhani’, a Rajasthani heritage themed restaurant. Since I am not a big fan of the cuisine, I found the place too loud with a lot of people bumping into me with every step I took. It can definitely be left out while planning your itinerary for someone who knows their taste buds very well.
Overall, I will definitely return once again to Jaipur, this time with a clear agenda in my mind for the lovely textiles and pottery.