A treat to your heart, mind and soul; Jaipur, the pink city of India. Placed on the edge of Thar desert, the weather in this city often mimics that of the desert. Extremely hot during summers and amazingly cold during winters. On hearing about the enormity of the city and the places of interest in it, our family decided to visit it. We also decided on driving to it as we were told the drive was as much an experience as the destination itself.
The distance between New Delhi and Jaipur is around 300 kms; excellent roads furnished with ample amount of Dhabas that serve you excellent phulkas and sabji's at an extremely nominal cost; they taste heavenly by the way. The road is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral project, a set of roads that connect the four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Jaipur falls en route the road that connects Delhi and Mumbai. A four lane road with negligible traffic ensures an unforgettable journey. The only catch being the fog that covers the northern part of India during winters. They prove to be fatal if caution is not exercised during the drive. Install fog lights and drive safe.
We departed from Delhi at around 09:00; we had packed our breakfast and carried ample amount of water bottles to keep us hydrated and satiated through the journey. The drive was as expected and very smooth. We consumed our breakfast and stopped for lunch at a dhaba named "Neelkanth Dhaba". A small, dingy space that had only one other family as customers at that time, the place offered amazingly sumptuous food at a very fast pace.
We reached Jaipur city around 14:00 hours and checked in at our hotel; 1597 Bellavista Hotel. The hotel is by far the best hotel I have come across in terms of room service, food quality and room tarriff. After washing up and settling down, we consumed our coffee/tea and left for the city to do some looking around. We crossed Hawa Mahal, a palace known for it's astounding architecture; cool breezes are ensured in the building even during the peak of summer's and this building is generally avoided during winters due to the dip in temperatures experienced when one enters it. We admired the building from afar and set out to Zaveri Baazar; a street filled with vendors and hawkers. Buy Sarees, Ghagras, Bedsheets, Silver Jewellery, Shoes, Bags and Earrings. Bargain the maximum you can at stores as the prices proposed initially are exceedingly high as compared to the price he will agree to once you start bargaining.
After spending the evening at the bazaar, we left for the hotel. Dinner at the hotel was very satisfying and we went to bed, comfortable in our well prepared and warm beds.
The list of places to be visited was already prepared and we set out to explore this beautiful city; one place at a time after consuming our breakfast at the hotel. We first crossed the Jal Mahal, a big, lonely palace that stood in the middle of the Man Sagar lake. Entry into the palace is restricted; click as many pictures as you like in the sunshine and be sure to experience the Camel and Elephant rides that are available there. We set out to Aamer fort, a huge and elaborate piece of architecture placed in the middle of the city. The castle is known for it's sheer size and magnificence in architecture and decoration. Make sure to hire a guide and pay all the rooms and halls a visit to experience the true magic of the Rajput clan and their history. The castle will require a good amount of enery that will be spent in climbing and walking so please wear footwear that is comfortable; elderly must be cautious while climbing the steep and treacherous stairs and ramps.
The long walk inside Aamer left us famished and we set out to lunch. On inquiry, the LMB hotel in Zaveri bazaar was highly recommended. The restaurant is situated right on the main road of the market and on entering, you will realise the reason behind the high recommendations. The decor is exquisite and royal; the food served will prove to be a treat to all your senses. Be sure to try the authentic Rajasthani dish of Dal,Baati and Churma. Also try the 'Gaajar Ka Halwa' (carrot halwa) if you have a sweet tooth. The menu is a little expensive but will prove it's worth once you try their dishes.
Full and flushed, we left for the city palace. It is a short distance from the restaurant and is easily recognisable by the big flag hoisted on it's topmost level. It is smaller than the Aamer fort and houses an exhibit of ancient Jaipur artifacts and paintings. The building will exude a sense of power and wealth; the very emotions of Jaipur. We also paid the Jaipur Tourist Shop that sells various products indigenous to Jaipur; earrings, bedspreads and statues. After a little bit of shopping, we visited the Govindji temple neighbouring the city palace. Please be sure to attend the evening aarti (rituals) as it is a divine experience to worship god amongst the thousands that throng to the temple during the evening.
We wished to have dinner at an authentic Rajasthani restaurant and we were directed to the 'Aapna Gaav'. It is situated slightly out of the city limits and I suggest visitors to leave early as it can be a little cumbersome to locate the restaurant in the dark. The restaurant is a small village that has a few families residing in it; they cook the food in their kitchens on your request and serve you seated on the ground. The food there is 'I-have-no-words-for-it-amazing'; please try Rabdi, Jalebi, Malpua, Gulab Jamun, Bajra ki Khambu, Jowar roti, Makki roti and Dal. The first thing that will be served to you will be white home made butter of the finest quality. Please give this place a visit as it is minimally commercialised and quality food and ambience is assured to you.
Breakfast was to be consumed at some other place other than the hotel as we wanted to give another restaurant a try. The name of the restaurant was Kanchi, a medium sized restaurant which serves Chaat of the finest quality. There are tables around which food is to eaten standing and we had Raj Kachori, Dahi Papri and Aaloo ke Paraanthey. After a sizeable breakfast, we began our drive to Ajmer-Pushkar, which is situated at a distance of 130 kms on NH8. I suggest people to leave once the fog clears. It was a comfortable drive and we reached Ajmer around 12:00 hours. We visited the world famous Dargah and also visited the Pushkar temple which is just a half hour drive from Ajmer. Pushkar is known to be the only Lord Brahma temple in the whole of India. Lunch was had at one of the roadside stalls that served average quality food at a cheap rate.
On returning from Pushkar to Jaipur, it was already 18:00 hours. We stopped at one of the ancient monuments on the road, Albert Hall, populated with a good number of people and a great number of pigeons. The insides of the building were carved with intricate designs and the monument just added to the already enormous beauty of the city. After consuming our evening snacks and beverages at the hotel, we were recommended to visit the Choki Daani, a commercialised version of the 'Aapna Gaav' we had visited a day before. We obliged and drove to the restaurant; it too is situated at a distance from the city but finding this restaurant won't require much of an effort as you will find many people on the way to it. The whole area was very brightly lit and Rajasthani music blared from every corner of the spacious village. There were many exhibits; magicians, boat rides and several other dance and music performances. The food served was average as compared to the food served at 'Aapna Gaav' but visit it for the aesthetic feel the village exudes.
Day four was meant for packing up and departing from Jaipur. We had our breakfast at Kanchi restaurant, the place we had breakfast a day before and departed from Jaipur at around 10:00 hours. We arrived at Delhi at 15:00 hours. We had our lunch at the very same Neelkanth Dhaba as we couldn't resist going to the very same restaurant due to the quality of food served there.
As a person who loves history and food, Jaipur is a perfect combination of both the ingredients. Do visit the pink city and absorb all it's beauty and flavor; I am sure you will return as a changed person. :D