Travelling solo has always been a passion. Having covered a considerable part of North East India, my next destination was Jaipur or as it is lovingly referred to as ‘the pink city.’ Having heard interesting stories and read much about the place, curiosity got the better of me and in no time was I planning a trip. Armed with my camera and journal, I set out in search of yet another adventure, hoping to learn much and experience life in Jaipur.
After a two and a half hour boring flight, I landed in Jaipur International airport and headed straight for my hotel, Treebo Woodsvilla Suites. While this may sound simple, let me tell you, having scoured the internet for decent accommodation, booking this hotel seemed a cut above the rest. What actually got me to book thiswas the great reviews I got from friends who had put up here, during their trip to Jaipur. Being the skeptic that I am, I expected the the bare minimum. However, I was surprised a the level of professionalism on the part of the staff here and the quality of the room I was to stay in.
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Day 1: From History to Kulfi
The very sight of this honeycomb-like pink-painted Hawa Mahal had me mesmerised. Built in the 17th century by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the windows of the Hawa Mahal served as bridge between the ladies of the royal family and life outside the palace, allowing them to watch people go about their daily routine and also catch a glimpse of the colourful processions that often passed by. Having battled my way through the narrow yet crowded corridors to get to the top, I thoroughly ennjoyed the views of Jantar Mantar and the City Palace.With time to spare, I headed for the museum here and browsed through the collection of articles, weapons and antiques that was used by the royal family. In all my excitement, I almost forgot to mention that you do need to purchase a ticket to enter. Post visiting Hawa Mahal, the Ramchandra ji Temple was next on my list. This is one temple that you just have to visit and be part of the aarti.
Excited at the prospect of exploring Jaipur, I spent the rest of day at the famous Bapu Bazar scouring the stalls and shops, purchasing gifts and souvenirs along the way. The sultry weather and all this roaming around soon got me hungry. Having learned from friends who had visited Jaipur before, I just had to taste the faluda and kulfi here. Tucked away in Bapu Bazar is a shop called Indian Ice Cream & Kulfi Faluda, and like a little child I ordered what they call ‘Classic Kulfi Faluda’ and boy is it yummy. Tired yet satisfied, I headed back to my hotel for some much needed rest.
Day 2: Astronomy 101 and street shopping at Deori Bazar
Having viewed Jantar Mantar from atop the Hawa Mahal, I just had to visit this attraction. Stepping into this place felt like entering some ancient observatory and rightly so. The Jantar Mantar was built by Jai Singh II in 1728 with the intention of studying the skies and measuring the heavens. Surrounded by huge structures that I knew little about, I hired a local guide who walked me through the amazing instruments and even explained their purpose and usage. Done with this, my next destination was Sireh Deori Bazar, a place famous for its leather shoes, hand-crafted bags, costume jewelry and other knick-knacks. As I walked through the bazar, the aroma of ‘Doodh Phini,’ a sugary delight native to the city of Jaipur, lured me into one of the sweet shops and yes, you got that right, I was soon gorging on them. Also, I must make mention of the ‘Dal Kachoris’ served with mint chutney at Amber Mishthan Bhandar near Polo Victory Cinema on Railway Station Road. As the sun began to set, I retreated to my hotel, but not before a scrumptious dinner at the same restaurant.
Day 3: Mesmerising Mahal on water
The next day in Jaipur and my itinerary requires me to pay a visit to Jal Mahal and Dera Amer. Having arranged for a tour of Jal Mahal, I headed towards the Man Sagar Lake for a morning of fun and adventure. Built by Maharaja Madho Singh to serve as a resting place when he was out hunting for ducks, this palace in the middle of a lake never fails to wow one. Bewildered by this structure, I listened intently as my guide narrated the story behind the establishment of this structure and how it once lay ruined but was now restored to its former glory.
At the end of this fun-filled escaped and at the same time, humbling experience, I leave with a heavy heart, taking away with me the warm hospitality of the people around. Jaipur was as good as the now famous Rajasthan tourism ads promise. The regal architecture all around, the burst of colors and flavors in the food, and the roads and lanes steeped in history makes me want to go back again, this time probably for an extended visit.