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krisek Jaipur - A travel report by Krys
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Jaipur,  India - flag India -  Råjasthån
5890 readers

krisek's travel reports

Rajasthan Trilogy. 2. Jaipur. Overwhelming.

  15 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Jaipur and the nearby Amber were greatly impressive, particularly Amber’s Fort. This is what defined royal Rajasthan to me. The very busy pink city was almost like an illusion - its over-the-top city gates, facades, the palace and... traffic.


Amber Fort
Amber Fort
The driver, who took me from the airport, made a sales pitch to take me around the city and to the Amber Fort for 900 rupees. The receptionist at the hotel said that it was a reasonable price but if I wanted I could bargain down to 700 rupees.

I decided to visit the Amber Fort first. Its size truly impressed me. From where I stood it definitely looked like it had never been taken. Not only did the fort looked massive but also the defence walls spreading onto the adjacent mountains a few miles away made this scenery incredible. The fort was built as an official residence and the capital of the Rajput clan of Kachhwahas in the 12th century. The family of these rajputs ruled in the area for eight centuries. What they created there as their palace is a true masterpiece. Parts of the fort looked very delicate, built from white marble and red and cream sandstone. And parts of the gigantic structure was doubtlessly made to look war-like with layers of defence walls.

The ascent from the main road to the palace was gentle but littered with beggars and genuine worshippers who wanted to visit the other temple inside. The flow of those visitors was more tiring than the ascent itself. Some of the beggars were unluckily disfigured, had something wrong with their arms or legs and as they were very dirty it look disgusting.

At the bottom of the palace there was a small pool of water where elephants were taking their bath. I was not sure what think about those elephants. They were hardworking and looked very unhappy. Well, they were clearly out of place. They should be in the jungle and not on the desert. The heat must have bothered them enormously. Also they had to walk all the 32 kilometres on the black burning hot tarmac everyday to and from Jaipur. The creatures' feet burn and split by walking on tarmac, their skin is sunburnt and they lack vitamins, which leads to blindness and rotten feet. Very sad indeed.

Favourite spots:
Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur City Palace
Back in the pink city of Jaipur, the royal palace was overwhelmingly striking! It was really well maintained and its architecture was superb. Excellent were the decorations on the walls and particularly the doors and door frames. At one of the palace courts two silver jars stood. They were the largest single silver pieces in the world! The pavilion in which they were placed, was like a shrine. Indian families almost picnicked there on the floor.

I just walked around snapping pictures like crazy. It was a good day already I thought, although it was still before noon! The palace was a massive surprise. The walls surrounding the complex did not give away a slightest glimpse of it. Even from the square where the main entrance was, I did not expect what I saw after going through it. ‘Wow’ does not even begin to tell what a shock it was.

What's really great:
Old city gate
Old city gate
Many buildings within the city walls were painted pink for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1876. Since then they have been repainted regularly. It was kilometres of buildings along the main streets that were painted in the same shade of pink, which made Jaipur stand out as the undeniable pink city. An odd gate in the city inner wall painted cream or white made a fabulous contrast. Or Jaipur oldest minaret of cream colour too, stood out beautifully. It was amazing how the colours worked. It was fantastic and it felt surreal. Regular houses, countless shops, simple shacks and grand buildings have all been treated to the same pattern. I thought I was dreaming... or at least was teleported to an old film set. If it was not for few modern cars and motorbikes, it would have been seriously convincing that time travel was actually possible. The majority of cars were old and the many people moved by bicycle and cycle-rikshaws. Charming.

Sights:
Old astronomical tools
Old astronomical tools
The next thing I went to see were the giant astronomy tools completed in 1901. They were erected before the twentieth century but corrected and restored in 1901. I thought it was nothing special maybe because I could not stand the crowds. As it was weekend, many Indian tourist groups augmented the number of visitors in this very small park. I agree the park was somewhat unusual, but not very pretty, to be honest. I got away from there quickly and went to the see other parts of the old town. I particularly loved the famous five storey honeycomb pink facade of the Hawa Majal built in 1799 for the women from the royal court. Through those honeycomb windows they could watch the street life.

I also admired some of the seven gates to the old city. My favourites were the Moon Gate, the Samrat Gate, the New Gate, and the Ajmer Gate. The gates leading to the City Palace were also splendid.

Accommodations:
Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur City Palace
The hotel where I wanted to stay was not sure if they had rooms. So I had to go and look for something else. Fortunately a hotel nearby had comfortable and clean rooms for 500 rupees. The hotel’s name was Sunder Palace Guest House at Hathroi Fort, Ajmer Road. It was much better value than I expected from the one I thought I was going to be staying. The room was mega clean, had a nice rug, and the bathroom was modern its tiles were thoroughly scrubbed. The personnel was very friendly and helpful. After the night in Udaipur before, it was a change of the attitude. This small hotel (a converted villa) had more personal touch and individual attention to the guests. The garden at the back of the hotel had simple tables and chairs and perfect for relaxing after a hectic day with the impossible traffic in the city.

Nightlife:
Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur City Palace
I went back to my room with a plan to have a nap and then go and see the old city at night. They were a few restaurants and bars, which I was considering visiting, like the Hightz. If only for a drink. I even thought I could go to the cinema! There was one grand cinema, Raj Mandir, which was highly recommended for its structure but also for the ambiance and the crowd it attracted. Well, when I got up from my nap, it was 9 p.m. - too late for anything! The hotel was not too close to the nightlife activities and I no longer felt like going to the hassle and organise myself to go out for a couple of hours, perhaps. Theoretically, I could have walked but then it would have taken longer to get anywhere. Maybe even an hour. I had to be up early in the morning, so I knew I could not overdo it. The available literature and the travellers I met by then all claimed that I should have not lost sleep over not going out in Jaipur. Apparently, there was nothing spectacular. So, I eventually gave up.

Hangouts:
Honeycomb facade
Honeycomb facade
Jaipur was very hectic. Places to hangout would have to include a few parks, perhaps mountains around Amber or the few cafes in old city. One of them was definitely the famous Lassiwala Since 1944, serving, as the name suggests, lassis - the yoghurt-based drinks. But it did not have to be the original Lassiwala outlet, there were many, very many lassi serving cafes. And the city had also a number of coffee-serving cafes, many of which looked very similar and might be part of chain of cafes, actually.

Other than that, it would need to be the old town, its little alleys, the walls, the gates and the occasional temples. Depending on one's preference on hanging out and tolerance to rather odoriferous surroundings. I chose the Amber Palace and the pool, where the mahouts bathed their elephants, to their delight and joy.

Restaurants:
One of cenotaphs of the maharajas
One of cenotaphs of the maharajas
There was no shortage of places to eat in the pink city. It is never the case virtually anywhere in Rajasthan, actually. I normally do not eat during the day, particularly when the temperature exceeds 30C. This was the case on Jaipur as well. I was therefore planning to go to a restaurant in the evening, after visiting everything I wanted to see. But again due to oversleeping, I stayed at the hotel. The hotel vegetarian restaurant, had a short menu of curries, lassis, soft drinks and beer. I tried the potato spicy curry and washed it down with a large local beer. It was delicious and tasted home-made.

Other recommendations:
Palace on the water
Palace on the water
The driver also took me to the royal tombs at the Royal Gaitor. The cenotaphs built there for the maharajas were richly decorated in meticulously carved white and cream marble. They all had domes some of which were supported by beautifully carved pillars.

I also saw the cenotaphs of the majaranis and the nearby Jal Mahal, the palace on water. It was constructed as a summer residence for the royal family. Today, the maharajas would not enjoy their stay there due to the foul stench. The lake stank beyond belief and fortunately plans were being made to clean up the reservoir which was home to some migratory birds. The palace was dubbed to be converted into some tourists orientated object. Yet, the lake would have to be cleaned first!

Next part: 3. Jodhpur. Spectacular.

Published on Monday June 2th, 2008


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Sun, Oct 26 2008 - 10:26 AM rating by gloriajames

Brought back great memories for me! Excellent read as usual!

Sun, Jun 22 2008 - 09:07 AM rating by bineba

Great report with wonderful photos!

Sun, Jun 08 2008 - 03:55 PM rating by eirekay

Great Report! Nicely illustrated and full of lots of detail!

Sat, Jun 07 2008 - 12:34 PM rating by jorgesanchez

5 points, as usual

Tue, Jun 03 2008 - 05:52 PM rating by mistybleu

Excellent read; I was meant to go to the cinema as well and the same thing happend. The only thing I didn't get up at all, until the following morning.

Tue, Jun 03 2008 - 01:18 PM rating by magsalex

I visited Jaipur, a lovely city. Great report

Tue, Jun 03 2008 - 09:11 AM rating by marianne

what a joy to read an excellent information

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