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Jaipur – the Pink City

It was our 4th Anniversary on Nov 29th. We decided to celebrate it by going somewhere out.

After lot of deliberations on where to go, and last minute (which is almost 1.5 months before the scheduled date) searches of air flights, we decided to give more priority to our hotel of stay, than spending on travel. And, hence, Jaipur it was.

Delhi-NCR doesn’t have lot of tourist places around for weekend getaways. So, people here are left quite deserted, so to speak. But, as I explore more and more of Rajasthan, I think there’s no other place you need. The year 2013 proved to be an year full of travel for us. We planned many small vacations.

Dec’2012 : South trip (Bangalore-Mysore-Ooty-Connoor-Kovalam-Rameshwaram-Bangalore)

Jan’2013 : Pondicherry

May’2013: Chandigarh

August’2013: Mount Abu and Udaipur

Sept’2013: Agra

November’2013 : Jaipur

Wow, I am proud of myself and Tarun. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, coming to Jaipur.
We were not very excited about the city as much as we were excited about our hotel. Saving on our travel proved useful as we could book a higher-end hotel. We booked Trident, Jaipur. It’s a 5-star luxury hotel and I must say, stands up to expectations. We had been in 5-star hotels but mostly, through the company. (Lemme think of the 5-star places my company has generously taken me to – Chokhi Dhani, Jaipur, The Taj Heritage Hotel, Gwalior, ITC Mughal, Agra! Hmmm, Awesome! My life rocks! :D) It’s funny how most of the times, I just proved lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Chokhi Dhani, when I was at client side from my company; Gwalior happened because my husband’s company took the complete family for the offsite, so I visited it; it’s only now that I visited Agra when ‘I’ was actually an employee of ‘that company’.

I got side-tracked again ๐Ÿ˜›

Well, Jaipur boasts of lot of tourist spots but having been to Jaipur quite number of times, we were not very interested in going to all the places. We wanted to chose selected places and enjoy our stay at the hotel. A peaceful, comfortable getaway.

Travel : We reached Jaipur on 29th morning. We had made our reservation in Chair-Class (CC) of Swarna Shatabdi Express. I should rather say, that was the only thing available till the time we woke up to reserve seats for our travel. We were planning to drive to Jaipur previously, but we read many reviews on the netย  about roads being in a messy shape because of fly-overs and highways being constructed. So, we decided to opt for the train. Well, I would rate a CC ride better than a 3-tier AC. 3-tiers get pretty crowded and you have to adjust a lot between passengers. If someone wants to sleep, and you have the lower berth for yourself, you’re forced to sleep too. CC had more leg-room than any of the air-flights. You get food and drinks served by the Express train. The food was definitely not very tasty so better if you can make your own arrangements. The packed items that they provide (like, Mother Dairy Lassi, Amul butter for bread etc) are good. Thankfully, we were carrying paranthas and we ate only those. The cutlets and besan cheela given by them, went all waste.

Accommodation: We had our booking at the Trident, Jaipur from 30th – 2nd. We needed a hotel for 29th. So, we booked Umaid Bhawan. It is a nice hotel. Very nice ambience and food. Most of the facilities (pool, seating area, garden), hygiene, room facilities, are nice. They even provide complimentary pick-up from the railway station/ bus stop. These are quite near to their hotel so it’s an easy plus for them to provide. But, nonetheless, a nice extra to have.

ย > The negatives – The hotel tries to extract money from you through the subtle necessities. For example, the room service orders are charged 10% extra. If you order after coming to their restaurant, that 10% extra is not there. Considering that our room was on the same floor as the restaurant, it pinched. We just wanted to have our food in our room because my son was sleeping, and we were very tired and hungry from the journey. We had to order milk for my son couple of times. Normally, wherever we have travelled, none of the hotels charge for child’s milk. It’s provided complimentary and is normally served in a smaller glass than an adult’s regular glass. These guys charged. No issues. I don’t mind paying for that. But, it was charged at the price of a glass of milk of an adult. And the room charges of 10% put extra. Ouch! You don’t mind paying, but these subtle extras pinch you more than the real. Not to mention that the extra milk is completely wasted. So, overall, your experience is miffed. They charge for wi-fi services too.

Trident, Jaipur was nice place too. Excellent and very supportive staff.

> Plus : Kids area in the campus. There’s a care-taker too so if your child is well-fed, you can leave him there for an hour or so too. They have the facility of a baby-sitter, if you need one, but I didn’t try that, so can’t comment on that. They knew that I was visiting on my Anniversary, so they gave us a very special welcome by sending a bunch of beautiful roses, and a cake later. The cake was awesomely yummy ๐Ÿ™‚

> Negatives: Ummm, while there was nothing bad/wrong with the hotel, there was nothing special either. Coming from Umaid Bhawan, I was getting the same facilities, same meals, and rather a smaller-room than umaid’s room, BUT I was paying two-n-a-half-times more. Brings a question to your mind – is it worth the amount?

> Big Big Plus : I met Irrfan Khan at the hotel ๐Ÿ˜› My money was well spent. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

ย 

The city:
We visited Chokhi Dhani, Jaipur on 29th. I had visited it before but it was the first visit for Tarun and Anay. And well, travelling with Tarun, everything was a first for me too. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a lovely place. So many things to see, to savour. It actually brings the ethnic and cultural feel of a real-village alive. Rides (Horse, elephant, camel, boat), Eateries (Puchkas, Kulladh ka doodh, welcome drink -chhaach, and many more), artificial places (tree-house, village huts and chopal, pond with artificial crocodile and deers, small artificial lake), folk-stuff (2-3 group of people performing different forms of dances of Rajasthan; tribal people singing somewhere; someone playing a lonely flute, another performing magic show, snake dance) and many more of such. There is also many other things happening: Mehendi, Astrologer (3 different kinds), Kala Gram. etc etc A total fun outing for the complete family. No one leaves disappointed.
> Plus: Kala gram has local artisans making the stuff right there, in front of you. I mean, block printing is quite popular in Jaipur. There is a shop where you can chose the cloth and get your pick of design to get printed. They do it right there and you can pick your stuff on the way back. It hardly takes them 5-10 minutes to prepare your dupatta. Worth a keep-sake. And, nothing is over-priced. At least not in Kala Gram.
> Negatives: While Kala gram is not over-priced, everything else is. So, if you shop for small toy-cars (which is a must when you’re travelling with a 3-yr old. It’s like a moving-fee for them), pickles, etc etc, then they are over-priced. Then, there are 3 options of thalis which you have to chose from even before entering. It’s included in your entry ticket. 500/650/700. Since it was our anniversary, we thought of making the dinner special and took the 700/- thali. But, except that you get chairs to sit on, rather than the stool dining, and there is a special orchestra (2-people singing) playing in the front, there’s nothing special. On the contrary, I liked the traditional way better.
Next day (Saturday): We had to shift our hotel so a lot of our time was wasted in that. We went to Amer Fort and then to Johri Bazaar for shopping.
Amer Fort: A very nice fort. There are 3 options for you to travel up to the fort from the ground level.
> Walk : It’s a long way of 1.5-2 Km. and the walk up is steep. So, if you try to do that, it is going to become a harrowing experience and you’ll not be left in a mood to appreciate the fort.
> Jeep to fort: These folks charge 230 per person (one way, I guess). And, that sounds hefty.
> Guide: If you pick a guide from the base, he takes you through a short way to the fort. You can walk with him. The walk is of course steep, but at least shorter. Secondly, visiting a fort without a guide is a waste. With so many forts in India, they all seem same after certain while. But, if the guide is with you and he’s good, each and every stair-case, each and every turn of the passage becomes meaningful and you’re able to appreciate the architecture, the thinking and knowledge of people, in even those times. Thoroughly enjoyed the fort, just because of the guide’s stories. It actually seems like you’re back in those times.
Johri Bazaar: Jaipur is famous for quite a few things: Silver Jewellery, Blue Pottery, and block printing. There are 4 bazaars (markets), all connected by Chand Pol (the one which has Hawa Mahal on one leg). A ‘pol’ is a ‘chowk’ or ‘crossing’. So, each of the 4 streets joining at the pol, has one bazaar. Tripola, Bapu, Johri and one more (forgotten! Already?) We only had time to visit one. We visited Johri Bazaar. I’m not much fan of picking jewellery from such places because I don’t know if the price I’m paying is genuine or a tourist price. So, I only like buying fancy keep-sakes or Sarees. And, that’s what I ended up buying. It’s really pretty and I can’t wait to wear it. Johri Bazaar has a ‘haldiyon ka rasta’. That seemed to have couple of wholesale shops. I bought my Saree from one of those and when I compared the prices in the shops on the main road, I found it to be a better bet. So, you may want to visit that.
We ate our dinner at LMB (Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar). It’s a very popular place at Jaipur and people make it a point to eat there. My feedback : Big place. Food was okay, not excellent or out of the world to make you go back again specially.

Sunday: It turned out to be an election day. We enjoyed our day at hotel. Went out around 4 to enjoy walk at the Mansagar lake. Nice visit. Then, we went to a mall which has opened recently in Jaipur (World Trade Park), since nothing else was open that day. The mall was nice. Thankfully, we saw Albert Hall, Jaipur Zoo and all on our way. (No, we couldn’t go in andย  actually ‘visit’). On our way back, we luckily got to visit Birla Mandir. Must visit, I would say, in Jaipur. There was a Mata ki Doongri overlooking the temple, we really wished we could go there, but couldn’t.
Other places I wish I could have gone: Sanganer Handmade Paper industry, Mata ki Doongri, Albert Hall Museum and Jaipur Zoo.
Overall, I liked Jaipur. I realized a very important thing. Money is not the most important thing in life but it can definitely change your perspective and ‘make’ your perspective on many things. I had been to Jaipur but had mostly been in budget hotels. My memories of the place were very dusty, crowded, messy. This visit, I went to good places, the roads were proper, buildings well-organized, red-lights proper. I saw a beautiful city, a city which could be actually called a growing, developing city. I also saw the dusty places, some of them, but they were few. What changed? Did the city advance a lot? I doubt that’s the only reason. I spent money this time. ย 
I carry some very beautiful memories of this trip. Thank you God, for the eventful year.
ย 
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3 thoughts on “Jaipur – the Pink City

  1. Nice read… brought back a lot of memories as Jaipur is the place from where on I remember my life’s journey. I stayed in Jaipur for 3 years.. did 2nd-4th class from there..so if someone asks me how much of your childhood you remember I will always start from Jaipur as life before that is bit foggy and from there onwards its crystal clear ๐Ÿ™‚

    And then my sister did her PhD from Banasthali (and her initial job was in Jaipur) so I used to pass through Jaipur every 3 months..

    my school was right at the foot of Amer fort…. There is a very famous temple there Slia Devi temple where you can see people offering liquor to goddess and that is given as prasad…. at those times these customs and grandeur of Jai garh fort (it has worlds largest Top) and NaharGarh fort were fairly new things for me…

    We used to cross Mansagar lake daily.. at that time it was not maintained and the water was scarce and rotting and Jal mahal was in tatters (its the Mahal where the famous Mera Saaya saath hoga song was shot) …. But now when I crossed Jal mahal recently I was happy to see both the lake and mahal revamped and flourishing again..
    There is garden nearby by the name Kanak Ghati (again famous for the movie Beta and madhuri’s dance being shot here).

    I too visited LMB recently (2-3 years back to be precise) and found it too has changed and honestly not for good,. LMB used to be the best decorated shop during Diwali in that bazaar (in fact in whole of Jaipur) and every year it used to win the award..It was always more famous for its Chaats, snacks and sweets… and meals were always OK there… earlier the restaurant used to have live ghazal performance in evening ..so the ambiance used to be quite royal..now it has become all regular restaurant type.

    Honestly I have never been to Choki Dhani as always used to think of it as over priced luxury..yes you are right its a very nice experience to have for the whole family if you are visiting Jaipur for a fairly short time..

    Jaipur Jhori bazar etc has always been a paradise for street shoppers…those Jhutis, bundi printed dresses and embroidery items are worth looking at if not to be bought.

    Its Moti Dungari temple (very famous Ganesh temple) at Birla Mandir… went there too recently..

    I always loved Jaipur more for it being part of my forming years but also for the historic feeling it used to give… on my last visit I parked in front of Hawa Mahal to click some photos from and honestly I just wanted to sit on the railing on the footpath and look at it for hours… I crossed albert Hall and was so disappointed not to enter (it was closed)…

    Bahut lamba likh diya nahi to Jaipur me kya bura hai wo bhi likhta..but nevertheless one of my favorite city in the world ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Wow! That’s a mini-travelogue of its own. And you remember quite many places. ๐Ÿ™‚ Proves that you really liked it. I didn’t know that the Ganesh temple was actually Moti Dungri. I thought the two were separate. Missed that one! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But, am sure, we’ll be visiiting Jaipur again some day, some time. Liked the city. ๐Ÿ™‚

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