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. 🙂 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 and 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.
I carry some very beautiful memories of this trip. Thank you God, for the eventful year.