A sneak peek of the Pink City, Jaipur in 24 hours

What do you do when you get to know that your employer wants you to attend a 3 days long conference in the royal Pink City and the third day happens to be a Saturday!!?? The wanderlust in me resurfaced as I knew that I have the Sunday to myself and I can postpone my return for a day after the conference gets over. The conference got over by lunch on Saturday and post lunch I was absolutely free to explore the city on my own.
Now the challenge here was just 24 hrs to myself and how much of Jaipur City I could squeeze in this limited time. So, this is how my itinerary was planned :


Jantar Mantar

Post lunch, I took an Uber and set out to see this astronomical marvel built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, which is very close to the City Palace, also known as Chandra Mahal. This place has the largest stone sundial  of the world and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The observatory houses 19 geometric instruments (jantar), with which calculations (mantar) were done to measure time, distance and positions of celestial bodies. It is advisable to take an audio guide to see this place considering its rich science and history. 

I procured a composite entry ticket from the ticket counter of this observatory. This composite ticket costs Rs. 300 and covers quite a few places of interest in Jaipur including various palaces, forts, gardens and museums. It also helps in avoiding the long queues at the entrances and is valid for two days. 

Isar Lat (Swargasuli)

This seven storey tall minaret was erected by Sawai Ishwari Singh in 1749 to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Maratha and Mewar. A climb to the top of this 140 feet structure gives you a panoramic view of the entire Jaipur city. It is within walking distance from Jantar Mantar. The panoramic view of Jaipur city is available from various other view points. So, if you want to save on some time and energy, then this place can be given a miss, in my opinion. 


City Palace (Chandra Mahal)

Located in the heart of the city and within minutes of walking distance from Jantar Mantar, this palace used to be the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur and still continues to be the residence of the royal family, while a certain portion of the sprawling compound is open for public viewing and houses different museums displaying armoury, vintage buggies, automobiles, jewellery, clothing etc. The palace has three entrance gates, out of which one is reserved for the usage of the royal family, whereas the common people and visitors use the other two. Photography isnt allowed inside here, hence be prepared to make a mental note of all that you see and cherish the memories. 
Separate entry tickets need to be bought to visit city palace as this isn't included in the composite entry ticket. 


Hawa Mahal (Palace of Breeze)

Situated in the middle of a busy and chaotic market place, this place let's you soak in a cacophony of various sound, smell and sights. An amazing work of architecture where 953 small windows, popularly called 'jharokha', with intricate lattice work, are carved out on a five storey tall stone wall. This wall served as a screen on the stone and was built for the benefit of the Royal ladies, who could observe and enjoy the festivities, celebrations and daily life of the commoners from behind the wall without being seen by others. This wall is a part of the city palace and extended till the women's chamber of the palace. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, this pink and red sandstone structure stood the test of time, screaming aloud the fables and tales from the yesteryears. 
I took a battery operated auto rickshaw to the entrance of Hawa Mahal from the City Palace and paid a measly Rs. 10/- The entrance fee of this place is included in the composite entry ticket. 


Albert Hall Museum

By the time I finished climbing and browsing through all five stories of Hawa Mahal, the clock had struck 4.30 pm. So, I still had time to catch Albert Hall Museum, which closes by 5 pm. So, I took an auto and headed there. Autos here is quite reasonable provided you bargain a bit. The entrance fee here is included in the composite ticket. This museum houses lot of artifacts, sculptures, carpets, clothes, paintings, manuscripts, armoury etc depicting the life and culture of the people from yesteryear. 


Shopping Places

I was done with Albert Hall by 5.45 pm. So, now I had some time for browsing through the shopping places nearby. I don't happen to be a shopping person but then Mom wanted a bandhni print saree very typical to Rajasthan. So, Bari Chaupar was my next destination. This happens to be just along the walls of Hawa Mahal. One can also visit Baapu Bazaar and Jowhari Bazar for beautiful and light quilts, block print sarees, Kurtis, skirts and palazzos but wherever you shop, a hard bargaining is must out here. 

Chokhi Dhani 

I went back to my hotel to freshen up and thought of calling it a day but my colleagues were all set to venture out to this Rajasthani theme village called Chokhi Dhani, situated about 25 kms outside the main city. This is a theme village with a ethnic village resort inside. The non resident guests can visit the theme village, which offers a quick glimpse of the vibrant Rajasthani culture, art, folk music, food and lifestyle. At the entrance, you are greeted by ladies with garland and tilak. The whole place is designed like a mock village fair which offers elephant and camel rides, magic shows, puppet shows and traditional acrobatics and folk dance. You have palmists sitting in one corner, small market of artefacts, drinking water being pulled out from the well and much more. The whole atmosphere is full of fun and festivity. The food they serve deserves a special mention. They make you sit on the floor in a common dining space and serve the traditional Rajasthani dishes like gatte ki subzi, daal-baati-churma, bajre ki roti, khichdi with dollops of ghee and white butter!! For calorie conscious people, this might not sound too exciting or for that matter the food might not appeal to many of our taste buds, but this is more of an experience than anything else. The price for per person is a bit on the higher side but for the entire experience, it can be tried at least for once when you are in Jaipur. 


We had lot of fun and came back to our hotel with smiles hanging from our lips. I crashed as soon as I hit the bed. Jaipur can be excessive hot during the summers and this obvious wasn't the right time for sightseeing in Jaipur but I have already finished half of it. The next day, I had the forts to cover before boarding the flight in the night. 

Amer Fort

I started my day very early the next day for two reasons : 1) Amer Fort opens up for visitors by 8 am and 2) the summer heat will get unforgiving as the day progresses. I hired an Uber to go to this fort situated about 12 kms outside the main city of Jaipur. Originally built by the Meena kings, this Fort was later rebuilt by Raja Maan Singh and further enhanced by his successor Raja Jai Singh. This huge fort perched on a high hill and overlooking the Maota lake, nestled between the Aravalli ranges, houses the beautiful palace of the Kachwaha Rajputs as an evidence of the opulent lifestyle led by the royals in those days.
While the sections like Diwan-e-Aam (section for public audience), Diwan-e-Khas (hall of private audience), Sukh Niwaas, where the king spent time with his queens and Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) are more popular among the tourists, I found the kitchen section, the hamam (Turkish baths), toilets, lavatories and the mechanism of procuring water from the Maota Lake for the regular usage of the residents of this huge palace, more interesting. The guides available at the gates won't take you to these lesser known corners of the palace.

One can climb up to the fort or can also ride an elephant till the entrance. However, I preferred to climb up as I wasn't too sure if this exercise is any good for the animals. The tickets to Amer Fort is included in the composite ticket. 

Jal Mahal (Water Palace)

This is a palace, which was used for duck hunting by the kings and is built in the middle of a lake, called Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, which can be seen on your way to the Amer Fort. One can't enter the palace or go near it. So, you can stand by the lake and click pictures. It's painful to see how poorly the surroundings of this beautiful historic structure have been maintained. While the palace appears to be a single storey structure but it is originally a 5 storey structure, which has 4 of its storeys submerged in the water. This place is a treat to the eyes with the beautiful structure in the middle of the huge lake with mountains in the backdrop dotted with forts and palaces. 


Nahargarh Fort

After coming out of Amer Fort, I bargained with the autos waiting outside to go to Nahargarh Fort. These forts are all perched on top of huge hills and Uber doesn't ply to these places. So, it is advisable to hire autos to go to these forts on top of the hills. 


Nahargarh Fort, constructed in 1734, stands on the edge of huge Aravalli Hills overlooking the Pink City. The fort gets its name from Nahar Singh Bhomia, whose spirit is believed to haunt the place and obstructed the construction of the fort. Later his spirit was pacified by building a temple in his memory. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh built it to use as a hunting retreat but later King Madho Singh extended it to include living quarters for his queens. This living quarters are all similar in size and structure and is open to the visitors. What awed me most was the beautiful wall art and frescoes on the walls of the connecting corridors here. It provides panoramic view of Jaipur city from the top. 


Jaigarh Fort

Named after king Jai Singh II, this Fort is also on the Aravalli range and overlooks the Amber Fort and Maota Lake. It was built to protect the Amber Palace and is connected to the palace by a secret tunnel. It houses the world's largest canon on wheels called Jaivana. This canon was built in the foundry situated inside the fort. This fort has kitchen and dining sections along with quarters for the military to stay and rest. The museum of this fort displays lot of weapons, canons and armoury from the yesteryears along with some rare pictures of the kings of the royal family, who served Indian Army during various period of time. Don't miss walking through the remains of the foundry inside the fort. 

You need to buy separate tickets for yourself and your vehicle, in my case it was the auto, for entering Jaigarh Fort. 

Gaitore

A visit to Jaipur isn't complete if you don't happen to pay a visit to the resting place of such benevolent and supremely intelligent royal family, who not only displayed valour but also compassion and love for their subjects and people. Gaitore is the royal cremation ground, where the Kachhwaha Rajput monarchs and other members of the royal family are cremated. One can find cenotaphs (chhatri) made of marble and sandstone dedicated to the legendary rulers of Jaipur. These cenotaphs display a perfect blend of Hindu temple and Islamic architecture.

This place is in the outskirts of Jaipur city and falls on your way back to Jaipur from Amer Fort. 

By the time, I finished my short but fulfilling trip of the pink city, the setting sun threw yellow light on the not so pink coloured buildings of the city. Jaipur gets its name from the pink coloured sandstone buildings and houses, which have lot of tales and fables buried deep underneath.

Quick Tips :
  1. Buying a composite entry ticket, which is valid for 2 days is advisable to avoid queues at the entrances of the major attractions. This ticket will cost you Rs. 300 and includes Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Albert Hall Museum, Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort and a couple of other gardens. City Palace and Jaigarh Fort are not included in the same. 
  2. Bargaining to the tune of 50% should be done while shopping for clothes, quilts and artefacts from Bapu Bazar, Johri Bazar etc
  3. For visiting the Forts, it is advisable to bargain and fix an auto for yourself as Uber or Ola services are either not available on top of the Aravalli hill ranges or are very expensive and it is very difficult to find a vehicle there. Ask the auto to take you to Nahargarh Fort and drive you through Jaigarh Fort and drop you at Gaitore. Also you can hire a vehicle for yourself to visit the entire stretch of forts and back to Jaipur city. 
  4. One should carefully choose the guides at these places of attraction as lot of them might take you to shopping places instead of showing around. I prefer and would suggest exploring by yourself as that will give you freedom to browse at your own pace and not rush up.

Comments

  1. Hi, I've heard good things about Jaipur, I would like to visit it one day, especially the City Palace. Great tips with good details, thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by and reading through. The best time to visit will be between November to February or else the heat can be absolutely killing.

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