After enjoying our first day in Delhi and sleeping all night long to recover from our flight, We rose early and hit the road around 9:00am. Destination: JAIPUR!
Lunch at Shri Nilkanth Punjabi Dhaba
We stop at a restaurant called Shri Nilkanth Punjabi Dhaba (easy to remember, right?) in the N. H. 8 Delhi-Jaipur Road. We ate a pretty good bread filled with onion in this very traditional place (no foreigners in sight).
After almost 6 hours, our first stop in Jaipur was a little place where some locals have 2 elephants that are used to go Amber fort. We don’t like the idea of riding the elephants, and actually it was very sad to see them chained, we bought some bananas and gave them to the elephants together with a nice bath and decided to go by jeep to the Amber Fort, since our van was to big for the road.
We read at the Lonely Planet that the ticket for the Fort was 200 INR, but it has changed to 500 INR. There is also a combine ticket that includes Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Nahargarh Fort for 1000 INR (200 INR for students). We bought them. (If you need to use the toilets, this is the place, you have to pay 5 INR but they are very clean).
Amber, the capital of the Kachhawa Rajputs before Jaipur was built, lies 11 kms to the north-east of Jaipur. It takes its name from Amba Mata, the fertility and earth goddess of the Minas, or as some think, from Ambikeswar, a title of Siva, or from Ambarisha, a king of Ayodhya. The Fort was begun by Raja (monarch or princely ruler) Man Singh early in the 17th century, and completed by Raja Jai Singh I and Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of the city of Jaipur, over a hundred years later.
On our way to the Royal Gaitor, by car, we stopped to take some pics of the Jal Mahal. At the moment I had no idea what this palace was, but after reading a little big I found it pretty interesting:
“The Jal Mahal when translated into English means the Water Palace but the complex was never intended to be used as a palace by Maharaja Madho Singh I. Madho Singh, who constructed the Jal Mahal in 1750, simply wished it to be a lodge for himself and his entourage during his duck hunting parties. Madho’s son Madho Singh II greatly enhanced the Jal Palace during the 18th century interior of the palace adding the courtyard grounds and much of the exterior as seen today.
Tourists who view the Water Palace from the banks of Lake Sagar are often unaware of the technological and design achievements of the ancient palace. Though the palace only appears to be a single story there are actual a further four submerged levels. The solid stone walls hold back millions of litres of water and the special designed lime mortar has prevented water seepage for over 250 years”.
Royal Gaitor…a walled funerary complex that contains the stately marble mausoleums of Jaipur’s ruling family. The compound consists of two main courtyards. The first (and more modern) courtyard is dominated by the grandiose twentieth-century cenotaph of Madho Singh II (d. 1922), whose four wives and fifty-odd concubines bore him around 125 children. The second, older, courtyard is home to the elaborate tomb of Jai Singh II (d. 1743), the founder of Jaipur and the first ruler to be interred at Gaitor.
Got to say this complex should be priority #1 in Jaipur, because beside being impressive, no ones goes there, we were the only ones on a Sunday afternoon, except for some monkeys, and not even our driver knew where it was. Tickets were 30 INR, totally worth it.
Our driver recommended to stop at a fabric store of his cousin. It was actually nice because they showed us how to recognize a handmade printed fabric and how they do it with natural colors. I bought a cashmere scarf, beautiful, for 1700 INR after barging a little (After, I realized I paid way too much).
Dinner at Royal Treat Restaurant
Our dinner was at the Royal Treat Restaurant, 440 INR (around 7€) per person with beers and lots of food included with the right amount of spices for a western. Of course, after dinner we went to the hotel (Lemon Tree Premier) to rest… Although we found out we had 1 hour of free wi-fi, and decided to use it before going to bed.
The hotel seems nice on the outside, but I have my doubts about the cleaning.
2nd DAY in JAIPUR
At 9:00am, after breakfast, our first stop was at the Jawa Mahal to take some pics from the outside. We actually took them from the middle of the street, quite a challenge in India.
Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh Garden
On our way to Galta Ji (Monkey Temple), our driver recommended us to stop at the Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh Garden, beautiful. It was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728 for his second queen, a princess from Udaipur. The Maharaja presented this royal garden to his beloved queen to serve as a perfect retreat place for her. Away from hustle bustle of court politics, the garden offered a peaceful haven for Sisodia Rani. 25 INR entry ticket for students and 200 INR regular tickets.
Galta Ji (Monkey Temple)
Galta Ji is a must! Just see the pics below. 50 INR per camera plus a “donation” at the entry (we gave 50 INR). It is a unique Hindu temple as it is centered around a natural spring that has been channeled to fill seven large pools. In these pools pilgrims come to bath away their sins while, at quiet moments, the playful monkeys (more than 200) can be found swimming in the holy waters.
I’m not a big fan of getting close to animals, as you probably noticed from previous posts, but this place is worth it and monkeys don’t get too close unless you give them food, not like the monkeys in the Monkey Forest of Bali.
We passed in front of the City Palace, but decided not to get in, instead we went to the Jantar Mantar (Astronomical Observatory), built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1720´s. From this point we did the rest of the tour by foot.
Jantar Mantar is the name given to a series of five, magnificent structures built in Jaipur, New Delhi, Ujjan, Varanasi and Mathura. The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is considered to be the largest of the five observatories. It was renovated time and again and houses various instruments that offer precise measurements of time, the azimuth, declination of the sun and the positions of constellations, along with several other astronomical phenomena. The Jaipur observatory was functional for seven years only, as the Maharaja was not very successful in deriving accurate, astronomical observations.
The sun was really intense so we didn’t spend that much time but I would recommend to pay a guide to understand better the place, they were charging around 20-50 INR. The entry ticket was included in our combined ticket.
On our way out we ran into Ganesh Temple:
Now it was time to get into the Hawa Mahal, also included in our combined ticket.
The renowned ‘Palace Of The Winds’, or Hawa Mahal, was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. It´s believed to have been constructed in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Considered as an embodiment of Rajputana architecture, the main highlight of Hawa Mahal is its pyramid shape and its 953 windows or ‘Jharokhas’ which are decorated with intricate designs. The main intention behind the construction of the Mahal was to facilitate the royal women and provide them a view of everyday life through the windows, as they never appeared in public.
Indian Coffee House
After this visit we were exhausted, and I asked our driver to pick us up close to the Jantar Mantar and take us to the Indian Coffee House, a coffee shop recommended in the Lonely Planet. Since it is in a very busy street he left us 2 blocks away from it.
With that name, we were kind of expecting an “Starbucks” but actually looks very traditional and is very cheap. We ate a lot of cheese toasts and butter massala dosa, delicious, and paid 1200 INR for the 8 of us.
From the coffee shop we walked trough the Bapu and Sanjay Bazar, the pink rustic buildings on both sides of the road give you the true essence of the pink city. Of course, remember bargain is mandatory.
If you want souvenirs (sarees), Jaipur is the place. We bought some scarfs (250-375 INR depending on the bargain), embroidered shirts (300 INR) and small bags (150 INR).
Driver picked us up close to the bazar and we went to the Nahargarh Fort to watch the last seconds of sunset and enjoyed the view from the Padao Restaurant where we had some drinks. The entry for the restaurant is 200 INR and includes 1 non-alcoholic beverage. Restaurant opens from 10:00 to 22:00.
The ancient Nahargarh Fort was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur in the year 1734. He built this fort on the Aravalli hills mainly as a retreat destination. According to legends, the edifice of Nahargarh fort was thwarted by the spirit of a Rathore prince named Nahar Singh Bhomia. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh discovered that the property in which he tried to raise the fort once belonged to a former Rathore prince named Nahar Singh and his spirit hated the unexpected commotion in his holy dwelling. Nevertheless, the spirit Nahar Singh Bhomia was satisfied when Jai Singh built a small fortress (at Purana Ghat) inside the fort and devoted that fort to the dead Rathore Prince.
When we get out of the fort it was already 20:00, past our bed time. Tomorrow more…
Pd: history of the sites from www.jaipur.org.uk
What did we miss in Jaipur?
and here is my map with Jaipur layer:
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