Saturday, June 4, 2022

Travelogue – Jaipur

It has been a long time since a travelogue featured on this blog. So it will feel different today! Earlier this year, when the first month was about to end, a wedding had been scheduled and postponed (no points for guessing the reason). But since our tickets were booked and we had plans after that wedding for our own wedding anniversary, we filled the void in our scheduling due to the wedding ‘cancellation’ with other things whose details don’t need to come out here. Our time for sightseeing Jaipur post the ‘now-non-extant’ wedding remained more or less the same.

We started with a simple lunch near the sight-seeing center of Jaipur, whose yellow bill (see below) was interesting to say the least. We had ordered two plates: 1 Ordinary Thali (plate) and 1 Rajasthani Thali. The difference being that the latter has an extra “Gatte ki Sabji”. (I think it also had an extra raita.)

Our First Lunch at Jaipur

Of course, we didn’t pay the extra ₹1. That’s just so that the bill doesn’t carry the inauspicious/fraudulent number 420. [This blog can carry such a number without any consequences, obviously!]

Then we visited the City Palace Museum, whose entrance fee was exorbitant. But since we were already there, what else were we supposed to do? We forked out the fee and got a A4 sized B&W ticket. They couldn’t even afford a colour printer with all that money they’re raking in! What the hell? Anyway, disappointed at this first interaction, we entered the place where the royals still live. Yes, this palace is ‘real’, as in, the royalties still live here. Though, those premises are not open for the tourists. There are other 6-8 places inside the palace, which have been converted to mini-museums, where one can roam around and admire ancient artefacts and learn some history. These mini-museums have different themes: clothing, weapons, art, furniture, etc. One room where the king held meetings with his ministers and public was also ‘on display’. Overall, it was a nice walk around this pristine palace.

City Palace - Where Pigeons Roost

Inside City Palace

After exiting, we planned to visit the nearby tourist attraction and an astronomical observatory of olden times: Jantar Mantar. The name Jantar Mantar is akin to saying Hocus Pocus I guess, because in ‘those times’ astronomy, astrology, magic & mystery were more or less the same! The entrance fees were not exorbitant here but they had another trick up their sleeve. They promoted a bundled-up scheme such that with a single ticket one could visit 8 tourist attractions in two days. We had only one day to spare and had time to visit 5 places at most. We thought to take up this jumbo ticket (believing there was some discount involved; but there was none as we realized the next day) as this would save us some time queueing up at the ticket counters.

Jaipur Tourism Ticket

Back to Jantar Mantar for now. First thing we did after entering its premises was to go to a projector room to learn about the history of this place and the science behind the huge observatory. It was very interesting but Sakura fell asleep and that ruined our plans to roam around the place! It was also nearing the closing time so we couldn’t have roamed around as much as I’d have liked. Anyway, she woke up after a few monkeys including baby monkeys showed up and started rummaging around water cooler and garbage. So that was the end of our scientific excursion.

On to the second day. Our plan was to go farthest from our hotel to the Am(b)er Fort and then weave our way back to the city center and finally to our hotel in the evening. Something like this (click for a large map!):

Touristy Route in Jaipur

Sadly, our driver had other thoughts and we ended up at Hawa Mahal instead of the Amber Fort! Anyway, we roamed around this place for a while and took some photos as well. City view is quite splendid from the high-rise tower at this place (click for a large panorama)!

Panoramic View from Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

After that, we made sure the driver understood our planned route and we landed up at “Panna Meena ka Kund”. Quite a marvelous architecture as far as stairs go. The moss-covered pond not so much.

Panna Meena ka Kund

Then we made our way through narrow streets to the entrance of Amber Fort. Quite a crowd greeted us. But we were unfazed and roamed around the place as if no one was looking. Some interiors of this palace have too many entry and exit points so it can feel like a maze. We made enough loops to not get bored or frustrated, admired the architecture including a mirror hall, and exited via a Café Coffee Day. The shortcut cave to Jaigarh Fort was closed for renovation so we thought of skipping it altogether. I mean, if you can’t take a hidden shortcut in plain view from one fort to another, what’s the point!

Amber Fort

Garden inside Amber Fort

So, we skipped on to Nahargarh Fort (skipping Jal Mahal altogether), which used to be a residential fort of the royals, still feels like a maze with repeating patterns of architecture. Also, this palace is quite cool, literally! Airy rooms, corridors, cool breeze blowing everywhere. Very interesting construction, which reminded both of us of places our grand²-relatives lived. Not the grandiosity, of course, but the feel of the structure & organization of the central quadrangle, rooms, windows, doors, in-wall closets, etc.

Inside Nahargarh

Outside Nahargarh

With all this roaming around, lunch time was passing us by. So we made a beeline to a restaurant / hotel named “Laxmi Misthan Bhandar” that my father had suggested. It was a crowded affair but we got a table, though there was no parking available outside this place, so the driver went away someplace suitable for parking and for his own lunch I guess. We indulged ourselves as much our stomachs would let us, despite the prices being exorbitant once again!

Our Second Lunch at Jaipur

Then we headed on to our final destination, the Albert Hall Museum, the highlight of our trip. It is relatively small (compared to others we saw in this trip) but it is well-maintained and has well-captioned inventory. We saw our first ‘live’ Egyptian mummy up close in this museum (with its X-ray too). We can definitely recommend this place if you are visiting Jaipur for more than a day and suggest you spend at least 2 hours here. We barely spent an hour before Sakura started demanding we head back to the hotel because she couldn’t walk any more as her (and her imaginary animal friends’) legs had started aching. So we did the sensible thing and headed back to hotel because of my aching legs.

Albert Hall Museum

And so this worthwhile trip of 2022 came to an end. I leave you with the website of the hotel where we stayed.

Radisson Hotel