Scratching through the wee hours in teeth crushing cold, my bus, Good morning’ed Jaipur. It was cold. Everything which I could pack to keep myself warm was not much of help as I had hoped.
It was December after all. It took 5 hours from Delhi to Jaipur. Here’s my Jaipur Travelogue.
With no hotel booked as this was supposed to be just a day’s trip, I walked around the surprisingly crowded bus stop at around 4:30 AM! The upbeat brokers strolling around made sure that I know the rates of nearby hotels as I sipped a cup of chai.
I started towards Jal Mahal by asking directions from locals after the bus I boarded dropped me near the main market. This bus has to be the tiniest Mini-bus that I’ve ever traveled in and which was driven by the oldest driver I’ve seen driving anything. He was clearly in his late-80s but the way he was handling himself appeared to be a seasoned professional nevertheless.
I walked by to see the city waking as the street lights on the clear roads slowly shutting down, one at a time, theatrically. The roads and the visible infrastructure around the city appeared good and the early risers were helpful in showing directions. When traveling down south, (Whether its Chikmagalur, Kodaikanal, Allepey, Varkala, Mangalore, Yelagiri, Kochi or even Chennai), sometimes, language does become an issue when asking directions. I mostly try to understand by gestures and then confirm after every few minutes as Google maps, which is still fun. In this case, Internet had ditched me and I had to talk more than I usually do.
The picture of Jal Mahal, in my mind, was a wee-bit different than what was in front of my eyes. It reminded me of the man-made islands in Zoological parks around which you row boats. Only, in this case, the island was a Mahal and ,of course, there were no boats to row and enjoy a closer view. I wished there was a way to access a better view like the birds flying above the mahal. But then.
However, it was a lovely sight to wait and ultimately breathe in the sunrise along with hundreds of pigeons flying around to give me company.
My next stop was the Amer fort. Along with the rising sun I trekked (sort of) uphill on the straight road. I was glad to have packed lightly which made things easier. Meanwhile, I was introduced to an unheard cultural practice by a passerby heading in the opposite direction when he told me about a temple on the hills. On completion of a wish (mannat), which you ask the deity here for, one has to offer a bottle of liquor as offering. This was new and interesting.
I could already notice the boundaries of the fort from a distance. The off-Yellowish lines visible from a distance added on to the excitement. Scenes from movies and innumerable music videos had featured this sight quite a lot and it all came running down. It was exactly how I had imagined it to be.
There is a lake called Maota is adjacent to the fort and gives it a scenic semblance as you walk alongside to enter the fort. Amer was built by the Meena Tribe and later occupied by Raja Man Singh I.
The insides of Amer Fort: As I entered, I noticed the Chaar Baagh (Four Gardens) formations which are a prominent part of Mughal Architecture. Like the ones which I saw in Delhi a couple of days before. With the shining sun illuminating the pathway towards the fort entrance, the doors literally make for a Grand Entrance.
A more-than visible print of Elephants being regulars here can be seen with their “discharge” all over the pathway.
Rajasthan in general is a primary tourist attraction even before the “Incredible India” campaign kicked off. Finding foreign tourists in huge numbers is quite expected and this early morning at the fort definitely was one of it.
The fort has a multistoried layout which is no less than a Bhool bhulaiya of sorts with the tiniest of windows and doors spread throughout the structure. This characteristic was quite prevalent in almost all the architectures at Jaipur(which I visited) and I presume in Rajasthan as well. The Hawa Mahal is basically an ensemble of these tiny windows. Interestingly, I also noticed a few of the cleaning staff, which comprised of women, draping a Ghoongat (Dupatta used with a veil).
I also heard from one of the guides who was explaining to the foreigners that these windows helped the women folk to easily witness gatherings, markets or processions in the sanctity of the mahals and forts.
I headed back in a crowded bus which charged around 14 rupees and dropped down near Jal Mahal which was in contrast to what I saw earlier. A makeshift market place had emerged around the pavements selling shoes, clothes and even food to be fed to the pigeons roaming around soaking the morning sunlight. The pigeons were not alone BTW!
I headed over to the City Palace which is located amidst the Jaipur market. Renovation work was underway on one of the gates.
The insides are filled up with these glass colored window panes which add on to the many decorations in the palace.
The tiny staircases leading to the terrace are little suffocating and I cannot imagine getting lost in the dark in one of those. Nightmare.
However, once you’ve reached the top, the view is supremely beautiful. Not just that, the feeling of getting out in the open and watching the whole city is sublime.
Venturing out of the City Palace, I went around the market to grab something to eat. Now Jaipur is called the Pink City. So, when you walk around the market, one can notice that the shops, walls and everything where you can lay your eyes on has a shade of pink.
It’s not Pink. But Pink. The market looked very organized and pink. (The pink color maes it all a litte funny though. But its not pink).
I stopped by to have Rabdi (in the pic above) and Malpuas in the market. Eating these was just out of sheer hunger of not having eaten anything since morning and I ended up at the first outlet I saw. They were pretty decent and I would have definitely got a better one had I done any sort of “food research” like I usually do. But then, Internet!
The Hawa Mahal in my head was supposed to be this mammoth building but it wasn’t so. Only when I started taking pictures, I realized why it was so. The Road opposite to the Mahal is pretty narrow and for a good picture, one would either have to take a side-shot to capture it perfectly. Of course it still looked good.
It was a Friday and I needed to search for a mosque to attend Jumma Prayers and even though I was hungry, I held on as I had to meet a friend who works nearby an IT park.
The nice people of the city guided me to the right bus. A vegetarian thali for lunch while reminiscing about college days was great and as always it’s great to meet known friends in unknown cities.
I headed back in another bus and then also took a tuk-tuk just to have an experience on how the city moves around in these.
On reaching the Bus stop and getting onto one of the Delhi bound buses, I realized how much I could do in just one day. Due to time crunch, I could hardly get my hands on Rajasthani food but if I ever visit this place again that will be my priority.
Jaipur is a traditional city which has kept its original charm even with steady development. At least the areas I went around appeared to have better civic sense. Of course the public transportation can improve a lot but the folks of the city make a tourists’ life much easier.