Tag Archives: Jaipur

Where we stayed @ Jaipur

Because we had such a swell time at Jaipur which was largely thanks to the hotel we were staying at, I have decided to dedicate a post to the hotel. The first post has pictures of the room we stayed in @ the hotel. This post is dedicated to the hotel in general. On the day of check out, we spent the morning taking snaps and walking all around the place. The first spot to get photographed was the Ganesha idol jes outside our room. A puja was in progress and we waited till the pujari left before taking this snap. A puja is performed everyday but we noticed it only today. We must have left for the breakfast buffet at the roof before the puja started which would explain why we missed it.

When I had looked out of the window on the day we arrived, I was quite surprised that the windows of our room gave us a view of the swimming pool. That obviously was the second photograph of the day. Some of the hotel folks can be seen in the corner, fixing something. We did not try too hard to get them out of the picture. There was nobody at the pool in the morning which was great.  We did not embarrass anyone nor did we get embarrassed 😀 Most foreigners are used to Indians taking snaps of them, with them etc. but naturally we did not want to be clubbed with that group!

The paintings on the left of the pool were quite colourful and bright – very typical of Rajasthan, I feel. Naturally, I could not resist taking a snap of that as well. The whole place had a lowe for the brilliant copper sulphate blue. Not only was the pool of that colour, most of the painitings used that color to indicate the sky as well as the water bodies. Kinda overkill but looked lovely nevertheless.

The common areas had a lot of  knick knacks, wall hangings, and comfortable chairs. Though I felt it was quite crowded, we also had an impression of space which was quite odd. On the day of travel, the Arien is usually quite tense. Apart from giving me updates every 5 minutes regarding our packing status, which was non-existant, he also refused to take any more snaps.

I promised that after two more snaps, we could get started on the packing. The common area where ppl staying at the hotel could lounge away for hours together was actually a very difficult room to photograph because of the number of mirrors on the wall which made the snaps come out weird. Finally, the Arien managed a decent shot. Notice the show-piece gramaphone in the corner.

As we walked further, we came across an open space that had a beautiful door, which was locked. While we were wondering if this was some special place, we were politely informed that yoga classes take place here. It made a lot of sense. It was quite cool and you could focus on the amazing designs on the door as you tried to perform some of the tougher yogasanas.  

The door reminded me a lot of the Bulund Darwaza that we had visited at Fatehpur Sikri. But, this place was very clean, with a cool breeze. While I was wondering how it was soo cool, I recieved the next update from the Arien and knew that he was right. We were running late and I had not packed yet. This was such a nice vacation. I enjoyed Jaipur more than I enjoyed Delhi. Delhi, with its myriad options failed to impress, but Jaipur impressed big-time. We were unable to make it to Pushkar which was my only grouse. We were returning to Delhi and then going back home. The Arien is writing accounts – I think we overspent as usual – but who cares if you had a great time – right?!! I think so anyway.

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Day of Sight-Seeing in a Rickshaw – Final Part

We were now finally going to visit the Jal Mahal. Both of us were quite excited about the photo-op involved. Since we cannot visit the place – the photo-op was the next best thing to get all excited about.  Don’t you agree? It had looked heavenly during the pink-city-by-night tour. Though it did not look as good during the day. The paint was peeling in some places and the discolouration was quite evident. But, the sunlight was perfect and the picture came out really well. I read this year that they have finally opened the Jal Mahal to tourists and visitors – That is good news!

The rickshaw-wallah wanted to leave for the day but we still had places to see and miles to go before we sleep !!  The first shock of the day was the visit to Maharani Ki Chatri – the gate was closed and a security guard shooed us away. I was quite surprised. I insisted that the Arien take a picture of the closed gate — he refused! So, I took the camera and shot this picture. At that time, I had no clue about the place. I jes felt that the guard was mean. Today, as I blog about it, I had to search far and wide (Ok — googled it ) to figure out what the tourist spot was. 

And far from being an umbrella that the Maharani had owned, the place was actually a monument (usually a tomb) built in honour of the royal maharanis. I always thought that was an islamic tradition – christians also bury and have tomb stones. Did not know that the Hindu maharanis also followed the same tradition.  From the gate, it looks like the place has not been open in a while – maybe I am mistaken.

The next place we planned to visit was Albert Hall. We had another shock. The place was closed for the day. We realized a lil late that most of the tourist attractions are only open until 4:30 pm and it was way past 5 pm now. I could now understand why the rickshaw wallah was all set to leave for the day! Grrr..  We still went and took snaps of the entrance of Albert Hall – yes, of the entrance. This part of the sight-seeing sucked big-time 😦 I felt absolutely cheated – he knew when we went to Amber Fort that we would not even be able to visit half of the tourist spots but he still managed to negotiate a hard-bargain — Felt like total goofs!

Anyway, the rickshaw fellow felt some pity for us and took us to see Hawa Mahal as well. Yet again, we took another shot from across the road and did not venture inside. I really wished we had had more time. The Arien took this opportunity to remind me of my tardiness – Grrr… what a way to end a fantastic day 😦 We returned to our hotel room and decided to take rest and have dinner at the restuarant upstairs. The dinner was great and nobody else was having dinner at that time so we had the entire resturant to ourselves – Nice! The Arien did not mention my late-start and concentrated on the food. I recieved a number of calls frm my family members!

Day of Sight-Seeing in a Rickshaw – Part 2 (Amber Fort)

The next place we were going to visit was the Amber Fort (also known as the Amer Fort). This decision was made by the rickshaw driver. Both of us were hungry but we knew that if we took a break now – we would miss the rest of the sight-seeing. That did not appeal to us and so, off we went. I was glad to see that the roads were not very well-maintained. Most of my north Indian friends insist that Northern India is by far well-maintained, great roads etc. Well, I was glad to see that it was not all true!

This was our first view of Amer Fort or Amber Fort – it was a warm, sunny day, a little after regular lunch time but the effect was fantastic. We asked the rickshaw wallah to stop so we could enjoy the moment. The sight of the fort overlooking the lake seemed so calm, so soothing. The rickshaw wallah  quickly offered to take a snap of us against the background of the fort. Though it was not a great snap – I will forever remember that moment as we stood staring awe-struck at the beautiful fort. We were now ready to visit it.

Instead of taking the regular entrance, our rickshaw wallah took us around the fort to a side-entrance where he parked the rickshaw. He found us a guide and told us that he would wait for us here. The guide was a regular. He was not Dev Anand but he was a pleasant old man and quite serious ’bout his job. A greater contrast to our guide from Fatehpur Sikri cannot be imagined. We never got to introduce ourselves. He was off full-speed towards the zillion steps that was part of the side entrance. Fitness is a habit was all I could think of  after huffing and puffing all the way. I was out of breath and so was the Arien but he pretended he was waiting for me (Isn’t that mean?) at all strategic break areas. A snap of our guide with his favorite serious expression.

As a result of entering the fort via a side-entrance, we faced the Baradari pavilion first. We had no clue at that time, though. It looked a lot like the Lotus Mahal at Hampi, here. Jes goes to show that there was abundant mughal influence, not just in North India. There was some kind of renovation work going on and so we moved on ahead. We were also asked not to step inside the bharadari. The angle frm which the Arien has taken this snap does not show you the facade on the side.

We moved towards Ganesh Pol or the main entrance. This is a rather fantastic, well-decorated entrance which provides an amazing photo-op and naturally the Arien would not let that pass. So, after taking a few shots of Ganesh pol, of ourselves in front of Ganesh Pol, various wide-angle, and close-up shots, we went inside. The guide did not show even a hint of impatience while I think I was quite impatient 😀

Anyway, we moved on. We saw the Sila Devi temple, where most folks were praying, and did not stop to take pictures. We moved to a grand garden, which had buildings on both sides. It was slightly cooler there and a nice breeze was in the air – I really wanted to spend some time here but the Arien was impatient this time. We were facing the Sheesh mahal. The Arien has taken so many pictures of the Sheesh mahal from various locations and it is quite difficult to identify that the image is of the same building. It was beautiful and we walked all around so we could actually spend some time in the Sheesh mahal. The guide pointed to a lot of coloured impressions on the wall and said that it originally contained precious stones and now what is left is only the colour – somehow that did not seem believable. After you see the picture on the left, you will probably feel the same.  There was some amount of renovation taking place and we were not allowed to enter certain sections of the Sheesh Mahal. However, tourists being who they are, tried to sneak in, take pictures of themselves against the backdrop of the forbidden section of the Mahal and then were rudely pulled out by the few security guards. It was funny – watching the entire scene play out.  

The Amber fort itself consisted of various entrances, exits, different routes to the same place. If we did not have the guide, I am sure we would get lost. Also, we would not know which building was important and why. I was really thankful to the rickshaw wallah because of whom we had a guide. After taking about a zillion pictures, the Arien was ready to leave. I was sure that he was hungry by now. It was almost 4 and we were nowhere near a resturant.  The guide showed us the Nahargarh Fort which he had visited yesterday. I took a great picture of the Arien against the Nahargarh Fort which he was unable to replicate. That bugged him a lot 🙂 He is known as the photographer in the family and so my fluke shot put him in a grumpy mood. We walked back via a different route, which was near the main entrance. The main entrance is known as the Sing Pol or Lion Gate. Most tourists come up on elephants and made a grand entrance. I wished we had done the same 😦 The Arien told me that we could have done that if we had left earlier. (Has not forgotten our delay in leaving the hotel.. Grrr!) Anyway, I decided to take a snap of the entrance and the tourist entry just to satisfy myself.

We saw the Maota lake and garden island from the Zenana in the Amer fort. It was dirty. There was green coloured discoloration on the lake and the Arien refused to take a snap of the lake. Finally, after a lot of cajoling, he took the picture and included the green mess 😦 I am including the picture here so you can judge for yourself if I am exaggerating.

It felt like we spent an entire day here – but in actuality, we spent only a few hours at the Amber fort. But, the time was well-spent and we enjoyed every minute of it. Now, the Arien was hungry and we had to leave immediately. Anyway, we thanked the guide for his service and gave him a handsome tip. For once, he had a different expression – a smile 🙂 We walked back to the place where the rickshaw wallah had dropped us off. The Arien walked into the first restuarant we saw without signalling to our rickshaw wallah, to have a late lunch. It was ~5 pm. After a nice lunch – we felt re-energized and ready to continue with our sight-seeing.

A day of sight-seeing on a rickshaw – Part 1

The next day dawned bright and sunny but we woke up late. Maybe it was the excitement of yesterday’s night drive or maybe it was the traffic jam during the journey from Delhi to Jaipur.. well, whatever it was, we were late. So, the bus plan and the taxi plan were guzzed. When a plan goes kaput, the Arien gets on the war path and so I opted for the rickshaw tour. I convinced him that tht was best option.

The first place, we planned to visit was the City Palace. The city palace was supposedly built by Sawai Mansingh and was a true treat for photographers. Plus, it was a hot and sunny day. The first place we saw was the Mubarak Mahal. All the various outfits worn by the king, his wife were placed there and somehow they still managed to look royal and grand – though slightly long and huge for the king was a short man! Anyway, the Arien wandered away to shoot interesting snaps. This snap of the guards in turbans, who were on a break, was a nice one. 

We moved towards the Entrance gates which had a typical arch. We were yet to see the Chandra Mahal or inside the palace. I had heard that they had maintained all the chairs etc. as is from those days. However, they did not let us take photographs inside and so we had to walk away without any snaps. We had not hired a guide or purchased the audio guide and so sometimes, we had no clue ’bout the monuments we were visiting, which was a shame.

Anyway, we came across the rickshaw musem. We had seen the car and bike musem at Dharamshala but this was totally new. Some of them looked so spruced up and well-maintained, I felt that we could get on it and start touring the city. Of course, they were more the tonga type, so we may need a horse. It reminded me of the tonga ride that we had taken in Mysore, at dusk. I felt like we were under a spotlight.

We walked around aimlessly and took a number of pictures. Some with ourselves against the amazing backdrop and others, just by themselves. The Arien was having a field day. He did not remember that we had started late or that I was primarily responsible for not getting ready on time. 😀

We took pictures of the Chandra Mahal. The flag on top is supposedly the flag of the royal family though it looks quite similar to the Indian Flag. We have no snaps of the Chandra Mahal from the front as we did not venture that way.

Most of these palaces have gigantic gates and I have  wondered if they always keep it closed. I noticed a lot of guards walking from a particular door though I hardly saw the gigantic door opened. It was while watching that that I noticed the smaller opening or door, carved into the gigantic gate for these occassions and I pointed it out to the Arien. We managed to take a shot of the guard as we walked out of the smaller door.

We also saw the very brightly coloured, Pritam Chowk doorway which was part of the city palace. It was a brilliant green colour and there were so many folks sitting there for the shade that we did the same. As usual, the Arien cannot sit still for more than a few minutes, and so he was shooting pics.  At that time, I did not know that we were shooting at Pritam Chowk. All I knew was that we were shooting a green doorway and I wondered at the significance 😀

Anyway, we came back to the exit gate, where our Rickshaw wallah had asked to wait. When we reached there he told us to visit the Jantar Mantar, which was nearby and mentioned that we need not purchase tickets again as our ticket was a 3-in-1.

So, on this hot day, we moved to a place that was to me, quite boring. It was quite warm and there was not much shade and the Arien insisted on shooting pics. I moved away to pick up Maaza or Slice (a mango drink with no fizz) and the Arien asked me to pick up bottled water as well. So, while I was on these errands, he walked all round taking pics. I was dragging my feet and did not get back very quickly.

He was soon bored. We had quite a few interesting places to visit and it was now lunch time but if we stopped for lunch, we would miss some of the sights and so we decided to get going. I think the rickshaw wallah was not too happy. Well.. cannot please everybody 😦 We still had to visit so many places. More on that in my next post.

Pink City-by-Night Tour

I was so happy that the day would not go waste that I was ready to leave immediately. We had to go to the Rajasthan Development Corporation. We paid 250/- per head and were escorted to a waiting Sumo which already had 3 foreigners, a driver, and a guide. We hastily introduced ourselves and were off. It was supposed to be 4 hour sight-seeing tour followed by vegetarian dinner at Nahargarh fort.

The weather was cool, reminded me of Bangalore, and we watched the various sights – all lit-up and looking gorgeous. We visited the Vidhan Sabha, Amar Jawan Jyothi which was basically paying homage to the martyrs, and Albert Hall. The Arien shot some pics of the Albert Hall but the flash bounced off the lights but we did get one decent shot. As we moved along, we talked to the foreigners mostly about general touristy things to do. 

We were also taken to the emporium that was maintained by the govenment. They showed you how a specific design was added to the dress material. The man who was giving us the demo used an interesting peacock design that was the mold into which colour was applied and then he added it to the material. It was quite interesting. We were also asked to purchase stuff which was supposedly available at a much-lower price. We purchased a beautiful quilt in beige colour which was all satin and looked very rich. This is a pic taken recently of the quilt at our home. One of the foreigners purchased a silk scarf which he wanted to use as a wall-decoration. Thanks to all the shopping, we were late.

The next stop was the Jal Mahal which looked very pretty. It was not open to visitors when we visited last year around September. However, I heard that it was now open for visitors. We shot some good pictures and the breeze was fantastic – it seemed a great time to visit Jaipur. The arien was busy chatting with the foreigners about their camera and other such stuff. We went to Amber fort but the lights were switched off, we were too late. By then, we had had quite a few photo-ops and so were not too disillusioned. Our last stop was the Nahargarh fort where we were supposed to have our dinner. The fort was atop a hill and everything seemed so far away, our hotel, office, it was like nothing could touch you here. They also had some rooms which they offered to toursits. We had a look, even though we were not planning to stay. The rooms seemed slightly old-fashioned and I really lowed my room at the place we were staying now. While that room would not beat staying at a Fort – I still preferred it. It was quite cold at the fort. The food served was traditional Rajasthani (I think), we could not identify some of the vegetables which was quite suprising. The foreigners did not like the food much. The Arien was shooting pics of the city from Nahargarh fort. While this pic does not do justice to the scenery, it is the best we could take of the view from one of the windows facing the city.

As we returned, we were able to see Hawa Mahal without the hustle-bustle of the city and immediately, the Arien and the foreigners took snaps of the Hawa Mahal. It looks very yellow and gigantic. We hoped to see the inside of this monument before we left for Delhi. I wonder how it looks like from inside – a zillion windows to the city in general. Hmmm.. we were now yawning our face off. We all got dropped at our hotels and hastily said our byes. I was not sure if we would ever see those 3 foreigners again. Tomorrow, we planned to visit the Amber Fort which was a major tourist attraction.