Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vandy travels to Jaipur

With just a weekend to spare before my Mom's trip back to Chennai, we decided to head out of Gurgaon for a short trip. Jaipur was the most logical choice, being just 4 hours away from Gurgaon.

We boarded a crappy bus run by one of the many private bus companies in Gurgaon at IFCO Chowk. The seats were dirty and the bus was in a rickety condition. A truly miserable ride compounded by the cold winds that blew through the cracks in the bus. The people at the bus stand advised us to book the VOLVO buses for future trips. Lesson #1 learnt.

Finally, when we landed in Jaipur and reached our B&BJaipur Friendly Villa,we heaved a sigh of relief. We took advantage of the cosy room,and rested for a few hours.  Shveta, our host at the JaipurFriendly Villa, told us that several of Jaipur’s tourist attractions are located in the old city, reachable either by walk or by cycle rickshaw.  So after a yummy breakfast, we headed out to the City Palace in the old city by auto-rickshaw. We just wanted to do a relaxed tour, so we decided to skip the tourist bus or hiring an auto-rickshaw/cab for the day.

Bird's eye view of City Palace
Intricate marble exteriors of City Palace

The City Palace has splendid architecture and visual appeal. I found out a curious fact about one of the rulers of the Rajput dynasty. He had a patron who took  his widowed mother and him  in after they got thrown out by his uncle. Based on the advice of a poet, he killed his patron and seized his land. And he had the poet executed afterwards. Apparently he disapproved of the advice, even though he followed it out of his own greed. The Jaipur royal family mourns this day every year to this day, by wearing black. An amusing example of royal hypocrisy if you ask me!
Hawa Mahal
Strategically placed windows to spy upon the world and not be spied upon!

The Hawa Mahal, closely located from the City Palace was built for the women of the royal household. It has several tiny windows, which provide a view of the outside world, without revealing the women to the commoners.

Jantar Mantar, a World Heritage monument is  an interesting scientific monument that provides the date and time based on the sun and moon’s position. Also closely located to City Palace, it might be a worthwhile bet to rent one of the English audio guides available here to understand the intricacies.It's also possible that it might be  an interesting experience to hire a local guide,and watch him spin a new story each time about the instruments there :p

After visiting two palaces, we developed 'palace allergy' and wanted to see a fort. A trip out of the city to visit Amber fort was probably not worth the trouble it resulted in. We managed to get pick pocketed on the way back in our bid to save money by using one of the several city coaches which ferry people between the Old City and the fort. Lesson #2 learnt. :)

We decided to recoup our losses with some hearty street shopping, by heading back to the old city. Jaipur has this in plenty in addition to being filled up with palaces and forts. You literally have vendors pulling you inside their shops along Hawa Mahal Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar and Johri bazaar. We picked up some Jaipuri puppets, kholapuri slippers and several other knick knacks along the way.

One of the best things we discovered on the way was the yummy Pewar, a cottage cheese(paneer) based sweetmeat at LMB Hotel, Johri Bazaar. LMB is apparently famous for its mithai, and especially it's Pewar.

Pewar at LMB

Vandy’s Tips
  •  Book a train from or the KSRTC Volvo buses if you're travelling to Jaipur from Delhi/Gurgaon. The buses run by the private operators’ sucks, and from the looks of it, not particularly safe either.
  • Several of Jaipur's attractions are located quite close to each other in the walled old city. A really budget option is the KSRTC bus which operates its starting point from the Railway station or KSRTC hotels. A more relaxed option would be to hire an auto-rickshaw for the day for 300-400 Rs. However, if you're fit enough to walk or use a cycle rickshaw, you could just take an auto to the city, and then walk around for the rest.The last and most expensive option of renting a cab for the day,is only for those who really don't feel they can handle the touts  or have some physical disabilities.
  • A combo ticket is available which gives you a reduced price on entry to  Hawa Mahal,Jantar Mantar and a couple of forts.I tried purchasing this ticket,but the counter guy claimed he had run out of tickets! You could try your luck though.
  • Don't miss out on the Pewar at LMB. It's truly spectacular.
  • Jaipur, like any other tourist city is prone to tourist scams and pickpockets. But hey, they'll just try to cheat you out of a few hundred bucks or try to make you buy some crappy knick knack. It's not really known for violent crime. So just chill out, and chalk it up as a not very expensive life experience :)
  • Jaipur Street shopping is fun. You will end up  being surprised by the stuff  that you can buy for 100 bucks. Just ignore the starting price the vendor quotes.
  • Read Shooting star's rajasthan guide,Lonely Planet's thorntree forum and my favorite Jaipur wikitravel. Jaipur is part of the popular touristy 'Golden Triangle',so there's no dearth of information about it.
  • Next time,I'll be making a trip to the Jal Mahal,which I glimpsed on my way to Amber fort.It looked truly lovely,and I heard that many an Indian movie song has been shot here.
P.S: I went a bit crazy with Picasa 3,so please forgive my mild  photographic offenses :)


  1. The Hawa Mahal picture looks fantastic -- love the colors. I'm always bothered when I'm cheated even if it's not a huge amount of money -- I try to be blase about it but it inevitably ruins the day for me.

    1. @Nishu: You're coupon Nishu after all.Well the thing is at such places,you would end up easily ruining your day over some small stuff.Doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful though :)

  2. Love it!! makes me want to go to Jaipur! Good work with the writing too babe!

  3. Nicely written with essential points. The way you sequenced the things with apt photos (I like the second one very much) makes it an interesting read as well. Brought back memories of my visit to Jaipur more than a decade ago in a rainy season. Yes, you should visit the Jal Mahal, its fabulous.
    However, the various monuments were in pink when I visited (thus the name pink city) and even the Hawa Mahal was in pink then.
    Vandhana, a question, why are you referring KSRTC in Rajasthan? Is it for identification purpose? ;-)