Travel diaries – The pink city

The Pink City of the country is the hub of bandhani, leather jootis and Royal mahals. My last visit to this place was when I was five and after obsessing about the majestic mahals and laal maas, I finally went back for a taste of royalty.

First Stop – Rawat Mishthan Bhandaar , Opposite Polovictory Cinema, Station Road, Sindhi Camp, Jaipur

As soon as we landed and checked into the hotel, we headed straight to Rawat mishthan bhandaar to gobble on some crispy pyaaz ki kachauris.

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The spicy, yummy, aloo pyaaz ki kachauri – a must have when in Jaipur. The second type of kachauri that they offer is mawa ki kauchauri which is filled with dry fruits and all the good things which is called ‘mawa’ in Hindi and comes with a sweet syrup. They also offer special airport packaging for both.

Flavoured milk being thickened and served malai maarke.

Flavoured milk being thickened and served malai maarke.

Stop 2 – City Palace, Jalebi Chowk, Tripolia Bazaar, Jaipur

Built in the 18th century, the City Palace Jaipur owes much of its design to a long running Rajput palace tradition but it reaches beyond these antecedents to realise elements of the theoretical paradigm that were not always so successfully achieved. The indigenous conception of a palace involves a sequence of enclosures of increasing impenetrability from public outer sphere to inner apartments of the king and queens. The enclosures are visualized as concentric zones and each is marked by its own boundary wall.

Pretty foliage patterns painted on the City Palace Doors

The sprawling complex, with its gorgeous buildings and marvelous collection of art and artifacts is without parallel in Rajasthan. A major part of the ‘City Palace’ now consists of the ‘Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum’. It is also the residence of the Jaipur Royal Family.

Read more about the City Palace – http://msmsmuseum.com/

Stop 3 – Jantar Mantar

Between 1727 and 1734 Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur constructed five astronomical observatories in west central India. The observatories, or “Jantar Mantars” as they are commonly known, incorporate multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. These structures with their striking combinations of geometric forms at large scale, have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians world wide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public.

Read more – http://www.jantarmantar.org/

Exotic birds at Jantar Mantar

Found this beauty lurking and posing at Jantar Mantar.

Stop 4 – Hawa Mahal

The renowned ‘Palace Of The Winds’, or Hawa Mahal, is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Jaipur city. Located in the heart of Jaipur, this beautiful five-storey palace was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who belonged to Kachhwaha Rajput dynasty. The main architect of this palace built of red and pink sandstone, is Lal Chand Ustad and the palace is 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.

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Hawa Mahal

View from Hawa Mahal

Stop 5 – Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani is set up just a little outside of Jaipur and is a beautiful city of its own accord. Now converted to a Five Star Resort, Chokhi Dhani is huge and breath taking. As the sun goes down, the whole place lights up with traditional lanterns, the feet tapping music starts and the traditional dance performers charm you with their art. You can indulge in Camel back and Elephant back rides, visit the museum, go boating, try your hand at pottery, shop from the tiny Haat or visit the beautiful recreations of the Royal Rajasthan history.

http://www.chokhidhani.com/

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Chokhi Dhani offers a traditional sit down Rajasthani meal served with utmost love and warmth. In a plate made of dried leaves, called Pattal, the way they used to dine in the olden times, an assortment of dishes are served with as many refills as you like.

Choki Dhani

Garlic, potatoes and onions tossed and fried – yummy pakoras.

Chokhi Dhani

Makke ki roti-sarson ka saag, gatte ke sabzi, kadhi, aloo-pyaaz ki sabzi, daal baati churma, sweet mint chutney, garlic chutney, salad and butter.

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Churma with sugar and ghee.

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DAY 2

Breakfast at Country Inn, Jaipur with an excellent spread.

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Breakfast bacon, crispy cauliflower, steamed grilled fish, cold cuts, sausages, seasoned potatoes and a slice of fresh bread.

Stop 1 – Amber Fort

The Amber Fort was built by ‘Raja Shri Maan Singh JI Saheb’ in 16th century. Man Singh, one of the first war chiefs or the trusted general of the Emperor Akbar. Akbar included him among the ‘Navaratnas’, or the 9 (nava) gems (ratna) of the royal court. Man Singh began the construction of a fortress-palace of white and red sandstone in 1592. He was the Kacchwaha (Rajput) of King of Amber, a state later known as Jaipur. Nearby he ordered to set a small temple devoted to ‘Sheela Mata’, his patron goddess.

Diwan-e-Aam or the ‘Hall of Public Audience’ is a beautiful hall stands on two rows of ornamented pillars and opens on three sides. It is said that king used to listen about needs and complaints of General public. ‘Diwan e-Khaas’ or the ‘Hall of Private Audience’ has delicate mosaic work in glass. In this hall, king used to meet special guests from other states, ministers, and his friends.

Sukh Niwaas, which is opposite to ‘Diwaan-e-Khaas’ having doors made of sandal wood and ivory. There is a channel running through the hall, which carried cool water that worked as an air cooler, with the aid of breeze. In this artistic hall cool climate was artificially created. It is said that the kings used to spend time in this Sukh Niwaas with their queens and sometimes with their mistresses that is why it is known as the residence of pleasure or pleasurable residence in English.

The Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) is the most famous and beautiful part of Amber Fort. You must remember the song of the famous bollywood Classic Film ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ i.e. “pyaar kiya toh darna kya”, yes, it was shot in Sheesh Mahal. That song filmed beautifully but the all credit goes to the beauty of Sheesh mahal. The Walls and ceiling of this hall is carved with beautiful paintings and flowers and that too made with pure glass. The reason behind why this hall was made by glass because in ancient days the queen was not allowed to sleep in open air but she loved to see the stars shining. So the king ordered his architects to make something which could solve the purpose. The most stunning thing about this hall is that if someone burns two candles, then the reflection converts that small light into thousand of stars.

Read more about Amber Fort – http://www.amberfort.org/amber-fort/things-to-view-in-amber-fort

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Kesar Bagh

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There is a restaurant located inside Amber Fort called 1135 AD – it is said to be one of the most Romantic places for a meal when in town.

Find the restaurant – https://www.zomato.com/jaipur/1135-ad-amer

Stop 2 – Jal Mahal

Many mysteries continue to surround the pleasure palace of Jal Mahal. It is known to be about 300 years old, but its precise date of construction remains undiscovered. Eminent historians Vibhuti Sachdev and Giles Tillotson write in Building Jaipur: The making of an Indian City, ‘Though sometimes dated as late as 1775, it is likely that this was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh II, around 1734.’ . But little else is known about this palace with no chambers ─ just a pavilion with a terrace garden, built in the Rajasthani tradition of ‘island resorts’ or ‘water palaces’ where royal families would seek their ‘pleasure’.

Read more – http://www.jaltarang.in/jal_mahal.html

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Stop 3 – Handi, Maya Mansion, Opposite GPO, MI Road, Jaipur

The place is done beautifully, mud art on the walls with small mirrors, bamboo stick lined roof and very traditional, kuccha house style interiors. The exquisite stained glass lamps are breathtaking. Teak tables and cane like chairs add to the simplicity of the rural decor. The light plastic crockery is a little disappointing though.

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We quickly ordered a portion of the Jaisalmeri laal maas and bajre ki roti and roomali roti in the bread basket. Followed by steamed rice to combat the mounting spices of the laal maas.

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Laal Maas – The mutton dish was much much spicier than I had imagined it to be. Cooked with whole red chilles and garlic, the mutton curry was smoking and trés fiery. The mutton was very tender and the combination of bajra roti was delectable though the high spice levels made smoke shoot from my ears.

Stop 4 – Albert Hall Museum

When the foundation stone of Albert Hall was laid during the visit of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward to Jaipur in 1876, it had yet to be determined what use it would be put to. There were some suggestions about cultural or educational use or as a town hall. However in 1880 Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II approved a suggestion by Dr. Thomas Holbein Hendley, Resident Surgeon (whose interests extended beyond his medical responsibilities) to open a museum of Industrial Arts to display products of local craftsmen. A small museum was created in 1881 in temporary accommodation and proved most popular. Additionally, Hendley in 1883 mounted a Jaipur Exhibition at Naya Mahal (old Vidhan Sabha). The purpose of these exercises was to acquaint local craftsmen with the best examples of art work and handicrafts of India to inspire them to improve their skills, thereby protecting and preserving traditional art and reviving skills, while providing greater employment for artisans. It was also the intention that the display would help to educate youth in a wide variety of fields, entertain and inform the people of Jaipur.

Read more – http://alberthalljaipur.gov.in/

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DAY 3

Again a delectable breakfast at Country Inn.

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Sauteed vegetables, sausages, bacon, crispy baby corn, grilled chicken. YUMM.

Last Stop – Birla Mandir

The Birla Temple, originally known as Lakshmi Narayan Temple, and is situated below the Moti Dungri Fort in Jaipur. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, this temple is a proud architectural landmark of Jaipur. Built in pure white marble, the Birla Temple is unlike the traditional ancient Hindu temples, and is built with a modern approach. Inside this magnificent shrine, beautifully sculpted idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, as well as other Hindu Gods and Goddesses, can be seen. Delicate carvings of Hindu symbols, and ancient quotes from the Geeta and the Upanishads ornament the walls of this fascinating temple. One can also recognize the mythological events engraved on the walls. Apart from the religious idols, pictures and figures of several religious saints, philosophers and historical achievers, like Socrates, Buddha, Zarathustra and Confucius, are also included in the temple. A work of art, this temple truly represents architectural beauty, in a modern form.

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Jaipur is a beautiful place and if you are in mood for some shopping, do hit the Jauhri Bazaar, we however weren’t, so slept in at the Hotel for a while before checking out.

Must Dos – Gorge on Laal Maas, Visit Amer Fort and Chokhi Dhani. WOW.