I told a Rajasthani friend that I would be travelling to Rajasthan for a span of ten days in January. And when my train was about to leave for the trip, I got a text message from him: “Padharo Mhare Des. You are going to love it.” At first, I thought he was simply using the catchphrase from the amazing, awe-inspiring song as a mark of expressing pride. I was right and wrong at the same time. Rajasthani people have a keen sense of pride, a justified entitlement too, for the entire state is simply GRAND. I don’t have enough adjectives. Their doors? Princely. Hotels? Lordly. Small scale industries on the roadsides? Lofty. And padharo mhare des is not just a catchphrase, it’s the attitude of every home-grown in Rajasthan. He was right. I LOVED IT. So here’s how we spent nine blissful days in Rajasthan.
Now, Jaipur is the capital city of the state. And I think this city is a beautiful blend of the state’s ancient culture and the advantages of a new age town. The story goes that Maharaja Ram Singh got the entire city painted pink because it was a symbol of hospitality (which as I told you, comes naturally to these natives) when Prince of Wales had decided to tour the nation. One does not see a lot of pink in the city now owing to all the contemporaneous transformation it went through later. Another thing I noticed about the part of the city I stepped into initially is that it’s full of spas. Just an observation, but yeah! This town is also one corner of the famous golden triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur). And the pink that does color the city makes this place a striking manifestation.
After checking into our hotel (The Byke Grassfield Resort, Jaipur), freshening up and having lunch (we were ravenous), our bus left for the Lakshmi Narayan Temple aka Birla Mandir at the foot of Moti- Dongar- a hill the shape of a pearl drop. This very modern temple; pristine and white (it is constructed wholly of marble) was built by the Indian industrialists, the Birlas. It covers a number of themes of Indian mythology. What I loved about its architecture is the fact that the temple has three domes, each representing the three predominant religions in India, which I think is symbolic to the secularism the nation proudly claims post independence.
Our next stop was Kanchan Kesari Village resort: a small recreational point that tries to encapsulate the entire state in it. There were puppet shows, magic shows, and traditional music performed by local artists. We had dinner there and it was an authentic treat to the taste-buds. They have really catchy names for their food items like baja (the bajre ki roti), malmali (butter), fadfada (roasted papads) and the servers refilled the plate before it was half empty. They were extremely gracious and they made the experience all the more pleasant. The food was teeming with all kinds of vegetables, curries, the traditional Indian rotis and of course, what Indian meal goes completed without a bowl of rice? We ended the night with music and dance because what group of college going kids on a trip doesn’t? In conclusion, Kanchan Kesari was just the congenial yet sufficiently ethnic experience we needed after a lot of travelling the night before.
After a peaceful sleep on our first night in Jaipur (we slept after 2a.m. because every game of UNO was supposed to be our last one, but okay!), we woke and after breakfast, went to the Jaipur City Palace: the beginning of the surprising grandeur and majesty that kept coming our way every single of the following days. We visited Jaipur City Palace first, followed by Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Amber Fort (pronounced as Amer fort).
Now the architecture of Jaipur City Palace is a beautiful combination of Mughal and Hindu styles. The palace still houses the last of the royal family. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur, is accredited for undertaking the building of this place.
Hawa Mahal or the “Palace of Winds” was surprisingly created on orders of King Sawai Pratap Singh for the mere purpose of recreation for him and his family. The five storied building, built on Pink Sandstone, is styled to resemble the crown of Lord Krishna. It was also created so that the women of the kingdom could watch the surroundings without being seen themselves.
Jantar Mantar stands true to its name. I found it to be an extremely confusing place. It was designed by Sawai Jai Singh II, after whom the entire city was named. The place is known to house fourteen geometric devices, designed to observe planetary orbits around the sun.
Also, the streets of Jaipur are full of puppet sellers. And a special mention to a huge papad kind of crisps they sell with masala on the roads. It tastes fantastic and is super cheap. The street food stalls outside Hawa Mahal also deserve a shout out. There’s a small, nameless chat wallah right outside the spot and he makes the best samosa chat, aloo chat and gol gappe ever!
We ended the day by visiting Amber Palace and what an end it was too! I cannot remember the where the fort began and I don’t remember where it ends. Literally. It sprawls and sprawls across the hill ranges it was built upon and in the middle, is the majestic Palace and its lake. The climb up to the palace from the foot of the hills “looks” pretty easy. But mind you, it isn’t. You have to hire jeeps in order to get up there. Even the last 5 minute walk to the palace will give you the idea of just how gruesome following the idea of walking up to this place could’ve been. The splendid interior of this palace is impossible to predict by the craggy exterior, hence it came as a shock. The walls are built up of all kinds of precious materials (predominantly gold) and the courtyard gardens are beautifully kept.
The place also has a number of street shops you could buy pretty souvenirs from quite inexpensively. Don’t forget to walk around the tiny village settled at the bottom of this spot. There’s a beautiful temple as well as a number of shops that sell all kinds of tasty Sev; and some picturesque houses. Also, don’t forget to order a Rajasthani Thali (The dal-baati from this lunch-plate is particularly amazing).
And that folks, is pretty much it about Jaipur. I shall be posting posts for three more cities very soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to stay tuned! All the uploaded pictures were clicked from Sony Xperia XZ and Siddhant Yadgire’s Sony Alpha 58. He’s a dear friend and an amazing photographer and artist. Check him out on instagram here
Love and light,