Jaipur City - A land of Maharajas 🛕🏰🕍
Updated: Mar 8
Rajasthan - the state is famous for Rajputs, Maharana Pratap & huge luxurious Palaces. I always longed for a trip to Rajasthan to see the Royal Palaces & the Cities.
Rajasthan is geographically divided into two parts - Mewar and Marwar. An impromptu plan to Mewar Region was finalized & we decided to cover two important cities of Mewar (which is the eastern part of Rajasthan) i.e. Jaipur and Udaipur / Kumbhalgarh. To our luck we found bookings in Club Mahindra Resorts in Jaipur as well as Kumbhalgarh.
Soon, we boarded a flight to Jaipur. Our stay in Jaipur was for 3 nights and 4 days. We reached Jaipur around afternoon, leaving the remainder of the day to relax in the resort. The Club Mahindra resort in Jaipur is surprisingly situated within the city limits but the resort is peaceful and has all other required facilities promised by Club Mahindra.
Chokhi Dhani :
Chokhi Dhani is famous for authentic Rajasthani cuisine & we took this opportunity to visit Chokhi Dhani in Jaipur on the day of our arrival. Chokhi Dhani is about 45 min drive from Club Mahindra Resort in Jaipur. We reached Chokhi Dhani at around 8 p.m. The exterior look of the restaurant was that of an entrance to a typical Rajasthani village. The lightings and diyas at reception gave the traditional haveli look interior. The restaurant perfectly captured the vibrant nature of Rajasthan.
This restaurant covers a huge area and has numerous shops selling Rajasthani handicrafts, Rajasthani paintings, Bani Thani Art, Wall Decorations, etc. The artisans performed Rajasthani folk music and dances which rejuvenated the evening. There were also a few vendors selling chat eatables, hot milk, chhach, etc. There were traditional blacksmiths and potters showcasing their skills.
The restaurant owners have also created life size models of houses and the traditional getup of people from different states of Bharat. This restaurant is open only after sunset which enables people to enjoy it to the fullest.
Chokhi Dhani has 3 types of thalis - Authentic Rajasthani Thali (old traditional sitting in open air), Royal Thali (in A/C room with table and chair) and Rajasthani dinner at Resort (a buffet style dining with continental dishes).
When in Rome do as the Romans, taking clue from this phrase, we naturally opted for authentic Rajasthani thali (old traditional sitting in open air). Authentic Rajasthani thali costs Rs. 900/- for adults and Rs. 600/- for children. The Thali has various dishes like Dal Baati Churma, Gatta Curry, Kadhi, Green vegetable, Aloo Pyaj or Dum Aloo, Assorted Breads with unlimited supply of fresh butter, Jeera Rice, Bajre ka Khichda, Sweets, Chhach, Rabdi or Jal Jeera, Kulfi and an extensive spread of accomplishments.
The waiters in their traditional costumes and headgears were friendly and always insisted for an extra serving. This is called the 'manuhar' (a delicate request to eat till your heart’s desire). One has to be careful not to give in to the waiters request or else you can end up overeating or wasting the food.
The combination of Dal Bati Churma, Vegetables & Bajra Rotla with unlimited Ghee was awesome and heart filling. The Khichdi and kadhi is another combination which one cannot miss. And to end with Rabadi, Kulfi are some desserts which leave a sweet taste in your mouth for the night.
We returned to the hotel and made reservations for the next day sightseeing around Jaipur. Day 2 :
Our itinerary for Day 2 was to visit important places in and around Jaipur.
Jaipur gets its name from its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II. Jaipur was built by Raja Jai Singh II in 1700. Jaipur is surrounded by city walls and several defensive forts. Jaipur thus holds the honour of being the first planned city of India. The city turned pink under the reign of Maharaja Savai Ram Singh. The city was painted pink in order to welcome queen Victoria's husband prince Albert in the year 1876. Prior to Jaipur, Amber / Amer Fort was the capital of Maharajas of Jaipur. Presently, Jaipur is the biggest city of Rajasthan and also is the Capital of the state.
From our hotel we departed towards Amer fort which was the first place on our radar. On the way we stopped by at Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 by Maharaja Pratap Singh. Hawa mahal was used as a summer retreat for the Maharaja and his family. It also served as a place where the ladies of the royal household could observe everyday life without being seen. This 5 storey structure is a typical Rajasthani architecture and the exterior has about 953 small windows (jharokhas) which serve as an air conditioner. The hawa mahal is built from pink sandstone and is presently Jaipur's iconic landmark. The tourists can view this structure from outside across the road. One may also choose to climb the Hawa Mahal for the wonderful view of Jaipur.
As we intended to visit Amer fort, we took pictures of Hawa Mahal from outside and proceeded further.
Amber or Amer Fort :
Amer fort is at a distance of 11 km from Jaipur. Presently a world heritage site, it was a bastion of Kachwahas Rajput of Amer. The palace in Amer fort is a mixture of Rajasthani and Muslim style of architecture.
As we entered the Amer fort through Suraj Pole (Sun gate), we saw a huge open area which is called as a Jaleb chowk. This is the main courtyard where the armies use to display their skills to Kings and their Courtiers. As we were taking pictures of the Jaleb Chowk and Diwan - E - Aam section we suddenly saw an entry of 2-3 elephants with the tourists through the main gate of the fort. We then realise that this is the royal way of reaching the fort by booking an elephant ride (charges for elephant ride is Rs. 1200/- for 2 people) and we soon realized that the height of the Entrances can accommodate Elephants with the people sitting on them.
The fort has various sections including Kings and queens quarters, garden, temples, etc. However, the main attraction is the Sheesh Mahal. The Entry to Sheesh Mahal is forbidden for tourists & one can capture the pictures from outside of Sheesh Mahal.
The palace structure on the Amer fort is built with pale yellow, pink sandstone and white marble. The combination of different stones add to the beauty of the fort. From the palace windows we saw the Maota lake which was the main source of water for the fort. We also saw the Jaigarh fort from the palace section.
On the exit route there are a couple of shops displaying and selling souvenirs and Rajasthani handicrafts. Also some artists, musicians display their skills in Rajasthani folk songs.
Tips: There is a light and sound show arranged in the evening which gives information about Amer fort and the history of Jaipur.
Tickets and Cost :
The Entry Fee to Amer Fort is Rs. 250/- for foreigners and Rs. 50/- for Indians during the day. The Entry tickets for Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar observatory, Albert Hall Museum, Sisodia Rani garden, Isarlat and Vidyadhar garden costs Rs. 150 for Indians and Rs. 500 for foreigners. These tickets are valid for two days.
Admission to Amber Fort at night costs Rs. 200 for foreigners and Rs. 100 for Indians. Discounts on ticket prices are available for students, and children under the age of seven are free.
After a 2-3 hours round sightseeing around Amer fort, we were hungry and proceeded back to Jaipur city for lunch. We had lunch near the Jal Mahal area.
Jal Mahal :
The Jal Mahal means a water palace. It was built by Maharaja Madhosingh I. The Palace stands in the center of Man Sagar lake. The Palace appears to have only one floor. But in reality it has 4 floors which are submerged in water. Presently, Palace is not open to the public. But it is one of the most photograph spot in Jaipur after Hawa Mahal.
City Palace :
Jaipur being the city of palaces, our driver cum guide took us to the city palace which was located in the Jaipur city. This palace complex was conceived by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It is a mixture of Muslim and Rajput style. The City Palace complex includes Mubarak Mahal (palace of reception) which now houses the museum and displays the vast unique collection of Royal costumes, sarees, shawls and other dresses. The City Palace also has Maharani's Palace and which presently displays well preserved Rajputs weaponry and beautiful paintings.
A part of the city palace is still the home to the royal family and is not open to the public. The city palace has some exquisite décor and some of the doors are highly decorated. Just besides the city palace is the Jantar Mantar.
The Entry Fee to City Palace is Rs. 300/- for foreigners and Rs. 75/- for Indians during the day.
Jantar Mantar :
Jantar Mantar, the oldest astronomical observatory. It has the world's largest stone sundial. Presently it is no longer a working science center but it is maintained as monument and education activity sessions. There are guided tours and music and light shows are organised here. It is also a world heritage site by UNESCO.
The Entry Fee to Jantar Mantar is Rs. 200/- for foreigners and Rs. 50/- for Indians DAY 3 :
The itinerary for the day included 2 more fortresses, Birla temple, Albert hall museum and shopping. First we visited Nahargarh. All the forts in Jaipur are easily accessible by road and Nahargarh and Jaigarh are no different.
Nahargarh Fort :
Nahargarh means 'Abode of tigers'. It was constructed in 1734 by Raja Jaisingh. The fort has 12 matching palaces of Queens and the head of which is the suite for the King. They all are connected by corridors and decorated with murals. We climbed to the terraces of these palaces for some photographs of Jaipur city and around.
The fort also overlooks Man Sagar lake and Jal Mahal. Nahargarh also boasts of a stepped well or boudi. We were told by our guide that the movie Rang de Basanti was shot at this boudi. From Nahargarh we moved to the next citadel Jaigarh Fort.
Jaigarh Fort :
Jaigarh fort is located around 15 kms from Jaipur and built by Savai Jai Singh II. This fort was used as the army camp of the Jaipur royals.
The Jaigarh fort also houses the world's biggest cannon on wheels - Jaivana Cannon. The Jaivana cannon is however unused in war. We were informed by the guide that the cannon was only fired once with a charge of 100 kgs gunpowder and when fired covered a distance of 35 kms. The barrel is 20.19 feet in length and weighs 50 tons. The person who ignited the cannon died on the spot because of the terrifying sound of the cannon.
The Jaigarh fort overlooks the Amer fort and Maota lake near Amer fort. The fort was mainly constructed to protect the capital Amer fort. Jaigarh fort can be approached from Amer fort over a short climb along the steep hill track. A museum is located inside the Jaigarh fort near Awami gate. A museum displays armory of the Jaipur kings, photographs, stamps and many other artifacts.
The fortifications of all the forts in Jaipur are intact and well preserved. This is because the rulers of Jaipur had friendly relations with Mughals. After visiting Jaigarh we came to Jaipur city and had lunch and moved towards Birla Temple. Birla Temple / Laxmi Narayan Temple :
The Laxmi Narayan Temple / Birla Temple as it is popularly known as is located at the base of Moti Dongary. The temple is built entirely of white marble and dominates the skyline of south Jaipur. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. The temple is famous for the display of exquisite carvings and sculptures. A temple looks spectacular at night when it is lit up. After visiting this beautiful temple we moved towards Albert Hall Museum. Albert Hall Museum :
The building gets its name from the Victoria and Albert museum in London. The Museum is at the center of Ram Niwas Garden. The Museum displays a wide range of metal objects, wood crafts, carpets, stone and metal sculptures, arms and weapons, natural stones and ivory goods. This four storey structure has beautiful exteriors and is built using styles from Indo - Saracenic architecture. This museum closes by 5 p.m. After spending 1 ½ hours in this museum we moved for shopping in the main market area which is around 10 minutes’ walk from Albert Hall Museum.
First and foremost in the shopping is the Sweets and namkeen. Rajasthan is famous for its sweets. We visited the famous Laxmi Mishthanna Bhandar which is situated in the main market of Jaipur for the local sweets like Ghevar, Balushahi, etc. Jaipur is also famous for quilts, carpets and dress materials. A visit to a leather shop near Jal Mahal area for Camel leather goods, Shoes, Chappals and mojaris is a must. The first part of our tour of Mewar was completed with Jaipur city and in the second part we were to Visit Kumbhalgarh and Udaipur.
- Mohini Nabar