Travel : Rajasthan Diaries Day 1

Travel : Rajasthan Diaries Day 1

It’s a month since we visited Rajasthan, and I figured if I didn’t write this post now, I’d never get to writing it. Ever since 2022 began, procrastination seems to be draping me like a comfortable shrug. And this is me shaking it off.

We had been meaning to take our girls to Rajasthan since 2018 when we moved to India, but one thing and another we had not been able to go there. In retrospect, I think, ‘Thank God, we did not go earlier.’ There couldn’t have been a better time than now to go to the place. Why?

a) Because, after three years in the country, the girls were in a better position to appreciate the vibrant culture of Rajasthan than they would have been before.

b) Because this will be the year ( fingers crossed), that both my girls will be leaving for Uni; so it is our last holiday together before they fly away from the nest.

c) Because my husband and I had been to Rajasthan twenty-one years ago; before the kids came along. The timing now is perfect- before we begin the second chapter of our lives.

I could list ten more reasons to tell you why we decided on Rajasthan– the desert state on the west of India. Other than the fact that they only needed the vaccine certificate on entry and an RTPCR test showing negative if the person has not been vaccinated, which was the case for my younger one. Still, the most important reason is that Rajasthan is where nature and man have come together to create a vibrant landscape, different from any other in India. It still holds an old-world charm that you don’t find in any other city. I’ll tell you a secret- when a foreigner (who has never been to India) is in love with the idea of India, he or she is thinking of Rajasthan – bright colours, moustached, turbaned men, women in colourful saris or long, mirrored skirts, palaces, forts, folk art and royalty.

Now for the trip.

16.12.21 The journey to Jaipur

5.00 a.m.The airport’s crowded with morning travellers in track pants and flip-flops, the shiny kinds. Everyone who can afford it – old and young, fat and thin- it’s the new fad.

6.30 a.m. The flight is wheeling on the tarmac, ready for takeoff. The lights are switched off. Most people are sleeping, including my girls and hubby, who is on the other side of the aisle because it’s a three-seater aircraft. It’s dark outside. The sun hasn’t risen yet. The journey by flight to Jaipur is 1 hour 20 mins from Mumbai. That’s all it is- a short duration flight, and yet it’s taken us 3 and a half years to take this journey. Thankfully, it’s happening finally.

6.45 a.m. The sky on our side of the flight is a pale blue. On the other side, I see streaks of brilliant orange and blue. My husband’s head asleep, and I wish he would wake up and take a picture. As luck would have it, he wakes up not because of telepathy but because the air hostess tells him that they will be serving sandwiches. I try to make eye contact with him before he dozes off again and motion him to take a picture of the sky. He does.

7.35 a.m. We’re flying over an island of clouds. There are mountains and seas of soft, fluffy white peaks. I nudge my daughter who’s on the window seat to take a click.

7.55 a.m the flight lands. We are in Rajasthan!

8.45 We are out of the small, ordinary-looking airport- the only point of interest was the Christmas tree and the Santa with a ‘welcome’ signboard. I take a quick click and we head out of the airport. A cold breeze nips us as we step out and sends an involuntary shiver down my spine. Fortunately, we have our sweaters in our backpacks. It’s 14 degrees centigrade.

8.55 An old, white Innova arrives to take us to our hotel. The ride is comfortable despite the car being rickety because the roads are wide and pot-hole free. Rajasthan receives very little rain- which could be the reason for the roads being in a better state than the roads in Mumbai. Yet, on either side of the road, there are manicured hedges and trees. However, the leaves are yellow-green, a poor comparison to the luxurious green of Mumbai. There’s not much traffic on the road- most of it is two-wheelers ridden by men and women covered in sweaters, shawls, monkey caps, and helmets. Even the pillion rider wears a helmet, unlike the other cities we’ve visited. The driver asks my husband to put on the seatbelt. Those few seconds are enough to indicate that people here follow rules. The car zooms past a woman in a red sari sweeping the streets. Her sari covers her head and half of her face and it’s not because it’s cold- it’s customary for women to cover their heads and faces here and is still followed by those still shackled by tradition. We pass by gipsy-children playing on the roadside while their parents sit on the pavement selling flowers, balloons and earthen pots. After thirty minutes, we reach our hotel- The Trident.

The hotel is made of desert brown sandstone with domes that overlook the Mansagar Lake and the Jal Mahal ( the Lake palace), which has two floors underwater and one floor above water. From the hotel, one can see the Aravalli mountain range in the background. The Trident is a good place to stay because it is conveniently located to the tourist attractions – Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Bapu Bazaar, Jauhari Bazaar and many others. If we had not gone to Chowki Dhani on day 3, which is at the other end of the city, I would have thought the whole of Jaipur was a city stuck in the past. This side of the city takes you back to a bygone era with elephants, camels and royalty. Staying in the newer parts of the city would require one to travel two hours one way to get to the old part of the city because of the traffic.

The view from the hotel lobby where we clicked loads of pictures until we were allotted rooms (we don’t believe in wasting time :))

Since the rooms were to be allotted to us only by the afternoon, we requested the hotel to allow us to take breakfast until the rooms were ready. The hotel staff was kind enough to agree and soon after breakfast which was a delicious spread of continental and Indian food, we were allotted one of the two rooms we had booked allowing us to freshen up after our journey before we explored the city.

Our first stop was the City Palace, built around 1727 when the royal family moved from Amber to Jaipur and made it the capital. The royal family has let out a portion of the palace for public viewing and resides in the other portion.

One of the three entrances to the City Palace. The walls are decorated with frescoes that have stood the test of time.

The entry ticket to the palace grounds is minimal and is worth every penny. The entrance opens to a courtyard with an open assembly hall in the centre made of the same red terracotta stone that the entire old city is built from and from which the city got its name ‘Pink city.

The ceiling of the hall where the King held an audience with its white painting of flowers and crystal chandeliers is grand in every way. Two silver urns used to carry 4000 litres of water from the river Ganges by the King when he travelled to England in 1902 for King Edward VII’s coronation is kept for display. The urn was made by smelting 14000 silver coins.

From the courtyard, there is a gate that leads one to yet another courtyard which has 4 doors leading up to Chandra Mahal or Palace. Each smaller gate or door represents a season and is dedicated to a specific deity – for example, the ornately carved Peacock gate represents the monsoon season in India

The next place of the visit from the City Palace was the Jantar Mantar which is a five-minute walk away. Walking in Jaipur is delightful because the roads are clean and there’s a lot that you can see only when you walk. So, walk as much as you can if you want to explore the city.

Jantar Mantar is basically a collection of 19 astronomical instruments used to observe the astronomical positions with the naked eye. It was built in 1734 and is a Unesco Heritage Site. For those who understand how it works, it must be amazing. We were impressed by the fact that it has the biggest sundial in the world and we got to see it but as we did not understand the intricacies of how it works, we took a few pictures and left.

We asked our driver to drop us off at Bapu Bazaar for lunch which was a ten-minute ride away and where the very famous Hawa Mahal is. Bapu Bazaar is a bustling marketplace with shops running along the length of the street selling everything from skirts, tops, saris, shawls, bangles, embroidered shoes (mojris) to bedsheets, quilts and snacks. As much as you like shopping, If you’re like me, the sheer variety and options available can drive you nuts. The bazaar is great to shop in if you not only love shopping but are ready to move in and out of shops and bargain until you get the best price. As you walk into the building housing the stores (each store has a number), sellers will call out to you to visit their store. It can get very noisy and can be a bit too much if you’re not used to crowded markets.

The size of the stores is uniform. The name is written neatly in white on the top, in Hindi.

As pictures of the bazaar will not do the trick of giving you the feel of being there, here’s a video that I took from the cycle rickshaw we went in, and you’ll know what I mean by a ‘bustling marketplace’.

We had lunch at shop number 22- a restaurant called ‘Kebabs and Curries‘ on one of the lanes turning away from the marketplace. We liked the food so much that we went back the next day. Not only was it safe to eat and hygienic, but it was also delicious too. We had roasted honey potatoes, chicken kebabs, lamb chops, rotis and chicken gravy the first day. I have just one picture taken at the restaurant of the honey potatoes, but I can tell you it’s cosy and prettily done up.

After lunch, since the hotel was barely twenty minutes away, we went back to rest our tired feet before the evening- remember we had started our day at 4.00 a.m.!

The second half of the day we visited the Albert Hall Museum which is the oldest museum in the State and serves as the state museum.

The museum at sunset

We did not click any pictures inside the museum because it had what all museums have- coins, pottery, art and artefact.

We ended our first day at Jaipur with a visit to Bapu Bazaar again to see Hawa Mahal as we were told it’s beautiful at night when the lights go on. It proved to be true. At night, the palace stands out against the night sky – each room lit up makes it look like a honeycomb. During the daytime, I felt it looked like a cardboard cutout. I had felt that the first time I’d seen it two decades ago, as well. I hadn’t seen the inside of Hawa Mahal then. However, this time we went back the next morning to check what the inside of the palace looked like.

You can see the stores on either side of the Hawa Mahal.

This picture is from a cafe across the Hawa Mahal. The sole purpose people visit the cafe is to take a good picture of the Hawa Mahal alone or of themself with it in the backdrop.

There is a building exactly opposite the Hawa Mahal which houses a cafe on the rooftop. A narrow winding staircase leads up to the cafe. The temperature was around 10 degrees at night. If you notice I can barely keep my eyes open because of the cold wind. The cafe is not a place you can sit back and relax. They have a few chairs and a lot of people waiting to take pictures. So, you need to order, take your photograph and leave. When we were there, there were around two newly married couples getting their photo shoot done. That’s how busy it is. In fact, that was one thing we noticed in Jaipur- a lot of couples do their photoshoot at touristy sites. It’s something I have not seen in other parts of India. Here, there are no photographers standing around offering to take your photograph. The only ones available are those who come pre-booked.

I hope you enjoyed travelling through Jaipur on our first day there. If you did, don’t forget to stay with me for day 2.


Smitha All Rights Reserved.

37 responses to “Travel : Rajasthan Diaries Day 1”

  1. Big smile on my face when I saw the title of your post in my feed. I love your travel posts! The architecture in jaipur is exquisite, thanks for sharing the photos.

    • Hi Jo 🙂 I hope you’re doing well. I had been thinking about you but was down with a bad bout of flu and so had not been anywhere near the computer. Back to it now. I’m so glad to hear from you and know that this post made you smile. Big hug to you!

  2. Oooo, magnificent!! What a palace and what a place! Thank you for the video too, I will look at driving in Rome in a better light now. 😀

    But tell me please: where did the magnificent doorways go? 😉 I had your post open from immediately after you posted it but only had a look at it now. After I reloaded the page since the video wouldn’t play, the doors were goon! Can it be that you are saving them for today Thursday Doors post? 😉 Please say yesss!!

    • Lol…Yes!!! I kept them for this Thursday and a few Thursdays after. In fact, my girls kept clicking pictures of royal doors too and they said, ‘Its for your Thursday Doors and for Manja.”
      I’m so glad you enjoyed a tour of Jaipur. I will upload some more videos of the forts and palaces. They’re truly out of the world and just walking down those corridors makes you feel like royalty. I will try and share the next post next week.
      And enjoy your drive in Rome…now you know what driving here is like. Haha

  3. Hi Smitha, this is a fantastic post and I really enjoyed visiting Rajasthan through your eyes. The video was nice but next time you could pan a little slower so that we can savour it. I look forward to part II.

    • Hi Robbie. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post. Your comment makes me want to share everything I saw in Rajasthan. I’ll slow down the speed of the video – I think there’s an option that allows it. Your comment makes me want to punch my keyboard. I needed that🧡.

  4. Thank you for sharing your impressions of Rajasthan Smitha. The detail makes me feel as though I was there. It looks like there are lots of beautiful sights to see too.

    • Thank you Andrea for reading. I’m so happy to know that you could experience Rajasthan through the post. The place is so different from the rest of India and steeped in royalty- it’s like going into the past.

  5. I followed our generous friend, Manja, here today. It’s a country I doubt very much that I will ever visit but it’s full of fascination and beauty as seen through your eyes. Thank you for sharing your trip.

    • Thank you so much for visiting and sharing how you feel about the post. Manja, is super generous. I’m truly glad to know you enjoyed seeing Rajasthan through my eyes. Do check out the subsequent posts too, to feel like you’ve been there. Have a wonderful day!

  6. Came here via the link on Manja’s page and thoroughly enjoyed the memories you brought back of my own visit to Rajasthan and to Jaipur. Your writing style really makes me feel I am coming along with you 🙂

    • Thank you for visiting. It’s very kind of Manja to link my travelogue. Your comment made me smile. It’s especially wonderful knowing that you’ve been to Rajasthan and the post brought back memories. Thank you so much for sharing it! 🙂

  7. You’ve such a wonderful flow with your writing, as if I am touring with you throughout your trip. The way you open the post was perfect, a summary of my mood in January “procrastination seems to be draping me like a comfortable shrug.” 🙂 I am looking forward to heading back to Asia when it becomes easier to do so, and you make me want to visit India again. Beautiful post!

    • Thank you so much, Dalo for your appreciation of the post. Coming from someone with your expertise on travelogues, it means a lot. I’m so glad my post makes you want to visit India again- I’m certain India will not let you down 🙂
      I checked out your blog and was floored seeing the photographs. It makes one feel they’re there- you capture the moment perfectly.
      Your comment makes writing the post worthwhile. Thank you!

  8. Palaces in Rajasthan are a common sight. Most of these belong to the Rajputs who occupied many states of Rajasthan until 1947. They were the royal families and their palaces and legacies are strewn throughout the now united state of Rajasthan. Today most of these palaces have been converted to heritage hotels in Rajasthan. The grandiose buildings reflect the sumptuous life of the Rajas. As tourists keep on coming across one palace after another they realize that the state is rightfully called the land of the Rajas.

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