After a good night’s rest, my husband and I woke up early the next day and decided to explore the area around the hotel, while the girls slept in their room.
Across the Hotel Trident is the Lake Palace. Two floors of the palace are underwater and one, above. All we had to do to catch this view was to cross the road to the sidewalk on the other side. The sun had not risen and the wind was cold. A few street hawkers were already there setting up their ware for sale. Two of them had a fire going to keep them warm and to bake dough used as food for birds and ducks in the lake. People in Rajasthan believe in feeding birds – so much so that there are people who make a living out of making bird feed- which is essentially dough rolled out, broken into small bits and baked. These bits are then placed on a paper plate and sold. I’m not sure about the price. We never asked for the price- we just handed a Rs 10 or Rs 20 note to the hawker who handed us a plate of bird feed. I noticed a number of local folk stopping by to buy a plate of feed for the birds and moving on their day to day jobs after feeding the birds.
As the sun slowly rose behind the mountains, we decided to try out the snacks being offered by the street hawkers. I risked having star fruit from a hawker (I did it knowing the hotel was close by and I could run if my tummy felt weird. Fortunately, it didn’t). He cut the fruit and gave it to us on a paper plate, drizzled with salt and chilli powder. My husband bought a plate of chana jor garam (a snack made of roasted and spiced chickpea). The hawker put it into a paper cone with chopped tomatoes and onions and handed it over to my husband.
By the time we returned to the hotel, the girls were up. After a shower, we headed for breakfast which was served in a hall overlooking the pool. Due to covid guidelines, food from the buffet was served to the guests by the hotel staff which was good as there was no opportunity for guests to breathe into the food. Also, it ensured no waste as hotel staff served small quantities and you had to go back if you wanted more. However, because of this, I do not have pictures of the amazing spread.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t head out in the morning as planned, because my daughter had to make an urgent submission (the deadline was 1 p.m.) to school. Despite the delay, however, thanks to the strategic positioning of the hotel to the important landmarks, we were able to visit two forts in the afternoon and then head to the market for shopping.
After the sumptuous breakfast, we decided we need not waste time on lunch. So, instead, we headed out directly to the forts. Since the weather was pleasant, it allowed us to stroll around the forts for as long as we pleased, which I believe is not the case if one visits during the summer.
The distance to Nahrangarh fort from the hotel was barely twenty minutes. The fort stands on the edge of the Aravalli hills which you can see in the picture of the lake above. It was built by Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh in 1734, and the walls extend across the hills all the way to Jaigarh fort. It was meant as a fortification against attack from other Rajput kings and Mughal rulers. Fortunately, Nahrangarh Fort, however, never had to experience an attack.
It is interesting to know that ‘Sawai’ was not the King’s name but a title given to him by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Impressed by the young king’s wit at the age of eleven, Aurangzeb gave him the title of ‘Sawai’ which literally means 1 1/4 i.e. he was one and a quarter more than an average man in worth. The future kings of Rajasthan then carried on the title.
The fort was extended in 1868 by Sawai Ram Singh to create a retreat for himself and his nine queens. While each of the queens had their own suite, the rooms were linked by corridors.
At the base of the fort is a tank used for rainwater harvesting.
The fresco paintings on the walls have stood the test of time. However, in areas where they are showing signs of damage, the government is making an effort of fixing it. There are artisans who specialize in this kind of art and have been recruited from the villages by the government. The work, however, had to be stalled because of the pandemic. Art and color is something you notice all over Jaipur. It’s on the walls of palaces, hotels, shops and streets. It’s impossible not to notice it.
Outside the fort, there were hawkers selling ‘Maggie’ noodles, tea, cutlets, starfruit, guavas and papad. Again, Rajasthan is the only place I’ve seen papad’s (crisp wafers) being sold as a snack.
We were supposed to visit the Amber fort after Neharngarh but the driver told us that the fort closes by 5.00 p.m. and we could choose between Jaigarh and Amber. We chose the former since it was already 3.00 p.m. and from my reading, I knew that Amber fort required time. I’ll be covering it on Day 3 of this series of posts.
The road leading to Jaigarh Fort from Neharngarh fort is an uphill road that is scenic – not for the greenery but because it is dotted with peacocks, peahens and buffaloes. One wonders how such bright, beautiful birds live in such a dry habitat.
There wasn’t much to see at Jaigarh fort except that it did provide a view of the city from the top, was mainly used by the military to keep a watch over the city, and has the world’s largest cannon on wheels.
The drive from Jaigarh took us past our hotel and took half an hour. On the way, we notice that stalls had come up since the time we left on the sidewalk across the hotel. There were camels providing camel rides and local folk selling pots, shawls, knitted sweaters and hawkers selling snacks. We hoped to visit it once we were back.
As we had not had lunch that day and it was already 4.30 p.m. we decided to have snacks at LBB, a very famous snack joint in Jaipur, and opted for an early dinner rather than have a late lunch. People in Rajasthan love deep-fried savouries like kachoris and samosas and they have it from streetside hawkers. We didn’t risk having it though it did look delicious and smelled really good.
LBB had tables for people to stand at and eat, and was crowded despite Covid. Most people though were there for takeaways. If you ever visit Jaipur, I highly recommend LBB for sweets and savouries. We had Dahi puri, chilli pakoras, samosa and juicy Bengali sweets. The Rajasthani sweets looked rich in ghee (clarified butter)- a little too much even for a sweet lover like me.
Below is a video I took on our way to the restaurant from the car. It provides a close-up of the marketplace. The video I had attached yesterday was a view of the market from the cycle rickshaw we were in.
After satisfying our cravings with zero guilt, we walked up to Hawa Mahal to see if it was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. Sadly, the inside was nothing compared to the outer facade.
Hawa Mahal, built of red and pink sandstones, literally translates to Palace of Winds, a name probably given because of the 953 windows it had allowing it to be cool at all times and allowing the royal women a view of the outside world.
We spent the rest of the evening shopping in the market and returned to the hotel by cycle rickshaw with bags of embroidered shoes and mirrored skirts for the girls, block painted palazzos and tie and dye shawls that Rajasthan is famous for. If there were no baggage restrictions on the flight back home, we may have shopped more. It is a shopping haven for traditional stuff and will not pinch your purse. So, if you like all that you see in Bollywood movies- you know those beautiful lehengas the heroines are flaunting and you want to pick it up then Jaipur is the place. You’ll be spoilt for choice. I believe there are places in Mumbai too that have that kind of stuff but the markets which sell this kind of stuff in Mumbai are crowded and the ones in the mall are super expensive.
The city has eight gates that allow entry into it and historically, the gates closed at a particular time. Now, the gates are only a structure to remind one of the past.
Here’s a video of the market by night with the driver telling us about the history of the market.
We had dinner before returning at Kebabs and Curries again because we were too exhausted to try anything new and we had a full itinerary on the next day.
To check out day 1, click Travel : Rajasthan Diaries Day 1
To check out day 3, don’t forget to follow the blog. Day 3 proved to be the best of Jaipur and I’m not just saying it so you come back, but because it was.
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