A family tour to Rajasthan: Jaipur
Jaipur, the pink city of India, is the best place to visit first when you are heading for your Rajasthan trip. There are a lot of reasons for this but the most important one is: This city has a blending of India and Rajasthan in its essence. It is nearer to Delhi so it has a cosmopolitan spirit. One or two days stay at Jaipur will introduce you to the nature of Rajasthan. Bikaner is more Rajasthani in its flavour. Many people start their journey from Bikaner. The difference is like learning to swim in a swimming pool holding the handle and jumping in a river for the first time to learn swimming. However, the choice is yours as in this case you are not going to be drowned in any way. But we could not go for this kind of adventure as we had a group of mixed ages.
You will feel excited on your way to the city from the airport as on this way many buildings (colleges, Universities etc.) have fort like designs, the curved design on the guard walls. Even the number of small and nameless forts are not less. But this portion of the city is not pink. The older Jaipur i,e the centre of the city is painted in pink.
We choose a boutique hotel Chitra Katha ( speaking through picture) and it is really well decorated with beautiful pictures. It is a small but cosy nest.
There is a small fort behind this hotel and it attracted me much for its ghostly smile.
We started our Jaipur City tour from Jantar Mantar. A guide is a must if you want to understand the appeal of Rajasthan. As we were 10 in number, we booked a Tempo Traveller and the company provided us with a guide for the whole day tour. Otherwise, a guide is available at the cost of Rs.500/-.
The King of Jaipur, the second Jai Singh built five Jantar Mantar (Astronomical Observatory) from 1724 to 1735 A.D.in Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Banaras. We marched into the biggest of them on a fine December Morning with our guide.
Here they have total 19 astronomical instruments. The guide will explain very diligently the application of most of them. If you have always respected Maths as a subject and tried to keep safe distance ever, don’t worry even then you are going to enjoy this observatory very much. This place will raise awe to the older schools. They neither had satellites nor developed technologies still they invented ways for perfect calculation. You will feel interested as some of the calculations you yourself can do there.
Jai Prakash Yantra helps to measure altitudes, azimuths, hour angles and declinations. There are other instruments like Brihat Samrat Yantra, Digamsha Yantra etc and the biggest Sun Dial of the world.
After “much ado about” “ measure to measure”, you can sit near the Rashi Yantra for a little rest. You may catch the sight of a dancing Damsel Crane here. Take out your camera slowly, no need to hurry for it will surely entertain you with various poses with leisure.
Jaipur City Palace
City Palace is a combination of red and pink sandstone, it a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and Indian Architecture. Bengali Architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya was one of the main architects whom Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II appointed to build the city and the palaces.
Two palaces are attractive: Mubarak Mahal and Chandra Mahal. Our guide first took us to Mubarak Mahal and introduced t as the Textile Palace. Expensive royal garments, dresses, embroidered Kashmiri pashmina shawls etc. are exhibited here. And there is the royal dress of Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I! It can be a source of instigation to avoid a slimming diet chart. He was 3.9 feet wide and weighed 250 kg. Our guide added with awe and pride, “ Inka ek shaw aath bibiya tha.”( He had 108 queens).
There is Armoury Mahal, a museum for royal weapons. The remarkable thing to see is two enormous silver urns kept in Diwan-i-aam. They each weighed 340 kg and can contain 4000-litre water. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II took the Ganga river water for drinking purposes in these two urns when he went to England for Edward VII’s coronation. He was a staunch Hindu and believed that English water was not safe for his religious faith. It reminded me of Jim Corbett’s My India. There he described how valuable the Ganga river water was to the Hindu maharajas. It was one of the important goods of transport on the Mokama Ghat.
Most part of Chandra Mahal is reserved as a residence of the royal family. Here the entrance fee is Rs.2000/- per person. Visitors can have lunch in a cafeteria here.
If you are a tourist with the Maharaja Express or Palace on Wheels, here a grand royal reception is waiting for you with decorated camels, horses along with local musicians and the most eye-catching kachchi ghodi dance.
Every bit of it will make you feel royal, even if you are an observer of this treat. Don’t miss the chance to know the royal you.
Among other exhibits, there is Baggi Khana ( museum of cars), Govindji Temple etc.
We took our lunch at a Rajasthani restaurant. Our driver Durgaji suggested that place. Durgaji is an amazing driver, wonderful guide and friendly pal. However, we tasted Rajasthani thali, though it was pure veg, it was very tasty with lots of delicious dishes.
Shilpagram: Your guide will take you to this shopping complex with utmost enthusiasm. There are many private shopping complexes in this name. Different garments, Bandhni Sarees, upholstery, bed sheet, bed cover, decorative items are available here. You will find Rajasthani Rezai/Rajai here ( cost Rs.1000- Rs.15000). You can see the process of vegetable painting here.
Jaigarh Fort: As the day was coming to its end and we had two choices to choose- Jaigarh Fort and Amber Fort. I was very passionate about visiting the Amber Fort on the elephant but came to know that it is available until 12 noon. So I choose to go to the Jaigarh Fort and my choices have always made me proud. It was no exception this time also.
It is on one of the peaks of the Aravalli’s. The road to the fort, keeping the Jal Mahal on the right, is beautiful with valleys and greeneries. A tempo traveller can go easily to the top, get down, collect the ticket and enter the fort, simple.
Jaivana Cannon is one of the biggest cannons on the wheels. It was fired once only as a test-fire. It has a range of 35 feet. The fireballs weighed 100kg. It is said that the gunners and soldiers became deaf after the test-fire due to the shocking sound. Later a pond was dug behind the fort so that the gunners and soldiers can save themselves from the aftershock.
We all were surprised with the present residents of this cannon– a pigeon couple; What a living Irony. Peace residing safely and confidently within the killing machine !!
Our guide said us something very story-like about this fort: during the emergency period (1975-1977) kilogrammes of gold ornaments were collected from the underground water tank in this fort.
The sunset at this fort will make you nostalgic; in fancy, you can imagine that Maharaja has just left the fort and is heading towards the Jal Mahal with his men. History becomes alive as the setting sun covers the fort with a golden aura.
This was our first-day experience in Rajasthan, at Jaipur City.
Bapuji Bazar is a good place for buying souvenirs but you should know the art of bargain and this is an instinct, can’t be taught.