Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Jaipur : A trip to the pink city

Finally, I could find time to complete my Jaipur travellogue. In fact I had travelled to a place called Uran, near Mumbai since then. Anyway, here is Jaipur for you!

Jaipur is a 5 hour drive (including 30 min breaks and 30 min waiting time at the toll gates) from Delhi along the NH-8. The drive is pleasant as the road is very good and one can easily drive at 100+. My odometer clocked 266 km from my residence. It probably is the easiest destination from Delhi.

Jaipur is called the Pink City. But it appeared more red than pink to me. All buildings and walls inside the walled city is painted in red, though it was pink the first time. Scarcity of pink over the years have seen fresh coats of red rather than pink, thus turning the pink city into a red city.


Most hotels are around the Central Bus Stand. If you are a budget traveler, then you need to reach this landmark for hotel. So we reached that spot asking for direction. There we found the useful agents. Tell them your rates and they will take you to such hotels. We told our budget as 400 and so we found reasonable accommodation in Hotel Konark @Rs.350/-. The hotel had its own parking. It also had deluxe rooms @800/-. In any case, you can expect to find good double room accommodation around here @400-500/-.

We reached Jaipur at around 2 pm. It was good that we had reached early. Normal hotel checkout time is 12 pm. So we could find accommodation comfortably. By evening almost all hotels were full. In such a scenario you will have to shell out a lot of money. Thus it is always better to arrive after noon than evening.


Too much of the same things is really boring for sightseeing. Arounsd Nainital, you got see so many lakes (or Tals) that after visitng 2 you do not fel like seeing the 3rd. Jaipur has a similar problem. This is a City with many forts and palaces. But most of them are private properties belonging to the descendants of royal families. These properties being a source of income for them, all of them attract a hefty entry fee, e.g., entry for City Palace is Rs.35/- per head. The only thing worth seeing inside is the museum. This is utterly ridiculous. Even the Jantar Mantar attracts Rs.10/- entry fee. Unlike in Delhi, the Jantar Mantar here is a private property. If you are carrying a camera you will rue it. Everywhere they will charge Rs.50/- for still camera and Rs.150/- for video camera. Even after paying that you will find that most places inside has a ‘Photography Not Allowed Here’ sign. I feel like pulling my hair and scream. Govt. should intervene and stop such nonsense. This is blatant looting of tourists. And the states calls itself a tourist state!

We had only destination planned – Chokhi Dhani Village. It is a 5 star resort with an ambience of traditional Rajasthani village to give you a flavour of rural Rajasthan. Ram Ram Cha! This is the only place in Jaipur where one can see Rajasthani tradition. The village opens for public at 6:15 pm in the evening till11 pm. It is almost 21 km from the centre of the city and is located on the Tonk Road. On arriving there, it appeared that entire Jaipur was heading there. There was long queue at the gate. It was because of the excess tourist of the extended weekend. Entry fee is Rs.250/- for adult and Rs.125/- for child (3 to 9 years). This includes diner charges.

The village is very nicely maintained. Overall it offers good fun with rides on camel, elephants, bullock carts, etc., services of palmist, local magician show, puppet show, etc. One can easily spend hours in the village. Unfortunately for us, the crowd that evening was more than what it should. End the evening with a traditional Rajasthani dinner, cooked in front of you by villager. No 5 star chefs, they were real villagers, even the artistes in the village were real villagers.

Parking was free. No camera charges. But the village is very lowly lit to give an ambience of real village. So unless you have a good camera, you will be disappointed to see the flash lit photos. They will be nowhere near what you saw with your eyes. If you have time, then this is worth visiting.

To avoid the traffic chaos of the Pink City, we had decided to hire cabs. Normal charges are Rs.500/- for Indica and Rs.1400/- for Qualis. However this does not include charges for trip to Jaigarh and Nahargarh. That is Rs.200/- extra. One can opt to travel by auto-rickshaw. They charges Rs.300/-.

The sightseeing started with Birla Temple. Nothing special. However, the Moti Dungri Fort overlooking this area looked great from distance. It is the private residence of Maharani Gayatri Devi and so is out of bound for tourist.

Then we were taken to Albert Hall Museum. 95% of its exhibits are old paintings. Only item that got my attention is a mummy. It was another disappointment. Next stop was the City Palace complex. The textile and armory museum are worth seeing. The weapons collection is really impressible.

Jantar Mantar was just next to it. Entry is Rs.10/ - and camera is Rs.20/-. One can not do anything here without a guide. It is the original sun dial, built earlier than the Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Good one. Worth seeing.

After lunch in a nearby restaurant, we were taken to RTDC Emporium. The drivers will tell you that this is the cheapest shop in Jaipur. But the truth is that there are several such shops on the entire road. The driver will take to you to the place from where he gets commission. The RTDC shop is a govt. one. But I found that things are not cheap. The whole place appears hell bent on cheating tourist.

Out of the shop, we were taken to Amer Fort. En route we saw the Jal Mahal. But the water in the lake had dried up and so the Jal Mahal was standing in a dried pond. The vehicle stopped at the parking at the base of the Amer fort. The driver wanted to dissuade us saying there is nothing worth seeing. He obviously wanted to get freed early. One can opt to walk up from here or take a jeep. We decided to walk and it was not tiring. The slope of the stairs are nice. One shells out 20 bucks to enter the fort and another 50 for camera. Inside the fort is good. It has a Sheesh Mahal, having several mirrors on the walls. Most places are out of bound for tourist. But still it is worth seeing. Amer fort is located on the old Delhi-Jaipur road. This road is very narrow without any devider. We took the bypass while traveling in and out of Jaipur. One can enjoy elephant ride on this fort which is available only in the morning half.

Then we set off for Jaigarh Fort nearby, but further up the hill. One can take their vehicle inside the fort by paying probably 50 bucks. By taking the vehicle inside one is just making the royal descendents rich. It is certainly avoidable. One can easily walk and enjoy the monuments. This fort house the Jaiban, which is the largest cannon on wheel in Asia (may be in the world as well). It is massive cannon. Walk along the sidewalks of the fort and enjoy the view. We avoided the palace and arms museum, as we did not expect any surprise. It is all the same in every fort or palace. In fact, there is nothing other than the cannon here. You can avoid it.

The last stop was Nahargarh Fort. This fort is under ASI. And so the rates are minimal. One gets a magnificent view of the Jaipur city from the top of the fort. This is worth visiting. I understood that the Naharagarh Fort Palace may get converted into a luxury hotel.

I started very early for some shots of the Hawa Mahal. We took a ricksaw paying 15 rupees from the hotel and was there around 8 am. There was not much traffic or people around there at that time. This allowed me to shoot freely. We went inside the monument as well. Entry is cheap (Rs.5/-) as it is under ASI. Though there is nothing great inside, one should see it from inside. Because you do not go to the Hawa Mahal often. For many it is the only time they go to Jaipur. On the way we got to see the Iswar Laat, which is the tallest monument in the pink city complex.

Well that ended the sightseeing part. One needs at least a day and half to cover Jaipur completely.

Ideal Itinerary for Sightseeing:

Starts early with Nahargarh Fort, then go the Amer Fort. Avoid the Jaigarh Fort. It will be noon by the time you finish the forts. Have lunch and head for the Gaitor and places around the Birla Temple. It will give you a view of new Jaipur city. Do not go to the zoo or the Albert museum. End the day at City Palace and Jantar Mantar. The Hawa Mahal and the Ishwar Laat is very closeby which can also be covered if time permits. In the evening go to the Choki Dhaani.

Fuel expenses:

Petrol is costlier in Jaipur. It is Rs.49/- per liter as against Rs.45/- in Delhi. So get your tank filled before you leave Delhi. My Wagon R consumed about 34 litres of petrol over 577 km of driving.


Once you leave the highway and enter the city, there is an AC restaurant. It looks ordinary from outside. Inside is no better either. But the rates are 5 star category. Chiken dishes 300, Dal fry 125, Naan 40!!! I forgot the name of the restaurant. The menu gave us a shock. Being the first eatery in the city, most people from Delhi stop there. But many have to come out after seeing the menu. Avoid this restaurant. Your hotel will give you food at much reasonable rate.

Around the Hawa Mahal monument, many people will give you free advice telling that shops around Hawa Mahal are for Foreign Tourists and so are costly. One should go to the newly opened Maharani Emporium market. We did go there and found it no different from other such shops around. It appeared that these free advisors are agents of the shops. There are so many such shops in Jaipur. The autowallah / taxiwallah / ricksawwallahs gets paid for bringing tourists there.

The bottom line is that Jaipur is an ordinary place. You can avoid travelling to it.


Culture Shiok! said...

Nice pictures. Is Jaipur that ordinary?

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