Three days in Jaipur

Jaipur

Our seven and final destination on our Funky India itinerary was the beautiful city of Jaipur, the capital and largest city of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.  It is best known as the Pink City with its unique coloured buildings in the heart of town.  It is also considered one of the best planed cities in the country, with its wide 34 meters roads, precisely divided sectors and networks of gridded streets.  For Indian’s standards, it is a relatively new city, founded in 1727 by the Maharaja of Amber as the capital of the royalty.  Today, with its population of about 5 millions, the city has become a major tourist destination as well as an important economic centre.  We had the chance to spent the last three days of our Funky India journey exploring some of the best sights this remarkable city has to offer including the Albert Hall Central Museum, the Hawa Mahal, the Jantar Mantar, the Gaitor, Jal Mahal, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Rambagh Palace and the City Palace.


Topics

  1. Jaipur day 1: arrival, Chitra Katha hotel
  2. Jaipur day 2: Albert Hall Central Museum, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal
  3. Jaipur day 3: City Palace, Gaitor, Nahargarh Fort, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Jal Mahal (Water Palace)
  4. About Chitra Katha hotel in Jaipur

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Jaipur day 1

we were just wishing for a good night  sleep

We arrived to Jaipur late at night on the express train from Agra.  It was cold and relatively few people at the station.  We were tired from the whole day sightseeing and we were just wishing for a good night sleep.  The first rickshaws drivers we asked didn’t know where our Hotel was located.  Fortunately the next young driver with its flamboyant white jacket knew precisely where the Chitra Katha Hotel was situated, so we jumped into his vehicle, along his English speaking friend.   The driver’s name was Shakir and he seemed like a very friendly and honest guy.  We had a nice chat along the way and convinced by the price we decided to try him out for a couple of hours of sightseeing the following day.  Compared to Agra and Delhi, the first impression we had from Jaipur was one of a clean and well organised city.

When we arrived to destination, we were surprised by the exterior of the Chitra Katha Hotel, as well as the calm of the street with its large individual houses.  The manager was there to greet us and after checking in, he showed us our room, which ended up more than we expected in terms of size, amenities and style.  Before getting to bed, we spent some time staring at the quiet street and thinking all about the wonders of the Pink City.

Jaipur day 2

As we had a late night the day before, we had a very lazy morning, with a long delicious breakfast, some catch up readings about the sights of Jaipur, and taking the pulse of the area from our balcony.  Around two, as planned, Shakir arrived to pick us up and moment later we were on our way, direction the heart of the Pink City. 

Albert Hall

Our first stop was the breathtaking Albert Hall Central Museum located in the heart of the city’s large green space next to the Zoo.  At the ticket office we opted for the multi sights ticket which for 300INR give access to five of Jaipur key sights including Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and the famous Amber Fort.  We were very impressed by the museum with its various sections displaying Indian, Chinese, Christians and even Ancient Egyptian artifacts and reflecting India’s importance in History.  We also stayed some time upfront, admiring the museum lovely exterior,  set in a remarkable building with plenty of birds covering its entrance.

We left the Albert Hall to move towards the walls of the Pink City, entering by the main Gate.  With its government regulated unique colours, it is truly a city within a city.  At the end of the road, we turn left and entered another gate where are enclosed the key sights of the City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal.

Jantar Mantar

We first visited Jantar Mantar, a huge once of its kind bright yellow observatory famous for its various structures including the huge triangle visible from numerous points of the city.  The complex was built by the Maharaja Jai Singh during the first part of the 18th century and is today part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  It has a variety of geometric devices including ones to track stars in their orbits, measure time or even predict eclipses.

Hawa Mahal

Our third and last sight of the day was the Hawa Mahal best known as the Palace of breeze located nearby.  This fabulous multi storey complex is famous for its exterior, built in red sandstone at the end of the 18th century by the Maharaja Sawai Singh, as well as for its breathtaking views of the city.  It was constructed with the intention to give royal ladies the freedom of observing daily street life without being seen.

By sunset we were back at the hotel and had a lovely dinner on the rooftop terrace enjoying the special veggie chef thali.  Very happy about Shakir driving we decided to go on a full day tour of the city with him the following day.

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Jaipur day 3

On our last day in Jaipur we woke up earlier than the day before, had a nice breakfast and before we knew it our Rickshaw driver was here.  It wasn’t Shakir but Babu, his friend, who seemed like a very nice chap.  He had a classier vehicle, with red heart shaped designs.  We quickly discussed the itinerary and hit the road.

City Palace

We were back within the Pink City, with our first destination the famous City Palace, a large palace complex taking up a good portion of the central part of Jaipur.  It comprises of a variety of buildings, gardens and courtyards in a mix of Mughal and traditional Rajput style.  It is home to the present Maharajah of Jaipur, within the Chandra Mahal.  It is also where the textile museum is located within the Mubarak Mahal, as well as other private and public halls such as the Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas, home to two of the world’s largest silver vessels.

Gaitore

Leaving the City Palace and the Pink City we headed north, first stopping at the Gaitore strategically located at the foothills of the Nahargarh Fort.  As my partner decided to make herself a little gift, she went to have a henna (the Indian temporary tattoo) on her lower leg, I decided to climb the very steep hill to the Hindu temple.  The climb was well worth it however with spectacular views of the surrounding from the top.  Indeed, on the northern side was the walls of the fort and the Man Sagar lake, on the eastern and southern end was the city and finally on the western side lied the Nahargarh Fort, the smallest of the three forts within the Jaipur area, once home to the King Sawai Jai Singh II.

We climbed down to the foothill and entered the Gaitore, the famous cremation site for the Jaipur royal rulers.  The landmark is also known for its colonies of monkeys, with both the macaques and the larger grey langurs species with their long tails sharing the territory.

Amber Fort

Our second stop was the Amber Fort, perhaps the most breathtaking historical sight of Jaipur, located some 11 km north of the city.  It is a massive pastel yellow coloured fort and palace complex built in the 17th century.  One of the key attractions within the fort is the Sheesh Mahal with its numerous tiles on the walls and ceiling. 

We then had a nice walk to the Jaigarh Fort, which offers the most spectacular views of all the three forts surrounding Jaipur.  It is famous for being home to the world’s largest cannon with a reach of over 35 km according to legend.  On the way back to the Fort,  it is worth stopping for a while, to contemplate the numerous monkeys who like to sits among the historic remains and enjoy the sun. 

Jal Mahal Water Palace

Our last sight of the day was the unique Jal Mahal, best known as the Water Palace, grandiosely sitting at the heart of the Maan-sarovar lake and conveniently located on the way to the Amber Fort.  It is a remarkable piece of Rajput style architecture, enlarged and renovated by the Maharaja Jai Singh II of Amber in the 18th century

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About Chitra Katha hotel in Jaipur

The Chitra Katha is one of the best value for money hotel in Jaipur. It is centrally located only a short ride from the central Railway station.  We were pleasantly surprised by the friendly and home like atmosphere of this peaceful hotel.  Indeed the staff was one of the most professional and effective we saw on our Funky India trip.  We got offered a beautiful street facing room, well decorated with North Indian motif and wooden furniture, a huge bed, large windows, an LCD television and a balcony to relax in the evening.  The Chitra Katha also offers spectacular views from its rooftop terrace/restaurant over a charming old fort and the city of Jaipur.  The food was surprisingly good and we would recommend the puri for breakfast and the special chef thali for dinner.  It was a brilliant experience and peaceful stay and we would definitely recommend this hotel while visiting Jaipur.

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