Life is as beautiful as you treat it to be and the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. True to the saying, every time things become monotonous we pack our bags and head out to live some more and expand the treasure (of memories). Desk job and city madness takes its toll more quickly than you can imagine or realize. The same hustle, crazy race to step over, accumulating but no time to enjoy.
It was time to fill the life with some colors and what could be better than THE PINK CITY – JAIPUR. An amalgamation of royal and the traditional, old and the new, simple and the intricate, facts and the legends, you’ll find it all here. The city has a rich and interesting history along with humble and classical identity.
Religious devotion is displayed on my part in this aspect contrary to the wife. It’s etched in the subconscious and any deviation has zero tolerance 😛 , although I want to travel plan free someday. A customized travel checklist is what I rely upon for this part of a trip. The credit for arranging and organizing almost everything goes to the wife with my supervision (of course) 😛 . Bags were packed, the car locked and loaded and it was time to hit the road.
THE HOLY HOUR
For me a road trip consists of different elements and phases. One of them being the early hour or the holy hour. Experiencing the receding dark night and being kissed by the first light is an experience beyond words. Cruising along the highway, a rush of fresh air on the face, lost in your thoughts oblivious to the music playing in the background.
PADHARO MHARE DES (Welcome To Our Land)
The drive was enjoyable barring a few rough stretches and one or two bottlenecks due to construction activities. We reached the guest house and were warmly received by the caretakers. A hot inviting spread of paranthas (bread) and chai (tea) was all that was required to refuel ourselves and to compliment it we did take a power nap.
Travelling to me is all about being free to explore, experience and connect to the history of a place for the past always has an unparalleled significance to it. To begin with it was decided to explore the much talked about Sundial park (Jantar Mantar) of Jaipur which is a collection of 19 astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734. Every instrument has a replica right next to it which served as the testing instrument and for calibration before the final one was prepared. The park served as the single point of contact for astronomical as well as weather predictions across all seasons.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is in the vicinity of many other architectural beauties and important heritage sites but since we had already covered them in the past trip (in 2015), it was decided to spend more time exploring the sun dials.
A guided tour is a must at places of historical importance and I would urge everyone to shed all inhibitions about spending money over it for two basic and simple reasons,
- There is no fun exploring structures and getting pictures clicked unless you know the story associated with every nook and corner.
- The Guides work hard to keep the legends and legacy alive by sharing information and stories of the past.
P.S. : Be wary of the touts though and always hire a Govt approved and appointed guide which can be verified by the Identity Cards being issued to them.
Our next stop was The Albert Hall Museum which is also the oldest and State Museum of Rajasthan. This museum is a fine amalgamation of Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was opened to public in 1887 and since then has been the cradle of art for Jaipur.
It boasts of a collection of artifacts ranging from paintings, jewelry, carpets, ivory, stone, crystals to weapons both ancient and modern.
A walk through the corridors of this museum is a unique experience for it takes you from era to era leaving you spellbound.
Forts and palaces have always fascinated me. Be it the mysteries, controversies, war tales or the grandeur, every step is a journey and every wall contains a whisper. Nahargarh Fort is one such fortification meaning “Abode of Tigers” used as a place of retreat as well as a defensive ring for the city.
Very few are aware that the fort was originally named Sudarshangarh. It primarily consists of suites of the queens of Jaipur and a dedicated suite for the king. This palace and its surrounding step well have been featured in many prominent Bollywood movies too.
A walk around the fort takes you through the memory lane and every stone and flora speaks in silence of the royal beginnings and the preceding changes.
When in Jaipur, leave the car or whatever mode of travel you prefer. It’s time to get down to the basics. Streets are where the real gig happens. Roam and explore the real spirit of Jaipur. Food, art and craft, clothes, tradition, conversations, it’s all there and crave your attention.
Not deviating from the thumb rule, a lot of significant time was spent exploring the streets and corners of the old city. Wife shopped to her heart’s content and picked up some gifts for near and dear ones too.
Be it the laal maas, dal batti churma, pyaaz kachori or for that matter any culinary assortment, Jaipur never disappoints. Chowki Dhani on Tonk road can serve as the one stop place for all experiences authentic to this city if time is a constraint for you (I preferred roaming the streets this time hence skipped Chowki Dhani).
THE WELL OF STEPS
Chand Baori (step well) is one the largest and conveniently hidden step wells in the villages of Abhaneri almost 100 km away from Jaipur. My wife carries a separate bucket list (much more exclusive than mine) and this destination happened to be at the top of the list so there was no doubt about being there and treating ourselves to the visual delight.
The well has 3.500 symmetrical narrow steps going down and converging towards the bottom. A sequence in the movie “The Dark Night Returns” has been inspired by this structure and a replicated set was constructed for the same at Cardington, UK. Main objectives of building the Baori was to harvest rain water, Rajasthan being an arid region, add to the visual beauty of the surrounding desert land and serve as an amphitheater or platform for recreational activities within the community.
Being the hardest part one should not spend too much time discussing it 😛 . Every time a trip is concluding the heart is full of mixed emotions. Sad to be leaving, happy to be heading back where we belong, mesmerized by the memories collected and curious about the upcoming quests. Life is a circle and indeed it should be kept mobile. Till a new map is laid and a new route is charted keep the spirits high and cherish these memories 😀 .
Note : I would love to hear suggestions and feed backs from my lovely readers regarding any aspect you disliked or something you want me to elaborate or include in these travelogues. Also please suggest if future travel blogs need to be broken down into parts for preserving interest and ease of reading. Feel free to ask for details regarding itinerary, places to visit apart from the ones mentioned, food outlets and other planning details not mentioned in this blog.