Travel Review

Notes on my Jaipur trip

We had a wonderful trip last four days, no rain and we got clear views of all places we went. As I said in the previous post we stayed in “The Trident”, Jaipur. Trident is on the highway going to Amber fort, opposite to Jal Mahal. When I booked after seeing the hotel on their website, I thought the Hotel is on the river bank (as shown in the left photo below) and it will be great.  When I actually went there I realised that the hotel is on the other side of the road, and in between there is a park. One good service in the hotel is that of “Kids Club” where you leave your kids safe and they have toys, TV, books, games and trained people to take care. My son loved the place, I wish all other vacation hotels adopt this. The view from the park to Jal Mahal is beautiful but the park maintenance and cleanliness have to be improved greatly.

Trident Hotel, Jaipur
Trident Hotel, Jaipur

Day 1: In Mumbai, we had few hours for transit from Chennai to Jaipur, I decided to go out of Airport rather than spend few hours inside. We took a taxi and went to Oberoi Mall (Dindoshi, Gen AK Vaidya Marg, Off Western Express Highway) which is probably the closest mall to Mumbai Domestic Airport. It took some 20 minutes one way, we had a good time there and had a great UP style vegetarian Thali (set lunch) at Sanskriti restaurant. We arrived in Jaipur in the late evening and after check in I went to their travel desk (which is oddly not manned by the Hotel but by Avis). When I approached the Avis representative, for planning my itinerary for sight-seeing next few days, he was only interested in selling his “Car Rental” services. He started the conversion by saying and then repeating Avis’s full-day/half-day charges, I had to raise my voice before he started to talk about the itinerary. Though he said it was not required, I insisted on having a “Guide” to accompany on both the days so that we can understand what we are seeing.

Day 2: On the second day we started around 9:30AM and went first to Amber Fort, which is nearby to the Hotel. The fort is not at a high altitude so the car journey to the top took only a few minutes. If you wish you can travel royally in an Elephant Ride to the top which costs about Rs.550 per person. Amber fort has beautiful palaces used by the kings then – a Summer palace and a Winter palace. The fort was originally built by Raja Man Singh during 967.

View of Amer (Amber) Fort
View of Amer (Amber) Fort
View of Amer (Amber) Fort
View of Amer (Amber) Fort
The mighty walls of the Amber fort
The mighty walls of the Amber fort
Inside the fort
Inside the fort
Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate
Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate
Diwan-i-Aam or the Public Audience Hall
Diwan-i-Aam or the Public Audience Hall
Garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens
Garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens
Suhag Mandir where ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through latticed windows
Suhag Mandir where ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-i-Aam through latticed windows
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid ceilings
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid ceilings
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid panels
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid panels
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid panels
Jai Mandir with glass inlaid panels
Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)
Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)
Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)
Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace)
The surrounding moat for protection of the Amer fort
The surrounding moat for protection of the Amer fort
Elephant ride by tourists to the top of the fort
Elephant ride by tourists to the top of the fort

We then went to see the Madhavendara Palace inside Nahargarh Fort, this palace was constructed during Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880). The palace has 9 compartments for king’s 9 queens – it struck me if the king married once more for 10th time, he would have had a tough time expanding the palace!. Each Queen’s compartment is self-contained with a Kitchen, Bedroom and Living area – you can see most of these rooms intact with the furnishings & fittings removed. The top of the fort has an excellent view of the entire Jaipur city. Our guide Mr.Rajiv did a great job in showing us all the places and explaining it in detail.

The gates to Nahargarh Fort
The gates to Nahargarh Fort
View of the city seen from Nahargarh Fort
View of the city seen from Nahargarh Fort
Roof terrace of Nahargarh Fort
Roof terrace of Nahargarh Fort
Madhvendra Palace in Nahargarh Fort
Madhvendra Palace in Nahargarh Fort
Queen chambers in Madhvendra Palace
Queen chambers in Madhvendra Palace
Secret corridors inside Madhvendra Palace
Secret corridors inside Madhvendra Palace
Eloquent paintings on the walls of Madhvendra Palace
Eloquent paintings on the walls of Madhvendra Palace

For lunch, we went to Pink City Restaurant which served good Thali and you can see the cooking clearly as they have an open kitchen. After lunch, we went to Jaipur Mall we saw how the hand block printing is done in textiles using natural vegetable colours. Our guide recommended us to try staying in heritage hotels like Samode Haveli in our subsequent trips to Jaipur.

Block Printing in action
Block Printing in action
Blocks that are used to print in Jaipur fabrics
Blocks that are used to print in Jaipur fabrics
Printed Hand Block Prints of Jaipur
Printed Hand Block Prints of Jaipur

In the evening: We went to the famous tourist restaurant – Chokhi Dhani which is nearly 1 Hour drive (closer to the airport) from Trident. It is a theme restaurant in a wide open space modelled like a typical village market of Rajasthan. Entry fee is Rs.300 per person which includes Dinner. They are open only from 6PM to 11PM. My son loved the rides – you have camel rides, elephant rides, horse cart rides and more. There is also model Rajasthani village houses for you to see. We stood in the dinner queue for over 30 minutes before being let in (crowded). The seating was on the ground with traditional low-height table for eating. The food was rich with lots of butter and ghee in almost all dishes- so be careful to eat limited if you wish not to gain weight. You can unlimited helpings of all the served items.

Getting to ride a camel in Chokhi Dhani
Getting to ride a camel in Chokhi Dhani
Horse Carriage in Chokhi Dhani
Horse Carriage in Chokhi Dhani
Venkatarangan in front of model village hut house
Venkatarangan in front of model village hut house
A model palace in Chokhi Dhani
A model palace in Chokhi Dhani

Day 3: Today we had another guide Mr.Vijay Singh for our city tour of Jaipur. We saw Hawa Mahal from the road, I believe there is nothing much to see nowadays inside. Hawa Mahal means “Palace of the Breeze”, was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh; it was a lace pattern screen wall built so that the women of the royal household could observe outside without being seen.

Façade of Hawa Mahal from the main road
Façade of Hawa Mahal from the main road

Then we went to Birla Mandir and had a good darshan there. The temple is also referred to as the Laxmi Narayan Temple; it was built by Birla Group in 1988 hence the name.

View of Birla Mandir, Jaipur
View of Birla Mandir, Jaipur
Entrance to Birla Mandir, Jaipur
Entrance to Birla Mandir, Jaipur
Venkatarangan in front of marble pillars of Birla Mandir, Jaipur
Venkatarangan in front of marble pillars of Birla Mandir, Jaipur

Then we went to Jantar Mantar (which is near city palace) the centuries old Sun Dials and other instruments which were way ahead of their times in their accuracy of readings. The large instruments there are believed to be used for both Astronomy and Astrology.

Jantar Mandir
Jantar Mandir
Jai Prakash Yantra measures altitudes, azimuths & hour angles
Jai Prakash Yantra measures altitudes, azimuths & hour angles
Venkatarangan in front of a sun sign pillar
Venkatarangan in front of a sun sign pillar
Vrihat Samrat Yantra (world's largest sundial, measures time in intervals of 2 seconds using shadow cast from the sunlight)
Vrihat Samrat Yantra (world’s largest sundial, measures time in intervals of 2 seconds using shadow cast from the sunlight)
Laghu Samrat Yantra (the smaller sundial at the monument)
Laghu Samrat Yantra (the smaller sundial at the monument)

Our next stop was City Palace.  We saw the 350Kgs Silver urn used by one of the earlier Kings to carry Ganges water during his visit to London. Apart from the usual items that you will see in a palace, there was a huge display of weapons in the Queen’s Area of the palace. It had a variety of daggers – one that can open up and be turned for maximum damage to the victim, one that shoots apart from the cut, 15Kg swords, metal helmet cutters and more. The kings seem to have spent a lot of money and talent, on fighting wars and building weapons.

Mubarak Mahal, meaning the 'Auspicious Palace'
Mubarak Mahal, meaning the ‘Auspicious Palace’
Elephant made out of marble in front of Diwan-E-Khas
Elephant made out of marble in front of Diwan-E-Khas
Silver Urn used by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II to carry the water of the Ganges to drink on his trip to England in 1901 (for Edward VII's coronation)
Silver Urn used by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II to carry the water of the Ganges to drink on his trip to England in 1901 (for Edward VII’s coronation)
Chandra Mahal
Chandra Mahal
Peacock Gate, Pritam Niwas Chowk
Peacock Gate, Pritam Niwas Chowk
jaipur-2008-42
Sun emblem made of rifles

We had lunch in Peacock Restaurant which had a decent food but a very ordinary service, so if you are not nearby you may want to skip this restaurant.

In the evening: We went for shopping to Jaipur Haat (which was a walkable distance from the hotel) and bought some traditional style dresses. The varieties and the service were excellent, though the dresses were little pricey.

Day 4: We left this day intentionally free, spending the time relaxing in the room. In the evening we went for a walk to Jal Mahal (the mosquitos were too much on the road, making it difficult to walk).

Jal Mahal, Amer, Jaipur
Jal Mahal, Amer, Jaipur