Rajasthan had long been in my list of dream travel destinations and this Dussehra holidays the trip just happened. Jaipur is five hours journey from Delhi. We (me, M, AP & parents) started off early morning from Noida where my sis stays. It was not the best time to visit Jaipur. Well, for that matter it was not a bad time either. The weather forecast reported was at 36 degrees and Rajasthan was in news for all bad reasons. The Indian Army had accidentally dropped bomb at Bikaner and there was sand storm in Jaiselmer. Well, but nothing could deter our trip to the Pink City.



Rajasthan of my imagination was a dry treeless arid dessert. In fact I was quite surprised to see the sprawling hills covered with shrubs all around the city. Jaipur is a colourful city. People wear bright clothes, the men in turbans and the women in colourful saris modestly covering their face. We walked through the City Palace complex. On both sides of the street were shops selling puppets, ethnic jewellery, shoes, elaborately embroidered dresses,and the famous blue pottery. We reached Hawa Mahal. This palace is shaped like Lord Krishna's crown and has an array of countless windows on all sides, which accounts for the heavy breeze inside and hence the name. During the Rajput reign, these windows gave the women folk of the palace a view of the street life outside. In AP's words, the lovesick princesses waited at these windows for their prince to come and whisk them off on gallant horses :)

Next we decided to check in at our Hotel Umaid Mahal. We had a tough time locating the hotel, because whenever we asked for direction, we were pointed to a different route. Wherever we stopped, there were eager tour guides waiting to pounce, offering to accompany us to our destination. It looked as if Jaipur is teeming with travel guides.

And Umaid Mahal was very much worth all the trouble. It far exceeded my wildest imagination of a hotel. As soon as you enter the Mahal, you get transformed to a magical palatial world. Every inch of the wall and ceiling were covered with exuberant mural paintings. Oil paintings of old Rajput empire adorned the walls. The intricately carved silver furniture, wooden sculptures and grand chandeliers that hung from the ceiling coupled with the golden glow of the lamps added to it's magnificence. I would highly recommend this hotel to anybody visiting Jaipur.

After having a late lunch, we proceeded to Chowki Dhani which is a modelled Rajasthani village. It is a rustic hamlet comprising of mud huts with thatched roofs, panchayat and forest with Rajasthani tribal. It has a carnival with performance by folk dancers, puppet show, tight rope walking, magicians, fortune tellers, potter dancers, camel and bullock cart rides. You can sit comfortably on coir cots in the huts, sip camel-milk tea from earthen pots and smoke the hookahs. Btw, camel milk tastes yuck. There were craft bazaars for shopping and I bought a beautiful Rajasthani jootha and a jewel box. There were entertainment stalls, where M tried his hands on shooting with bow and arrows and AP at shooting with a gun. Well,the mention of Chowki Dhani is incomplete without the elaborate full course Rajasthani dinner served on leaf plates. I almost lost count of the number of dishes on my overflowing platter. I guess it was around 20-25 dishes. I couldn't comprehend the ingredients of most of the dishes, which left me at awe about how much varied are the cuisines when you travel from one part of India to another!!! Truly incredible!!!

Since we went to Chowki Dhani during Dussehra season, I for the first time witnessed the tradition of "Burning the Ravan". A gigantic effigy of Ravan was erected on the open court supported by ropes on all sides. We were told that the ceremony will start at 9pm. There was a huge crowd gathered. Soon all the performers of Chowki Dhani- the folk dancers,acrobats, magicians and tribal folks came together singing, dancing and blowing trumpets. They danced around the roaring Ravan and made merry.. Crackers exploded and fireworks illuminated the night sky. Ravana had chains of crackers and fireworks enclosing his body. After the merrymaking, it was set to fire. The illumination and cacophony that followed temporarily rendered us blind and deaf. I was really excited to watch this event despite the amount of air and sound pollution it created. After this, we left Chowki Dhani and returned to the hotel.

Next day after having complimentary buffet breakfast from hotel, we set off to indulge in some shopping extravaganza. Jaipur is famous for quilts/rajais. So we bought two of those along with blue pottery for our future home :) Also got some bandhini dress materials and Jaipuri bangles for cousins and friends.

It was in the scorching hot mid day sun that we went to see Jal Mahal, as a result of which I got a bad splitting headache. From there, we went on to see Jaigarh fort which is situated on hill-top. The fort must have well protected the city from the enemies during the reign of Mugals. Jaigarh fort gives a good view of the entire Jaipur city. There is a museum out there showcasing all the weapons, armour and shields used during war. I was surprised to see many of them exactly replicated in the movie 'Jodha Akbar', when I viewed it last weekend. As we were leaving the fort, I spotted a few hoopoe birds with their beautiful crowns spread out and a couple of peacocks in the wild. I guess the bird watcher in me has not died yet. I was excited to spot the hoopoe birds, though it's quite common in this part of India. Hubby dear on seeing the peacocks stopped the vehicle, ran and vanished off into the wild with his camera.

We left Jaipur by sunset, when the setting sun painted the Pink City into a dark hue of red.

7 comments:

Beautiful!

I've always wanted to visit Jaipur, but never got anywhere near. It's on my must-visit list of places!

jaipur is in my wish-list too. and this is a nice right-up. just like most of ur earlier trip logs :)

good....................................................................................................

good....................................................................................................

God helps those who help themselves........................................

@Aths: You should, and you should see udaipur n jaiselmer too

@sandeep: North east is the next in my wish list :)

This post has left me aching to visit Rajasthan...!
Has been on my wishlist since sometime...The lovely colours against the backdrop of sand...

Thanks for sharing this trip..

- Reshmi

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