A Glimpse Of Jaipur

Inexplicably, Rajasthan never attracted us in all these years of travel. Even now, it was a must attend wedding in Jaipur that drew us here at the end of October and using the marriage as an excuse, we happily planned a ten day trip from Jodhpur through Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Mandwa before reaching Jaipur.

Well, the best made plans often go awry. The introduction to Rajasthan ended up being just a few days in Jaipur though we made the most of it as best we could.

Driving from the airport along broad boulevards, I was instantly reminded of Mysore and was not surprised to learn later that Mysore’s Diwan Mirza Ismail had a significant role to play in the layout of Jaipur.

The hotel we stayed at was a converted haveli, well maintained with spacious grounds, resident langurs and delightful peacocks! Regrettably the ultra bland food and the covertly racist attitude of the owners left a lot to be desired – which is a story that has already been narrated in a Trip Advisor hotel review.

 

We were within convenient walking distance of the old Pink City, though it was not at all a pleasant walk thanks to the overpowering stench of urine on the pavements. Not that this is unique to Jaipur.

        

Upon entering the walled city, we were immediately accosted by each and every shopkeeper of each and every shop in the myriad bazaars within. This was annoying enough for us as Indians. It must be downright intimidating for the foreigners.

The shopkeepers aggressive sales pitch were a big put off. Having said that, I could see why Jaipur is called a shoppers paradise. Though most of the wares on offer were touristy tat, there was certainly a huge variety of some rather good tat as well. I succumbed and did not leave without my fair share of purchases though I would have bought a lot more had it not been such a nuisance having to bargain fiercely in every store. Initial prices quoted anywhere were at least 3 to 4 times higher than the final settled amount. The haggling became just too much of an effort and I decided not to buy anything more. The Jaipur traders are geared to sell to the foreign tourist though I doubt that most foreigners would pay such steep prices, they probably drive a much harder bargain than we do. One cannot even walk in peace without being constantly assailed by men beseeching you to enter their shops.

    

 

The walled city was charming with the old dilapidated havelis and their delicated carved lattice windows, narrow little bylanes and colourful Rajasthani women in traditional attire. As we passed by LMB or Laxman Misthan Bhandar, we popped in for the famous Pyaz Kachori. It was pathetic and tasteless, made more so by having to eat it standing at a dirty counter. I noted that the locals there were eating Chow Mein and not the Kachori! Incidentally this so called Kachori was more like a glorified Puri Bhaji but with the Bhaji stuffed inside the Puri and then fried. If there was any onion in the stuffing, I could not discern it, the taste was more like potato. What a let down.

  

 

 

At the Hawa Mahal, a cycle rikshawallah cajoled and implored us to engage him. He said he would take us up to the Jal Mahal and on the way back he promised to show us places that tourists rarely see. For all of Rs 50/hr. His charm worked. It was a different and most enjoyable way to explore the old city by cycle riksha tour.

    

 

 

 

 

Elephants were casually sauntering on the roads near the Jal Mahal as though they were a mainstream form of transportation! Our rikshawalla said that if we wanted an elephant ride, this was the place to do it @Rs100/head instead of at Amer where he said the charge would be Rs700. Thanks but no thanks. We were perfectly happy with our cycle riksha ride.

   

 

The cycle tour was the highlight of our Jaipur visit, thanks in no small part to the non stop entertaining banter from our self appointed tour guide, a gentle and jolly soul. He certainly took us past some interesting parts of the old city including a visit to a Baby Hawa Mahal as he called it! We mentioned our poor experience with LMB. He commented wryly that the tastiest Kachoris could be had from the street vendors, not the popular tourist joints. We asked where we could get good Kulfi and he took us to Pandits Kulfi House which was quite good. After 3 hours of cycling around, he dropped us back at our hotel. Needless to say, we paid him a lot more than what he asked for, he surely deserved it and he did not even ask for anything extra.

 

  

 

        

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

  

 

 

 

Regrettably our new found friend said he could not take his cycle riksha to the Amber Palace, so the next morning we hired a taxi for the trip to the forts. The historic settlement around Amer looked a lot more interesting that the forts. They should be good to wander through on foot in cooler weather, though again I noticed tourist shops just about everywhere. Our driver said that some of the foreign visitors stay for months in cheaper guest houses here.

We were not that impressed with the Amer Palace, nor with the Jaigarh Fort. By the time we were through with Jaigarh, we were a tad Fort – I – Fied and did not really feel like going to Nahargarh. Our driver suggested we try the Pyaz Kachori at Rawat Misthan Bhandar so he dropped us off there on our way back. What do I have to say about the famed RMB Kachori? Certainly tastier than the Kachori at LMB but nothing extraordinary about it. And the same dirty counters to eat it off. Most street stalls in Delhi do a better job on Kachoris, why even the Kachoriwalla in the bylane of Kalbadevi near my office in Mumbai makes tastier Kachori.

Apart from the one miserable dinner and the equally poor breakfasts at our hotel, we did not get a chance to try any “authentic” Rajasthani food as we had to eat dinner every day at the wedding functions which was the usual hotel wedding buffet fare.

Overall I found the forts, and Jaipur as a whole, far too touristy. Everything seems geared towards making the foreign tourist feel more welcome than the Indians. This is just an initial impression based on a few days stay at the end of October. It might well be better in an off season.

 

 

  

  

   

 

 

      

 

      

       

 

30 Comments

  • Praveen Wadhwa says:

    Enchanting post.
    Colorful pictures are a feast to the eyes.

    • Gita AM says:

      Thanks Praveen. I forgot how to add the “More” since I am posting after a very long hiatus but just managed to edit and do so now! Hope Nandan was not too annoyed! Anyway I saved him the effort of having to edit and add the More.

  • parveen says:

    hi
    touristy things are common everywhere in India. we also tasted this in many places across country.
    your writing and photos are very good.

    parveen

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Hi…

    Very Nice post specially pictures are superb & perfectly showing glimpse of Pink City
    Pink City “Jaipur” is the part of India’s Golden triangle (DELHI-AGRA-JAIPUR) and it always attract Indian & Foreign Tourist. I have been two times here.

    Thanks

  • Gita jee

    Your post is very helpful to provide information on Jaipur. Pictures are beautiful and alluring specially the one with natural poses of cow, peacock etc.

    I am planning Ajmer , Pushkar and Jaipur this mid December. Three full days are enough for this tour ???

    • Gita AM says:

      Thanks Vishal.

      This was my first visit ever to Rajasthan and only to Jaipur so I cant comment about Pushkar and Ajmer. Three days are certainly enough for Jaipur. You will get better suggestions from the many veteran RJ travellers here and on the various travel forums.

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      Dear Vishal,

      Approx one week

      Jaipur – 3days (including Choki dhani )
      Ajmer – 2 days
      Pushkar – 1 day

  • Hi !

    You have an excellent flair for writing. Writing professionally too? The pics are great but would have been greater if supplemented with captions about – “where were these taken?” sort of stuff.

    As regards touristy thing, I am thankful to God Ji that we didn’t feel the same during our tour of Udaipur and Mt. Abu. Rest of Rajasthan, I have yet to see! If and when I visit Jaipur, I will be instinctively cross-checking your feelings with mine while visiting these places! But yes, I will avoid kachauri at all costs. Here in Saharanpur, we recently had a three day fare in which there was a stall of Rajasthani Khasta kachauri also. It was great or so it seemed to me. I am not a connoisseur of foods.

    Thanks for sharing the pics and your experiences.

    Please keep writing. It is a great enjoyment reading you.

    • Gita AM says:

      Thanks for your appreciation Sushant. Professionally? No, just for “Time-Pass” !!! That too, from time to time.

      I had put titles on each and every photo of mine and I do not know why the captions do not show. It took so long to insert the pics, that I have no inclination to edit and re do all the captions. Let it be. Almost everyone else who reads this will have been to RJ at least once if not more so all would be familiar with the subjects of the images.

      I love “God Ji” – first time I have come across that!

      More about the Kachories, when I told another local about them, he said that the best and most authentic Pyaz Kachories are from Jodhpur. The Pyaz Kachories in Jaipur do not compare with those in Jodhpur and are made for the tourists – according to him! So I have to wait for a Jodhpur visit to savour real Pyaz Kachories!

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Long time Gita. Glad to see your log on Jaipur.

    Courtesy a close friend who belongs to Jaipur and it being a shopping paradise for my wife, I have been to this city at least 20 times. Even now, when I go there, I find folks right outside the ‘City Palace’ (you should have gone there, if you didn’t) misguiding people. Last time, I took the pains of dragging the official folks and challenged them on how can they just ignore all of this. ‘City Palace’ is privately managed so I could do that, forget about the ones run by ASI or government so I just relived a lot of experiences through this lot. BUT as you know the place more, you would begin to ignore them, rather it would begin to not annoy you.

    Jaipur has been brilliantly marketed and it is indeed made tourist-ready (hotels, mahotsavs, chokhi-dhaani, festivals what not) and once you go there a couple of times, you would start liking it. Whether it is shopping at Bapu Bazaar, Jauhari Bazaar or eating Kachori (next to a lane near Hotel Niros on MI Road) or lal-maans .

    I wish you many more travels Gita and the pictures (pls try to add captions for your next one) and this log has been a treat to read.

    Wishes.

    • Gita AM says:

      Thanks Nandan. As I mentioned in the post above this, I meticulously put titles on each photo meant for insertion in this post. No idea what went wrong but now there are no visible captions though if you click the pic, the title is evident.

      We were not really keen on going inside the City Palace, it was fine just cycling by and watching the rest of the world go in! I enjoyed the ambiance of the old city more.

      As for shopping, there is a limit to the extent of haggling one can engage in. It is their loss for if the prices had been reasonably marked to start with instead of the exorbitant mark ups, I would certainly have bought more.

      Also as Im sure most women would agree, one has to leave one’s hubby behind when shopping, especially in places like Jaipur!

  • injamaven says:

    parasols — what a good idea! I never saw any when I was there.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    I have been to Jaipur many times , thanks for refreshing the memories.

  • A very good review on Jaipur. Thank you for sharing this post.

    I can very well understand your experience in Jaipur, but the perception may change in your next visit(s) as well…we always come back with good memories from Jaipur; though we did have some bad experiences as well regarding city traffic and traffic police/parking in the market, cycle tour is really a great idea and we will definitely try that in our next visit…Chokhi Dhani is a must visit and I personally like Jantar Mantar.

    • Gita AM says:

      Thank you Amitava.

      As the title says, it was just a glimpse from a first visit.

      We would have liked to go to Chokhi Dani but as our visit was primarily to attend a wedding, we were obliged to have dinner each day at the wedding venue! On our first evening, we were a bit tired so just ate at our hotel which was nothing great at all. They had the typical touristy folk entertainment programme as well which was the usual stuff. If I go again, I would like to give Chokhi Dani a shot.

      Somehow just did not feel like entering the Jantar Mantar or City Palace. Im sure they are worth the visit though.

  • Nirdesh says:

    Nice Narrative, Gita!

    I try to stay away from the shopping places especially in touristy places like Jaipur.

    I dont know, but to me Jaipur looks beautiful only in photos. Real life on the roads is totally different – traffic, noise, pollution.

    So thanks for the photos!

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Thanks, Gita, for affording us a glimpse into a magnificent kaleidoscope called Jaipur. Your pictures might have lost their captions due to some software glitch, but their value is undiminished as they do justice to the beauty of the city. The riot of colours seem to compensate for the bleak monotony of the desert that surrounds it. It is good that the income generated from foreign tourists is apparently being put to good use as the monuments seem to be quite good shape. Tourism can be a mixed blessing.

    As for your impression that foreigners get more attention than desis, you are spot on. In our country, skin pigmentation is inversely proportion to hierarchy; the lighter the skin tone, the higher the ‘status.’ Having said that, one must be grateful for the small mercies. Seeing the kind of unwanted attention the hapless foreigners get, I sure am glad to be ignored.

    • Gita AM says:

      Thanks Narayan.

      It is certainly good for locals anywhere to benefit from tourism revenues.

      I noted this peculiar attentiveness to foreigners not just here in Jaipur but also in a most pronounced manner in McLeod Ganj in HP where the Tibetan street vendors will not even look at an Indian customer if a foreigner is around. Perhaps it is just as well, for most of their wares are available at places like Delhi’s Janpath at substantially lower prices!

  • injamaven says:

    yes, D. L. Narayan. Touts at popular tourist places and little kids begging can drive you crazy. So often I beg for self-appointed gudes to leave me alone. They can’t believe you could enjoy the site on your own.

    • Gita AM says:

      At the Amber Palace, these self appointed guides started accosting us as soon as we passed the elephant ride boarding station. One was so desperate that he ran behind us and dropped his rates from Rs 100 to Rs 20. Can you imagine that? 20? Not that we were interested but I do wonder why anyone would want to spend an hour guiding people around for Rs 20! He did not look that poor but he was certainly desperate.

  • ravinder kumar says:

    hi, very nice post , i wnat to know that is there any cng filling station on NH8 , or in Jaipur near, city palace or amer fort. my route is from rithala metro station (Delhi) to Jaipur via dhaula kuan, gurgaon, dharuhera etc. with regards

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear Ravinder – I am sharing a link which might be helpful – http://www.gailonline.com/final_site/cng_network.html

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