I find Jaipur delightful. It is firmly established on the tourism map and yet it remains as charming as ever. I have never been a fan of major tourist places but Jaipur by far is an exception. I like the colors, the food, the monuments and the shopping! So, here are some pictures from a recent trip to Jaipur.
Satkar Dhaba on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway
Our first stop on this road trip was Satkar Dhaba for breakfast on the Delhi Jaipur Highway. He made some real good parathas and chai. It was a good start to the trip.
The City Palace, Jaipur
By now I have visited Jaipur many times. I have been to the City Palace before. I had the notion that I have developed a little bit as a photographer over the years. And yet all my pictures of the city palace from all the trips look exactly the same. I tried very hard to spot some improvement but failed to see any most of the time, the picture above is the only exception! So much so for becoming a better photographer!
The bangles were being sold from a road side stall near City Palace. I had two excellent girls with me who could bargain well and all three of us bought the same design! My original title for this picture was ‘Bangles for Sale’ and then I told myself firmly to stop using my Management/Economics training on my travel blog. There is a place and time for everything and this is not the time or place for it.
I was thinking a thousand thoughts looking at this picture, but then this also settles it, I am taking Chhavi to Jaipur, and sooner rather than later. She is going to love this.
The Amber Fort
I am sure many of us have an iconic image of Jaipur in their mind. For me it is the Amber Fort. I have visited it so many times and yet every time I go, I admire it again! This trip was no different. I wonder when will I get bored with it?
A Narrow Lane
While getting out of the Amber Fort we had to take a detour through the narrow lanes of the city. It was chaotic as usual. And yet there was this solitary rickshaw parked which I saw from my moving car! The serenity you see is a perfect illusion as there were 15 cars in the lane on the other side, merrily honking at each-other.
He was selling tea at the gate of the Amber Fort. I am a big fan of tea. I took a cup while going in and I took another when coming out. My guide remarked, “he is a good friend, why did you pay him?” Now why would I not pay him I asked him back, to which we all laughed.
The Puppet Show
Whenever I have visited the City Palace I have seen a puppet show in its courtyards. This time was the same. I wonder how do they allocate the space to the artists? The courtyard of the City Palace is a prime location, and I am sure not just anyone can walk in and start performing. Next time, I am going to ask this to my guide.
The Young Musician
The instrument he is playing is called Ravanhattha. As the name suggests the myth is linked to Ravana from the Ramayan. Dig it up if you have not heard it till now!
The Snake Charmers
The last picture I post is once again from Amber Fort. I have a picture where I am sitting with the men but away from the snake. A young lady from our group actually went ahead and touched the snake!
I was looking at the post and I was wondering why do I wrote in such a fragmented manner! But then I experience a lot of my travels in a fragmented, hurried way! There are no neat beginnings, hardly any time for soul searching and I almost collapse with fatigue by the time I reach home. To save leaves, I go back to work the next day as well.
City Palace, Udaipur is a beautiful place, only I had just enough time to run through it. The thing that amazed me was the camera fee of 200 Indian rupees. I know the SLR toting (myself included) crowd may not mind it. But 200 rupees even if you wanted to use a cell phone camera did feel steep. This is the highest amount for a camera fee that I have encountered. For me the entry and the camera fee was taken care by The Rajputana who invited me to Udaipur.
The construction palace was started by the Maharana Udai Singh and many other kings over the years. I actually attended a session by Maharaja Arvind Singh of Udaipur where he mentioned that the Lake Palace used to be his summer home! ! But without much ado and detours let me present a photo feature of the City Palace, Udaipur, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.
As far as I could figure out the tour could be done only in one way, which is a good thing for me, I don’t need much to get lost. But as I said I did a hurried trip and I could actually be wrong. I just kept following the signs and I got out of the place safe and sound. The stairs were the entry point for me into the palace.
To me the Sheesh Mahal was the grandest room of them all. I wonder what was it used for originally? Was it used for meetings and gatherings on special occasions, I wonder. There was an audio guide available, I paused around it but I knew I simply didn’t have time to do any justice to it if I hired one.
There are many spots within the palace which give a fabulous view of the Udaipur city. But then why would I expect any less, after all this a place fit for kings and queens!
I really like the use of colored glass in Rajasthani palaces. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur also has many such nooks and corners. I also feel a lot of such features had practical use as well. I wonder if these glasses were better at keeping the sun out? Now if only they would let me sit down with a book in a corner somewhere along this passage!
Whenever I look at such long passages, me of the 2-3 bedroom drawing dining mentality, end up thinking how my whole home would fit in many times over in this corridor itself!
I wonder if this is what is meant by wearing rose tint glasses? It, for sure, makes the view much more soothing to look at, even when the sun was harsh! But then what would I know, I hardly ever get to see the world through rose tint glasses, or do I actually get to do so sometimes?
The security personnel encouraged me to visit this section of the palace, as I was rushing out. You see, even by mistake I would not like to be left inside this vast palace. I am sure the resident ghosts must be coming out after the closing time to conduct their daily affairs! But I am glad I heeded to the advice as the section had a lot of silverware and beauties like this palki. However, after that I had only one thought, and it was to get out before the doors closed!
I paused again only when I was safely in the outer courtyard where vivid paintings graced the walls. I know this is not how a history blog post should be written. But this is how I felt about the place and it is the only way I know to write!
I was revisiting Udaipur after 14 long years. And this time I was spending even less time in the city. I had one evening to be precise. I was invited by the Rajputana, a Justa Group Resort. The good folks were willing to host me for longer. It was I who had no leaves left in March other than the Friday I managed to club with the weekend. How I wish I had one more day! At Udaipur I spent some time at the City Palace and the Monsoon Palace. I am sure I have missed out on a thousand things but just these two made for such a memorable evening.
I did a rushed tour of the city palace, you guessed it, due to lack of time. But even then there were places which would make me stop dead in the track. This view of the city for the kings and queens was one such spot.
I was moving around the city palace like a woman possessed as I had only one and a half hours to spend before it would close for the evening. I realized how big the place was when I tried to cover it all in that short span of time. Still this warrior made me pause again for the rich details in the painting! They made things to last for a really long time in those days!
When I reached the Monsoon Palace the sky was already in a benign mood. The palace offers excellent opportunity to watch the sunset over the city with panoramic views all around. I had missed it when I visited Udaipur in the year 2000. I highly recommend this place for its views of the city. The palace has not much to offer in itself but the views are to die for.
As it was March, the flowers were in full bloom. There were other visitors too but not so many that we got on each-other’s toes. In fact I asked a few of them to click my pictures too.
Kunal, my host from the hotel, and I were discussing later that school books conveyed such a typical picture of Rajasthan! I for sure thought that it was all desert till I visited it for the first time in 1990! Greenery and hills are so contrary to the typical notion of desert and yet this is Udaipur, Rajasthan.
This is one of the views you get of the city from the Monsoon Palace. If I am not mistaken the lakes are Pichola and Fateh Sagar. The drama in the sky provided the icing on the cake. I tore away myself from this spot with a lot of difficulty.
I was one of the last persons to leave the balcony, so mesmerized I was with the view. It is a pity that I had just a few hours in the beautiful city of Udaipur but on this occasion they were enough.
I recently visited Alwar in Rajasthan which is about 150 kilometers from Delhi. But as both of us are not a big fan of driving we took the Shatabdi Express from Gurgaon. Alwar is one and a half hour journey from Gurgaon by Shatabdi. I used to think that when we would start traveling with Chhavi we would become more organized. But true to our previous form we turned up at Alwar without any hotel reservation. We stayed at the Aravali Hotel quite close to the Railway Station in the end.
This was a very short trip we arrived at around 8.30 am on Friday and we were taking the 7.32 pm Shatabdi the next day. But it was a great trip nonetheless. We visited only two places the Siliserh Lake and the City Palace Complex. It was within the City Palace I saw Moosi Rani ki Chharti (Queen Moosi’s Cenotaph). And what a place it was!
Moosi Rani ki Chhatri, Alwar, Rajasthan
The main structure is quite impressive. As the name suggests it is the memorial to the queen and king of Alwar, Bakhtawar Singh and Rani Moosi. Unfortunately the signpost doesn’t tell much beyond that it is a 19th century monument and that it is made of limestone and marble.
Interiors of the Moosi Rani ki Chhatri, Alwar, Rajasthan
Not only the monument looks grand from the outside it has impressive interiors. To go to the main platform one is required to remove the shoes. And don’t go by my pictures, the place had a lot of people. Many people were merrily eating groundnuts and discarding the shells around. Locals also use it to play cricket. I am all for people and history interacting with each-other and for locals having the first claim to the monument but I am not sure such a place is best used as an informal cricket ground. The less I say about discarded groundnut shells the better it is.
The Water Tank at City Palace, Alwar, Rajasthan
Adjacent to the Moosi Rani ki Chhatri is this water tank and I flipped when I saw the reflections! I am not sure what was the purpose of this tank but it simply adds so much to the beautiful structures surrounding it. If I can let my imagination run wild this must have been the place where people liked to take a dip on hot summer days in the eighteenth century!
Reflections in the Water Tank, City Palace, Alwar, Rajasthan
The place was such a magnet for photography but there was a counter balancing force- my daughter Chhavi. My husband was not feeling too well on this day and he stayed at the hotel. So it was only the two of us. I needed my third eye to keep a watch on Chhavi while taking pictures. She is a curious child and wanted to go down the steps to the water level. I took her there holding her hands tightly. But even after that, every time I put the camera to my eye, my third eye had to be active lest she went down towards the water on her own.
An Arch and a Reflection, City Palace, Alwar, Rajasthan
She didn’t do that at all but then I didn’t had a luxury to wait for the pigeons to fly and then take my pictures. I have to grant it to her that she was remarkably patient on this spot and would ask me, “ho gaya photo?” (are you done with your pictures). She also walked around with me the entire complex without ever telling me “mamma godi” (mamma carry me). It was only when we reached the Siliserh Lake that she would bang her head at my waist (that is how high she is at the moment) and say mamma mamma mamma to draw my attention!
Moosi Rani ki Chhatri, Refletion in the Tank, Alwar, Rajasthan
The place was so beautiful and yet in such a state of disrepair that I was simply taken aback. Once again don’t go by the pictures, they are selective in what they show. For example the tank is full of filth and I wonder why no one cares to keep it in a better shape. I am no history buff but even I was surprised that there were just two lines or so available as description about the cenotaph. And yet the place is so beautiful!