The year 2016 has been synonymous with travel for me. I have done 26 trips in all out of which 25 sponsored because of my blog. And the year is not over yet! My first personal trip came in December to Jaipur with my parents-in-law, we stayed at Holiday Inn Jaipur. My blogging trips kept me busy throughout the year, I had hardly any time to plan a personal trip. The trip to Jaipur was a long pending one, we first planned it in 2014 but on the same dates I got an opportunity to travel to Finland with Nokia. Jaipur had to wait till 2016.
I made sure we were going to Jaipur this time. While searching for hotels, I was looking for a comfortable one because even though I can rough out but I do not expect my parents in law or any elderly person in my family to do the same. I saw great rates for Holiday Inn Jaipur City Center and I booked 2 rooms with them.
The book experience was smooth, I booked through the IHG Club App. They put my card on hold, they did not charge anything upfront. Cancellation policies were also generous, I was travelling on 5th and up to 4th morning, if I’m not mistaken, I was allowed to cancel without incurring any charges. If you are an IHG Club member, the Internet automatically becomes free for you for the duration of your stay.
On 5th December we started our journey to Jaipur by Shatabdi Express. Thankfully for Rajasthan bound trains we can board from Gurgaon Railway Station itself. The trouble with Shatabdi is that it arrives too early at 10.40 am. Most of the hotels have check-in starting at 2.00 pm. The train was late by more than an hour. By the time we reach the hotel, it was past 12 noon. My parents in law sat in the comfortable lobby while I went to inquire at the reception about check-in.
The staff was courteous, they could find my reservation easily. Best of all and they were able to give me two rooms immediately, may God bless them because we were tired. We immediately proceeded to the rooms on the first floor. The lobby of the Holiday Inn is impressive, it has a high ceiling, comfortable seating and it looks inviting once you enter.
I was happy with my room too. I had a twin bed but then I was alone in my room ,I am OK with any kind of beds. My parents-in-law had the king size bed that we wanted. The room was large, it was well lit it and well maintained. I thoroughly enjoyed my room throughout my stay. The bathroom was clean, it had good amenities, everything that I needed . The room had notes asking us to co-operate in the ways which would put less pressure on the environment. I enjoy such places more than the normal ones.
On the first day we ordered room service for lunch, we were just too tired to go out. Food is of course slightly more expensive than the restaurants around but that is understood. I ordered dal bati churma, my parents-in-law ordered Khichdi and Biryani.
The food came fast and that is what you need when you are tired and hungry. My food was good but my parents-in-law found the curd sour. They are South Indians, you cannot give them sour curd and expect them to praise the food. I don’t think we had any complaints with the food other than that.
I booked the room with breakfast for it is not complimentary with the room. The room rate with breakfast was still quite reasonable. We enjoyed our breakfast on all days. They have a wide range that covers Continental, North Indian and South Indian dishes. They have masala chai as well.
The hotel is right next to two malls, yet the malls did not have many eating options. We settled for Copper Khurchan in the Mahima Mall. We had most of our meals there. It was easy to get an Uber from the hotel to the city. Other than Amber Fort which is far away from everything, nothing is too far away from Holiday Inn Jaipur.
Even though I did not swim due to the cold weather, I went to check the rooftop swimming pool. It’s quite attractive, the next time if I am going in warmer weather, I’ll definitely going for a swim.
Way too soon my holiday was over and it was time to check out. My train was in the evening, once again I was offered an extra hour for check-out. At 1.00 pm I got out to pay the bill. We left our luggage with them and went out to enjoy our last few hours in Jaipur.
At the station I realized that I had left my Kindle behind. I usually do not leave even a charger by mistake. But this time I left my Kindle in the room! I called the hotel and requested them to check my room to see if they could find it. They promised to check and call me back.
The kept the promise and called me back with the good news that they found my Kindle. I told them to keep it, I would pick it up the next time I was in Jaipur. They said they would courier it to me.
True to their words, they sent it to me. They wrapped it with a lot of care so that it didn’t break in the transit. I have to say a big thank you to Holiday Inn Jaipur for finding my Kindle and sending it back to me with great care. Overall, I had a wonderful trip and stay with them. But finding my Kindle again was the icing on the cake.
I will recommend Holiday Inn Jaipur highly if you are looking for a nice hotel in the city. This was my one personal trip of this year and I am glad it ended on a happy note! I will surely stay back with them if I get a good rate again.
I visited Jaipur in December 2016 with my parents-in-law. So I proudly took them to Hawa Mahal as it is one of my favorite monuments. Agreed it is smaller in comparison to Amber Fort and City Palace, but Hawa Mahal is one of the most recognizable icon of the city. Personally I loved the colored glasses, the courtyards and walking around the various levels. We went in with high expectations. My previous visits to Hawa Mahal were beautiful.
To my utter horror they have taken some restoration work and it turns out to be ‘how not to restore Hawa Mahal’ story! I wonder who ordered it and how can they live with themselves, if this is the final work.
When we went to level two, things felt terribly wrong. There are ugly green wooden blocks covering the jharokhas all over the place! I would not use it even at my modest three bedroom home what to say of Hawa Mahal built in 1799 for queens!
The horror story continued at the higher levels too. To block people from climbing into the windows they have put barriers. I can understand that, people may not be behaving responsibly but why to put such ugly railings? Why not make an effort to put in something that blends with the place? Unfortunately I do not have a picture of that particular bit of outrage.
Sense and Lack of It
I am not a heritage person really. But I have been to many heritage sites, in Jaipur and other places. There is something about history that makes me forget it as soon as I get out of the monument! I am not a connoisseur who can understand the intricacies of restorations. Had it been a minor glitch, I would not even notice it. But the present work is so ugly and horrible that even an untrained person like me can spot it without any effort.
The Sad Story of a Beautiful Green Door
I saw this beautiful green door at Hawa Mahal where someone casually attached the horrible looking Kundi on it! I mean how could someone raise their hands to put an outrage like this into the gorgeous door! I don’t think we make doors like it anymore. Who in their right minds would do this?
But Who Ordered This?
I was left wondering who sanctioned and approved this restoration? It is not restoration, it is butchering the monument! It makes me immensely sad to see Hawa Mahal in such a pitiable condition.
When I searched online I can find articles about the 2010 restoration. Back then people were not happy because colored glasses were put in place of jalis. The whole rationale of Hawa Mahal was to let the wind have a free play!
Search as I may, I could not find any articles regarding the current sorry state of the monument. My only sane guess I can make is that maybe, just maybe, this is temporary while the original jalis are being restored.
But this is India which can often leave you incredulous! I won’t be surprised if in somebody’s estimate this is the final restoration of Hawa Mahal. If it is we need to get together and do something. In its current state it is horrible beyond words.
If you feel for the cause please sign my petition at Change.Org
I recently visited Jaipur with my parents-in-law. My husband or Chhavi didn’t join us as one had office and the other school. We had a nice trip but today’s story is about our return journey from Jaipur to Gurgaon by Shatabdi Express. The train is 12016 Ajmer Shatabdi Express.
There was a time when I was fond of Shatabdi journeys. At that time the coaches were new. Now Shatabdi coaches are really old. The whole Shatabdi system needs new coaches and better food. I can’t remember when as the last time I saw reasonable coaches or food in a Shatabdi train.
But Where is Water?
The train came on time. We boarded it easily at Jaipur. We all settled peacefully. It was a weekday and the train was not full. After a while my mother-in-law went to the washroom. She came back and asked for mineral water as there was no water in the washroom! This was a first for me!
After hearing that I refrained from using the washroom for a long time. In the meanwhile my father-in-law asked if I would like to tweet to Suresh Prabhu. I initially thought I would not.
Tweets to Suresh Prabhu
Bu I eventually did tweet to Suresh Prabhu. There was a prompt reply to my tweet. Relevant authorities were tagged and I was asked to provide my PNR number which I did. I am pleasantly surprised to see Jaipur DRM (divisional railway manager) on Twitter. They tagged someone else who was the relevant authority.
But in the end, nothing happened. My coach C5 remained without water till Gurgaon. My father-in-law discovered there was water in the C4 washroom and the coaches were interconnected. In the end I used it.
In my experience of tweeting to Railway Minister was a mixed exercise. The team acknowledged the tweet with speed. But on the ground nothing happened even when this was Shatabdi Express, supposedly one of the premium trains.
Eventually the train crossed Rewari. The next scheduled stop is Gurgaon, our dstination. The train stops only for 2 minutes at Gurgaon so one has to get down quickly.
We went near the door when we thought we were nearing Gurgaon. There were three of us, two other women and an old couple near the door. My father-in-law was at the front. The train stopped and we got down!
But is it Gurgaon?
All of us got down at the station when one of the girls asked, “Is this really Gurgaon?” That created immediate and immense confusion. There were people getting down from the next compartment too.
Then a pantry guy got down and yelled at us, “ye Gurgaon nahin hai!” (this is not Gurgaon). All of us started piling back into the train at record speed. I told my father-in-law to go ahead of me as I would be better at judging what is Gurgaon.
From Garhi Harsau to Gurgaon
When the train started again the door was open. I peered out to see the name of the station where we mistakenly got down! It is Garhi Harsaru! Thankfully we did not got stranded at night there, the pantry guy saved us! It was a cold night too.
The short journey from Garhi Harsaru to Gurgaon was uneventful. I opened the door of the compartment only after I could read the name of the station, ‘Gurgaon!’
In the end, even though nothing happened after the tweets, Gurgaon Railway Station for sure has got a face lift and looks much better and cleaner! I also got a brief glimpse of Garhi Harsaru Railway Station which I never took any notice of on all my previous trips!
PS. This was my first personal trip of the year 2016!
In an ideal world I would go on the next trip only after writing everything about my previous trip. But it is not working that way any longer. I have already done two trips after I watched the Army Pageant at Rajasthan Diwas in Jaipur. But the memories refuse to fade, so bear with me as I continue blogging in my hotchpotch fashion!
I attended the Army Pageant on the second day of the Rajasthan Diwas celebrations. It was a first for me. The word pageant was slightly confusing but right from the start of the show, I caught the drift. The first display was with the army dogs, there were cute labs and ferocious Alsatians.
I remember reading a signboard by Army in Ladakh- “What is an adventure of a lifetime for you, it is routine for us”, this skydiving display at the army pageant strongly reminded me of that!
And then they came out in numbers on their handsome steeds to dazzle the audience with their skills.
It was a wonderful audience too. People came out in numbers to watch the pageant at the Polo Grounds at Jaipur.
For me the biggest dilemma was whether to watch the action packed horse display with my eyes or through the lens. I watched a lot through the lens but honestly everything was a blur. I could see it only when I reviewed the photographs! The eyes regret the decision.
Then there was a display of the traditional art of Mallakhamb!
And here is a lineup of the men who have mastered the art of Mallakhamb!
For this young army man, breaking slabs on fire looked like an easy affair. I was awestruck but it was followed by more jaw dropping stuff!
They decided hands were just too safe, why not break a lot of slabs using the head?
And then they replaced the slabs with ice! I am sure I could keep jumping on them all day but I would not be able to break a single one! The slabs would melt away on their own!
While the sun started on its westward journey, I too had to leave the show and go to attend the other events at Rajasthan Diwas. However, the Army Pageant was one show that is going to remain with me for a long time.
PS. I was invited by the Rajasthan Tourism Board to attend Rajasthan Diwas.