Exploring Jaipur was never a dream yet it was a place that had registered itself as a milestone in the memory lane. The pink city always had a mention in quiz shows and the name Rajasthan always gave the picture of Thar Desert with camels ruling the travel.
Other than the above feelings and a few pictures of the places, we just had empty heads as we were heading towards the pink city in the train from Mumbai. It was the month of January and as we approached Rajasthan the temperature had lowered around 16 degree in the afternoon.
We decided to book a hotel very close to the railway station and then explore the city.
Since we had booked the hotel on our way we didn’t find it difficult to locate it. Dhaba’s on both the sides of the road were really tempting our taste buds. Our first goal was to keep our bags in the hotel and take some rest as our train was delayed by three hours and sitting for 20 hours was really irritating.
After getting freshened up, we decided to explore the Jaipur Metro. It was of very short distance, and had been designed meticulously, and seemed less popular among the locals. The coaches were very neat and clean almost in par with Bangalore metro.
We made sure our travel ended with the sunset and we decided to visit Albertson’s museum. We had to pay a heavy amount as we had come there during the off-time hours which were after 5:30PM. We were given only an hour to explore the two storey museum which contained articles par excellence and reflected the glory of ancient Jaipur Rulers.
With architecture of a palace Albert hall museum stands tall next to a park and has all the articles used by the Kings right from a tea cup to the firearms. It has copies of the ancient scriptures with various paintings making you proud of the rich Indian art.
The night seemed chilly and an exciting one as there was movement on the streets well past 11PM. There were many eateries open and we could see people thronging in and out of the railway station as our hotel was situated just a kilometer away from the central railway station.
As the night was extremely cold and the temperature had reached 10 degree, we decided to get back to the hotel and take rest.
When we rose the next morning the temperature had fallen to 6 degree and we couldn’t stand barefooted on the tiles. Hence we delayed our breakfast and set out to explore the city around 10 AM.
We were confused as the best and cheapest mode of transportation for sightseeing was an auto-rickshaw driver who offered us a ride of the whole city for 1000 rupees. We felt it was a cheap deal and we decided to explore the far forts and explore the pink city in the evening.
Our first destination was Jalmahal surrounded by a lake with five storeys below the water. It was told to us that if we had to go there we had to catch a ferry to catch a glimpse of it from very close.
Since we had the Jaigarh and Nanagarh forts waiting for us we decided to say adieu to the Jal Mahal and move on.
Jaigarh fort at its entrance has the Sheeshmahal built of 20 lac glass pieces and two other museums.
The locals still recall that the Sheeshmahal was inaugurated by the famous Bollywood actor Govinda and as per his request the proprietors reduced the entry fee.
Indeed you get mesmerized as you see numerous reflections catching your attention with glittering glass pieces beneath your feet and over your head.
Next museum was the wax museum which comprises of wax statues of various personalities who had made the country proud in their respective fields including Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Sachin Tendulkar.
The adjacent museum was a museum comprising of antique pieces used by the kings of Jaipur. Along with the portraits statues, armories it also had the collection of precious stones right from ruby, diamond to Emerald, sapphire etc along with details of their toughness and other description.
After this we walked along the staircase to the spectacular Jaigarh fort and palace. One can capture the spectacular view of the city from this fort and it is a perfect example of ancient Indian engineering.
At Nanagarh fort the prominent feature is the world’s largest mobile cannon. They say this was the main weapon of the Jaipur kings to shoo off the enemies. With spectacular watch towers and armory museum this fort is also a treat to explore.
From the two Forts we headed our way towards the pink city. City palace was the first destination we aimed to visit and we did make the most of it. The royal darbar, the majestic dress of the king with many medals and sword, made us very proud of the rich heritage this country. Since we had to pay an additional amount to visit the next floor (This palace also has a portion of it reserved for the royal family) we decided to visit the Hawa Mahal.
With not much time to spare we descended and headed towards our hotel after a bit of shopping. Since we had to return to Mumbai the following day we packed our luggage and took rest after a simple meal.
As we had the train to catch we bid adieu to Jaipur with saddened faces and with a promise that we would be back soon. To every reader who’s reading this I insist that Jaipur is a place one has to visit at least once in his life time.