Five Interesting Things To Do In Jaipur In A Day
by Rohit Agarwal
Welcome to Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’! The walls of houses in the old ‘Walled City’ are painted with a natural ‘pink-wash’ which gives Jaipur its distinctive nick-name.
The capital of the glorious state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a vibrant city steeped in the ethos of history. Rajasthan is the native land of the indomitable Rajput clan of Kings and their imprint on society can still be seen to this day.
The founder of Jaipur, King Jai Singh II was a scholarly man. He knew the value of nature. And the Sun God, Surya, is particularly worshipped by all Rajput clans, as he is an emblem of the warrior spirit. To welcome the Sun into his city, King Jai Singh II had a gate, Suraj-Pol, built in his city wall at the point where the sunrise could be seen. Outside Suraj-Pol there is a hill. Atop which is the Surya Mandir, the temple dedicated to Surya. This is the best spot in the whole of Jaipur to view the sunrise.
But the beauty of this spot doesn’t end with just the sunrise. There is a wide path that descends down the other side of the hill. Here there is a natural spring in the pass between the steep, barren rock hills. The royals of yesteryears erected a luxurious bathing complex here. Today it is a popular tourist spot with the locals. To make your Jaipur trip memorable, do take a dip in these fresh, natural waters. It is an experience difficult to replicate.
2. City Tour
In Jaipur you still have the bicycle rickshaws running. These are powered by human energy, with the driver pedaling you to your destination. We will take a rickshaw (or rickshaws if there is a big group) from Suraj-Pol right through the city to arrive at the City Palace. This will take us through 2 squares, where the major roads intersect. Before reaching the City Palace, you will wonder at the amazing façade of the Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace). This is a façade of latticed stone-work windows. These were prepared for the womenfolk of the royals to view down into the streets near the old Town Hall. The stone lattice-work is to prevent them from being seen by those whom they are viewing.
Inside the City Palace, you will be interested in the Jantar Mantar. This was a unique creation of Jai Singh II. The Emperor in Delhi was so impressed by this display of astronomical instrumentation that he requested one to be built in Delhi. Here the sundials can calculate time to the second. This is all automatic without any mechanical parts. Only dependant on the sun’s rays and the positioning of the dial itself.
The City Palace is expansive. The Jaipur royals knew how to live life King-size. Henry Kravis of the legendary leveraged buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR) got to experience this personally. When he came to Jaipur in 1989, after the successful takeover of RJR Nabisco, he was invited to a luncheon with the erstwhile King, Sawai Bhawani Singh. To cool the air, pedestal fans blew the fragrance from rose-scented ice slabs towards the dining table. Henry had never seen such luxury before.
You too can experience this exquisite gourmet affair with a lunch at the restaurants here.
3. Amer Fort
This was the former citadel of the Jaipur rulers. They conquered and ruled Amer for centuries before founding the twin city of Jaipur. Even today it is a remarkable fortress. The most amazing aspect is the chance to relive being a Maharaja by ascending the slope to the fort on the back of elephants. Maharajas would always be seated atop one when they ventured out of their forts or palaces.
The spacious environs inside the fort leave an impression of regal beauty with the lovely manicured gardens and wide courtyards.
For sunset, we shall now visit another fort; Nahargarh. Originally called Sudershangarh, it was built to protect Jaipur. With the additions of Nahars (Lions) behind it to act a natural defense in the woods, it was renamed Nahargarh. This is the ultimate sunset point in Jaipur. I have seen the sun setting here innumerable times.
5. Rajasthani Dinner
Rajasthan is alive with folk culture. It has a huge number of nomadic tribes who all have their own lively folk culture and customs. An excellent place to view this is at a famous resort named Chokhi Dhani (Good Place). Here you can enjoy 4 different types of rides; bullock-cart, horse-carriage, camel and elephant rides. There are magic shows, local dancing girls and tribal craftsmen plying their trades. The climax is the traditional dinner. You are seated on a mat and served each course. There are plenty of second and third helpings. You can eat as much as you dare. There is plenty of Makhan (cream) served which you can apply to your Rotis (leavened bread). Once you are stuffed, you will have the soundest sleep tonight.
And in your dreams, remember the hospitality that makes the Rajput clan and their land famous. Behold, the land of the Kings; Rajasthan.
About the Author
Rohit grew up in Rajasthan. But then travelled the world. Coming back to his roots, he still finds it as charming as his childhood memories. You can find out more about Rajasthan and the rest of India at: www.transindiatravels.com
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