Part 2 of my Jaipur travel. Read the first part here.
Amer fort is something you should never miss if you go to the pink city. To the north-east, on the outskirts, lies this beauty of a fort. Among the most well maintained forts in India (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), it was built by Raja Man Singh I on the Aravalli mountain range.
You can either go by car half way or by elephants. It is extremely scenic though very dry (after all this is Rajasthan). On our friend’s advice, we hired a car from Metro cabs.
I always had a fascination for forts. This one seemed like a dream come true! The fort has various levels or courtyards. Diwaan-e-Aam (where the king met the normal people), Diwaan-e-Khaas (where the king met the “special” people), Sheesh Mahal (his quarters) and finally the ladies’ quarters. Beautiful gardens inside the fort. And a garden in the middle of the lake below. It even has a secret tunnel, running underground half-way to the Jaigadh fort, 8 kms to the north.
Nahargadh fort is situated a little above Amer on the mountain range. The drive and the view from the top is amazing. Our hired car driver got a little emotional and said that during the night, the view of Jaipur with its twinkling lights is just like a star-filled night sky.
The tourist traffic has increased after a portion of the film Rang De Basanti was shot here. The well though is very dirty and there is hardly any water, so please don’t attempt what they did in the film – jumping from the wall backwards! (Another movie Shudh Desi Romance had also a few songs shot in Jaipur.)
While returning back, we saw the Jal Mahal, which nowadays can’t be accessed, only glimpsed from the lake shore.
I was under the impression that my hometown Ahmedabad is the vegetarian fast food capital of the world. But Jaipur gives solid competition! On all the 4 days I was there, had loads of pani puri, bhel puri, kachori, samosa, pav bhaji and dahi papdi. 🙂
Also visited the oldest sweet shop in this region – Laksmi Misthaan Bhandaar (LMB), and bought the famed sweet ghevar (a demand from my sister).
My minimalist tendencies were severely challenged when we roamed in the Johari bazaar and the streets around. So many ethnic items at unbelievably cheap prices (provided that you either know how to bargain or have a local friend). I ended up buying 2 kurtas and 1 mojdi.
The state of Rajasthan consistently ranks among the lowest in social-economic indices. After having heard so much, I didn’t expect the capital to be anything more than a smallish, dusty and barren city. But Jaipur did surprise me – by its clean, well-maintained roads, buildings and parks, its openness towards visitors and general enthusiasm in people for the future. (It is in the list of cities slated to drive IT industry growth in the next decade.) Just like across India, perhaps things are now changing.
As my Jaipuri friend remarked (when I told him I hardly expected anything of this sort), this city does pleasantly surprise you in its own ways.