My first visit to Jaipur

As my mom and sister were in town, I’d promised them a trip and had settled on Jaipur since none of us had visited this famed Rajasthani capital. My cousin had decided to join us from Bhopal and with train delays, we ended up leaving home around 2 pm instead of the planned 10 am, Saturday last. We were all traveling light – each with a small bag, so the tiny boot of our Suzuki swift was just right for it all. Mom, as is her custom, packed a whole bag full of food for the trip and some water and we were finally off.

With my navigation app on, we made our way easily out of Delhi and headed towards the Gurgaon Delhi Expressway, from where it’s a straight road to Jaipur. Getting out of Delhi was easy and we made good time until past Gurgaon’s toll station. That’s when madness set in, and we covered 40 kms in 2 hours! It appears that the road authorities are building numerous flyovers on the Jaipur highway simultaneously and we were stuck on perhaps the third of these. There wasn’t much to do except inch along the road. Our spirits were still high, so we weren’t too annoyed by the time we were out of the jam. The road was filled with trucks, some of which seemed absurdly full. My cousin, who’s an automotive engineer in training, regaled us with some of his road stories.

Stopping for lunch we took a break from the constant noise on the road. The restaurant didn’t look too promising, but the food turned out to be remarkably good. Driving on till about 6:30 pm, I handed over the wheel to my cousin and took a break from the driving. It took us another two hours to get to Jaipur with the last bit on the Jaipur bypass which starts about 42 kms from Jaipur on the highway. I later realized that this was probably built to decongest the Amer (Amber) route to Jaipur.

The haveli we’d booked the night before was amazing. I’ve included a couple of pics of the rooms. It’s called Utsav Niwas. According to my mom, “it was a clean place.” Coming from her, that’s a 5 star rating on cleanliness! The staff were very friendly, attentive and accommodating of our quirks.

After relaxing from the driving and taking a quick tour of the area we were in, we had dinner at the Mumal restaurant nearby, which wasn’t impressive, considering that it was a “known” restaurant in the area. I took out the guidebooks and started preparing for the next 2 days. I realized that we’d get tired if we did too much of the same thing, so splitting the trip into inside and outside Jaipur wouldn’t work. After some thinking, I settled on the walled city tour and a trip to Nargarh fort for day 1, followed by Galtaji and some shopping on day 2. Day 3 was the trip back to Delhi with stops at Jaigargh fort and Amer (Amber) palace.

We all found the city to be a bit exhausting and trying. Perhaps, because it was my first trip to a completely unfamiliar city in India, or maybe because were just so disgruntled with our drive. After a good look at the Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City Palace, we headed over to the Nargarh fort. Due to a quirk of my Navigation app, we ended up taking the mount road and getting to the base of the mount road was an experience in itself as we traversed the narrow streets where no car appeared to have gone before (or in a long while)! When we reached the gates up on top, for a moment I had my doubts about the road, but we made it through with no incident and lots of surprised looks from onlookers. Talking to the person at the fort complex gate, he stared at us unbelievingly when I told him of our trip. We took the alternate route back and retired after a great dinner at our haveli.

Day 2 started with me complaining of stomach cramps. The beer at Nargarh fort hadn’t done me any good. I decided to take an hour off while the ladies went shopping. Later when I joined them we headed over to Galtaji, which is just past the Sisodia Rani’s gardens, another 4 kms down the road. It wasn’t such an impressive place, but the view from the top, near the Surya mandir, was excellent. It just confirmed my view of a smoggy dusty Jaipur. We turned back early that day and decided to retire early, choosing to spend time watching TV and chit-chatting. We packed that night.

Wrapping up breakfast early, we headed towards Jaigarh fort by way of the Jal Mahal. I enjoyed the fort and the fantastic views from this location and the stories of Jai Van and rumors of Indira Gandhi stealing the vast fortune from the vaults under the water tank at Jaigarh. After that we made a brief stop at Amer Place and then headed back to Delhi.

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