Jaipur is a smorgasbord of culture, colour, and chaos. A city that sits on a threshold of a vibrant, historic past and an emerging future. Jaipur is where I decided to take a whirlwind 48 hour getaway and immerse myself head first into the land of palaces, shop for local artisanal crafts, and gorge on some delicious traditional fare. And most importantly decided to spend some quality time with myself.
My previous Rajasthan holiday took place roughly fifteen years ago, though some memories still remained etched in my mind. A wobbly camel ride in the heat. Spotting peacocks on the drive upto Jaigarh Fort. Biting into a crunchy, flaky kachori and then wiping my hands on my mother’s dupatta later. Looking up at the regal, ancient forts in amazement, wondering how they managed to build such structures back then. Fifteen years down the line, I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu throughout the trip. Some things never really change, do they?
Khas Bagh is a home stay, built on the lines of a medieval haveli, a stones throw away from Amer Fort. And there could have been no better way to get a feel of true Rajput hospitality and feel like a royal. This 18 room haveli is exquisitely antique complete with wooden beds, stone work walls, ornate chandeliers, and old school jharokhas or balconies in every room. And if you think ancient means uncomfortable, think again.
There’s a gorgeous pool surrounded by foliage so that you can take a swim surrounded by the chirping of birds. There’s an vintage bar room as well complete with family memorabilia and pictures, immediately transporting you into an era gone by. Home style Rajasthani fare is what you’ll be fed here, ask for their delicious gatte ki sabzi, if you can. The equestrian theme that runs all through Khas Bagh is evident in the decor and finishing. All of this coupled with an extremely warm and hospitable staff made this an exceptional home style stay for me. One I’d strongly recommend, especially if you are looking to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Jaipur city. I’d love to return back during the winters, lounge around on the terrace with a glass of wine and a view of the Aravali hills.
Check out their website here for tariff and other details.
‘If you’re going to Jaipur, you have to eat at LMB!’ If I had a penny for every time someone said that, my Jaipur holiday would have been sponsored. Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar or LMB, established in 1727 and is one of those rare heritage joints that are thronged by both locals and tourists. Flaky and rich kachoris, batter fried mirchi vadas, and the lattice looking ghevar – everything that needs to be sampled while in Rajasthan is available here. Including two ancient doormen in uniforms with moustaches that unfurl right down to their waists.
Their Rajasthan Royal Thaal is what deserves all the attention though. At 540 bucks, this humongous thaali comes laden with all the Marwari specialities – two types of baati andchurma, the desert vegetable Kair saangri, kadhi rice, traditional sabzis and missi roti.
There are kulfi walas, lassi shops, and sweet meat vendors at every turning in Jaipur. They really seem to love their calories here, everything comes either deep fried or sugary sweet. In my personal opinion, some of these smaller unassuming shops end up serving you the best food, instead of the tourist-y places. Which is exactly where I had the bestkachori and lassi of my trip – from shops that have no names. Unlike Arya Stark.
In all honesty, I simply scratched the surface of ‘places to visit in Jaipur’. Jaipur sightseeing is a treat for history buffs – involving tons of palaces, forts, and museums.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is an iconic landmark that represents the city of Jaipur. This large, red and pink sandstone palace was built as a haven for the royal women. Where they could sit in the jharokhas, observe the ongoings of the city while remaining unseen from the outside. Squeezing myself into the narrow confines of one of thosejharokhas, I looked down at the city and imagined what it’s like to be royalty – to look down at the world, the world unable to look back at you.
The Amer Fort, and the Jaigarh Fort sit side by side. The former was the exquisite and elaborate residence of royalty, a space where the King and his Queens dwelled. The latter with it’s serpentine boundary acts as the protector, and the highly efficient Jaigarh army acts as the savior. The intricate Ganesh Pol – an entry into the Maharaja’s private quarters, the Sheesh Mahal – a chamber constructed with mirrors, the zenana or the residence of the queens, and the floating gardens make this fort an must see atleast once in your life. Coupled with Jaigarh, both fort’s cover a huge area which makes it impossible to see everything in one sitting. But try and catch a glimpse of the Jaivana cannon – the world’s largest movable cannon at Jaigarh.
Jaipur indeed is a city of palaces. And a visit to Jaipur is incomplete without visiting the ‘City Palace’. Majority of the palace is still a royal residence. But the part open to tourists houses a textile museum, museum of weapons and a collection of buggys. Other palaces worth a visit include the spectacular Jal Mahal – a floating palace located in the middle of Man Sagar lake that can be admired from far. The Nahargarh Fort is worth visiting for the birds eye view of Jaipur that one witnesses from the fort. And the ‘Rang De Basanti’ step well that taught Amir Khan the true meaning of gravity.
I returned to Jaipur after a span of fifteen years. And I can’t wait to go back. Such is the charm of Rajasthan. I remember the words of a fanous Rajasthani folk song as I conclude typing this. ‘Kesariya Balam Aavo Ni, Padhaaro Mhare Desh.’