While we were growing up, we all had one thing in common; a wish to take a shot at royalty and to experience the feeling of being a king. Now since we have grown up and have jobs, which mostly keep us grounded in reality, royalty seems like a faraway dream. Of course, no one can promise to turn you us into a king overnight but the closest you one can come to tasting the royal life is by visiting Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
Well connected with almost all the cities of the country, it is one of the major cities of India. A kaleidoscope of the right amount of tradition and modernity, Jaipur will not only satiate your thirst for royalty but also leave an impression on you that is hard to shrug off. The Pink City, living up to its name not only has pink monuments but the entire walled city has been painted pink, the color which exudes festivity.
The first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the word, Jaipur is invariably the (pink) Hawa Mahal. While you go up in the Hawa Mahal through various floors, each having windows galore, and hence the name, you won’t be able to contain your excitement despite your aching legs. A visit to Jaipur isn’t complete without roaming in the resounding corridors of the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort. If there is a local resident accompanying you, then you’ll have to patiently wait while he will painstakingly try to locate his terrace from among the millions of terraces that can be seen from Nahargarh. This activity, for some fascinatingly inexplicable reason never loses its charm for him.
People still swear by the world famous Jantar Mantar when it comes to predicting the weather and it is one of the most striking places in Jaipur. The City Palace, the abode of Maharaja Bhawani Singh, has the most magnificent architecture and a vast museum which is chock-a-block with a plethora of arms, ammunitions and historical artifacts.
Jaipur also happens to be a foodie’s delight. From Rawat ki kachori to MI road ki lassi, from Raja Park ke gol gappe to the very famous ghewar, it has something for everyone. It would be such a shame if you come to Jaipur and don’t go to Choki Dhani, a brilliant masquerade of a village where you get delectable authentic Rajasthani food served with such earnest that it is hard to decline multiple helpings of the dal, baati, or even something as basic as garlic chutney. The sweet shop cum restaurant Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar or LMB as it is fondly called, will serve you the chaat that is hygienic yet every bit as lip-smacking as the chaat from the roadside. And it is frankly really difficult to pick up one street that serves better chaat than the next one.
If you’re a shopaholic, the markets here will take your breath away. Jaipur has the quintessential malls, yes but what sets this beautiful city apart is Johri bazaar and the rest of the walled city. From bed sheets and quilts to the bhandej fabric, laakh jewellery and mojris, the myriad options will overwhelm you and compel you to buy at least something. But if you’re not in a mood to splurge, you shouldn’t lose heart. A carefree stroll on the verandahs in the walled city will acquaint you with the hues of the city, the idiosyncrasies of the local residents and the politely firm shopkeepers. But you shouldn’t be too surprised if the shopkeeper knows 10 different languages, it is a tourist hub after all. The atmosphere will grow on you, and though intangible and tactile, will make a stronger impression than anything else.
Even though the malls of the city are like any other sprawling shopping complex that can be found all over the country, a cursory visit to such a place will acquaint you with the people of Jaipur who are disarmingly humble and hospitable.
Unless you want to experience the sweltering heat of the city, the best time to discover Jaipur is from October to March, when the city stands welcoming in all its crimson glory with a cool breeze and dazzling sunshine, beckoning you, padharo mhare des.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/1026583267/]