Many Gurgaonites I know have been to Jaipur so many times that it almost feels like an extension of Gurgaon. To me, it also occupies a special place emotionally ,as this where I celebrated my son’s 1st birthday.
We started around 5:00 a.m. Perfect time with the kids being asleep which results in less stoppages in the journey. The monsoon made ,the drive extremely scenic with clouds shadowing the seasonally green hills of the Aravalli ranges on route.
- Shopping at Hawa Mahal- Hawa Mahal is a historic building with 953 windows, one of the landmarks most associated with Jaipur. It was built to provide a view of the street festivities to the ladies of the place while remaining unobserved by the then Aam-Aadmi. Now the area around this monument- which is a maze of various old bazars- is home to several shops that sell handicrafts, jewellery, jootis, clothes and what have you. If you want to add the famous bandhani or leheriya to your wardrobe, then this place is the best bet. The local quilts which are synonymous with the city, and hence called Jaipuri quilts are a must buy. The mojaris found here are both comfortable and trendy at the same time and the ones made of camel leather are super soft too (apologies to animal lovers)! The entire bazaar is dotted with small carts selling the traditional Lac bangles which glitter their way into my heart. To spruce up your home , do shop for Rajasthani handicrafts. The jharokhas, patchwork , cushion covers and other knickknacks can magically transform any place. The vibrant colours and intricate handwork -a trademark of the local karigars- make these a must buy. Tip- Brush up on your bargaining skills
2.Sight-seeing- Jaipur offers an array of options for sight-seeing. Jantar-Mantar is an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh and contains architectural astronomical instruments. The City Palaceshowcases Mughal, European and Rajput style of architecture. A part of the palace continues to be retained by the contemporary Maharaja as his residence. At the City Palace don’t miss the Peacock Gate. Amer is located on a hill close to the Delhi- Jaipur highway. It provides a majestic view of theMaotha Lake. An elephant ride to the fort can enrich one’s sightseeing experience. Don’t miss theSheesh Mahal with mirror mosaics when visiting this place. Nahargarh Fort stands on the edge of the aravalis overlooking jaipur.The step water tank at the fort is impressive!
3. Sample rajasthani cuisine- Get your palate ready for some fiery, colourful, traditional fare. A cuisine inspired by the desert and savoured by Royalty should not be missed. Laxmi Misthan Bhandar or LMB does a decent job of serving vegetarian Rajasthani fare. Their Rajasthan thaal is the best alternative to sample the cuisine. Also, don’t forget to try out Jaipur’s famous Pyaaz kachori and mirchi vadas.
4.Photography- Jaipur with its pink walls ,intricately carved temples, splendid architecture and the backdrop of Aravalis is a photographer’s paradise. Add the vibrant attire of local women and their exquisite jewellery; it can make an amateur photographer’s work seem professional. The view from Nahargarh fortmakes for splendid photography. The elephants on the way to Amer also offer an interesting opportunity to click-on.
5.Soak in Rajasthani culture- Ride a camel or an elephant, get your palm read, dance with locals or just be a happy spectator, watch live puppet shows and enjoy rajasthani hospitality in its glorious best at the Choki Dhani resort.
Jaipur can easily be done in a day from Gurgaon or can be an interesting weekend option. If you do choose to stay, I highly recommend Four Points by Sheraton. The stay is comfortable and not too heavy on the budget. The warmth exuded by the staff here makes me feel snug as a bug in a rug. For some reason, they love children and that translates into a heavenly experience!