An Introductory Visit To Jaipur

Trip Start Oct 26, 2012
Trip End Oct 29, 2012

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Where I stayed
Diggi Palace Jaipur
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Old city

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inexplicably in all these years of travel, Rajasthan never attracted us.  Even now, it was a must attend wedding in Jaipur that drew us here and using the marriage as an excuse, we happily planned  a ten day trip from Jodhpur through Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Mandwa before reaching Jaipur.  
Well, as is often the case, the best made plans go awry.   The introduction to Rajasthan ended up being just a few days in Jaipur, but we made the most of it as best we could.
Driving from the airport along broad boulevards, I was instantly reminded of Mysore and was not surprised to learn later that Mysore's Diwan Mirza Ismail  had a significant role to play in the layout of Jaipur.
The hotel we stayed at was a converted old haveli, well maintained with spacious grounds, resident langurs and delightful peacocks!  Regrettably the ultra bland food and the covertly racist attitude of the owners left a lot to be desired - which is a  story better narrated in a separate hotel review.  It was conveniently located within walking distance of the old Pink City, though it was not at all a pleasant walk thanks to the overpowering stench of urine on the pavements. Not that this is unique to Jaipur!
Upon entering the walled city, we were immediately accosted by each and every shopkeeper of each and every shop in the myriad bazaars within.  While this was annoying enough for us as Indians, it must be downright intimidating for the foreign tourists. The shopkeepers aggressive sales pitch are a big put off, at least it was for us.    Having said that, I could see why Jaipur is called  a shoppers paradise.  Though most of the wares on offer were touristy tat, there was certainly a huge variety of some rather nice tat as well. I succumbed and did not leave without my fair share of purchases.   I would have bought more had it not been such a nuisance having to bargain fiercely in every store.  Initial prices quoted anywhere were at least 3 to 4 times higher than the final settled amount.  After a while,  the haggling became just too much of an effort and I did not enter another shop.  The Jaipur traders are geared to sell to the foreign tourist though I doubt that most foreigners would pay such steep prices, they probably drive a harder bargain than we do.  One cannot even walk in peace  without being constantly assailed by men beseeching you to enter their shops.  
The walled city was charming in its own way with the old if dilapidated buildings and their delicated carved lattice windows, narrow little bylanes and  Rajasthani women colourfully attired in traditional wear.
At the Hawa Mahal, a cycle rikshawallah cajoled and implored us to engage him.  He said he would take us up to the Jal Mahal and on the way back he promised to show us places that tourists rarely see. His charm worked.  It was a different and most enjoyable way to explore the old city on a cycle riksha tour.  Not to mention the non stop entertaining banter from our self appointed tour guide!


















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