Jaipur

We had never intended to go to Rajasthan. I had wanted to, especially to Jaisalmer but with it being the height of summer and most of Rajasthan being in the desert we were warned against it.
But during our travels a couple of people had recommended us to visit Pushkar in Rajasthan and seeing as it was on the way to Amritsar we decided to take a detour. Jaipur is on the way to Pushkar so we decided to spend a couple of days here first before heading onwards.

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is a big city. But once you travel around or outside of Jaipur there are many temples, forts and sights to see. Unfortunately a lot of people say that Jaipur is the least attractive of the cities in Rajasthan and we would have loved to have seen more of Rajasthan but we were happy to have visited Jaipur.

Jaipur was only a couple of hours on the bus away from Agra. Once we arrived we found it a bit difficult to find a room with air-con that was in our price range (unfortunately a fan only room in June just wasn’t an option for us) After a long time in our rickshaw and being shown some hideous places we finally found a decent place. Once again we were the only guests in this guesthouse and were so relieved to have nice cool air-con.

The next day myself and Jason decided to go our seperate ways for the morning. I found a nice hotel with a swimming pool and Jason went for a walk around our area. It was so nice lounging around by the pool. The owners of the hotel had 2 beautiful friendly dogs that I got to chill with too. After meeting up with Jason again he had told me about a rickshaw driver that he had met. His name was Khan and he was a very friendly older man. He offered us a day tour the next day for a reasonable price. He had a spot where he’d always park his rickshaw and if we were interested we could just go there. He also gave his phone number.

We decided to take him up on his offer and the next morning we went off in search of Mr Khan. Sure enough he was where he had promised he’d be. His nephew was the person driving and Mr Khan came along with us for the ride. They were a great couple of men who were constantly smoking weed but were so much fun!

We had three stops on the itinerary that day. The first was the Royal Gaitor Tombs, then the Amber Fort and finally Jal Mahal. Arriving at the Gaitor Tombs I was surprised at how little people there were around. In fact we were the only people there for most of the time. The tombs are absolutely amazing, all were built using both Indian and Italian marble. One man had the tombs built for each of his seven children because unfortunately they all died before him. Both Khan and his nephew were great and turned out to be great guides also, filling us in on the history and stories behind the tombs. While walking out of the tombs we happened to bump in to the only other foreigner that was there that we had strangely enough met both at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu and again while hiking in Langtang. It was so funny that he happened to be at these deserted tombs also. After a quick catch-up and before leaving the tombs we came across a woman that was offering some henna. She offered it at a good price so I decided to get some done again. This time on the palms of my hands (which proved very tricky for me to do anything while it dried) Our next stop and one of my favourite places of our trip was the Amber Fort.

The Gaitor tombs.
There were so many monkeys around the tombs.
The designs were so intricate, all hand carved.
Khans nephew.
Mr Khan himself!
My henna tattoos.

The Amber Fort from a distance is just breath taking. The fort walls are so tall and the buildings behind it are so old and full of history that I got quite excited when we saw it. What made it even better is the fact that we had never intended on coming to Jaipur so I hadn’t done much research about it so I don’t think I had even seen a photo of the fort before arriving.

Myself and Khan with the Amber fort behind us.

The fort is quite big and it was midday so we arranged to meet with Khan and his nephew again in a couple of hours. The sun was beating down on us so Jason bought a *fashionable* hat and we began our ascent to the entrance of the fort. Even the pathway up to the fort is beautiful and the views from the top were stunning. Again because it was the height of the hot season there were very little vistors there which allowed us to enjoy it in peace.

The beautiful view while walking up the hill towards the fort.
Me with the magnificent fort behind.
Jason and his ridiculous hat!
The view of the gardens in front of the fort.

Once we reached the top we were so sweaty that we had to find somewhere selling drinks and sit down in the shade for a bit. We sat in the courtyard at the entrance of the fort which was magical and tried to regain some energy to continue. After about 20 minutes we moved forward and began our tour of the fort, audio kits were really expensive so we decided to go without and just enjoy the architecture and make up our own stories. The fort was huge! It was amazing to think that people used to live there. There were areas where the people would have Turkish baths, beautiful mosques, living quarters, seperate courtyards and tiny spiralling staircases. We both had a lot of fun wandering around the fort.

The beautiful courtyard in the fort.
Trying to find somewhere cool.
Jason in front of the courtyard.
One of the many beautiful buildings within the fort.
One of the Turkish baths.
Amber fort.
On the way back down.

After a couple of hours we made our way back down and were greeted by Khan and his nephew once again. It was time for lunch and they brought us to a great little spot where we ordered some decent paneer curry and aloo ghobi with some rotis. After lunch we went to see the Jal Mahal. It is nicknamed the floating palace because it is a palace that was built right in the middle of a lake. Although we didn’t go inside or get close to it, it was beautiful just to see it there in the middle of the lake.

The Jal Mahal

After our eventful day of sightseeing it was now time to fulfill our side of the bargain with Khan. The reason that we got the rickshaw ride for so cheap is because we promised him that we would look in a couple of shops afterwards. We didn’t mind this at all because he was very upfront and honest about it. He told us exactly how much the shop owners gave him and knowing that they were giving him money and how much fun we had had with him we were happy to oblige. He asked us what types of shops we wanted to go to, told us that he would get the money regardless of if we bought anything or not so we didn’t feel any pressure to buy. But we did end up buying a couple of things, including a nice necklace. We went to a tailor shop that had beautiful clothes and bags and bought a couple of things there for a good price, then Jason decided to buy a suit! He was contemplating it for a while and then he got the man to come down by a lot and ended up getting a good deal on it. So couldn’t resist.  On our way home that night we came across a wedding. It was quite exciting to see the extravagant Indian wedding that had turned out to be a festival on the street. We stopped to take a quick look and before we knew it we were in the centre of it all offering our congratulations to the groom. There were people pulling and dragging at me just to try and get to touch me. It was a great sight to see.

Jason getting fitted for his suit.

Because Jason was buying a tailor made suit it meant that we had to stay in Jaipur a couple of days longer. This is the great thing about not having set dates while travelling, it allows you the options of staying longer in places and leaving other places sooner. I didn’t mind staying in Jaipur a bit longer as a day relaxing at the other hotels pool sounded like heaven to me. Khan had also invited us to his house for tea the next day, an offer that we were very honoured to accept.

That evening we decided that we both really wanted a really nice meal. We went on to Trip Advisor and found a restaurant named Barbeque Nation with tons of great reviews so decided to try and find it. What we didn’t expect is for it to be on the complete other side of the city and for our rickshaw driver to get lost and then finally find the place about 40 minutes later. He then decided to wait outside while we were eating. (we really didn’t want him to)

But all of that stress was forgotten about once we got inside. The place was so clean and the smells were amazing. It was actually a chain restaurant that is all over India. It has all you can eat skewers that were beyond delicious, once you decided you had enough with the skewers it was time for the buffet. We were both beyond stuffed after leaving and so happy to have had a break from the usual foods.

The next day was spent lazing by the pool. That afternoon Khan and his nephew picked us up to collect Jasons suit. Afterwards Khan told us that his nephews wife had prepared a dinner for us. We felt so honored and a little guilty as we had just eaten before they picked us up. Of course we didn’t tell them that.

We arrived into their neighbourhood just around sunset and in time to hear the beautiful call to prayer (Khan and his family are Muslim and live in a Muslim area) Once we arrived at the house I was once again taken aback by it. Khans nephew and his wife live in this tiny one room house with their four children. We arrived to find about 15 people there all of whom were just staring at us. His wife was so young, younger than me, and she was honestly one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. She looked just like Freida Pinto and had a beautiful smile. We weren’t expecting to visit the family so unfortunately I hadn’t brought the camera along to capture that wonderful night.

Once it was time to eat, we realised that it was only going to be us, Khan and his nephew eating. The others just sat and watched us eat. The food was absolutely amazing and there was so much of it! I felt bad that I couldn’t finish it! We then showed them some of the quirky passport style photos that I had taken with some of my friends in Korea. The women were amazed by the photos and must have just sat there looking and talking about them for about 15/20 minutes. After a great evening it was time for us to go back to our guesthouse, the next day we would be leaving for Pushkar.

Jaipur was a nice surprise spot on our travels. There were some great sights to see and we met incredible people there also.

Getting there and away:

From Agra we booked a bus through our guesthouse, it worked out being a bit more expensive than the train but it was quicker and there were more tickets available. From Jaipur to Pushkar we got a local bus, it only took about 30 minutes and was an interesting ride!

Where we stayed:

Hotel Jai Maa: They had decent rooms at a decent price. They seemed very clean and we had a tv, air-con and hot water and they were also quite big. While staying there Jason noticed that he was getting bitten, after inspecting our sheets we found a bed bug. We informed the staff and asked to change rooms. After moving rooms we didn’t have any other problems with it. So if you do stay here check the bed first. Other than that we enjoyed our stay there and even with the bedbugs would still recommend staying there. The rooftop restaurant is very sweet too.

Website:  http://www.jaimaapalace.com/

Tripadvisor reviews:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g304555-d2485575-r162078322-Hotel_Jai_Maa_Palace-Jaipur_Rajasthan.html#REVIEWS

The Gaitor tombs
One of the many sculptures in the Gaitor tombs.
My henna tattoo.
Inside the Amber fort.
Inside the Amber fort.
Inside the Amber fort
Inside the Amber fort.
Inside the Amber Fort.
Inside the Amber Fort.
Jason in front of the Jal Mahal.
Jasons Bullet beer.
Let sleeping dogs lay in the Gaitor Tombs.
Outside the Amber Fort.

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