I had traveled to almost all states in India but never been to Rajasthan, hence I and Amit had decided to go to Jaipur (Well... main reason was low budget and this place fitted well in our budget plus both of us never been there).
I wanted to stay in good hotel (part of big hotel chain) in Jaipur but all hotels were extremely expensive as it was peak season. We visited in Feb 08. After a lot of search I found Ramgarh Lodge (Owned by Taj Group of Hotels). This hotel is very far from main city, about 35km from main highway. In old days it was a hunting lodge for Kings of Jaipur. It had beautiful & huge lake in front and is surrounded by hills. But now there is no water in lake. Hotel manager told us that due to lack of rain since several years, lake became dry completely. It’s almost 15 years that no one has seen water in that lake. I couldn’t believe. Even if there was no lake but I could see kilometers of deserted land. Well for me, that view was also amazing.
Me & Sheru :)
Animal heads hung on wall of hotel lobby
Animal heads hung on wall of hotel lobby
Amit Playing pool
Next day; we hired car and went to Amer Fort (alternatively known as Amber fort). We hired guide to take us around the fort and explain the history. Amer fort has unique artistic style, blending both Hindu & Muslim. Our guide explained us this artistic style from one of the carvings on wall. I took photo but now I can’t tell which style is Hindu & which is Muslim. (Try to figure out from below photo). To climb this fort you can also take elephant ride, as we didn’t know about it, we went up by car. This fort is connected to Jaigarh fort up the hill. Amer fort also has temple of goddess Kali.
Art work having combination of Hindu & Muslim Style
View from Amer fort
Inside Amer fort
Colorfull Art work
Renovating garden inside fort
Walk way like tunnel - good photography by amit
Wall used to be studded with precious stones
Corridor - almost all were narrow
View of muntains from Amer fort
Ruins on the way to Amer
After the fort visit we went to the shop located at the bottom of fort. This shop is very big and all typical Rajasthani things (souvenirs) are available. We did shopping from almost all parts of shops selling small earrings to clothes to shoes to wall paintings. Purchased almost all items available.
After shopping we were totally exhausted and very hungry. We had lunch in the restaurant next to this shop. In this restaurant for the first I had Dal-Bati-Churma and then I became fan of this Rajastani cuisine. Almost for 3 days I had dal-bati-churma wherever I went.
In the evening we went to explore Jairpur City, visited Sahelion Ki Baadi (garden created for Queen and her friends during old days), Jal Mahal (Palace in lake). Had camel ride for not more than 5-7 minutes but it was really adventures. Came back to our hunting palace and enjoyed view in twilight.
Sahelion ki badi - Garden for queen and her friends
Award winning photo by Amit
Jal Mahal - Palace in Lake
Lake and hills
Dam on lake
Twilight view from my hotel
My hotel in night
Next day we made plan to go to Agra to see Taj Mahal. I had never been to Agra before. I was very excited to see the Taj Mahal. It was the most awaited opportunity. Journey was very tiring; 10 hours drive to & fro. But still I wanted to go. I remember, during my interpretation assignments I met several Japanese people, almost everyone visited Taj Mahal. One of them even told me that there are two types of people in the world “people who has seen Taj Mahal” and “people who has not seen Taj Mahal”. I don’t know why but I used to felt very awkward to answer that I had never seen Taj. More than visiting Taj; I think I was excited because henceforth I will have answer YES to this question. But unfortunately no one has asked this question to me after that.
After 5 hours of drive, we finally arrived to Agra. We had to park our car about 1 ½ km away from the main building. Then we took a battery Rikshaw up to the main gate. Entered the main gate and my eyes where searching Taj but again had to walk about ½ km to see the actual TAJ MAHAL. Finally…. we entered huge gate and saw marvelous monument in front of us. It was bright sunny day and TAJ was shining.
Entrance of Taj Mahal
Moving towards Taj
Yamuna River behind Taj
One of the best photo by Amit
View from Taj Mahal
Me in cycle rikshaw- I sat for the first time
We hired a photographer to take snaps and sat on very famous seat for photo with TAJ. It was good decision to hire a photographer. After spending about 2-3 hours, we headed towards, Fatehpur Sikri. This was near from Agra and on the way to Jaipur. Here also we had to take Rickshaw but not the battery operated. We hired guide to give us the information about this place. I don’t remember much as I was tired & sleepy. We saw Buland Darwaja (Huge gate) and Salim Chisti’s Dargah. It took us about an hour to finish the sight seeing. On my way back I felt asleep in car.
Saint Salim Chitsti's Dargah
Next day we visited City palace of Jaipur located in the heart of city. Earlier this palace was belonging to King of Jaipur. Now it is open for people and even they rent the place for weddings and other functions. King stays in a small (but still big) part of Palace. City Palace was painted in redish color. Many houses and buildings were painted in same color. City palace also has small museum which contains lots of old weapons, Jewelry and antiques.
Decoration in city palace Jaipur
Big silver vessel for storing water in old days at City Palace
Palace of current King of Jaipur
Beautiful Corridor in Palace
Museum inside city palace
City palace has hall which has four doors painted and carved very uniquely. Each door was representing a season. See pictures below. It took quite long time to take snaps of doors when no one is standing in front of them.
After exploring City palace; we went to see Jantar Mantar which is next door. Jantar Mantar is a collection of astronomical instrument. This was built by Maharaja (king) Jay Singh II in 18th Century. This was a unique place. Information about each instruments is written very well but it is better to hire a guide because I couldn't understand the meaning of many of them. These instruments were used in syncronization with sun light fall on it. I could only understand one by using some formulas I got the exact time of the day. Almost all instruments were used for knowing time, planets' positions, etc. After the sight seeing; we headed to some local markets for shopping. Jaipur is famous for its lakh bangles which are very colorfull and decorated with glass pieces. I could buy some bangles and earing of lakh. After exploring city palace, Jantar Mantar & local markets we headed to airport.
See photos of Jantar Mantar below
Amit matching time with one of the instrument
Evening, we took flight back to Mumbai. This was my first time to visit Rajasthan (Jaipur), Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and eat dal-bati-churma. This trip was truly amazing; I wish I can go there again.