Last weekend was our two years marriage anniversary (Yayy!!) and after much nagging coupled with a few tantrums I convinced my plant of a husband to uproot himself from our couch to come on a road trip! Destination was a major North Indian tourist attraction which I mostly overlooked till now due to its proximity to Delhi. As the famous “non-inclusive” Hindi saying goes “Ghar ki murgi daal barabar” (Home cooked meat is equivalent to plain old veg curry!? What about the vegetarians, huh?)
Jaipur is about 280 kilometers from Delhi connected by National Highway 8. The highway is well maintained and there’s not much congestion. The only and a very major issue is overloaded, lopsided trucks whose drivers do not want to stick to any lane which makes driving for an average Joe quite unpredictable, adventurous and dangerous! There are ample hygienic dhabbas (restaurants) that offer a wide range of Indian and Continental options. To name a few Old Rao, Mannat and Highway King are good ones.
We were putting up in the Hilton Jaipur on Hawa Sadak. This establishment fails to create much of an impression on the outside but is a whole other story inside with decent rooms, pool side dining, spa & sauna, exclusive executive lounge (with evening happy hours 😊) and friendly staff. The main attraction (this is not influenced by me being a massive foodie) is the oh’ so ahmazing breakfast buffet. It’s a huge super tasty spread. Even after multiple shameless helpings, two mornings were not enough to taste it all!
The pool is not very large and would surely get crowded in season. But doesn’t matter to us! Howsoever freezing the water is we must take a dip. Why you ask? Because it’s there and we can! Also, because I was carrying my swimming costume and had been longing to take a dip for the last four chilly Delhi months.
The next morning, we started bright and early to explore the “Pink city”. As car parking wasn’t allowed near the “Hawa Mahal” (Translation Wind Palace) our patient driver took multiple turns for us, so, we could take decent pictures of the monument. The monument is basically a wall with windows which served as a watch tower for the royal ladies during festival marches in olden days when parda system (covering married female’s face with a piece of clothing) was prevalent. The monument is now part of history, but I wonder when the misogynistic tradition associated with it becomes one!
Next, we went to Amer barely 10 kms from Jaipur to visit the Amer fort. Sitting on hill top with a massive lake in the front, this one is a treat for the eyes. The fort was built over generations with major contributions by Raja Man Singh and Jai Singh I. Having been to Red Fort, New Delhi, I could clearly observe the Mughal influence in the architecture. The fort was basically used as residence by Royal family until the capital was shifted to Jaipur by Swai Jai Singh II who had impressive self-promotion skills (named everything after himself!!). The structure consists of basic Mughal design: the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Sheesh Mahal, the garden designed on the lines of Delhi’s Mughal Garden, living quarters of the King, the Queens and the royal staff. Actually we saw more than we bargained for..got a good view of the Hammam (ancient steam room) and also the old style toilet ☹ which for some reason was still a little smelly.
The most interesting portion was two kilometers long tunnel that connected this fort to the massive Jaigarh fort (you guessed it, named by the same self-promoting Swai Jai Singh II). The Jaigarh fort was defense headquarters and the tunnel was meant to be an escape route for the royals during war time. Yep, we did visit the Jaigarh fort next but nop..we didn’t go through the tunnel. We will continue from here in the next post!