Icon of Jaipur – Hawa Mahal

22.10.2017:

12.15 hrs – Time to visit the signature building of Jaipur – the b! Hawa Mahal is about 10 minutes walk from the Jantar Mantar. I preferred walking over a tuk-tuk since its the best way to explore a place ๐Ÿ˜‰ I came across a Pol or gate which actually leads into the City Palace area. Jaipur is one such place which needs to be explored by walking around the surroundings to immerse ourselves in it’s architecture and culture. Hawa Mahal is surrounded by a cluster of buildings whose architecture is a blend of Mughal, Rajput and European styles. The market area here is also a fine one to hit at!

While nearing the Hawa Mahal I came across a street photographer whose name is Tikam Chand. His prized possession is a 1880’s Carl Zeiss Wooden Box camera with which he takes the old-fashioned black-and white portraits. Though he offered me one, I simply denied but requested him that I would like to peep through it’s viewfinder ๐Ÿ™‚ and Tikam Chand happily agreed ๐Ÿ™‚ Bidding a bye to Tikam Chand, I walked into a narrow pathway which leads to the ticket counter of Hawa Mahal. The entry ticket costs Rs. 50/- for Indians.

If Jaipur is synonymous to anything else, it is this unique piece of architecture – the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds. It is a five-storied Palace built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh under the supervision of his able architect Lal Chand Ustad. The entry to this building is through AnandPol and there is another entry further called the ChandraPol which leads to a spacious courtyard in middle of which there is a water fountain without water :-0 surrounded on the three sides by two-storey buildings. In the courtyard, there is a also a souvenir shop selling various souvenirs and postcards and also Cafe Coffee Day for refreshments.

The Palace is constructed in red and pink sandstone and is in the form of the Hindu God Lord Krishna’s crown. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who is a great devotee of Lord Krishna had dedicated this Palace to him and worshipped him at the Vichitra Mandir.ย  There are no staircases available to reach the upper floors, but ramps connected all the various floors. It is said that the main motive behind having these ramps is to facilitate the movement of palanquins of the queens! What a royalty ๐Ÿ™‚

There is something unusual about this palace. Firstly, there are no staircases which should be the common case in a five-storied building; secondly, though each floor is named uniquely as Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Hawa Mandir and so forth, we can’t literally see a mandir or Palace as such. The base two are courtyards, while the top three are just a single room thick. And the most important feature of this structure are the ‘Jharokhas’ or windows adorned with intricate designs. It is said that there are 953 such Jharokhas throughout the Palace.

There are two motives behind having these Jharokas or windows – one was toย make the royal women enjoy freedom of watching the royal procession on the streets through these windows without being seen in public and the other is for the wind circulation throughout the palace. But in totality, the Hawa Mahal was built as an extension of the Royal City Palace to allow the women of the royal household to witeness the street festivities without being seen ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Ratan Mandir is perhaps the only one which has got intricate glass work and to climb up to the Hawa Mandir which is the last floor of the palace, I had to wait for 10 minutes as there is no much space up there and I can enter only if someone gets down! From the top, we get a view of the neighboring Jantar Mantar and the bustling streets of Badi Choupar. The Palace is an excellent blend of Rajput and Mughal architectures. While the former style is palpable from the fluted pillars, floral patterns and domed canopies, the arches and stone inlay filigree work are manifestations of the latter style. The palace also has an archaeological museum.

The exit is through another dimly lit and long narrow passage. Passing through it, I almost felt that entering Hawa Mahal is far more easier than exiting it! ๐Ÿ˜€ Soon, I was on to the outer courtyard and I moved out through the other gateway which directly opens into the Market area!

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My Shopping Adventure in Jaipur!

21.10.2017:

14.45 hrs – My auto-wallah dropped me near the Jal Mahal or Water Palace, which is a small palace set in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. This 200 year old palace attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year and interesting fact is that though this is a five storied building, four floors of the building are under the water and only the fifth is visible. Jal Mahal was constructed by Sawai Madho Singh to lodge himself while he was on his duck hunting parties, but later his son converted this into a more beautiful palace by extending its courtyards and having a garden there!

Tourists are not allowed to enter this palace and we could only see it from the main road. Watching it for a few minutes, I moved towards a road-side dhaba to have my lunch. This is not the place to end up for a good Rajasthani meal โ€“ but as I was feeling so hungry, I decided to settle down here! Having had my lunch I reached my hotel to grab some sleep before I set onto my shopping adventure! ๐Ÿ™‚

18.00 hrs โ€“ I overslept! :-0 , but then, itโ€™s ok! I need this much rest after going all around those beautiful forts! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, my lunch was not upto my expectations โ€“ so I decided to eat something first and then go shopping. Rajasthan is famous for its cuisine โ€“ and especially Jaipur is famous for its mouth-watering pyaaz kachoris, ghewar and jalebis! I took a cab from my hotel to one of the most popular bazaars of Jaipur โ€“ the Johri Bazaar. As the name suggests, Johri Bazaar is famous for gems and jewellery. But I chose a different thing other than gems โ€“ I am here to get some good juthis ๐Ÿ™‚

Jaipur is famous for its block printed textiles, blue pottery, finely-crafted jewelery, miniature paintings, itโ€™s well known Jaipuri shawls, tie-and-dye salwars and last but not the least their traditional jutis. As this day was the auspicious โ€˜Bhai-doojโ€™, most of the shops were closed by the time I reached there, but few were still bustling with customers looking for their best bets! I walked straight to a Mistan Bhandar or a sweet shop to have some pani-puri before exploring this market further! Having had a papdi chat and pani-puri, I returned to my shopping adventure ๐Ÿ˜€

The Johri Bazaar is studded with numerous shops selling gold and silver jewellery, precious gems, stone and other customized jewellery. I walked a little longer and arrived at a shop where I found few Juthis hanging outside. The shop was full of people checking for various varieties of footwear, trying them on and bargaining. I too got settled down on a chair and soon a person was there to help me out on trying those beautiful and elegant juthis. Always remember, that bargaining hard is the mantra here! While the shopkeeper offered the price at Rs. 1100/-, I bargained them for Rs. 300/- and got them! ๐Ÿ™‚ Still my friends told me that I paid more indeed! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I picked up two more pairs for my mom and niece. Though Johri Bazaar is also a good place to look for sarees and lehangas, I couldnโ€™t try my hands at them ๐Ÿ˜‰ Donโ€™t forget to get a glimpse of the iconic Hawa Mahal here! I returned to my hotel after helping myself with few more kachoris ๐Ÿ˜€ . Though it was as hot as in Summer, there was a drastic drop in the temperature during the night. So if you plan to visit Rajasthan these days, do carry a jacket or sweater ๐Ÿ™‚

48 hours in Jaipur

My official trip to Delhi in October was fixed and I had to be there by Monday i.e. 23.10.2017. I planned to leave to Delhi from Trivandrum on Friday evening. Well, what would I do in Delhi on the weekend? Shopping in Chandini Chowk? Lazing around Connaught Place?? Or just relax in a cozy book cafรฉ in Khan Market??? Naaah… (-_-) It was then I decided to visit the neighboring city of Delhi โ€“ Jaipur! Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan is about 300 kms from Delhi, the capital city of India :-J

20.10.2017:

19.15 hrs โ€“ I was on board the Air India flight to Delhi from Trivandrum and reached Delhi around 22.30 hrs. I pre-booked my seat on a private bus service which runs daily in between Delhi and Jaipur. As itโ€™s only a matter of 5 to 6 hours, I found this option better than catching a train at that late hour. I boarded my bus at Dhaulakuan around 12.30 in the night and quickly wrapped myself under sheets to have a small nap as I was about to have a long day. I was dropped at the Sindhi Camp Bus stand at 05.30 hrs in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚ Ola and Uber services are good in Jaipur and I chose Uber to reach my hotel โ€˜FabHotel Dior Pink Cityโ€™.

Sindhi camp was full of activity even so early in the morning. While vendors were offering cups of hot tea to those passengers, drivers and conductors who alighted the buses; rickshaw-pullers, auto-wallahs and cab-drivers were going about offering their services to drop their customers at the doorsteps of their destinations. The sun had not risen yet; the street lights were still on; and I am here gazing at this beautiful city through my cabโ€™s windows, while the gentle morning breeze caress my face! I got the first glimpses of the great Ajmeri gate and the Hawa Mahal on my way to the hotel!

06.30 โ€“ The reception at the hotel was warm as my brother had already left some instructions to them ๐Ÿ˜‰ The room was cozy, cool and elegant with a small wardrobe in one corner, a king-size mirror into the other and a foamy bed with white sheets, a study table and a chair neatly tucked under it, a 42 inches TV and an Air-conditioner โ€“ what more could I ask for! =^_^= I have fallen in love with the room almost in an instant and fell fast asleep! 08.00 hrs โ€“ My dad woke me up with his phone call while I answered lazily and when he announced that it was 8 oโ€™ clock in the morning, I thought I could rest no more and I got to go!

By the time I was ready, even my breakfast was ready โ€“ two hot aloo parathas with a cup of fresh curd and pickle! I relished every bit of them as the other day’s dinner on board was pathetic and I didnโ€™t get a chance to eat anything at all during that night ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I quickly got down to the reception to inquire with the chaps about how to go around the places in the city! They gave me an idea about which all places I should visit and from where I should be starting my solo expedition! ๐Ÿ™‚

My first visit for the day would be to the Amber Fort and though I thought of booking an Uber, I found the fare quite high (350 approx) for a distance of 6 kms. So, instead of Uber, I opted for the local tuk-tuk (the battery cars) which costed me only Rs. 50/-. The mantra while choosing a tuk-tuk is check with two or three drivers. The local ones would offer you the best price while the others would simply demand two or three times the normal fare! While the first one I stopped had demanded me a sum of Rs. 250/- to take me up to the Amber Fort, the second one simply told Rs. 50/- as a matter of fact! ๐Ÿ™‚