Jaipur Trip

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KC and I had not been to Jaipur despite it being so close to Gurgaon. I have been to Jaipur in 2008 for an official conference and KC has been there for work. I had been planning the trip before March’12 since it gets hot after that but we went to Amritsar instead. Right now the weather is quite good… summer is over… winter is still a month away… no more rains. This is the perfect weather. I booked tickets. The road from Gurgaon to Jaipur is quite bad and we prefer a shatabdi over driving or buses anyday. The train leaves from Gurgaon at 7 am and arrives at 10.30 am. Beware of autowalas at the station (a typical Indian trait). KC and I always have a disagreement over this. He cannot understand why I bargain over 20-30 bucks and I don’t get how he can pay any price quoted (its not like he is a NRI). I don’t like being taken for a ride in my own country and even foreigners know that bargaining is a must in India. How can I not ask for a lower price? After a few incidents with auto guys we reached the hotel. I had booked through my colleague so it was not very conveniently located. It was away from the central part of the city. The hotel was quite unhelpful… they did not even have cabs for tourists.
We booked a cab through the same colleague and left for the forts at 12 noon. There are 3 forts in Jaipur- Jaigarh, Nahargarh and Amer fort. All of them are located close to each other. Jaigarh is a fort where the security of the kings stayed. It is located around the city on the hilltop and has a scenic view. We skipped Nahargarh since there is nothing much to see there. The only good part is a small cafe located on top. It is amazing to eat and look out at the city. Amer fort is where the king stayed. Every driver takes tourists to the handicrafts shop. It is part of the ticket price. Even if you don’t want to buy anything people will show stuff. We found it very difficult to leave and even then we were taken through all the sections. I love how aggressively Rajasthan promotes tourism in the state. Other states need to learn from them. We saw block printing, painting on old papers. They were expensive and yet everyone was showing us enthusiastically. Unlike regular shops which lose interest once they realize we are not going to spend money.
We were quite tired after that and returned to the hotel. The plan was to go to Chowki Dhaani for dinner next. It takes an hour to get there. The charges for the cab are 1500 bucks… for chowki dhaani its an additional 800 bucks. CD is basically a cultural village. The entry fees are either 400 or 650 bucks depending on the kind of thali you pick. We went for the cheaper one since doing justice to that would be difficult. There are food counters, camel rides, merry go round, handicrafts etc. We skipped all that and headed for dinner. It is typical Rajasthani fare. We had to sit on the floor and were served soooo much food. I could not eat even half of it. We were too tired to eat all of it. The best part was when the servers made KC wear a turban. Hilarious!!!
The next day we headed to the city for sightseeing. As soon as we left the hotel, the auto guy told us everything will open at 1 pm and he can take us to the market instead. Smelling something fishy, we went and inquired from the hotel. Everything opens at 9.30 am. We left for City Palace which is … well, a palace. It took us 1.5 hours to explore it. We skipped Jantar Mantar (how different can it be from the one in Delhi) and headed for lunch to Handi Restaurant. It is supposed to be a famous place for non veg. I was quite disappointed… maybe it is more of a meat place and we ordered chicken. Avoidable.
We headed to Hawa Mahal and were bored out of our minds with so many palaces and forts. HM is the worst of all. It looks good on the outside but is quite ugly from the inside.
We left at 5.45 and reached at 9.30 pm in Gurgaon. Gurgaon station is pathetic… there are only 2 platforms… we could not find an auto for nearly 15 mins and the auto we finally sat in did not have headlights and the guy did not know the way.
All in all a good trip with an overdose of forts and palaces.

Here are some pics of the view from the forts:

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