We are standing at one of the busiest intersections in Jaipur. Teeming with cars, rickshaws, bicycles, trucks and a myriad of tuk-tuks, we can only watch in amazement as the traffic inexplicably flows around the central island. Every now and again, a camel drawn cart saunters into the fray.
Welcome to Jaipur!
Jaipur’s magnificent Hawal Mahal is just down the road. Also known as the Palace of the Winds, we have just stood staring up into the latticed windows of this towering facade imagining what it was like for the ladies of the court who could only glimpse life on the street below through these windows.
Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is actually one of the best planned cities in India. Credit is due to Maharani Jai Singh ll who in the 1720’s began to build a new city. Different streets were allotted for different professions. Johari Bazaar is home to the city’s jewellers whilst Bapu and Nehru Bazaars sell saris, footwear and leather goods. Kishanpol Bazaar sells all things wooden and homewares can be found in Tripololia Bazaar. It all makes sense!
Behind us is Bangle Corner where armfuls of bracelets can be bought for a dollar!
Leaving the chaos of our intersection behind, we head down Johari Bazaar, passing sari shops dotted amongst the jewellers.
Further along, a narrow laneway on the opposite side of the road leads to the local market. Even though it is very similar to the Udaipur markets with baskets of fresh vegetables covering the ground and animals and people roaming between them, we spend quite a while here!
Market after market beckon but we lose ourselves in the silver market and the flower market where we watch girls nimbly threading garlands of flowers that will be used for offerings.
We have arranged to meet our driver after lunch at the excellent LMB Restaurant, located in the middle of Johari Bazaar. A shopping afternoon is planned. Apart from jewellery and semi precious stones, Jaipur is well know for its textiles and blue pottery. Shops such as Anokhi, Soma and Cottons appeal. For jewels, we head to MI Road and the famous Gem Palace. My favourite is Tholia’s Kuber a little further up the road towards Amrapali, another well known jewellery shop. The list is long. Everyone has their favourites including our driver!
Our first day in Jaipur had started with a visit to the Amber Fort. Amber was once the ancient capital. The fort, also called Amer Fort, is a superb example of Rajput architecture with its majestic ramparts rising up. The high entrance gate is made for our arrival by elephant. Best to be up early if this is your preferred mode of transport as the elephants are now only allowed to do a certain number of trips a day.
Ganesh Gate with it’s stunning painted facade leads us to the private quarters of the royal family.
Above are the latticed windows overlooking the main courtyard that provided a private view for the royal women.
Don’t miss Jai Mandir, Sheesh Mahal (also known as the Hall of Mirrors) and the Sukh Nivas or Hall of Pleasure. The Hall of Mirrors is quite stunning with its mirror covered walls and ceiling, mosaics and marble carvings.
The City Palace is next the next stop on our itinerary. The royal family still live here in the seven story Chandra Mahal, found in one corner of the complex. Other rooms have been converted into museums showcasing textiles, furniture , manuscripts and art.
It’s an easy walk around the corner to Jantar Mantar, the astrology park.
When I first came here as part of the obligatory Jaipur tour, I thought, ho hum…. but I ended up being absolutely fascinated by the way these ancient astrological instruments measure time with an amazing degree of accuracy.
As we leave, photos of our morning elephant ride to Amber Fort are thrust in front of us.
So predictable is the day that we are easily found!
Tel: 91 141 2632407
MI Road, Jaipur
Tel: +91 141 2374493
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