Knock Knock (Jaipur)

One of the charming and most frequented places, Jaipur adds generously to the splendour of India. It is a place where you can daily excavate through the layers of time and still be left with a lot on you plate to explore.

Also known as the Pink City, this captivating land of palaces, forts and ancient monuments is a history lover’s paradise. If you are a true-blue traveller, then you must have added Jaipur as a priority to your bucket list but the question is- how well do you really know about this city?

We’ve chalked out 5 interesting facts about Jaipur here which you should be aware of and we bet you didn’t know about all of them!

We all know Jaipur as the Pink City!

But why so?

Since traditionally pink is associated with hospitality, the entire city was washed in this colour in order to honour and welcome the visit of Edward, the Prince of Wales! This took place in the year 1876 under the rule of Maharaja Ram Singh and since then, Jaipur has been called the Pink City of India.

Jaipur is one of the first planned cities in India!

It was planned according to Indian Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra by a Bengali architect named Vidyadhar Bhattacharya in 1727. The directions of each street and market are East to West and North to South and the whole city was built in 4 years!

Jantar Mantar and Amer Fort are two of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Jaipur!

Therefore, Jaipur is one of the leading touristy places of India. Jantar Mantar is a complex of 19 architectural astronomical instruments which were built in the year 1734 by the king of Jaipur. The motive was to observe the astronomical positions of the solar system with the naked eye. On the other hand, the Amer Fort is frequented by visitors everyday, from all over the world because of its picturesque beauty oozing from every crack and corner!

The world’s largest free literary festival happens here!

Commenced in 2006, the Jaipur Literature Festival is the world's largest free literary festival which is attended by prominent people from all over the globe. From writers to filmmakers, lyricists to novelists, this festival witnesses thousands of artists from various countries.

The Jawahar circle is claimed to be the biggest circular park in Asia!

Jawahar Circle is claimed to be the biggest circular park in Asia, developed on a highway traffic circle. A number of attractive features like musical fountains, modern play equipment, jogging tracks are being added to this locale and it is 13 km long!

A perfect blend of old world charm and contemporary vibrancy, Jaipur is a city with secrets and a plethora of trivia gets churned out of it, every day!

A perfect blend of old world charm and contemporary vibrancy, Jaipur is a demanding location yet so captivating!

If you're visiting Jaipur anytime soon, you might have already decided to check out the forts and palaces but there are so many other things to do in the city than just the normal touristy activities!

Day 1

Begin your day early- visit the protective walls built around the city!
There are seven massive gates in this wall at strategic points- one faces the east side where the sun rises and is appropriately called ‘Suraj Pol’ which translates to the ‘Sun Door’.
Descending down, you will reach a natural spring called ‘Galtaji’. The water from the sprout collects in a deep tank constructed by the Lords of Jaipur and it is strongly recommended to take a dip in the fresh waters to experience a memorable start to your day.

Galtaji

Then focus the morning on the grand City Palace of the Pink City, which is still the official residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur. The palace is centrally located and it takes around 2-3 hours to fully explore all the staterooms, museums and art exhibitions.

Highlights of the palace include-

The highly intricate Peacock Gate, the colossal silver vessels in the Diwan-I-Khas and the armory with its collection of weapons which speaks volumes about the history of Jaipur.

Fill your stomach with the delicacies of Rajasthani cuisine for lunch and then head over to the iconic Johri Bazaar which is considered to be a shopper’s paradise! While you stroll here, do not miss out on a delicious glass of lassi from the Lassiwala!

You can also check out Bapu Bazaar which is known for authentic Jaipur-style bedsheets, cushions, salwar suits, kurtas, chappals and so on. Head over to the Nahargarh fort to witness the sunset and then finish off your day with a hearty snack at the Durg Café!

Day 2

Start your next morning really early in the sprawling skies with a hot air balloon ride. Soar high above the countryside with its patchwork of green fields and scrub forests, the blue-greens and browns of the water bodies, dry land and rocky outcrops. You can witness the picturesque villages here from a bird’s eye view and how they begin their daily routines in the Pink City! Float over hustling-bustling bazaars, forts, palaces and wave back at the localities looking up!

After a quick breakfast at any local eatery, head over to the Amer Fort which is one of the most visited fort, just keep in mind that this would take up almost half a day to visit. The fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013 and you need to go to the top to embrace the royalty of the bygone era. Either take an elephant ride or hire a private vehicle and then enter the palace through Ganesh Pol. It is said that the royalties were welcomed in a pompous manner here every time they returned from a victorious battle, it called for a huge celebration.

Highlights of the fort includes-

Flood your social media with pictures from the aesthetic Diwan-e-Aam or the 'hall of general public' and your friends will be struck by an intense sense of wanderlust! It is a hall where the kings used to listen to the needs and complaints of the common man and now this place houses intricate wall murals and a sprawling ceiling full of vivid colours.

From there head over to Jaigarh Fort- a grand structure perched on the top of the Cheel ka Teela hills in the Pink City of Jaipur. Jaigarh Fort is made-up of sand stones and was erected with the purpose of protecting Amer Fort! This fort is considered as the strongest monument of Jaipur and it houses weapons and other military utilities. The gigantic canon Jaivana Cannon is the major attraction of the fort along with its exceptional military architecture.

Head over for a hearty lunch to 1135 AD restaurant and you’ll see the words ‘opulent’ and ‘regal’ flashing through your mind. Try out their laal maas, chicken tikka and biryani and it will be an experience you’ll boast about, for years to come.

After lunch, there’s no time for you to be lazy- head to Jantar Mantar for moment’s peace and calm! This iconic spot houses the world’s largest sundial and astronomical observation instruments which you can see from the City Palace’s summit. It’s an interesting place for lovers of history but will be very crowded at this time of the day so make up your mind accordingly.

As tired you may already be, you can’t miss out on the sunset from the sun temple. It gives you a panoramic view of this touristy and oh-so-picturesque city so welcome the dusk with your camera!

So if you’re here for 48 hours, these are some of the best places for you to explore and we’re sure, you’ll have tons of stories to share even after a short stint here. Utilize this upcoming weekend and beat the heat with your wanderlust priorities!

(Tip: Since summers are an off-season time, you’ll probably have a cheap trip due to scanty crowd.)

Lassi is not merely a drink for the summer season; it is an emotion which runs through us, the desis! This versatile drink can be consumed anytime to quench your summery thirst- gulp down the chilled and sweet version of this, malai maar ke or just opt for a thick salty-sour variant on a hot day. Whip up a glass after a meal to wash down the nosh or just cool your insides in this heat, with a dollop of fresh cream on your lassi.

Jaipur is a city with punishing heat levels and one of the epicurean ways to conquer this sweltering season is to indulge in beverages which’ll keep you satiated and quenched! On a similar note, Jaipur has this lassi shop which is over 70 years old and the other outlets in the vicinity, selling the same aren’t a match for this oldie!

Lassi’ng since 1944!

Seated at MI road, Lassiwala was then the first of its kind in Jaipur, serving their frothing creamy lassi to all. Traditionally available as sweet and salty, the outlet has now also introduced a sugar-free variant of the same and people of all ages are frequenting the kiosk like there’s no tomorrow. BTW the lassi is made only with curd and ice, devoid of water so the result turns out to be a thick and velvety summery delight for you to swig!

The lassi here is popular even amidst B-town celebs like Amitabh Bacchan, Mukesh Ambani, Shilpa Shetty etc. so you can imagine the amount of craze here for this particular beverage!

Location: 312, MI Road, Jayanti Market, New Colony, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Timings: 7am- 4pm (They close when sold out so get here early to avoid disappointment)

Well known for its rich history, vibrant culture and mouth watering cuisine, the city has a new twist at every turn. For the foodie, the Pink city is nothing less than paradise- from succulent meats to melt in your mouth sweets, the city has something to satiate the palette of the gourmet as well as the gourmand. Looking to navigate the streets of Jaipur through the amazing, mouth watering Rajasthani cuisine? Here are 7 Rajasthani dishes that you have to try when you're in Jaipur because the food is not just an explosion of flavour, but a riot of colours as well.

Dal, Bati, Churma

A dish that is a full meal in itself, the Dal, Baati, Churma is a Rajasthani speciality. Emerging from the rural places in Rajasthan, the dish made its way into the heart of tourists by its sheer texture and its unique taste. The three elements of the dish must go hand in hand or it just doesn't taste the same. The Dal is the plain and simple one that we all love and know. The Bati and Churma is where it gets interesting. The batti is like a ball of maida, which has a flaky, somewhat hard texture and the churma is what goes along with it. To get the best out of the dish, break apart a piece of the bati, douse it in the daal and proceed to top it off with some sweet, heavenly churma.

Laal Maans

Perhaps the most quintessential Rajasthani dish , the Laal Maans is not for the light hearted. Peppered with fiery powders and masalas, the dish is so hot that it almost exudes heat. The meat in the dish is specially cooked to give it a soft, tender and juicy flavour. The spicy gravy adds to the explosive flavours of the magnificent dish, making it all the more alluring. To best take in the dish, we would recommend that you order a well buttered naan and let the calories take a back seat. According to tradition, the reason that the dish has so much spice, masala and fire is that it veils the gamey aroma of the mutton.

Ghewar

In stark contrast to the Laal maas, the Ghewar is sweet and melts in your mouth. Made of chickpeas, flour and loads of desi ghee, Ghewar is a sweet which is enriched by a layer of dry fruits. Sometimes it is also garnished with paneer. It is most nourishing and rich, so be sure you have a good appetite before you start. Generally it is prepared during the Saawan months (rainy season) and is a must serve sweet for any special occasion.

Rajasthani Thali

When in Jaipur, do as the Rajas do or did. With the massive Rajasthani thali, you'll be dining like royalty in no time. The thali has a little bit of everything that Rajasthani cuisine has to offer- hence the name. You can find some nice naans, soolas, daal, rice, laal maans, papads and even more sweets. The thaali is not just a meal, it is an experience and perhaps this is why many tourists visit the city just to take in the rich flavours of everything this mega thaali has to offer.

Soola

Pretty much all of us are suckers for a nice juicy piece of chicken tikka. The smoky flavour, the soft texture, all just blend together to give an amazing treat to the taste buds. In Jaipur, however, there's a different type of chicken tikka called soola. In soola, the meat pieces are marinated with rich flavourful marinade which includes spices, onion and sometimes raw papaya. Soola literally means barbeque and this preparation from the kitchens of Rajasthan's royals is a hot favourite for all sorts of meat.

Rajbhog

This sweet dish is an instant fan favourite of tourists and residents alike. Much like the Rasgullas from Bengal, it has a similar texture. The difference lies in the taste. This one has a more mellow as well as muted texture and flavour. Possibly this could be a result of all the saffron that goes into making the dish. In all of Rajasthan, Jaipur has the best Rajbhogs and if you haven't tried these, was your trip even worth it?

Pyaz Kachori and Mirchi Vada

A departure from the sweet delicacies, the mirchi vada and pyaz kachori are must haves. Jaipur has many great outlets that serve these two dishes but you'll find many street vendors also selling the same. Regardless, the pyaz kachori is unlike any other you've had and once you take a bite of it with the mint coriander chutney, everything blends together well and is an absolute treat for the taste buds. The mirchi vada too, is rather common and tastes best with some chutney. However, the mirchi vada lives up to its name you need to have a fireproof gut to relish this delicacy.

The Pink city has had a long and vibrant past. The architecture, the grandeur and the opulence all point towards a city that has managed to keep its charm intact while embracing new mindsets. The food, however, is one constant that seems to be true to the olden days and not only makes you salivate, but tells you a historic tale as well.

The old world charm of observatories and telling time using the sundial, as practiced by our ancestors, still holds an allure for the present generation. This is perhaps why this ancient observatory, built way back in 1734 still draws crowds. A relic of the past, Jantar Mantar- literally meaning instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens has a historic and astronomical charm of its own, that is unmatched by present day observatories.

Jantar Mantar was built all the way back in 1734, under the rulership of the Rajput King, Sawai Jai Singh, the second. Since the era it was built in, it is regarded as one of mankind’s greatest innovations as it was years ahead of its time, both in construction as well as the idea. In fact, it is home to the world’s largest stone sundial, which is a contributing factor in making it an attractive tourist destination.

Though Jaipur is often related to rulers, cultures and heritage, this structure would have you believe otherwise. Giving a more scientific spin to the city, it was a marvel of its time, that gave the viewer a chance to see the cosmos in an all new perspective. Each of the funky looking structures here were carefully crafted, first in wood- to make them as accurate as possible and only then converted into stone structures.

Upon entering the age old observatory, you’ll be awestruck and at a loss for words. Here, there are several tour guides who will take you on a trip through time and the cosmos itself with the help of these instruments. Each of them have a different purpose and looking past any of them is much like seeing through a looking glass. One tends to partially understand the infinite universe, and the endless possibilities it possesses. It is structures like the Jantar Mantar, that make us realize the true potential and capability of mankind.

If you’re in Jaipur and are looking for something other than forts, palaces and shopping, Jantar Mantar is the best place you can visit to break the monotony. Here, you can marvel at our ancestors’ forward thinking capability and their vision, which has led us to the technologically advanced era we live in today.

Jaipur is known for many things, it’s vibrant culture, the stunning monuments and picturesque natural beauty. Yet, the Hawa Mahal or ‘Palace of Winds’ has to be one of the most iconic monuments in the city. No matter how many days and how much time you spend in the city, the honeycomb monument still remains one of the most magnificent piece of architecture.

The Architecture

The Hawa Mahal palace was built in 1799 by Maharana Sawai Pratap Singh. It is made out of red sandstone in a shape that looks distinctly reminiscent of the Egyptian pyramids. The small windows are arranged so that the structure of the palace represents that of a honeycomb.

The palace of winds could so well also be called the palace of windows because Hawa Mahal has exactly 953 small windows which are traditionally called ‘Jharonkha’. The main attraction of the palace is its back exterior with the windows and the interior zenana. Because of its simple beauty people often confuse the honeycomb to be the front of the palace, but the structure was merely meant to be stood in.

The Story

The Hawa Mahal palace is said to have been inspired by the Khetri Mahal, which had huge windows and arches to let optimum air in the compound which happened to be located in a desert. People often misconstrue the flow of wind to be the reason why this palace was built. Sawai Pratap Singh got the Hawa mahal constructed not to facilitate an optimum airflow but to provide the royal and rajput women with an opportunity to observe the streets and the market without being seen themselves.

The idea was to create a structure which would extend to the zenana- the chambers of royal women, allowing women a passage to the Hawa Mahal through which they could observe the markets. The jharonkhas or small windows were also decorated with lattice work to make sure that the women could enjoy the view without being seen. The parda system was at its peak in the time hence it was the only way for royal women to involve themselves in the day to day life.

What Else

Hawan Mahal is one of the most stunning architectural monuments you will lay your eyes upon. The many windows, the stories and the pink of the sandstone make it an appealing sight. Located at Badi Chowpal the Hawa mahal has its very own market where you can find some of the most beautiful handicraft and Rajasthani apparels. So if you want to indulge in a light shopping and sightseeing experience, head to Hawa Mahal and spend a day living like the royalty.

Jaipur is a city that has it all, from majestic palaces that ooze royalty, to picturesque natural beauty, vibrant local markets and people who are more than friendly. The city of kings, the pink city, Jaipur has many names and visiting the city is often on top of people’s bucket list. Yet, a trip to Jaipur isn’t complete unless you visit the Jal Mahal and stare longingly at the Man Sagar Lake and here’s why.

The History

Jal Mahal or the ‘Water Palace’ was constructed by Rana Madho Singh in the 1750s, who simply wanted the palace to be a lodge that he could use during his duck hunting parties. The Jal Mahal complex was never intended to be used as a palace per se, but simply a lodge and a rest spot where the maharaja could leisurely gaze at the lush flora.

Rana Madho Singh II, the aforementioned Maharana’s son, is held responsible for greatly enhancing the palace complex. He is known to have done wonders to the interior of the palace, changing it into 18th century masterpiece a well as adding the stunning courtyard grounds and tweaking the much visible exterior.

The Architecture

The Jal Mahal complex is an awe-inspiring piece of architecture. Built in the classic symmetrical Rajput style with just a smidge of Mughal influence, the palace complex makes for a stunning sight to behold. The palace that is five storeys high, is submerged in water and appears to only be single storeyed when the Man Sagar Lake is full.

The insides of the palace complex are adorned with intricate frescos that are an architecture aficionado’s dream come true. Though, you cannot visit the palace anymore since it is being converted into an exclusive restaurant, after completion it would surely prove to be one of the most coveted places to be at.

The Simple Beauty

The stark contrast between the light-sandstone colour of the palace and the blue of Man Sagar Lake also makes it one of the most photograph worthy as well as photographed scenes.

Going to the lake at evening or in night and simply gazing at the beautiful palace, which by-the-way turns even more stunning at night, is a simple pleasure you shouldn’t deprive yourself of.

Jaipur is easily one of the most culturally rich cities in India. It is a royal city with Rajas and Ranis atop elephants and camels, forts and palaces that have seen invasions, rulers from all around the world and so much more.

The culture of the city is, in a word, vibrant. The exquisite history has brought around an era of skilled craftsmen and artisans coming together to hone their skills and showcase their talent in a space where it was valued by kings, queens and locals alike.

One of such crafts and craftsmen were the potters skilled in the art of Blue pottery- a form of pottery that is extremely lavish, extravagant and fit for kings. They moved to Jaipur to present their handicraft skills to the Maharajas and their Queens which left the royalties mesmerized. The eye catching blend of colours, intricate details and hand crafted precision left them wanting more and eventually, it turned into a more luxurious kind of pottery that was accessible only to the rulers of the cities.

Now, after so many years and technological advancements, the skilled blue potters and their art is slowly becoming a dying breed. The traditional craft of Turko-Persian origin is no longer relevant. People are opting for more cheaper forms of pottery, which they believe have the same sense of historical importance and carry the same intricate details that the royalties were drawn to.

Jaipur’s connection with the art form has occasionally attracted people from all over the world. They have come to witness and take home some of the beautiful art which blends in a variety of colour, small details and has a sense of history about it. The potters have taken themes from Chinese and European art forms and patterns that have occasionally drawn a huge audience to it, but locals and people from around the country are no longer interested in the craft.

The craftsmen today are forgotten and struggle to carry on their age old tradition of presenting quality pottery and clay work. It used to be a way of livelihood for many people living in the rural areas of the Rajasthan and with the steep decline in sales of the crafts, they are left wanting, lost and without an income. The artisans mentioned that they have repeatedly told the government of the tourists they attract and have urged them to look into research of the art form, to bring it back into relevance.

Blue pottery and the artisans are an integral part of not only Jaipur but the whole of Rajasthan. It tells of the age old tradition of borrowing techniques and skills from other countries, whatever may be the differences among the nations.