Jaipur- Vibrant Capital of Rajasthan
Jaipur – the pink city to which I returned in February has seen huge progress with the pink restoration much in evidence and huge new roads and a new international airport - though we arrived from Delhi on the Shatabdhi train which was both efficient and inexpensive.
We stayed at The Samode Haveli which was a delight but we also spent time at Loharu House the private home of the Loharu noble family and then at Alsisar Haveli which is similar – each few days was enjoyable and it is a question of budget influencing your choice. Naturally time must be spent at sumptuous Rambagh Palace built by Maharajah Jai Sing II for his third wife Gayatri Devi the legendary late maharani who died in 2009. We ate a light meal in the Polo Bar on a Sunday evening and watched the sunset and the peacocks call followed by some stupendous fireworks.
Whether you wish to visit the City Palace and then the Amer Palace – both of which are essential if you have not previously been and then a museum or two, or concentrate on shopping well there is plenty to provide enjoyment. We did return to the Jantar Mantar the great astronomical observatory which is looking so good and now a world heritage site; we then followed up with a visit to the City Palace where I consider more work needs to be done to achieve impressive status.
One morning we drove to Dera Amer for an elephant ride and a most delicious lunch at this farm just outside the city; the owner Udaijit Singh is a keen birder and loves his rustic semi desert farm with elephants, camels, cattle and abundant bird life. From time to time elephant polo is played on the polo lawn here and people are invited to come and just enjoy elephants and their environs. The elephants…well what can I say…I first rode an elephant at six weeks old so for me it is an essential of being back in India…land of my birth.
Shopping….the pretty block print fabrics, blue pottery, handmade paper, all forms of ornaments and antiques and of course jewellery….Jaipur is the home of jewels but just beware. I once had a necklace made satisfactorily for a daughter in law and chose the pearls and garnets myself. I enjoyed the shop Ridhi Sidhi Textiles which is quite close to the Samode Haveli and the handmade paper factory was a revelation as was the blue pottery cottage industry - I just adore the blue and white – it is so iconic of Jaipur.
How to end a day
Be sure to allow yourself time to rest, relax, have a swim or a massage and a good dinner; the pressure of city traffic can become a bit much and then a good cup of tea or something stronger makes for a pleasant evening. I enjoyed watching the sunset from the Lakshmi Narayan temple one evening followed by a stupendous Indian wedding!