Jaipur, also known as the Pink City and the capital city of Rajasthan was founded by Jai Singh II in 1727 and after whom the city is named. It’s rich culture and history brings tourists from across the world. Jaipur offers the combination of ancient cultural heritage with advantages of the Metropolis. of It forms the Golden Triangle Tourist circuit with Delhi and Agra. I’d went there for an internship with Le Meridien Jaipur, a five star resort located at RIICO Industrial Area near Kukas, about 20 kms north of Jaipur on Delhi bound highway near the Aravali Range. With three engineering colleges in that area, cheap accommodation at a hostel wasn’t a big deal. The view from the hostel roof featured the long Aravali Range and small and big hills scattered around and the villages, a view I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy by living in the city. There are a number of Luxury Resorts including The Fairmont and others in that area offering stunning view of the Aravali range. Just 20 kms from Jaipur, two local buses plied from there to the city. Route 29 is a private non AC route which runs at a frequency of 2-3 mins. is one of the most frequent bus services of Jaipur and not recommended for tourists as it would be very uncomfortable to commute in the way the buses are designed. Route AC1 is a govt. AC bus with mostly comfortable Marcopolo buses and one of the three routes in the city to cover almost every tourist destination across Jaipur was my prefered way to travel to the city. I used to travel in the weekly offs I got from my internship.
Day 01: My destinations today were Nahargarh Biological Park, Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Sagar Lake. I boarded a 29 bus as the AC1 doesn’t give a stop there and got down at the highway from where a few meters walk will take me to the Nahargarh Biological Park. A 10 mins. walk took me to the ticket counter. After I entered the main gate, it was still a few meters walk upto a second gate that took me to the main park. The park seemed to be less visited. It’s basically a zoo with wildlife animals enclosed in a small area spread over a huge area in the outskirts of the city. The park located under Aravali Range is surrounded by hills on three sides and the watch towers provides a magnificient view of the lush green surrounding. Many species of birds are said to be seen in this park as it conserves it’s vast flora and fauna. You can get the required details of this park here.
Next I headed towards the Amer Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After booking the tickets which are Rs.100 for Indians and Rs. 500 for foreigners, I got through the first gate which featured Maota Lake on the left side and a garden with people hanging around. Elephant rides are offered by highly discouraged as several groups have raised concerns regarding the abuse of elephants and their trafficking. Audio guides and normal guides are available. After climbing a few stairs up the garden, a huge gate called Suraj Pol welcomed us to the first compound. There’s a Shila Devi temple beside the main fort entrance accessible from the first compound where my tickets were checked and I was in. Major attractions inside the fort includes Diwan-i-am in second courtyard, Diwan-i-khas, Shesh Mahal, Jai Mandir, Jas Mandir, Sukh Niwas, Tripolia gate, Lion Lake, a garden in third courtyard, Zenana(women’s quarters) and Baradari pavilion(Queens held meetings) in fourth courtyard. There’s a restaurant inside the fort named 1135 AD offering authentic Indian Cuisine. There’s also a Light and Sound show held on Maota Lake in evenings between 06:30 pm to 08:30 pm. A film unit shooting a film is said to have damaged a 500-year-old canopy, demolished the old limestone roof of Chand Mahal, drilled holes to fix sets and spread large quantities of sand in Jaleb Chowk. The shooting wasn’t stopped by concerned authorities until High Court intervened.
As I was exploring the Amer Fort, a tunnel dimly lit and with not too many tourists going that way caught my attention. As I cruised through the tunnel, several other tourists followed me. After a long walk through the tunnel, unknowing where it’s heading, the roof opened up. All I could see was sky on top and long walls on either sides. I decided to continue and when I got out of the tunnel, I found myself a bit far from Amer Fort and near to the Jaigarh Fort on the road leading from one fort to the other. I didn’t knew about this tunnel and got quiet excited. A few meters of steep walk which offered beautiful views of the surroundings took me to the Jaigarh Fort entrance. Maybe there is another way through the tunnel not accessible to tourists that connects it directly to the inside of Jaigarh Fort, maybe.
Jaigarh Fort located on Aravali Range was built with red sandstone in 1720 AD by Sawan Jai Singh II. After booking the tickets which are Rs.35 for Indians and Rs. 85 for foreigners and another Rs. 50 for my mobile phone, I entered the fort campus. The fort was pretty huge to explore fully and offers a fantastic view of the Amer Fort, Aravalli Range and surroundings with huge long walls scattered all over the hills. Some of the main attractions inside the fort includes Jaivana Cannon, weighing 50 tonnes was the world’s largest wheeled cannon at that time but was never used in any battle. The cannon was said to be fired only once with a charge of 100 kilograms of gunpowder and when fired covered a distance of about 35 kilometres. Beside the cannon lies a huge water tank which is said to an hold around 6 million gallons of water. There are two temples and a museum where weapons used during the wars are kept. There is also a garden inside the fort with the The Awani Darwaza overlooking the Sagar Lake on opposite side of the hill. Walking through the boundary walls gave a beautiful 180 degree view from the top of the Aravali Hill.
After lunch,I started towards Sagar Lake which is located on the other side of the hill on which Jaigarh Fort stands. So I ran down all the way upto the streets and opened Google Maps to find the street leading to the Sagar Lake. I followed the street showed which was vacant and full of monkeys and eventually reached the Lake. The lake is less visited with almost no tourists. The lake was built in 17th century to supply water to Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Amer town. Water from this lake is said to be transported to the fort in pouches loaded on elephant backs and also by humans carrying water pots.
The lake is divided in Upper Sagar and Lower Sagar. It was connected with various step wells in the region, which automatically filled up once the lake had reached its capacity. There’s also this Step Well which falls on way from Amer to Sagar lake but I didn’t visit it as I didn’t knew about that place. I spent the evening loitering around Amer Fort gardens and Maota Lake.
DAY 02: My destinations today were Nahargarh Fort, Jal Mahal, Albert Hall Museum and Galta Ji Temple. I took the AC1 up to Ramgarh More, then started long walk towards the foot of the hill on which the fort lies. Checking the Google Maps, I found the steep way that starts from the foot of the hill to Nahargarh Fort. While hiking, it offered good views of the city. The fort was built in 1734 by Sawai Jai Singh for leisure offers a 270 degree view of the city and the far off hills. After booking the tickets which are Rs.50 for Indians and Rs. 200 for foreigners, I entered through the Tadigate. The major attractions inside the fort includes two temples near the entrance, Madhavendra Bhawan, Diwan-i-am. After having a look into the fort, I started to walk along the huge boundary walls guarding the fort to get the view of the city and hills from every side.
Next I walked down to the bottom of the hill, and took a rickshaw to Ramgarh Mode and a walking distance was the Man Sagar Lake. The lush green mountains on the backdrop of Jal Mahal in the middle of Man Sagar Lake looked beautiful. In the end of the lake, I found a 4-lane empty road full of monkeys leading through the side of the lake. In the hope of getting good views of the lake I went on. After a long walk through the side of the lake and coming close to the green hills in the backdrop of the lake, I saw what looked like a small but long, old and ignored fort. The main gate of the fort was closed. Outside the fort ran a parallel garden, from where a gardener prevented me from entering. However, I found another parallel narrow way just outside the garden and a level lower than the garden just beside the lake. I walked through enjoying the view of the old unknown fort on left and the lake on the right. I saw a big empty concrete reservoir towards the end of the fort, garden and the walkway which ultimately lead to the Delhi-Jaipur Highway at the other end.
I took a bus upto the Sanganeri Gate and walked upto Albert Hall Museum. It is named after King Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales at that time, laid its foundation stone on 1876 and opened in 1887. The road just outside of the hall towards the New Gate crossing were crowded by a large numbers of Pigeons being feeded by some people. The exterior of the hall is designed like royal fort architechture with woodworks at places. The museum preserves history of civilizations, traditional Indian arts, crafts paintings, jewelry, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures and crystalworks. One of the main attractions of this museum is the Egyptian Mummy.
I’d my lunch and took a bus towards Galta Ji. I crossed the highway to be welcomed by the Galta Ji Gate from where a small lane through the hills will take me to the Galta Ji Temple. First few meters hike brought me to the top of the hill offering a 180 degree view of the city along with a beautiful Sunset(check the Gallery) from the Sun Temple. A lane goes from here parallel with the hill towards the Amagarh Fort which is another place to offer a great view of the city on one side and hills on the other. However, I didn’t go there and walked down the hill on the other side. From here, four of my sides were surrounded by silence and hills. A few meters hike will take you to the Galta Ji Temple. Though there is a way to come to this temple in car from the backside of the hills, I’d recommend to hike from Galta Ji Gate to the temple as you you will find yourself hiking in silence surrounded by hills and can also visit Amagarh Fort after that. The way was though full of monkeys and by the time I returned the hilltop towards the Galta Gate, when the sky had turned orange and the city lit up and I was fortunate and felt grateful enough to get to see such a mesmarising view from the top of the hill. I came down the hill and went upto Sanganeri Gate to board AC1 back to my 20 kms away accommodation.
DAY 03: My destinations today were Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, City Palace and Birla Temple. As usual I took the AC1 up to Badi Chopar from where three of the historical sites are in a row. First I went to Hawa Mahal, I couldn’t figure out the entrance as it was in a bylane from the side of the monument. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city. You can go to the place with small windows from where the streets and the city is visible. The inside of the monument features paintings, armours, etc. someday used for wars and daily life. It is a five-storey monument with stairs somewhere as narrow to not be able to afford two people side by side. The inside has got much to be explored with a lawn with benches. The top offers pleasant views of the busy noisy streets below as well as the whole city and the surrounding mountains. There are places somewhere inside where strong breeze came from nowhere.
Next I went to Jantar Mantar. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the place features nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734 showing his deep interest towards Astronomy. I’d recommend to take a guide who can explain each of the following observations from the instruments.
After some astronomy lessons, I went to City Palace. The part where the royal family resides today is guarded by personnel while the rest is converted to museum. Attractions inside the museum includes Diwan-e-Aam, huge courtyard where Diwan-e-Khas stands featuring two huge 5.2 ft silver vessels of 4000 litres capacity weighing 340 kgs. made from 14,000 melted silver coins without soldering holding the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest sterling silver vessels. These vessels were said to be commissioned by Sawai Madho Singh II to carry water of the Ganges to drink on his trip to England in 1901 (for Edward VII’s coronation). While checking out the wonders, the gate of leading to the royal residence opened and a Mercedes rushed out towards the streets. From here it leads to another courtyard which gives a pleasant view of the Chandra Mahal. Another gate leads to the Mubarak Mahal courtyard. Here you can checkout the Armour Gallery, Painting and Photography gallery and various other displays.
After exploring the galleries I had my lunch and boarded a bus towards Rambagh, from where a 5 mins walk took me to the Birla Museum. The beautiful white marble temple with Moti ki Dungri Fortress on the hill in the backdrop looked amazing. I couldn’t figure any way out to reach the fortress, so I visited only the temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. It was late afternoon and almost all my planned destinations were covered.
So, I thought to hangout somewhere in evening. So, I went to the World Trade Park, the biggest in Jaipur and one of the wonderful shopping mall I’d ever seen in my life. The best part was the food court where you’d feel like sitting in the side of a street with street lamps and roof painted to look like the sky and a castle in the middle. After spending my evening, I returned to the Fortis Hospital Bus Stop where you need to get down from buses to go to the mall. I took AC1 back to my room in Kukas and packed my bags to leave for my next destinations.