Last month the weather gods ensured that my trip to Himachal was cancelled. Extremely disappointed, my best friend and I met at a coffee shop to hash out a quick plan to go somewhere, anywhere for 2 days. While the planning began with tbe idea to head to a new place but it was taking too long to work out the details. Being from Delhi, I’ve visited Rajasthan a lot. Till I was in Delhi, I was visiting Rajasthan atleast twice a year but hadn’t made any trips there in the past 2 years. We realised planning a trip to Jaipur would be far easier and quicker since we’ve both been there multiple times. In a matter of a few hours we booked out train and bus tickets to visit Jaipur – a 2 day trip!
We boarded the 6AM Shatabdi, heading to Ajmer from Delhi, with little of the agenda planned. We both agreed that we wanted to chill and enjoy our time rather than racing around doing touristy things that we’ve mostly covered in our previous visits. I tabled the idea that we each choose one place that we want to visit really badly and the rest of trip we shop and eat. My friend chose the Nahargarh fort and I chose the Galta Ji temple. We reached Jaipur at 11AM and quickly rushed to our hotel to get ready. We decided to cover Nahargarh fort after getting ready.
Nahargarh fort like most forts in Rajasthan is located atop a hill. The fort comprises of a few steps wells and a palace. Nahargarh was built as a backup to Amer Fort (the main royal fort). Nahargarh was used to store the treasury of the royal family – incase Amer Fort was attacked, the treasury would be safe at Nahargarh. Nahargarh was also a special visit for my friend and me. A stepwell located in the fort was used to shot some parts of the iconic movie ‘Rang De Basanti’ (2006). When the movie was released, my friend and I were obsessed with it. We had our crucial board exams that year and our parents refused to buy us the music tape or let us watch the movie till we were done with our exams. My friend and I would listen to the radio (constantly switching channels) the entire day waiting for the movie songs to play. As soon as any song would play on the radio, we’d hurriedly call/text each other to inform them to tune into that channel – a practice that came to amuse our parents greatly. With these crazy memories on our mind, we arrived at Nahargarh Fort after a 50 minutes long Uber ride. First stop at the fort was the stepwell where the movie had been shot.
The stepwell has been repainted pink, as has most of the city to live up to the ‘pink city’ name. It was also closed off for tourists – something that really disappointed us. While the stepwell didn’t live upto to our expectations – the views from around the stepwell sure did!
We then explored the palace area of the Nahargarh fort. There wasn’t a lot to see and in comparison to Amer it is far less grand. The palace area had an art exhibition which was very abstract and distracting.
Again, the views from the palace were amazing. One can see all of Jaipur city from up above (not a lot of pink). Since we hadn’t eaten, we decided to stop at the restaurant in the fort for a quick bite. Other than the beautiful setting of the restaurant – everything was really disappointing! It was really overpriced and the food was abysmal.
We decided to head to the Jaipur markets to shop as well eat some real food. Traveler info – network is a real issue at the fort area as is getting a cab! The auto drivers quote exorbitant prices as they realise that a lot of travelers are helpless. We were lucky to get an Uber that too for half the price the auto drivers were quoting.
We decided to head to Johari Bazaar but at a whim got off outside the Hawa Mahal. We enjoyed a cup of local street chai while enjoying the beautifully lit up Hawa Mahal.
We started walking around the market browsing through the shops as we passed them. Honestly, I’m a sucker for all things Rajasthani! The beautiful work and colours just make me want to buy it all. I stopped at a shop and bought an overly priced skirt (something I’ve wanted for years).
Traveler info: try bargaining the shop keepers to half the price that they quote. They will quote an exorbitant price to start with. Also, make sure to check the product for defects – a skirt I really liked had a hole in it that I missed noticing but caught my friend’s eye.
Shopping done – our next agenda was eating! We were craving amazing Rajasthani kachoris. We walked around the market trying to find any shop selling them and finally found a street side stall. By this time we were famished and quickly bought kachoris and started gobbling them down. Definitely not the best decision I’ve taken – the kachori was not tasty and the oil seemed off. We gave up our search and decided to just find a rooftop pub and chill. The pub we chose (name I don’t remember just that it was on MI road) was really beautiful but service was awful! We had crossed a tiny little south Indian restaurant right opposite the pub and decided to head there for a bite. This tiny joint had so much footfall it was impossible to get a table without first waiting for 20minutes. By now, my friends and I were tired and wanted to head back to our cosy hotel room. We got some food packed and headed back. The food was amazing – which explains the large number of people eating there!
Day two started with us complaining about how much we’ve aged because we both woke up with body ache (owing to the super soft mattress – thank you hotel). We headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast and to finalize plans for the day. We were taking the 5PM bus back to Delhi. We decided to head to Galta Ji Temple because I was obsessing over the Instagram photos I had seen of this temple. This temple is about half hour away from the city centre. We took an Uber to the temple which is quite remotely located.
Traveler tip: book a taxi/auto for return trip to-from the temple for a better deal.
The temple is in a beautiful, picturesque location but alas, isn’t very well maintained. The temple has three levels – the lowermost is the most beautiful one with a fountain and the temple in the backdrop, the second level is a public bath for devotees wanting to take a dip in the holy water from a natural spring at the location and the uppermost level where there is a deity temple, the source of the spring and a small step well.
What I liked about the temple – 1. It’s not very touristy and far less crowded than the other tourist spots in Jaipur, most visitors were foreigners 2. The location and architecture of the temple are both unique and beautiful 3. Colourfully dressed local women who were there to pray 4. Instagram-able location
What I disliked about the temple – 1. How unkept the place was 2. The various pandits (Hindu priests) trying to make money of tourists 3. The crazy number of monkeys (I’m really scared of them!) 4. The bathing area where people can bathe in the holy water is just a sore sight
The temple definitely is worth one visit and maybe, if it’s better maintained – multiple visits!
From the temple we headed to Anokhi cafe for a bite. This cafe is super crowded and it’s difficult to get a place. The food served here is a 100% vegan.
Still not satisfied with our shopping, we headed to Amrapali Jewellers to buy some small trinkets. If you are shopping in Jaipur – definitely definitely visit this store. I wanted to buy everything in the store (I wish I had the means). I wish I had clicked some photos inside the store.
Our last stop in Jaipur was for the foodies inside us craving for local feasts. We headed to Rawat Kachori to pick up pyaaz ki kachori and ghevar. I loved both! I packed like a ton of food from here and my family feasted on it.
For people looking for a short and fleeting visit to Jaipur, here’s a short must do/see list I’ve come up with –
1. Amer Fort
2. Galta Ji Temple
3. Hawa Mahal
4. Eat Ghevar at LMB
5. Eat pyaaz ki kachori
6. Shop at Johari Bazaar/Bapu Bazaar
7. If time permits – walk around Albert Hall
I’m sure I’ll be visiting Rajasthan and Jaipur soon. Do let me know your recommendations in the comments!