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August 30th 2008
Published: August 30th 2008
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Jaipur, India

History - Founded 1727. The state of Rajasthan that adjoins Delhi usually evokes images of sand deserts. This state used to be an amalgamation of several kingdoms. The Rana (the emperor) held sway over large tracts of land. The wealth used to be significant before the country went under the British Raj. It used to be one of the largest markets for Rolls Royce even in the early 1900s.

Historically rendered as Jeypore, Jaipur is the former capital of the princely state of Jaipur. Built of pink stucco in imitation of sandstone, the city is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into six sectors separated by broad streets. The city was planned according to Indian Vastu Shastra (Vedic or Pouranic Planning for the comfort and prosperity of the citizens).

Getting there - The only way I know to get to Jaipur is by road. You pretty much get to Gurgaon and get on the highway. Its one of the better roads in India so the drive isn’t stressful at all.

Stay - We stay at the Hotel Ashok - its good value for money and a good restaurant around 40 $s a night. You can get as fancy as you need to since this is a tourist destination. I know of people who have stayed in authentic Palaces (there’s one run by the Taj, there’s Rambagh Palace that I know of) - for around 200 USD a night.

Stuff to do - There’s plenty to do in Jaipur. Forts, palaces and the Hawa Mahal. The hawa mahal was an interesting structure - now housing plodding bureaucrats. The places I’d recommend:
Albert Hall
Hawa Mahal
Jantar Mantal (the worlds oldest observatory - a geeks delight)

My picks - My favorite part of the trip that travel guides won’t talk about is the Chowki Dhani. This is an hour away from Jaipur and is a village that has been converted into a permanent fair. You get to interact with people from the villages and participate in tasks like working with the Iron Smith, learning to weave, running a few puppets etc. There is the bullock cart ride and the elephant ride thrown in for good measure.

Food - This is also a foodie’s delight. The best vegetarian food you can ever eat. Food in unlimited, the drinks are unlimited (non-alcoholic and totally different) - and the general atmosphere has to be experienced.

Do not forget the Kachoris and the Lassi. All vegetarian - but must be on the list of things to taste.

I noticed McDonalds was open there the last time I went to Jaipur and there were people queuing up to get in. Oh well …. Progress!!


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