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Published: October 2nd 2013
Having been upgraded on our train bound for Jaipur, we woke up on our train carriage beds refreshed and ready to face India once more. We really didn’t have too much to go on as to what Jaipur would bring us, however we knew that it was a large city, was full of bazaars (markets) and that it would more than likely be pretty crazy. We needed to be prepared.
The way we decided to do this was to find a nice hotel that was out of the immediate vicinity of the Old city (where the chaos would be at its peak), and that was affordable. Somehow, all three of these things were bestowed upon us when we managed to book the Madhuban hotel 2kms from the Old City. In addition to this great find we were also treated to pick-up from the train station as a complimentary service….now this is something we could definitely get used to! Putting down our bags just by the exit, I went for a little wander around to see if our driver had arrived. Looking around a train station car park in India with a look of uncertainty and hope is virtual suicide when
it comes to the vultures that are the local rickshaw drivers. They can smell an overpriced fare from 100 paces, and so inevitably I was jumped on by several of the blighters. I lasted a good 3 minutes before the humour of it wore off, and I felt suffocated. Where was this bloody driver?? Fortunately, when I went back to tell Donna I couldn’t find the guy, there it was….a beacon of light and a thing of beauty….a sign with ‘Mr Scilger, Madhuban Hotel’ written on it with a friendly looking driver attached to it… Close enough, this must be our guy!
Arriving at the hotel, it was everything we hoped for and more. It was a beautiful old heritage building that have been lovingly looked after and maintained on both the inside and out, and to compliment this, our room was spot on. We decided to chill out here for the rest of the day, plan our next couple of days sightseeing and enjoy some of the first truly hot sunny weather we had gotten in a while.
Our first real day in Jaipur, we decided to go for the jugular. Not being
huge fans of markets or shopping, we were reliably informed that the one thing not to miss in Jaipur was….well, the markets and the shopping. Deciding to compromise we instead took a self-guided walking tour of the city from the guide book, which took in the markets, but rather than actually shopping in them, we would simply look and soak up their electricity and atmosphere without mingling too much. Easier said than done……
As soon as we entered the Old City, the energy hit us. This place was just manic. Tuk Tuk drivers would pull up beside you touting for your business, cows nonchalantly slouched in the middle of the street where they were narrowly missed by the hundreds and thousands of cars, trucks and motorbikes that used up every last inch of road, Camels carried carts from one side of the bazaar to the other, market traders would jump up and rush towards you with the promise of an ‘easy’ sale if you accidentally glanced their way and made eye contact…. It was endless. However, this wasn’t the end……Beggars wandered aimlessly around trying to scrape together a couple of Rupees for a meal, pigs snuffled and ate their
way through the trash that was dumped on the side of the road, street vendors fried everything and anything under the sun sending irresistible wafts of tasty yet heart clogging savoury smells up our discerning nasals…..what an incredible place!
Keeping all this madness from spilling out of the Old City was the hundreds of terracotta coloured facades of the surrounding buildings. It’s actually known as the Pink City, however it would seem that either the town planner is colour blind or Terracotta is cheaper paint than Pink, as these buildings were far from Pink… The fact that they all were very similar in colour however gave it a really interesting uniformed look to an otherwise sprawling mess of chaos
To some, this probably isn’t making you jot down Jaipur as a potential holiday destination for a relaxing way to spend your precious days away from the office, and actually probably sounds awful. To be honest, if I hadn’t been there and was reading this, I would agree that this scenario sounded awful too. For some reason though, reasons unknown to both of us really, Donna and I actually found ourselves enjoying it. I for one found that I
was overcome with a real strange sense of calm walking up the streets whilst all this commotion was going on around us. It’s hard to explain really, but it is definitely one of those places that has to be experience before you can really know whether you like it or not… fortunately for us, we did!
The other sites whilst in the Old City that we took in were the City Palace which promised quite a lot considering the palaces of Rajasthan are so well spoken of. However we found the place a little underwhelming to be honest, and after a while of looking around decided to go find Hawa Mahal which promised to be a more interesting proposition. Fortunately, this was indeed the case, and our faith was restored back into Jaipur’s crazy old city. Finding our way back out of the somehow confusing road grid within the walls, we decided to jump in a rickshaw to take us to a rooftop restaurant that promised not only great cuisine for a decent cost, but also that elusive Kingfisher that we had been lusting after for a while now. Looking around the rooftop, we were surprised to see many
other tourists for what seemed to be the first time in ages, and it was nice to not be the only foreigners in the restaurant for a change. As dusk started to fade, we shared our thoughts on the crazy events of the day whilst supping our frosty beers and chowing down on yet another tasty curry. Before we knew it, the sun had faded over the horizon, as Jaipur said goodbye to another hectic day.
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