Saturday, February 25, 2017

How I covered Jaipur in just 10k - Travelogue

Explorer Lens
After an awesome trip to the land of beaches, babes and booze, Goa, it was time to create some authentic impressions of royal Indian architecture, rich culture and heritage in our hearts and so unanimously we all made our mind to visit one of the most famous and distinguished tourist destinations of India, renown as the Pink City, the Capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur.

So coming was a long Republic day weekend, and hence we seized the opportunity to explore the royal city and the places nearby.
3 days in Jaipur and a day in Ranthambore got the consensus.
The travel dates for Jaipur were from 26th to 28th, 28th being the check out date.
Our stay for 28th night was in Ranthambore.

Next in line was to make the travel arrangements which included the basics:
1. Accommodation
2. Commute
3. Places to visit

At the end of the trip when per head cost was calculated I realized that the complete trip cost me around 9-10k (only).
“Really??” this was the first reaction from anybody who heard the amount and thought that I was full of loud mouth soup :P
But folks I was in all my senses and being a Baniya, I always find smart ways to spend the wherewithal. So here is how it went.

Flight was the best option as we were short on time and train or bus journey would have been long and hectic.
Per head cost incurred for the round trip was around 6.5k.

For accommodation we shook hands on staying in a Heritage Hotel.
Hotel Hari Mahal Palace clocked in as the best option with a reasonable cost of  INR 3600 for a room for two nights (including breakfast).
As we were 3 people so we took a room with per head cost around 1200.

For Ranthambore our views accorded for a deluxe tent as everyone had it on their bucket list.We booked one @ The Raj Bagh Resort for 3750/night costing us 1250 bucks per head (including dinner).

After securing roof on our head for the journey, it was time to pick out the places to visit. To keep the trip self-dependent and resilient, the first thought that popped in our mind was to book a self-driven car for all 4 days. But this could have made our budget shoot up to 12k per head which was a bit scary for us. All of the sudden, my friend’s phone rang and the words from other side made us content like never before. His relative who stayed in Jaipur agreed to give us a spare car for our trip. 

Yipiee..!!, I planted a peck on his cheek and yes this was the first time I did that to a boy..:P

So we were all sorted as the zoom car cost was all zoomed out…!!
But this was just the beginning as the other great news popped up on our mails. It was an invite for a launch event where the gratification per person was 1000 bucks. Just 2 days before the trip if you get an opportunity to earn 3k bucks, there is no feeling better than this. “Wonders will never cease”.

Now we were on cloud 9 as more than half of the fuel and food expenses were also covered.On the last day of our trip, after the last supper when we calculated the total cost for fuel and meals, it was around 5k bucks.
As we already had 3k in hand so we had to shell out only another 700 bucks per person.

The total cost per person till now was INR 9.7k and the only big expense left was of Safari, entry fees of various monuments being the smaller ones. But at the end of the trip the total cost still remained nearly the same.

Hey you all out there, “Doing a double take??”
Well, endure the butterflies in your stomach for some time; the question mark of safari incident will turn into period soon.

So let’s began the travelogue.
The Go Air flight from Mumbai to Jaipur was early morning and we had to really buck up to catch it as we were all night animals who were not used to sunrise alarms.
It was a 1.5 hours flight. The staff was not that amiable, may be the cabin crew was new.

Our flight landed around 9:30 a.m. and we were at our hotel by 10:30.
First thing we did was to munch on the complimentary breakfast as we were too hungry.After having a sumptuous and heavy breakfast we quickly freshened but the god of rains, Indra had different plans for us.
It rained heavily for couple of hours which delayed our exploration plans, forcing us to leave by 2:00 p.m.
Finally it was time to explore the rich and vibrant tradition and heritage of Rajasthan.

Our first destination was HawaMahal.
This 5 storey extension is in the form of a honeycomb. It is also known as Palace of Winds as it has 953 small windows, called jharokas.
The fine artwork on this jharokas is phenomenal.
The main purpose of building this palace was to prevent outsiders from catching a glimpse of the royal women while they getting a clear view of the outside world.
There was an entry fee of 50 bucks per person.

After spending a couple of hours exploring this beauty it was time to move on the next masterpiece, Jantar Mantar.         

This place is abode to fourteen geometric devices that measure time, predict location of celestial bodies and other functionalities.
There is also a video session which demonstrates and explains the working of each instrument.
The entry fee of JantarMantar was also 50 bucks/person.

Next in line was City palace but as it was already 5 p.m. so we couldn’t get an entry in.

Birla Temple the penultimate destination for the day was up-next on the destination box of Google Maps.
As we approached the temple, we were mesmerized by the stunning beauty of this masterwork. As you enter the temple you will find idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi.
Build in white marble this sacred temple is among the top destinations to visit in Jaipur.
Right in front of the temple is the Purane Pandit’s stall famous for its yummillious pavbhaji. As we chomped in a plate each, the foodie in us was super delighted.

Next we headed towards the ultimate destination for the day, Jal Mahal.
There is one word to describe this beauty in the night, fascinating.

After a day full of great sightseeing and exploration it was time to head to our hotel and get ample of rest as the next day was going to be really exhausting.

The exteriors of the hotel were great but the room service was a bit lethargic as the basic services like room cleaning was also taking time.
As soon as the room got cleaned we pounced onto our beds to enjoy the best thing in life, sleep :P

After a refreshing sleep it was time to charge our horses again as we were going to visit the two most famous tourist destinations of Jaipur, the magnificent Amber Fort and spectacular Jaigarh fort.

Amber Fort is located on a hill so you have to do some walking to reach the entry gate. A look at the palace from the road will make you spellbound. There is a lot of walking involved as the palace is huge so I would suggest you to wear something comfortable (especially girls wearing heels :P). If you are looking for photography opportunities this is the best place to be at. Phenomenal architecture, beautiful art work especially on the Gates and the best part is the location, with adjoining mountains and overlooking lake, the view from the top of the palace is breathtaking.
The fee per person was 100 bucks. After exploring the fort for around 3 hours we were feeling hell hungry so we decided to go for lunch.

After having parathas at a nearby restaurant we were all set for Jaigarh Fort expedition. We had to travel further up by car to reach the fort. Jaigarh Fort is quite spacious with a lot of empty space in the middle. For a while I thought it would be a great location for a cricket match: P . Anyways, a weird thought apart, when we went there was Padmavati shooting going on which was stalled by Rajput group activists. 

Unlike Amber Fort there is nothing much for the art and architecture lovers here but for photographers this is a paradise. If the view from Amber Fort was breathtaking, this is going to blow you away. Surrounded by plush greenery and massive battlements, the view of Jaipur City from the top of the palace is out of the world.
We kept on clicking pics till the time security personnel didn’t ordered us to get out.
Jaigarh is also abode to world’s largest cannon on wheels, Jaivana.
It was huge and weighed around 50 tons.

Finally it was time to bid goodbye to both the forts and head towards the hotel. After having light dinner we slept off as everyone was damn tired.

We woke up with an alarm and did our daily chores rather quickly as it was the checkout day. After witnessing the royal Jaipur it was time to meet the Big Cats at the biggest national park of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park.

Though the distance was only 180 kms but we were excited about the road trip. It took us around 3 hours to reach our hotel.
Now the best thing of the whole trip happened. Remember I told that our Safari became complimentary, now is the time to unfold the secret.

After parking the car we went to the reception to get the keys for the cottage but something strange happened. The cottage was already occupied by those who pledged for the safety and comfort of common people, the Police Officials. The first ever Ranthambore Festival was ongoing and the CM of Rajasthan was there for its inauguration so most of the resorts and hotels were forcefully occupied by her security personnel.

I have traveled a lot but never witnessed something like this.
The manager offered a room for the same cost but we were quite furious and adamant to take any of his offers. Finally he struck a deal of making safari complimentary for all of us which mind you was worth 1200 bucks per person. After an internal short discussion we agreed to his offer.
I think the god of luck was quite happy with us as he showered one blessing after another.

Finally content with the deal we got freshened up in the room which was also quite luxurious. Having time in hand we decided to attend the ongoing Ranthambore Festival.
There were lot of workshops, sessions, live performances and other events lined up for 2 days at Nahargarh Palace, the venue for the fest. We quickly got the free pass and went in to check what’s in store for us.
A session on Wildlife Photography, folk dance performances and some other events were all what we covered.

So after spending 3-4 hours we got tired and headed back to the hotel to have a nap.
When our eyes opened it was already time to have the complimentary dinner.  There was music, yummy food, furnace giving us the warmness in the chilly night and booze. We had a group from Delhi sitting beside us who loved the songs we were playing and requested to join us which we didn’t deny;after all we are very friendly: P

It was a non-ending discussion on one of the most debatable topics in India, which one is better, Delhi or Mumbai.
Though none of the city won but Delhiites won some Mumbai hearts and vice versa.

It was already 2 a.m. and our safari was scheduled for 7 a.m.
albeit none of us was willing to leave the wonderful discussion and ambience but unfortunately we had to.

Sharp 7 a.m. our driver was ready with the Gypsy which could accommodate 6 people.There are different zones in the national park and we were given zone 8. Unfortunately luck didn’t work out here and after 4 hours of exploration in the roughest terrain I have ever seen we could only see different species of deer and some peacocks.

With dull faces we returned back to the hotel and did the checkout.
After 3 hours of drive we were back in Jaipur to return the car to the concerned person. As another 4 hours was left for our flight so we decided to try the street food of Jaipur and went to Raja Park where most of the food joints are. We tried rolls, momos, dosas but the best of the lot was mouth-watering Paneer Tikka and Soya Chaps at Radhey Shyam Bhatia Paneer waley.

Next we took our Jet Airways flight and came back to Mumbai.
Overall it was a SpendoFabulouslyFantastic Trip..!!

Explorer Lens / Author & Editor

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