The final destination of our roundtrip through Rajasthan was the pink city of Jaipur, which we reached after a short 2,5 hour trip by train from Pushkar. When we stepped out of the train we were immediately approached by “Raj, from Rajasthan”, who offered to bring us to our hotel with his tuktuk. He was a friendly young man, who spoke well English – something that most tuktuk drivers here don’t. Many of the drivers try to convince you to hire them for your trips throughout the city so that they can make a larger amount of money at once, and so did Raj. We were convinced, and so the next morning he picked us up from our hotel to bring us to Amer Fort.
Amer Fort has been built in 1592 and is one of the biggest attractions around Jaipur, which was obvious because – even though we arrived relatively early – it was already very busy! Being such a touristic place, it unfortunately brings some negative aspects as well, such as the dozens of elephants bringing the tourists up the hill towards the Fort. Some of the elephants we met at the Wildlife SOS elephant sanctuary (find our blog of that visit here) have been walking up and down this hot pavement for years, which gave them severe injuries. Others are still suffering from trauma caused by the owner itself who abused the elephant. We knew that many elephants are still working at Amer Fort, but we were shocked to see the actual amount!
If you ever visit the Amer Fort, please do not ride the elephants! Even though some elephants look like they are well-treated, the way they are tamed from a young age is often horrible. And the walk up the hill is really not that long, you can do it!
The Amer Fort itself was nice, though we expected more of it. There were several beautiful parts, but perhaps we did not enjoy it to the fullest because it was so busy. However, there were also parts of the fort that felt like a labyrinth and we very much enjoyed exploring these almost deserted hallways and chambers. It was just unfortunate that most parts did not have explanation signs, and therefore we did not understand what the rooms were used for or what significance they had. Taking a guide or an audio-guide is therefore recommended when exploring the Amer Fort.
While walking towards the exit we saw a sign for a tunnel towards the Jaigarh Fort. This fort is situated higher on the hill above Amer Fort, and we were very excited to know that there was another passage as well! The tunnel is only partly underground (and full of bats), but it seemed that not many people knew of its’ existence as we were the only persons walking there (together with some monkeys!).
Jaigarh Fort has been built in 1726 in order to protect the Amer Fort, but even though it is newer, it is not so well-maintained and besides the walls there is not much left from its’ interior. However, the view over the hills, valley and the Amer Fort makes the visit worth it!
After the two fortresses we visited the stepwell in Amer. We are a bit fascinated by these ancient structures, which can be found throughout India in all sorts and sizes. The one in Amer is very beautiful and was still filled with water as well – though carefulness is required as the stepwell is very steep!
The next day we headed towards the City Palace, where we arrived as one of the first visitors (that never happened before!). The City Palace complex has been built between 1729 and 1732, and was the place where the Maharaja of Jaipur lived and reigned. The biggest part is now a museum, though there is still a part used as royal residence (a part of this residence is still open for visitors, though you need to pay a relatively high amount of money to visit that, which we didn’t do).
Unfortunately, we did not like the city palace that much, which was mainly the result of intrusive and unpleasant guards, and because they were preparing a big feast for that evening. Due to these preparations, the square around the Diwan-i-Aam (the Hall of Public Audience) was crowded with people setting up tents, bringing in piles of chairs and tables, and unraveling the decorations. This really was a pity, as we could not witness and enjoy the City Palace as we hoped to. However, there were several beautiful places, of which the beautiful gates of Pritam Niwas Chowk were the highlights!
After the City Palace we walked to the Hawa Mahal, which is one of the most well-known buildings in Jaipur. It is also called the Palace of Winds, and from behind these windows women of the royal household could watch street parades while being unseen by the crowd. We did not go inside, as someone told us that it is not that interesting, but instead we had a drink at a rooftop terrace that is located on the opposite of the Hawa Mahal.
The final stop during our Jaipur tour was the Albert Hall Museum. The beautiful building was first designed to be a town hall, but later on they decided that it should become a museum. It opened in 1887 and is the oldest museum of Rajasthan. It has a rich collection of paintings, ivory, stone, instruments, carpets, and even an Egyptian mummy can be found there! Even though it was also busy there, we very much enjoyed walking around the beautiful building!
The rest of the afternoon and the day after we did not do much anymore, and we mostly enjoyed the swimming pool of our hotel before we headed back to Delhi!
Where to stay?
We stayed at Hotel Meghniwas. This hotel was the most expensive one we stayed in during our roundtrip, but we chose this one especially because of the swimming pool! However, another hotel where we peeked inside was the Pearl Palace Hotel, which looked very beautiful and clean! According to reviews on the internet it is very much recommended as well.
Where to eat?
We had dinner at the Peacock Rooftop restaurant, which is the restaurant on top of the just mentioned Hotel Pearl Palace. This is a very busy place though – so be early or make a reservation – but they have an extensive card and the food and drinks were very good.
Another restaurant where we enjoyed a nice lunch is called “Khandelwal Pavitra Bhojnalaya”. That’s a mouth full, but most tuktuk drivers will know it. It is a place where both local people eat, and where drivers take foreign guests to. We were appointed a table where another Indian was already having his food – it’s nice to go local! We both ordered a delicious and big Thali. Very much recommended!