Opulence, Royalty, Heritage.
These are the first words that come to mind whenever there is a mention of the Pink City. With ancient forts and magnificent palaces, each echoing the tales of its royal past, a visit to Jaipur is a one-of-its-kind experience.
To bring an authentic Jaipur experience to our dedicated readers, the OYO Bloggers- Aakash Aggarwal and I set out for a weekend getaway to the city.
Created by: Aakash Aggarwal
We caught an early morning train from Gurgaon and kick-started our journey to the Pink City. Looking out the window, as the landscape changed from sky-high glossy buildings to lush Aravalis, we knew the journey will be everything we expected.
We reached Jaipur Railway Station at 10:30 am and booked an Uber for our hotel- OYO 9141 Hotel Roshan Haveli in Amer. The hotel’s proximity to the main three forts of Jaipur helped us explore the fortresses and the ancient part of the city seamlessly.
Having checked-in, we strapped on our camera and walking shoes and headed out to traverse through the city’s sprawling fortresses.
First Stop: Amer Fort
We hailed an auto-rickshaw to reach our first destination- the 16th century Amer Fort. Built with red and white sandstone, the fort is flanked by Maotha Lake and lush Mughal gardens- Kesari Kyari and Dil Aram Bagh. Stunned by its sheer beauty, we took some time to let this delightful view sink in before entering the fort premise.
We walked our way up to the main fort entrance, Sinh Pol to purchase our tickets at the counter. As we entered the gate, a whole new world opened before us- ancient structures, royal suites and Turkish baths.
The first main structure in the fort is the Diwan-i-Aam or Hall of Public Audience. The structure is beautifully ornamented with carved patterns of elephants and vines and reflects a confluence of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. In the ancient times, this was where the king/ruler would meet up with the commoners.
As our curiosity peaked inside the fort, we dropped the conventional tour and put on our explorer personas to walk through meandering passages and corridors of Amer Fort and it was an experience like no other. In the quiet corners of the fort, you get the time to pause and wonder at the opulent lifestyles of the royals, the events they celebrated, the threats they faced, the battles they lost and those they won. As I stood pensively occupied by these thoughts, we saw a patch of rich green in the premises and headed straight to it- the royal Mughal Garden, beautifully adorned with four fountains flowing rhythmically.
Right across the garden is the famous Sheesh Mahal. Built by the finest architects of its time, the walls and the ceilings of the palace are carved with floral motifs and glass paintings. The palace has an interesting tale to it that I won’t spoil for you here.
We also stumbled upon a contemporary art museum namely Gallery Artchill, a bookstore and souvenir shops while meandering through the fort complex. We concluded our Amer Fort expedition with a cup of coffee and iced tea at the coffee shop inside and prepared ourselves for a long walk ahead.
Second Stop: Jaigarh Fort
Now there are two ways to reach Jaigarh Fort; a 50 minutes’ drive through the road or a 20 minutes’ walk from Amer Fort. To save time and truly commit to our explorer personas, we set out on foot through a hidden passage from Amer Fort to reach the Jaigarh Fort. The hike through a narrow brick-laden pathway ensconced between the fort boundary with nothing but wilderness around it was an experience we never knew we needed. We made a few stops on our way to catch our breaths and soak in the beauty of the cityscape from the higher platform, and take some breathtaking pictures to share with you.
Once we reached the top, we purchased our tickets to the sprawling palatial structure. The fort we learned was historically built as a security measure to protect Jaipur and Amer fort from invaders. You can still see a huge cannon foundry and battle equipment housed and preserved in the fort. It also has a huge palace complex housing Laxmi Vilas, Lalit Mandir, Aram Mandir and the Vilas Mandir.
We spent some time looking over the fort boundary as a stunning view of Hanuman Sagar Lake and the Aravalis pleasantly greeted us, while a light breeze gently brushed against us offering some respite on the hot sunny day.
Third Stop: Nahargarh Fort
Our next stop was Nahargarh Fort. As we exited the Jaigarh Fort, the first hurdle came our way: commutation. Owing to weak and almost nil network service, we couldn’t book a cab which gave the auto drivers a monopoly over the commute. However, a very noble Uber driver offered to take us to Nahargarh Fort without a booking. On our way, he shared many tidbits about the city and the fort and warned us to come back by 5:00 pm to avoid the bad crowd. He dropped us near the fort from where we walked our way through a quiet metaled road surrounded by wild bushes and trees. Famished and mildly exhausted, we stopped by a local fruit vendor for a quick fruit break. The vendor, Om Prakash Sharma shared more tales and stories about the fort while we bit on the fresh and sweet guavas.
Having clicked a picture with him, we continued walking towards the fort. The Jaipur Wax Museum and a Baori were the first things we saw as we entered the main gate. A few step further and we reached the main entrance of the Nahargarh Fort. A young musician and puppeteer played a melodious melody right at the entry gate, adding an authentic Rajasthani charm to the structure.
To the left of the entrance gate is a temple dedicated to the deity of Jaipur royals. Another attraction is the two-storeyed ‘Madhavendra Bhawan’ harboring suites for the king and his queens, each equipped with a lobby, bedrooms, toilets, kitchen and store. Other structures inside the palace include Diwan-i-Aam.
The main fort structure is a stunning reflection of Indo-European architecture. The fort interiors are beautiful and well crafted. The walls are painted with unique floral motifs while the doors and windows are adorned with colorful glass panels. As we peeked out of a window, a panoramic view of the entire cityscape pleasantly surprised us. A closer look at the building miles and miles away helped us spot other monuments of Jaipur- Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, City Palace and Lake Palace. We stood here for a fairly long time before heading up to the terrace through the narrow corridors and stairways. As the sunset drew closer, the vistas before us grew even more beautiful than before.
Interrupted by the chime of time, we decided to head back before we lost the light. We hailed an Uber to head back to Amer to make one final stop at the Amer Fort to capture the fortresses lit up in the night sky. As the day neared its ending, the street vendors made the final selling call before packing up for the day. Having got the perfect shot, we ambled our way through the busy streets of Jaipur until we found a rickshaw to reach our hotel.
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