Having explored the famous fortresses of Amer the day before, on our second morning in Jaipur we set out to explore the lesser known destinations. We hailed an auto-rickshaw till Amer Fort and then treaded through the old lanes and streets of the old Jaipur town.
Created By- Aakash Aggarwal
First Stop: Panna Meena ka Kund
Remnants of ancient buildings dotted our way to the ‘Panna Meena ka Kund’ (step well). Hidden from the bustle of tourists, this 16th century step well was a means of protecting and storing water in the ancient times. Now, it is an architectural wonder tucked away in the interior streets of Amer.
We spent some time here enjoying the calm surroundings. The stillness was interrupted by a group of foreign tourists lead by a local fluent travel guide, detailing the well’s trivia. We left shortly after.
Entry Fee: None
Timings: All day
Second Stop: Kanak Ghaati and Vrindavan Garden
Our visit to Kanak Ghaati was an interesting episode. A night before we were exhilarated reading about the Kanak Vrindavan Garden so off we headed. An auto driver dropped us to the closest point of approach from where we walked through a metalled road flanked by arid trees. As soon as we saw a patch of green ornamented with flowers, we headed straight to it, only to realize it was a small shivalinga temple. Having realized our faux pas, we rushed out through another gate, searching for the Vrindavan Gardens. A few steps away, we finally saw a verdant garden with colorful flowers and swings for children.
Photography in this garden is prohibited, but we managed to sneakily get some shots to share with you. We enjoyed a leisure walk amid the bushes and field of flowers, while the Aravalis stood dauntingly close to us. The natural ambience of the place had us astounded as we re-visited our childhoods riding on the park swings.
While exiting the garden, we overheard a lady speak at the counter. That is when we realized: this wasn’t the Kanak Vrindavan Garden at all. It was the lesser known Kanak Ghaati. The mix-up between the two is more common than one might think. But we weren’t ready to give up on our quest yet.
Entry Fee: Rs. 70
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Closed on Wednesday)
Using the directions given by a local confectioner, we finally reached the stunning Kanak Vrindavan Garden. Located in the valley of the Nahargarh Hills, the garden is abounding with lush trees and lawns. The main garden has a central fountain called ‘Parikrama’, carved out of a marble slab. Within the garden, complex is an old Govind Deoji Temple decorated with intricate ‘chhatris’, exquisite mirror and ‘jali’ work on the temple walls, along with a series of fountains.
Since we had a long day ahead and many more places to cover, we only spent around 30 minutes here before settings out for our next destination.
Entry Fee: None
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Third Stop: Lake Palace/ Jal Mahal
The Lake Palace is a mere 1.5 km from the Kanak Vrindavan Garden. We covered half the distance on foot, but as the sun shone brighter and the heat grew intense, we decided to hail an auto for the rest of the way. In a minute we reached the Man Sagar Lake, on the surface of which the Jal Mahal rests. Built in red sandstone with a typical Rajput architecture, the palace is a stunning reflection of the craftsmanship skills of the royals. A flock of pigeons flew over the regal structure making for a perfect postcard-worthy view.
We tried to enjoy the view, but a horde of vendors and photographers wooing tourists to sell their goods and services were a continuous distraction. We had to leave sooner than we intended to.
Entry Fee: Rs. 50
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fourth Stop: Hawa Mahal
By the time we left the Jal Mahal, it was almost noon. The day got hotter and our energies started wearing out. The added traffic noise worsened it for us as our hunger pangs started kicking in. We decided to grab a snack before exploring the Hawa Mahal. Being new to the city, it was harder for us to find an eating joint close to the landmark. After much research on our phones, we rounded up on a restaurant and hailed an auto. Since we weren’t aware of the exact address, he dropped us at a mall where we went the clichéd route and grabbed some fast food.
With our energies re-filled, we continued on our journey and reached the Hawa Mahal. The brick painted delicately honeycombed hive structure was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh so the royal ladies could watch the festivals and processions of the city on the streets below. The higher levels offer stunning vistas of Jantar Mantar and the City Palace in one direction and over Sireh Deori Bazaar in the other.
The palace derives its name owing to its smart 18th century air conditioning mechanism with cool breeze flowing in the palace rooms through the 953 windows. We ambled through the narrow corridors of the palace to examine the intricate architecture following which; we reached the archaeological museum in the palace complex.
Entry Fee: Rs. 15
Timings: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On our way back, we halted at the Central Park in Rambagh. The lush green park is dotted by large trees with a towering flag-pole and stone statues, ideal for joggers and nature lovers. While exiting the park, we stumbled upon a female child sculpture, clutching a book in hand highlighting the importance of girl child education in a bid to broaden minds.
Exhausted after our morning expedition, we decided to head back to our hotel in Amer to check-out and move into the main city to our next hotel, OYO 744 Hotel Vachi Inn in Malviya Nagar.
Fifth Stop: Chokhi Dhani Village
Having checked in, we prepped ourselves for an authentic Rajasthani experience at the famous Chokhi Dhani. Located 13 kms from our hotel, we reached there in 30 minutes. A traditional folk music filled the air as we set foot in Chokhi Dhani. After much deliberation, we decided on our meal package and excitedly rushed to the village complex. The main entry gate opened a whole new world for us: folk dancers swaying to the rhythm, a puppeteer holding a show as bystanders watched with curiosity, vendors inviting visitors to their game stalls. As we walked through this bustling crowd, a wave of nostalgia whiffed over us.
As our stomachs growled, hinting about the passage of time, we headed to the Chokhi Dhani Restaurant to ease our hunger pangs. Men dressed in traditional Rajasthani attire pleasantly greeted us at the gates and ushered us inside for an authentic food experience. We sat down on the carpets with wooden square tables eagerly waiting for our food. As the servers brought out the starters, my fellow blogger Aakash quietly suggested I only take what I can eat since food wastage is a big no-no in Chokhi Dhani. I kept that in mind throughout the dinner. However, the meal was way too delicious to have ever gone wasted. The richness in flavors and the caring attitude of servers almost reminded us of our ancestors.
After we were done easing our hunger pangs, we set out to explore the village. While Aakash took pictures, I wandered off to the villages interiors. From then onwards, it was one discovery after another. The first thing I stumbled upon was a Dilli Haat or Kingdom of Dreams set-up of the main cities of India. As I walked further, Aakash joined me as we went further away listening to a melodious tune of sarangi playing the popular folk song ’Kesariya’. Hypnotized by the haunting melody, we thanked the sarangi player and ambled through the other promenades of Chokhi Dhani.
Through sculptures and tiny shrines, we walked till we entered a whole other world: a visual representation of the Battle of Haldighati, complete with light and sound effects with life-like sculptures of the warriors and kings. Looking at the number of people, we could tell not many know about this side of Chokhi Dhani.
Thrilled and excited we went in further and were greeted by a sight like no other: a huge temple complex with a small lake and artificial waterfall flowing through a stone onto an arched bridge. This hidden treasure was among the best things we saw in Jaipur. The echoes of the sound and light show faded away as we treaded along the empty complex. As the only people there, it was both an exciting and slightly daunting experience.
Time, as usual played villain and we realized we had to go back. Picking up our bag-packs and camera, we walked through a dim-lit cave temple before exiting the village and heading back in our Uber.
Entry Fee/Meal: Rs. 700-1100 (depending on your meal package)
Timings: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
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