I went to: Khatipura & Pink City
I stayed at: The Royal Heritage Haveli (4*) (£££££)
I went here because… It was a must see on any trip to Rajasthan.
The best thing was… Really the whole 2 nights here. Excellent hotel, lots to see, intense and interesting history and beautiful buildings.
I’d like to change… We stayed in a suite on our second night and wished there had been space for both nights! (Book well in advance!!)
I wish I’d had time to… Have a wander around the city by foot
Jaipur is the largest city in Rasjasthan as well as its capital. Founded and ruled by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Many of the 18th century buildings still stand and continue to be preserved to high standards. Unfortunately there are some parts of the city that are not so well kept. A number of important monuments and sites of historical relevance in this city draw in the crowds all year round, however the summer heat can be very intense in this part of India.
We flew into Jaipur directly from a different indian state. Already the service and the plane itself were better than the international journey in my opinion. Although reviews had warned that the hotel may be a little difficult to find, we didnt have any trouble and didn’t have to brave any attempts at speaking Hindi (at this stage!!). We were met by the very friendly manager who was eager to make us feel relaxed. We had caught an early flight to make the most of some time away but forgot to warn the hotel so our room wasn’t ready. We we’re offered tea and biscuits and a warm terrace with wifi to spend a few hours in the sun staring at the hotel dog- an aptly named ‘muffin’ who clearly had eaten quite a few in her time. I’m not a huge fan of animals, but this was a very docile and friendly dog- completely predictable in every move.
Our double room was a little dark but comfortable and spacious and led out to the garden area and pool where we had lunch later. The hotel is a former hunting lodge for the royal family and therefore has many beautiful details whilst lovingly fully restored. The owners make a point of joining hotel guests in the terrace in the evening before dinner to mingle and chat which I thought was a genuine and warm touch. Dinner was continental or indian with a wide enough variety to choose from, very reasonably priced and including all drinks! Musicians serenaded by moonlight next to the bonfire with Muffin and her daughter plodding around.
The next day we were met by a driver who we booked through ‘4wheel drive’. They were much more reasonably priced than other companies and had excellent reviews. The owner of the company wasn’t able to meet us but sent his daughter to introduce herself, another tick for customer service and developing trust with the company that we had chosen to use for the entire Rajasthan trip. We picked up our tour guide on the way to the city and had a wonderful tour of Amber/Amer Fort, City Palace and Jantar Mantar as well as dropping by Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal and Birla Mandir. There is so much to see and remember, I could’ve done with a note pad.
So, souvenirs. What are people buying these days? My family have an assortment of shot glasses, spoons, random scary themed toys as well as fridge magnets. It seems impossible to have a consistent item to build a collection. With so many places visited and so many more to see, we decided to start our own tradition of buying a photograph or painting of every place we go to build a wall of memories. We already have a lovely painting from Phuket which stands proudly in the hall but decided on something smaller for the new souvenir wall. Unfortunately the tour guide made an ‘essential’ stop at a flea market/arcade where we were forced to look at gems, hand looms and other over priced souvenirs whilst a multitude of staff followed us around. I hate those places. Once we were in, they wouldn’t even let us use a short route out and I had to use my rude, irritated voice to get them to leave us alone! Beware of these arcades, but they do exist all over the world. I remember a similar experience in Egypt as well as in Turkey. This experience wasn’t something we wanted on the memory wall. Fortunately, we also visited the artists within the City palace who have been working for the royal family through generations. To this day they still are in charge of the restoration of paintings and continue to educate their children with the art. We bought a lovely detailed little painting from there which still remains in its packaging 2 months on. It will be on the wall. One day.
Bizarre for me, but we ate both evening meals at our hotel because it was such a nice setting and the food was great. Plenty of excellent options within the city including the usual worldwide fast food places.
Not this time
Sites & places of interest:
… And many many more