Rajasthan Diaries: Day 2

After a good night’s rest, my husband and I woke up early the next day and decided to explore the area around the hotel, while the girls slept in their room.

Across the Hotel Trident is the Lake Palace. Two floors of the palace are underwater and one, above. All we had to do to catch this view was to cross the road to the sidewalk on the other side. The sun had not risen and the wind was cold. A few street hawkers were already there setting up their ware for sale. Two of them had a fire going to keep them warm and to bake dough used as food for birds and ducks in the lake. People in Rajasthan believe in feeding birds – so much so that there are people who make a living out of making bird feed- which is essentially dough rolled out, broken into small bits and baked. These bits are then placed on a paper plate and sold. I’m not sure about the price. We never asked for the price- we just handed a Rs 10 or Rs 20 note to the hawker who handed us a plate of bird feed. I noticed a number of local folk stopping by to buy a plate of feed for the birds and moving on their day to day jobs after feeding the birds.

One lone duck floats on the lake before sunrise

As the sun slowly rose behind the mountains, we decided to try out the snacks being offered by the street hawkers. I risked having star fruit from a hawker (I did it knowing the hotel was close by and I could run if my tummy felt weird. Fortunately, it didn’t). He cut the fruit and gave it to us on a paper plate, drizzled with salt and chilli powder. My husband bought a plate of chana jor garam (a snack made of roasted and spiced chickpea). The hawker put it into a paper cone with chopped tomatoes and onions and handed it over to my husband.

By the time we returned to the hotel, the girls were up. After a shower, we headed for breakfast which was served in a hall overlooking the pool. Due to covid guidelines, food from the buffet was served to the guests by the hotel staff which was good as there was no opportunity for guests to breathe into the food. Also, it ensured no waste as hotel staff served small quantities and you had to go back if you wanted more. However, because of this, I do not have pictures of the amazing spread.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t head out in the morning as planned, because my daughter had to make an urgent submission (the deadline was 1 p.m.) to school. Despite the delay, however, thanks to the strategic positioning of the hotel to the important landmarks, we were able to visit two forts in the afternoon and then head to the market for shopping.

After the sumptuous breakfast, we decided we need not waste time on lunch. So, instead, we headed out directly to the forts. Since the weather was pleasant, it allowed us to stroll around the forts for as long as we pleased, which I believe is not the case if one visits during the summer.

Nahrangarh Fort

The distance to Nahrangarh fort from the hotel was barely twenty minutes. The fort stands on the edge of the Aravalli hills which you can see in the picture of the lake above. It was built by Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh in 1734, and the walls extend across the hills all the way to Jaigarh fort. It was meant as a fortification against attack from other Rajput kings and Mughal rulers. Fortunately, Nahrangarh Fort, however, never had to experience an attack.

It is interesting to know that ‘Sawai’ was not the King’s name but a title given to him by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Impressed by the young king’s wit at the age of eleven, Aurangzeb gave him the title of ‘Sawai’ which literally means 1 1/4 i.e. he was one and a quarter more than an average man in worth. The future kings of Rajasthan then carried on the title.

A view of the city of Jaipur from the top of Nahrangarh fort

The fort was extended in 1868 by Sawai Ram Singh to create a retreat for himself and his nine queens. While each of the queens had their own suite, the rooms were linked by corridors.

At the base of the fort is a tank used for rainwater harvesting.

The fresco paintings on the walls have stood the test of time. However, in areas where they are showing signs of damage, the government is making an effort of fixing it. There are artisans who specialize in this kind of art and have been recruited from the villages by the government. The work, however, had to be stalled because of the pandemic. Art and color is something you notice all over Jaipur. It’s on the walls of palaces, hotels, shops and streets. It’s impossible not to notice it.

Outside the fort, there were hawkers selling ‘Maggie’ noodles, tea, cutlets, starfruit, guavas and papad. Again, Rajasthan is the only place I’ve seen papad’s (crisp wafers) being sold as a snack.

Jaigarh Fort

We were supposed to visit the Amber fort after Neharngarh but the driver told us that the fort closes by 5.00 p.m. and we could choose between Jaigarh and Amber. We chose the former since it was already 3.00 p.m. and from my reading, I knew that Amber fort required time. I’ll be covering it on Day 3 of this series of posts.

The road leading to Jaigarh Fort from Neharngarh fort is an uphill road that is scenic – not for the greenery but because it is dotted with peacocks, peahens and buffaloes. One wonders how such bright, beautiful birds live in such a dry habitat.

There wasn’t much to see at Jaigarh fort except that it did provide a view of the city from the top, was mainly used by the military to keep a watch over the city, and has the world’s largest cannon on wheels.

The drive from Jaigarh took us past our hotel and took half an hour. On the way, we notice that stalls had come up since the time we left on the sidewalk across the hotel. There were camels providing camel rides and local folk selling pots, shawls, knitted sweaters and hawkers selling snacks. We hoped to visit it once we were back.

As we had not had lunch that day and it was already 4.30 p.m. we decided to have snacks at LBB, a very famous snack joint in Jaipur, and opted for an early dinner rather than have a late lunch. People in Rajasthan love deep-fried savouries like kachoris and samosas and they have it from streetside hawkers. We didn’t risk having it though it did look delicious and smelled really good.

LBB had tables for people to stand at and eat, and was crowded despite Covid. Most people though were there for takeaways. If you ever visit Jaipur, I highly recommend LBB for sweets and savouries. We had Dahi puri, chilli pakoras, samosa and juicy Bengali sweets. The Rajasthani sweets looked rich in ghee (clarified butter)- a little too much even for a sweet lover like me.

Below is a video I took on our way to the restaurant from the car. It provides a close-up of the marketplace. The video I had attached yesterday was a view of the market from the cycle rickshaw we were in.

After satisfying our cravings with zero guilt, we walked up to Hawa Mahal to see if it was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. Sadly, the inside was nothing compared to the outer facade.

Hawa Mahal, built of red and pink sandstones, literally translates to Palace of Winds, a name probably given because of the 953 windows it had allowing it to be cool at all times and allowing the royal women a view of the outside world.

A view from one of the windows in Hawa Mahal

We spent the rest of the evening shopping in the market and returned to the hotel by cycle rickshaw with bags of embroidered shoes and mirrored skirts for the girls, block painted palazzos and tie and dye shawls that Rajasthan is famous for. If there were no baggage restrictions on the flight back home, we may have shopped more. It is a shopping haven for traditional stuff and will not pinch your purse. So, if you like all that you see in Bollywood movies- you know those beautiful lehengas the heroines are flaunting and you want to pick it up then Jaipur is the place. You’ll be spoilt for choice. I believe there are places in Mumbai too that have that kind of stuff but the markets which sell this kind of stuff in Mumbai are crowded and the ones in the mall are super expensive.

The city has eight gates that allow entry into it and historically, the gates closed at a particular time. Now, the gates are only a structure to remind one of the past.

One of the eights gates to enter the city

Here’s a video of the market by night with the driver telling us about the history of the market.

We had dinner before returning at Kebabs and Curries again because we were too exhausted to try anything new and we had a full itinerary on the next day.

To check out day 1, click Travel : Rajasthan Diaries Day 1

To check out day 3, don’t forget to follow the blog. Day 3 proved to be the best of Jaipur and I’m not just saying it so you come back, but because it was.

Copyright@smithavishwanathsblog.com. All Rights Reserved.

17 responses to “Rajasthan Diaries: Day 2”

  1. NaPoWriMo Day 11- The sleeping giant – Eúnoia Avatar

    […] To read about our trip to Rajasthan, you can click here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Toonsarah Avatar

    The frescoes at Nahrangarh Fort look lovely – we didn’t manage to get there as we only had a couple of days in the city and the Amber Fort took up one of them! I enjoyed your videos too, capturing the wonderful bustle of a Rajasthani city. As you said in your previous post, and as struck me when we visited, Rajasthan is what we imagine when we think of India, much more so than the other parts I’ve visited so far (Goa and Kerala),

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      The frescoes are stunning. It’s all so close to each other – the forts and it’s sad that you couldn’t go to it. The drivers make their money by distributing the forts over a number of days. I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the videos. They do give one an idea of the mad rush there :).
      Wow! So you’ve travelled to Goa and Kerala as well. That’s nice. I did check out your photographs of Kerala very quickly yesterday. You’ve captured the city beautifully. I’ve written on Kerala and Goa as well. Do drop by when you have the time. Lovely meeting you here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Toonsarah Avatar

        You too – I’m going to enjoy following your posts 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Smitha V Avatar

          🙂 Welcome aboard!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Travel : Rajasthan Diaries- Day 3 – Eúnoia Avatar

    […] fort overlooks Maota Lake that was once filled with alligators. The Jaigarh fort which we saw in Rajasthan Diaries: Day 2 is connected to Amer Fort by a passage that was an escape route for the royals in case of an […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    PS, I meant to ask how the palace ended up 2/3 under water?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      It’s a man-made lake,Robbie. The palace was meant as a hunting lodge for the king. During a drought in the 17th century, a dam was built by the locals and the reservoir ended up submerging the lodge.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. robbiesinspiration Avatar

        It seems like a terrible waste of a beautiful building. I suppose the locals were desperate.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Smitha V Avatar

          It is. They light it up at night and you can see it from the sidewalk but you can’t access it. I believe they are planning to open a restaurant there and have a boat service to take guests there. Don’t know how long that it will take to materialise though.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    Completely magical, Smitha. The videos highlight how busy and noisy it is though. A fabulous post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      I’m so glad you are enjoying reading the posts, Robbie. The market place is crazy busy. But the rest of Rajasthan is very quiet and peaceful. If you liked Day 2, you’ll love day 3 🙂 Thank you so much for your comments. It makes me want to write.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Manja Maksimovič Avatar

    I love the Women Power gate! And so many other wonderful photos in this post, not just of you and your girls. So hard to pick the favourite, but I think I’ve got it: Embrasure! The side view of Hawa Mahal is wonderful too. Thank you for doing this series, it’s marvellous to travel with you in this way.


  7. Infinite Living Avatar

    This is an amazing tour with you in this wonderful state and city in India. I dream of doing these travels – for now I enjoyed through your post 🙂 It was lovely to see you and your beautiful family!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you for reading the post, Pragalbha. I’m so glad you enjoyed traveling with us 🙂 Rajasthan is a beautiful state – very different from the rest of India. I hope you get to visit it some time.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Andrea Stephenson Avatar

    The architecture is very beautiful Smitha. I have seen the palace on the lake on TV and thought it looked wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Oh wow! That’s nice to know. The architecture of all forts and palaces in Rajasthan are influenced by Mughal architecture though they were built by Hindu Rajput Kings.

      Liked by 2 people

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