Doing justice to the Pink City, scant in funds and time, is a formidable task. Yet, our naïve bunch decided to take it on and explore Jaipur as much as we could.

This pithy account of our two-day travel was in no way devoid of any adventure or intrigue, and we’d like to maintain that we managed to take in the essence of the vibrant town despite our short stay. One must remember, that college kids always tend to do things the thrifty way, and always get their penny’s worth, so they shouldn’t be judged harshly!

Photo Credits: Krishna
Photo Credits: Jaipur Quilts_West Elm

Our abode for the two nights was Krishna Palace, a charming old haveli that had been converted into a guest house, with spacious rooms that could snugly accommodate three girls. This place is a great way to meet people who also believe in impromptu trips, so I greatly endorse it. Krishna Palace is a wonderful example of antiquity finding a purpose to serve in today’s world, giving everyone a sense of a traditionally Jaipuri lodging, with the benefits of Wi-Fi.

We arrived at noon, and were inclined to shop a little. After perusing through some of the town’s famous products like handicrafts, we purchased a Jaipuri quilt each as souvenirs, and headed straight back to our lodging.

Photo Credits: Chokhi Dhani_Talking Streets
Photo Credits: Camel Rides_GoBeyondBounds

In the evening, we were recommended to go to Chokhi Dhani, a sort of cultural fair with a village setup, where one could be a part of several activities native to Rajasthan, and get a taste of their cuisine too. The place was charming in its rustic décor, and we could experience several of Rajasthan’s curiosities such as quaint puppet shows, ghoomar dances, an impressive model of the battle of Haldighati, and camel rides. The local hospitality was warm, although the food was rather disappointing, considering how it pinches the college kid’s pocket.

Yet, this spot may be visited just for a feel of the rural lifestyle of Rajasthan.

Photo Credits: Hawa Mahal_Beautiful Jaipur
Photo Credits: Jal Mahal_Hello Travel

Our first spot on day two was the Hawa Mahal, one of the signifiers of Jaipur. We didn’t enter the monument since we were pressed for time, but got a splendid view of it as it is right on the main road, making no one miss it whenever they pass. This building is what makes Jaipur synonymous to the Pink City due to its dazzling salmon hue. The multitude of windows and passageways for air to pass through make the edifice magnificent and unique.

The rest of Jaipur isn’t really bursting with pink, contrary to common conception.

On our way to Amer Fort, we saw the Jal Mahal − a gorgeous work of architecture in the middle of Man Sagar Lake.

Photo Credits: Amer
Photo Credits: Amer Fort_Thousand Wonders

Amer Fort is very rightfully one of the main attractions in Jaipur, spanning over several kilometers, like the city’s own Great Wall. Still quite decently maintained, there are two roads to get to the top of the fort- a fun hike, or a car ride. An elephant ride up the hill is possible too, for the brave ones who dare to attempt it.

Since the fort is so large, we were advised to take a tour guide who could explain the significance of each structure within the fort, and give us a clear picture of the historical events. It is advisable not to skimp on a guide to fully appreciate the marvelous monument.

We crowned our guide the king of thrift, beating us broke girls hollow. His shrewdness and tenacity befit a high brow negotiations expert, in how he managed to get us all into the fort for the Rs. 10 student entry fee rather than the Rs. 100 general fee, without us carrying any identification whatsoever.

He made do with a scanned copy of my college mark sheet, and an email from my friend’s college to make us eligible for the discounted entry fee without once losing his cool, amazing all of us. His knowledge of the fort was admirable, he explained the significance of every structure we visited − the gorgeous Sheesh Mahal covered in mirrors imported from Belgium to reflect starlight that was affectionately built by Man Singh for his wife, a building from which the Ranis would welcome soldiers from war by throwing blossoms at them through perforations in the windows, the diwan-e-khas, and the living quarters of the several concubines built according to the zodiac signs, as well as the common space for them where some dramatic fights apparently took place, being some of the few.

Photo Credits: Jodha Akbar_Culture Trip
Photo Credits: Bajorao Mastani_Jaipur Beat

He informed us of all the movies that were filmed here including the Bollywood sensations Jodha Akbar and Bajirao Mastani. We were sassily interrupted by this business-like man every time we got carried away by the beauty around us, but none of us complained because he brimmed with efficiency.

When we were approaching the exit gate, he struck up the most casual conversation with me about my area of study, and after being told that it was literature, he quoted two lines from one of Milton’s sonnets, making my group’s eyes widen in shock, and then flippantly announced that we had nothing to fear anymore because this discussion had convinced the guards we had just walked past that we were students after all, and no one would be in any trouble.

The man was a true hustler, and was as remarkable as the fort itself.

We were then taken to a handicrafts building under the government that also had several of Rajasthan’s precious stones for purchase, or just to look at. We, of course, preferred the latter of the options. Our fabulous guide was kind enough to get us all a free palm reading by one of their top readers, and we took up on the offer without hesitation, waiting to be entertained.

Here, we met another fascinating man who had much to say about us, our palms, our dispositions, and the world at large.

Jaipur has some very interesting residents.

Photo Credits: Elephant Village_Simply Travelled
Photo Credits: Elephant Village_Rajasthan Tourism

Our next stop was my favorite part of the trip. It was an elephant village maintained by the Department of Forestry, where one had the pleasure of intimately interacting with these splendid creatures by feeding them and painting on them. One needn’t worry about the constituents of the paints used on the elephants, as we were shown they it was all vegetable and fruit based, therefore I could go berserk with a clear conscience. I painted on a darling named Sonia who was so placid and unbothered by the lot of us. Wooden sticks and not paintbrushes are used in the artwork, as the use of sticks gives the elephants a pleasurable, ticklish sensation that they enjoy.

The men in charge bragged about how several of their elephants were sent for the Ambani wedding while we played with Sonia, and her friend Rajkali.

The two mammoth sweethearts then took us on a ride, after which they were lovingly fed with several loaves of bread.

The activities in the elephant village are slightly expensive, but I strongly recommend it for animal lovers such as myself, as all the money goes into maintaining them and keeping things organic.

All monuments in Jaipur close by five pm, therefore it’s hard to see a lot of them in a single day. Since it was way past five when we left the adorable elephants, we went to Birla Mandir because we had some time to kill before heading for our early morning flight. This again, was strongly recommended to us, and was not our first choice.

I recommend going shopping for some delectable jhumkas and churnis to Johri Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar instead, as Kolkata’s Birla Mandir seemed to be far superior in terms of architecture. Yet, the abundance of peacocks delighted us.

While we couldn’t see much, we soaked in most of what the city had to offer in terms of history and culture. Undoubtedly, a stay longer than two days is recommended for the planners, but the impulsive ones might find a way to satisfy themselves if they follow their instinct as Jaipur has a lot to offer, so no one really is disappointed.

Photo Credits: Banner Left – Travel Triangle; Banner Center – Conde Nast Traveler; Banner Right – My Little Adventure