Rekindling the Romance: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

4 Apr

Twenty five years ago we had a romantic week in Rajasthan and have abiding fond memories of Jaipur’s pink city, its wondrous palaces and forts and luxuriantly moustachioed men in turbans and kohl-eyed slim women in vibrant saris. Would it have the same appeal all this time later?

After eleven hours on the move (car Tala-Jabalpur then planes Jabalpur-Delhi and Delhi-Jaipur) we were content to take it easy and see just a few of our favourite things. Also, Stuart’s nerves had been shattered by the late night taxi ride from Jaipur airport to our hotel. As he often does he sat in the front passenger seat. It gives him a chance to chat with the driver and he has a better view.

Not to steal his thunder I’ll leave the rest of the story to him in the next blog wherein he covers the peculiarities of driving in India. 

  

 
Our Hotel, the Alsisar Haveli, has beautiful bones but poor management. Such a shame as it could be brilliant. 

   We arranged a different car and driver for the next morning through the hotel, requesting a careful driver who spoke English. That’s how we met Rakesh. A tiny, tidy communicative man with a betel nut habit (on long drives he has to open the door and spit on the ground every half an hour or so) Rakesh suited us perfectly.  

He took us via the Wind Palace to Amer Fort early in the morning (entry from 8:30am) then to an Indian breakfast where we got chatting to an extended family on holiday from Chandigarh, followed by the City Palace (entry from 9:30am). This way we beat the hordes who were pouring in by the coachload as we departed. Thanks for the tip Satyendra!

    

 
I am not a fan of elephant rides for tourists, but I suppose since these elephants generate revenue they are more likely to be cared for. Several were still wearing Holi colurs.

  
    
    
    
    
    Jaipur in the distance.

    
    
    
 Don’t think I’d be thrilled to have a band of urban rhesus macaques wandering over my apartment. They look like cat burglars.  
  There is always a front side and a back side to life in India (as in many countries). This was the rear of the breakfast cafe.
  Inside the city palace.

  
    
    
 This was taken immediately outside the city palace gateway. Any attempt and keeping the space clean ended at the ticket counter.

Apart from a short walk I took on my own via the western Moon Gate into the pink city to sample the street life, we spent the afternoon lounging by the pool and napping.  

    
    
    
  I so wanted to liberate this sweet creature chained in the alley.   
    
    
  

   The entrance to our hotel. More evidence of Holi. 

 Poolside at the haveli. 
At 5:30pm we set off for Rambagh Palace Hotel (1835), one of the Taj Group and a top hotel of the world. We’d said last time that if we ever came back to Jaipur we’d stay there, but at AUD800/night plus plus I just could not bring myself to book us in to stay but dinner would do nicely.
We noticed camels and riders congregated at the Polo Club next door. After establishing that we could indeed have cocktails and dinner at Rambagh no problem we walked back to the polo ground. It was the Rajasthani Camel Regiment and brass band running through their dress rehearsal for an event the next day. We watched camouflage-dressed soldiers doing tricks on their camels, which Stuart said looked rather like camel yoga, then returned to the peacock-embellished lawns of the Rambagh.

  A congregation of camels.  
    
 The converted carriages are now a bar and pizza cafe. 
As I said of our stay at the Taj Malabar in Kochi, I wish everyone could, at least once in their lives, experience a Taj hotel. Jaipur is a hellishly dusty city on the edge of the desert but you won’t see a speck of dust at the Rambagh. And it’s not as though there are troops of cleaners about the place. They must clean at night. Everything from the fine embroidery of the starched white placemats to the smooth, gleaming white and black marble floored verandahs is of the highest quality and though the building is several hundred years old it is impeccably maintained. We fell into conversation with food and beverage manager, Manish, and learned how he had worked his way up from waiter in ten years.

Three Jaipur martinis (the special ingredients are a hint of rose and a rose petal) between us, a delicious SE Asian dinner with traditional music and Kathak dance entertainment on the lawn, and a stroll around the hotel made for a wonderful evening. Jaipur had worked its magic once again.

    
    
 Always a sucker for pink frangipani.
   
    
    

The formal restaurant. Dining amongst the collonades overlooking the lawns with the lights of the city fort in the distance was more our style.

  

     
    
    
  A thoroughly modern prince, Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II. 

3 Responses to “Rekindling the Romance: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India”

  1. arv! April 5, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    Great write up! Surely Rambagh palace is one of the top signature property of Taj… certainly among the best in the country!

    • Sharon Tickle April 6, 2016 at 5:50 am #

      Agreed Arv. Although we can’t usually afford to stay at Taj (with the exception of our splurge at Taj Makabar in Kochi) we always go for a meal and have not been disappointed yet. All the best, Sharon

      • arv! April 6, 2016 at 9:22 am #

        That’s a best alternative to staying at the property ! 🙂

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