Pushkar to Jaipur
3 hours by car
Jaipur is known as the Pink City of Rajasthan, and if it wasn't for Wikipedia, I wouldn't know why. While Jodhpur and Jaisalmer weren’t painted in blue and gold as their nicknames indicate, there were still hints of the colors giving credit to the names Blue City and Golden City respectively. Jaipur had hints of a pinkish hue here and there, but I definitely wouldn't have given it the title, Pink City. It turns out, during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh (1876), the city of Jaipur was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, as the color is known to represent hospitality. Jaipur is both the capital and largest city in Rajasthan with a population of over three million, and in many ways, it shows.
Ram, our driver, encouraged us to spend most of our time in Jaipur. As I said before, knowing what I know now, I would have done things a little differently, but in the end, having four nights in Jaipur was great. The only tourist attraction we visited was Amer Fort (also called Amber Fort) where you can take an elephant safari up to the gates (we didn’t for various reasons, the main one being obvious).
We also visited a couple textile shops, where everyone once again holds claims to designing for Anthropologie and being best buds with Richard Gere. Watching the process of hand beadwork and embroidery was extraordinary, and we even got to participate in some of the block printing! Just be warned, if you visit a warehouse, you will have to sit through a thirty minute spiel on all the different types of fabrics and designs (once again, claiming rights to Hermes, Donna Karan, Miu Miu, etc). We settled into Rajasthan capital city by falling into normal city routines, including going to a movie theater!
I had been dying to see a Bollywood film and sadly the only film we were able to get tickets to was one about Cricket, a sport I know nothing about and care even less about learning. Plus, I was positive there would be no singing and dancing. Brian, Ram, and I decided to go anyway while I held out hope that the cricket team would break down into song and dance. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. What did happen though was completely unexpected. First of all, the movie was in Hindi sans English subtitles. Fail. Secondly, going to a movie in India is like watching a movie in your living room and inviting the entire neighborhood over to watch while they're all talking on their cell phones. Lastly, the films are over four hours long, and when the movie faded into intermission (yes there was an intermission), we decided it was time to leave, along with half the theater which does not indicate it was a poor film, just locals don't sit through the entire movie. It was very strange, but I'm glad we experienced it. Oh, and we somehow managed to leave without any pictures except this one, which shows nothing of the beautiful theater.
We found the best Indian restaurant in all of India in Jaipur. After asking various shop owners, they directed us to a staircase that led us to Ganesh Restaurant. Upon seeing it, Brian and I both agreed that this was going to be our downfall. We were definitely going to get sick after eating here but we were so hungry we didn’t care. It turns out, Ganesh is actually really popular and featured on several travel blogs. So much for that hidden gem! Regardless, it was delicious and the garlic naan cannot be missed!
We also found our favorite Lassi shop which I still dream about today. Its a local chain called Lassi Walla and I believe there are three around the city. We visited the one in Ramganj Bazar EVERY SINGLE DAY. We were the only ones ordering large lassis and by the second day the guys knew us and our order. Its 25 rupees (.35 cents) for a small and 50 rupees (.75 cents) for a large. They are served in the original way of a clay cup that you just throw away afterwards. The saying goes that drinking a lassi every day makes you strong. That's at least what they kept telling us every day we inhaled ours! I would go back to Jaipur right now JUST for that lassi! Oh, and again, we managed to visit this establishment everyday and left without a single picture, so here are a couple via Google image search.
We spent one day shopping through the bazaars until our feet were bleeding. Seriously, I broke my sandals and had to buy a new pair, which isn't easy since I was blessed with giant feet. I ended up buying a pair of men's sandals and tried to ignore the fact that the locals were all staring at my feet in disbelief.
My cousin needed all her jewelry for her wedding and since everything in India is cheaper, we offered to do the shopping! I was pumped! Brian was not. I became the negotiating queen! Seriously, if we left it up to Brian, we would have been leaving India over budget, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer. My advice to you is always start at 70% less than their initial offer until you get to the final price you are comfortable spending, and if they say no, just walk away. More often than not, they will chase you out of the store and sell it to you at your price. If that doesn’t work, our other method was just putting the amount of money we wanted to spend in their hands. When they are holding the money, its less likely they will give it back! One of these days I’ll write an entire post dedicated to shopping in India. I promise!
Our two week journey through Rajasthan finally came to an end and left The Land of Kings for our short drive into Agra, and paid an unexpected visit to Ram's hometown.