I spent the last week exploring Jaipur, a desert region in the northern state of Rajasthan. ❤
Historically, many kingdoms have vied for this region, and the buildings found in Jaipur are a reminder of its royal past.
What to see in Jaipur
Built on a steep hilltop, as an icon of the city, is the imposing Amer Fort.This 16th century fort complex is actually comprised of a royal palace, spiritual temples, spacious courtyards, and lush gardens.
It also has the 3rd largest fort wall in the world.Now to build the complex, the architects used red sandstone and marble to showcase both Hindu and Muslim style.I tried to find interesting facts to share with you about the fort, but it seems to be just a long history of battles and bloodshed. Behind the fort is also this stepwell, but it seemed a little bogus, as this random guy (unaffiliated with the fort staff) was charging people just to stand in the well for 1-2 minutes on the steps for a photo. Does look pretty cool though!
Anyway, to get to the fort, I chose to walk, but most people opt for a tuk-tuk, also known as, the Indian Ferrari. Hah! 🤣Walking there gave me the chance to do a lot of people watching though, and spot a few cool wall paintings along the way.As Jaipur was the epicenter of India’s royal past, most of the artwork here appears very regal and refined.On the way there I also walked down this promenade past a submerged palace called Jal Mahal.
Jal Mahal, or the ‘Water Palace’, was once used as a shooting lodge for the maharajas. Now four of its five stories are submerged below Man Sagar Lake! 😮 Cranes are seen swooping overhead, while cattle cool off along the water’s edge.🐮🐦
Just loving that reflection! 😍I also think they were trying to shoot some sort of music video while I was there. 🤔Anyway, the next day I went wandering through Jaipur to see more of the pink buildings, and feel the vibe of the city too. 💕
Obligatory stops included the City Palace and Hawa Mahal.
Hawa Mahal is an absolutely gorgeous, pink-painted limestone palace that resembles the honeycomb of a beehive.🐝🍯 This view is surely just as sweet! 😉 The palace was actually built for the royal ladies. Under the 18th century Purdah system, these women were not allowed out in public.😲This latticed building gave them the opportunity to observe everyday life in Jaipur without being seen.
I also tried to venture over to another famous temple, Galtaji, also known as, Monkey Temple, but I got slightly sketched out by the aggressive people over there, and especially the cheeky monkeys. I decided just to take some nice panoramic shots from the Sun Temple and return back to the city.
To get from Varanasi to Jaipur, I flew with Spice Jet.I had NO idea that Varanasi was so far from the airport. It ended up costing me 600 rupees and 1.5 hours to get to the airport in a tuk-tuk.
Side note: If you have an early flight, don’t bank on arriving too early at the airport. The place closes at night and doesn’t open until 6 AM.
Once I got there, I saw that my flight wasn’t listed on the departure board, so I thought, “Here we go again! Another Indian adventure!” Hah! Anyway, the Spice Jet representatives didn’t show up for another hour, so I had to impatiently wait and wonder whether my flight was even going to happen. Anyway, it turns out that my flight was scheduled and on time; however, they just didn’t put it on the board. I guess they just wanted to keep me on my toes. Hah!Anyway, after a two-hour flight I landed in Jaipur and picked up my luggage. I had read that I could take a bus to Jaipur from the airport, so I asked one of the workers where the bus station was located. He said he would walk me there, which immediately felt like he was going to ask for money. When we got to the bus station, he told me that the bus would take a very long time and it was better to use Ola, the Indian version of Uber. He found an Ola that would only cost 91 rupees (<2 USD), so I told him to make the call. Afterwards I thanked him and told him he could go back to work. He said he didn’t mind waiting with me. Then three tuk-tuk drivers came over to ask for selfies with me, and offered to drive me for 100 rupees. I told them I wasn’t interested. As we were waiting, this worker then says that he wants to get in the Ola car with me too, and be dropped off at his house for lunch. I thought this whole situation was sounding a bit weird, so I started to walk away. Just then the Ola driver pulled up, and I decided to hop in anyways. Well, it turns out this worker was actually very sweet and genuine. His name is Shiva, and he even paid the fare in the end. So sweet!
While in Jaipur I stayed at Zostel Hostel. Although they have great ratings on HostelWorld, I did not have the best experience here. I think people rate them highly, because they organize events for backpackers and they have a spacious common room. Personally, I was disgusted by their microwave that was full of bugs. My room also wasn’t air conditioned, and the internet wasn’t working for most of my stay, which made it difficult to look up sightseeing spots and pin places on Google Maps.As well, I emailed them months prior to book my bus/train ticket from Jaipur to Ranthambore National Park. I actually emailed them three times prior to my arrival, but I was told each time that I could do the booking once I arrived. I assumed then that there were tons of options available. Of course, when I arrived and tried to book, I was told that there were no buses or trains available on that morning.
In the end, I was able to buy a train ticket departing from a different city that stopped in Jaipur along the way. The fare ended up being much more expensive, but at least I got a ticket. I told my mom this whole experience was giving me gray hair. Hah!
The Honest Truth: Overall, I did not have the best experience with the people in Jaipur. Although I met one or two nice people, like Shiva, I had children throw rocks at me twice, some kids shouted swear words at me just for walking by, some woman grabbed my arm very hard insisting that I give her money, and the amount of harassment by tuk-tuk drivers here has been the worse I’ve dealt with yet. I don’t want to discourage you from visiting this city, as it is filled with many beautiful places, but I do want to remain honest about my experience.
How did I remedy the situation?
After returning back to Jaipur from Ranthambore National Park, sick as a dog, I knew I needed something to perk myself up. 🙂
As such, I chose to book a guesthouse in a less touristy area of town. This way, I minimized the hassling on the streets, and once again had my own personal space. 😀
I thought my guesthouse, Krishna Palace, had such a homey feel, with upscale Indian charm.
I loved the architectural style, traditional decor, and again my own bed! ❤
Cost: 11 USD/ night
Even as a backpacker, trying to travel on a budget, I think my mental health is of utmost importance. Even though I want to save money by staying at hostels and also see as many sights as I can see each day, I understand that there are times when it’s equally important to treat myself to hotels and choose to lay in bed all day and watch YouTube. 😉
Anyway, as this concludes my journey in India, I would choose to describe my experience here as nothing short of intense. There were so many highs and lows to my journey. I know I’ll carry these memories with me for a lifetime. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my travel experience so far. Stay tuned to hear about the next destination on my list! Until then! 😀