If you were to travel to India for the first time, you would probably plan your trip to the Taj Mahal and in all likelihood you would plan your extension to Rajasthan. You wouldn’t guess that in my numerous trips to India, maybe 9 times already since 2006, I have never been to the famed mythical land of Rajasthan. Nor have I ever taken a package tour in India. I am just not the kinds to buy a package tour. I travel on my own, find places on my own, check out hotels on my own, make friends on my own and keep my options open. If I wish to stay longer at a place because I value it more, it is in my hands and not in the hands of another tour operator!
However, when I decided to discover one small part of Rajasthan, I decided to go with my friend’s travelling offer from his company. It was just for one night, just one city, Jaipur. Not a big deal. And I decided to do the trip through a tour company from India. However it turned out to be one wonderful trip! And I have excellent memories from that one night tour to the Pink City.
The biggest excitement for me was the fact that I was travelling with my friend and he was taking me to Jaipur on a motorcycle!!! I mean I have toured before on motorcycles in other parts of India, in Kashmir in Kerala, in Tamil Nadu. But this time it was very different. I was going on a Superbike!!! Yes, I was travelling from Delhi to Jaipur on the mythical Yamaha R1! Talk about fast bikes!!! A few days before this tour, I did not even know what is a Yamaha R1!!!
It was early March. The cold Delhi winter of 2014 was still quite fresh and we went cruising on the highway to Jaipur the chill notwithstanding. I have never been on Indian roads at 200kmph. In fact I have never gone at 200 anywhere in the world let alone India! I have never sat crouched like a cat ready to pounce behind on a motorcycle hurtling down the highway at 250kmph. I was not totally prepared for this physically. So it was a little tiring. But it was a lot of fun!
The arrival in Jaipur was Royal. We parked right in front of Amer Fort with lake in between. Oh what a sight it was! It lives every bit up to its expectations and more. Evidently we stopped to take photographs! There were decorated elephants carrying eager and excited tourists going up the slope of the hill on top of which was located the Amer Fort in its majestic grandeur. It was my first impression of Jaipur. We were going to visit shortly.
We reached the designated place where we could safely park this awesome bike, the R1. A car was at our disposal waiting for us that drove us to visit the Amer Fort. It was an amazing visit; there were so many beautifully decorated elephants, a maze of labyrinths and unending corridors, hall of mirrors, cooling rooms and towers, carved sandalwood doors inlaid with ivory, beautifully laid gardens, halls of public and private audiences, courtyard and palace for the women… and views from the top were splendid. I spent nearly 3 hours there. I could have spent the whole day. But I was hungry!
My friend next took me to visit a store that was manufacturing and selling local handicrafts of all kinds. It was truly a very interesting store I must say that sold a lot of things from carved wooden statues, horses carved out intricately from stone, to antique chairs and tables to objects made from jade to silk carpets to beautifully hand printed cotton bed covers that took my fancy and many other interesting objects that will go beyond the scope of this article.
I bought a few things. I even ordered a few tailor-made skirts for myself that they said they will deliver the next day to my hotel room before I left which they promptly did! The fit and finish of the tailor-made skirts was excellent and the cost was very nominal for the superb quality that I got.
In the afternoon, I did a leisurely visit of the fabulous instruments in the observatory of astronomical proportions! Though a little difficult to comprehend and even tougher to recall for my little brains that is not really adapted to this measure, the Observatory remains nevertheless a very interesting place to visit. My friend gave me some interesting explanations that I forgot even before I left the place!
I spent a considerable amount of time strolling in the bazaars around the Palace of Winds. It is a beautiful façade and the ambiance in that area is something that cannot be described… fruit and vegetable sellers in front of the Palace of Winds, women in beautiful costumes buying colourful glass bangles, wonderful saris displayed in shops, locksmiths selling their wares under a 200 year old tree, innumerable rickshaws going around the roundabout, monkeys walking along the orange parapets of the surrounding buildings, an old Hindu temple whose bells were rung each time by the devotee who crossed its threshold, hawkers trying to strike up a friendly conversation with me in the hope of selling me a souvenir; it is an amazing experience!
After sundown, we rode the bike and went to the hotel. We were booked at the Ibis Jaipur. Good room with excellent amenities, wifi, excellent food possibilities. It is a nice hotel for a very good price.
The only negative point of the hotel was the pool was still under construction and so was the gym! I was looking for a relaxing swim after the long bike ride. But that was not to be. No problems. In the evening I decided to dress up for the dinner in the courtyard where they served good grilled food that I enjoyed a lot!
I did not visit everything in Jaipur. It is a multiple night destination. But I had limited time. On the way back to Delhi, we stopped at the gardens on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is a wonderful place too. Before speeding our way back to Delhi, I promised myself that I will be back in Rajasthan and more specifically, even to Jaipur.
My heartiest thanks to Maavalan Travels for designing this trip, booking and taking care of all travel logistics including the bike trip! It was truly a memorable trip, my first one to Rajasthan, albeit a short one!
Ms Katerina has travelled extensively on 4 continents and considerably in South India and parts of North India over multiple visits.