I must apologise for the backlog of India posts that I haven’t uploaded but quarantine has given me the chance to finally update these and post it!
Known historically as ‘The Pink City’, Jaipur exceeds expectations to become a terracotta paradise. But why is it called ‘The Pink City?’. The Maharaja of Jaipur sought to impress Prince Albert during his trip to India in 1876. This included building lavish buildings and gardens as well as repainting the city pink in order to create an atmosphere of hospitality. To this day, the pink colour scheme remains.
My exploration started with arriving at the Pearl Palace guesthouse which blew my mind. A heritage hotel, it combines traditional indian architecture and art for a truly authentic experience.
My first stop was the Amer Fort. Mughal architecture, lavish marble walls and an opulent courtyard, I couldn’t wait to get a slice of Rajesthan history. It also contains Sheesh Mahal, an ornate display of mirrors. I was in awe of how beautiful the fort was and the courtyard gardens were nothing to sneeze at either. The stunning backdrop was a pretty picture of Indian countryside.
Usually, when I want to build something beautiful I stick to decorating my Christmas tree but it looks like palaces have always been in style as India is full of them! Mosaic patterned walls, sculptured mirrors, no wonder so many people flock to see this important piece of Jaipur’s history. The palace is divided into four different levels with different attractions such as the Diwan-i-aam (Hall of Public Audience), the Diwan-i-kaas (Hall of Private Audience), Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Sukh Niwas where winds blow over waterfalls to create a cool climate.
There is also two light shows every evening. One is in Hindi which starts at 8 and the English one is at 7.30. There are also puppet shows and a classical dance program which can be located in Sukh Mahal.
If you want to go shopping for gifts/specialty items and traditional wear then look no further than Bapu Bazaar. Famed for being the place to sharpen tourists’ bargaining skills, Bapu Bazar is a delight with a plethora of items which appeals to all sorts of people. I picked up some colourful trousers which unfortunately reminds me of this meme*:
*Substitute for India.
But I didn’t care because they were pretty and cheap! I also took the time to stock up on Lehengas as it had been way too long since I’d bought new ones. Colourful Bangarees and jewellery were also selling fast and I took this opportunity to pick up some.
Authentic Rajasthani culture? Cultural performances? Great food? The Chocki Dhani village enticed us because it was a chance to see a glimpse of the ‘real’ India and satisfy my urge to delve into my roots. Chocki Dhani is an ethnic resort and model village attracts both tourists and locals, not only for their promising attractions but also the culinary experience with an extravagant open air buffet restaurant.
Walking inside after paying the entrance fee, I was lost on what to check out first. I opted for a puppet show where a man was using a wooden control bar and string to move a few cute doll figurines who were decked out in traditional Indian wear including little minature cloth saris.
In the village there were different performances going on. We stopped to check out two Indian girls in gagra cholis (traditional skirt and top with intricate designs and colours) who were dancing energetically. A man was providing the background music by using a tabla (classical drums). There was so much spirit and passion I stopped to watch.
There were other dance performances going on. One in particular was enjoyable because one of the girls tried to coax audience members into showing off their moves too! Eventually, one woman did come up and dance proving that positive energy is contagious.
Another performance which I coudn’t tear my eyes from showed a young woman dancing on glass!
There was lots to do and see at Chocki Dhani. From the unconventional art of palm reading to a merry-go-round to games for kids. After seeing the many attractions, we settled down to eat at the candlelit buffet dinner. There was so much to choose from. You could have Rajasthani cuisine or more Western cuisine as there was a pasta bar. My favourite was the pani puri which came served with different chutneys and dips that I had about 13. No regrets!
Overall, my experience visiting Chocki Dhani was amazing and I loved that so much Indian culture was showcased here.
For the ultimate cinematic experience, I strongly recommend a visit to the grand Raj Mandir, a luxurious cinema in Jaipur. With two staircases and a magnificent foyer. Odeon, take some notes. It is worth noting the cinema exclusively shows movies in Hindi without subtitles. I am not fluent in Hindi but can understand it to an extent, (before anyone calls me a coconut, my mother tongue is Gujarati) so I was looking forward to testing my language skills.
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