Archive for March, 2010

Those of you who have never set foot in India, this book will probably give you an idea of where the country is heading and what we have achieved so far.

Thanks to the media and movies like Slumdog Millionaire, all you get to see is poverty, suffering and the likes. Well, there is more to this country than you can imagine.

Like the books says, you will find the latest technology and gadgets at the most competitive prices. India has the lowest mobile phone tariffs in the world and is probably one of the largest consumer of computers and flat screen TV’s. You will probably find almost all global brands being sold here with half of them being produced out of our garment factories in Bangalore and chennai. We are also spending a lot on international travel (Europe and Asia Pacific region) which was evident during global recession last yr. All this and more should give you an idea of where we are and what’s in store for the future.

So, if you need a break and want to experience something completely different, then head to India with an empty bag and I promise that you will return with goodies and memories to last a lifetime.

Here is an intro to Tom’s book.

Read Full Post »

Was eagerly lookin out for a chance to visit this beautiful and colorful state of Rajastan for a long time but wasn’t lucky until last week. Got an opportunity to do a quick 2 day trip to Jaipur which is about 4 hrs by road from Delhi and about an hour’s flight from Mumbai.

Before we set out on any trip, we do thorough research on the destination and prepare a handout which becomes our guide during the trip. I did work on something similar for this trip too and came back and added more facts to it. So here is a fact sheet on Jaipur straight from what I had put together.

Airport – The new terminal where SpiceJet and GoAir lands is simple but clean and is about 13 – 14kms from city centre. There are government approved cabs and pre-paid cabs which cost anywhere from Rs 300 to Rs 400 but the cheapest service is a radio cab called Meri Car – 0141 4188888. You need to call them at 1 – 2 hrs in advance and give you exact time of arrival and a Maruti 800 will come pick you up. They charge Rs 25 for first 2 kms and Rs 10 per km thereafter along with airport parking charge of Rs 60. This will still work out to about Rs 230 or less and is quite reliable. You return to the airport will come to about Rs 160 as there is no parking to be paid. These cabs are also useful if you want to travel distances within the city.

Railway Station and Bus Stand – they are rite in the heart of the city and close to popular localities.

Local Transport

The city is not very huge and you can cover one part to the other in less than 7 – 9 kms.

Auto rickshaw is quite common but you will need to fix a fare before you get on. They are a bit expensive compared to other cities and charge from Rs 20 for min distance to Rs 40 for 3kms and so on. You will need to do a bit of bargaining with them as well.

Pull charts are also available especially in the Pink city area and are suitable for smaller distances. They are quite cheap and hand drawn by humans which is the saddest part.

I do not recommend local buses as they are quite crowded and tough to understand the route they take.


Jaipur has various types of accommodation from 5 star properties to budget and homestays in ancient bungalows. If you can afford to blow some cash then try and book in one of the renovated palaces which are converted into a hotel. For the budget conscious traveler, try and book yourself at a nice home stay in an ancient colonial house. Popular areas are Bani Park, MI Rd, Sansarchandra Marg & Ajmeri Marg. You will find good clean accommodation starting from Rs 500 per head for bed and breakfast and can go upto Rs 10,000 per nite.

Site seeing: you can either take the Rajasthan Government run packages which is the cheapest and best option or rent an autorickshaw to cover the hot spots (Rs 400 to Rs 500) or hire a cab (Rs 700 – Rs 900). They usually start at 9 and finish by 5pm.

Indian entries are normally quite affordable but foreigners have to pay a hefty amount at all these locations.

¤ HAWA MAHAL – built in 1799, by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, is the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The 5 storied stunning semi-octagonal monument having 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. Originally designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities, on the street below. Now it houses a well laid out museum. The display “Jaipur past and present” is the special feature of this newly setup museum. Timing 10.00 to 16.30 hrs, Entry Fee Rs. 30.00: Phone: 2618862

Outside view of Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Corridors at Hawa Mahal

¤ CITY PALACE AND S.M.S. II MUSEUM – situated in the heart of the old City, it occupies about one seventh of the old city area. The palace is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture, it houses a Seven storeyed Chandra Mahal in the centre, which affords a fine view of the gardens and the city. Diwan-E-Am (Hall of public audience) has intricate decorations and collection of manuscripts, Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of private audience) has a marble pawed gallery Mubarak Mahal has a rich collection of costumes and textiles. There is a Clock Tower near Mubarak Mahal. Sileh Khana has a collection of armory and weapons. Timing 9.30 to 16.45 hrs. Entry Fee for Indians Rs. 40.00 and for foreigners Rs.150.00 inclusive of entry to Jaigarh fort, Phone: 2608055. Camera is charged at Rs 50.00

City Palace and Museum

Decorated door at the City Palace, Jaipur

¤ JANTAR MANTAR (Observatory) – built in 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the huge masonary instruments were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. Enormous sun-dial still provide accurate time, which are subject to daily corrections. Timing 9.00 to 16.30 hrs, Entry Fee Rs. 20.00, Phone: 2610494

Ancient scientific marvel - Jantar Mantar

¤ JAIGARH FORT – (15 kms.) standing on a hilltop, overlooking the palaces and city of Amer. The world’s biggest cannon on wheels- the Jai Ban is positioned here, built during reign of Maharaja Sawai Jaisingh. It has a twenty feet long barrel and pumped in the cannon for a single shot. Timing 10.00 to 16.45 hrs, Entry Fee for Indians Rs. 20.00 & for foreigners Rs. 20.00, Phone: 2630848

¤ AMER – The old capital of the Kachhwahas stands atop a range of craggy hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. It is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The solemn dignity of it red sandstone and white marble pavilions, when reflected in the lake at the foot hill, is a sight to behold. The original palace was built by Raja Man Singh, the additional extensions were built by Maharaja Mirja Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh lIthe last Maharaja of Amer, who built a new city called Jaipur, where he shfted his capital in 1727.

The majestic Amer Fort outside Jaipur

The palace complex is lavishly ornamented and displays the riches of Amer. Sheesh Mahal chamber of Mirrors. Diwan-e-Am or the Hall of Public Audience is a beautifully proportioned hall open on three sides and stands on two rows of ornamented pillars. Diwan e-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience has delicate mosaic work in glass. Sukh mandir is guarded by sandalwood doors inlaid with ivory. Throughout the massive fort finely carved lattice windows, exquisitely painted doorways, halls and finely sculptured pillars crave for attention.

Inside Amer Fort

The old city of Amer was the seat of power and bustling with life and prosperity. Other worth seeing sites are Jagat Shiromani Temple, Narsinghji temple, the stepwell of Panna Meena and fine carved royal cenotaphs on the road to Delhi. Timing: 9.00 to 16.30 hrs. Entry Fee For Indians Rs. 15.00, For Foreigners Rs. 50.00, Phone: 2530293, Elephant ride charge Rs. 400.00 (inclusive of all taxes) Timing : 8.00 to 16.00 hrs, Phone: 2530264 (Tourist Office).

¤ NAHARGARH FORT – (15 kms.) cresting a hill about 600 ft. above the city, the fort was built in 1734. The walls of the fort run along the ridge and within are architectural beauties like Hawa Mandir and Madhvendra Bhawan. Timing 10.00 to 16.00 hrs, Entry Fee Rs. 5.00, Phone: 5148044

Chokhi Dhani, Tonk Road – This is an ethnic rajasthani village set up by a star hotel which creates a rustic ambiance. Located about 20kms outside the city beyond the airport, this is definitely a must visit during the evenings. Local villagers showcase their skills and handicrafts along with horse and camel rides. We booked a cab for this visit as its tough to find transportation for your return journey.

Chowki Dhani - A must visit in Jaipur

Entry fee is mainly for the ethnic vegetarian rajasthani food that is served at The Village which costs Rs 350 and is definitely worth the experience.

A Village setup in Chowki Dhani

You also have an option of dining in one of the open air posh restaurants outside the village complex.

A posh restaurant in Chowki Dhani

Pink City – Another must visit location for roadside shopping is the pink city area of Jaipur. You can enter thru one of the 4 main gates for different types of shopping. Ajmeri Gate is famous for its leather accessories while Johuri Bazaar for jewelery.

One should also visit LMB, Jaipur’s most famous sweet and snack joint inside Pink city on Johuri Marg and try the famous Paneer Ghewal or other spicy snacks.

Pubs & other Hangouts

  1. Reds – MI Rd
  2. Clarkes
  3. EP – Entertainment Paradise

So the next time you have about 6 -8 days off, just pack your bags and head to Rajasthan n cover Jaipur, Jodpur, Jaisalmer and the likes. Oh and don’t forget to visit the Antique Car’s museum while your there.

ur escapist


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: