Being Solo: Exploring the Pink City

This was my first experience as a solo traveller and being a people person, I was a little sceptical about travelling solo. But there are situations where one has to make a choice between, whether to stay at the air-conditioned hotel room and watch TV all day, or to get out of your comfort zone to follow your passion.

As I had been to Jaipur for some work and had to catch a flight at night, I didn’t have much time to explore the city. So, I started listing out my options that would fit into the brief window of time that I had and figured out that there were only 2-3 places which I could see properly. Amer fort was the first option but it got ruled out due to some VIP visit at the fort. Now I was left with 3 options, 1. Hawa Mahal 2. Jaipur City Palace and 3. Jantar Mantar. Both Hawa Mahal and City Palace close by 5 pm in the evening, and by the time I decided where to go, it was already 3:30 in the afternoon. Hence, I decided to see these two places first and if time permits, I would go to Jantar Mantar. I decided to start with Hawa Mahal…

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Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of Winds is a historical monument which is situated right in the heart of Pink City, i.e. old city. It got its name from the top floor of the building which is called Hawa Mandir. Since I was alone, I decided to hire an Audio Guide from the entrance of the Palace.

The entrance of the Palace is called Chandra Pol.  Chandra Pol is made in such a way that the person entering the door would get confused as to where to head to. This was done for the security of women in ancient times. Since all other doors were closed, I headed towards the only open door which led to a big open courtyard with a fountain in the centre. In front of my eyes was the structure that I had seen in my social studies text book in school. The courtyard was surrounded with various rooms, each room having its own importance. Starting with Pratap Mandir, it was the room occupied by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Opposite Pratap Mandir is Bhojan Bhawan which is the dining hall. When I headed towards the level 2 of the Palace, I noticed a distinct characteristic that there are no stairs in the Palace, instead there are ramps to climb upstairs. On level 2, there is Ratan Mandir which has a hall with colourful glasses in the windows. These coloured glasses shine in the moonlight and create an illusion of various gems shining at once. On both the sides of the hall there are open courtyards. These courtyards have jharokhas (windows) through which one can see the view of streets of Jaipur City. Ratan Mandir was occupied by women and in ancient times due to purdah system, women were not supposed to be seen by the strangers, hence, jharokhas were made so that they could see the streets of the city discreetly. After Ratan Mandir, I headed towards level 3, i.e. Vichitra Mandir where the Maharaja used to worship Lord Krishna. The next level is Prakash Mandir which means the temple of light. City Palace and Jantar Mantar are visible from this level and the topmost level is called Hawa Mandir where one can experience the cool breeze. This is where the Palace derived it’s name from. Hawa Mahal has about 953 jharokhas and is built is such a way that the whole structure resembles the crown of Lord Krishna.

Short Information:

Ticket Price: INR 50/- (for Indians)

Cloak room available. It’s is beside the ticket counter

Closing time: 5:00 pm

Audio Guide: INR 115/-

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My next destination was City Palace. Most of the part of this palace is turned into a museum which contains various possessions of the Royal family, like, their clothes, Pashmina Kaaleen, arms and ammunition used by them, bagghis, cannons, silver pots called Gangajali, and the darbar of the Maharaja. Since, I had reached here just 15 minutes before the entry to the Palace closes, I had to run through the various halls and galleries before they would close.

Short Information:

Must visit halls: Darbar Hall, Arms & ammunitions hall and courtyard where Gangajalis are kept.

Ticket price: INR 100

Audio Guide: INR 100

Since, I had to rush to the airport I decided to drop Jantar Mantar off my list that day and headed straight to the airport. I left the Pink City with a new and unique experience making a promise to myself that I would take more and more solo trips in future because it’s not the company that matters, it’s the experience that matters.

Tips:

Avoid visiting Jaipur in summers.

If you are travelling solo then hire an Audio Guide device.

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