It’s been really busy.
This year alone I’ve already been to Norway, Greece and France!
I haven’t yet written about it here but if you follow me on Twitter, you’re usually one of the first to know!
So go on then.
And Brexit has been taking all my attention too.
The British Berliner is a well-known British-German expert when it comes to the British Monarchy, British Politics and British expat issues in Germany, and of course a popular well-known British person who travels!
I was on Radio One (Radio Eins) too.
Is it any wonder that even though I was featured everywhere, I didn’t have time for the blog itself!
Just know that even though the post might not be published, it’s certainly written!
Back to India!
And before we even stepped foot in India, our troubles began.
For those of you just catching up, here’s what happened:
- I’m going to India – Incredible India!
- When the airline lost my luggage on the flight to India – Incredible India!
- Lost and Trapped in Delhi – Incredible India!
- An introduction to the Taj Mahal in Agra. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India!
Because if India doesn’t break you, it’ll make you stronger!
So what happened after that?
Or any European country for that matter!
I’ll talk about that in a completely different post!
HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY IN RAJASTHAN!
LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!
Jaipur is in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is surrounded by five Indian states such as the Punjab in the north, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the northeast, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast, and Gujarat in the southwest. It is also very famous for the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan’s only hill station – Mount Abu, the Keoladeo National Park, three (3) national tiger reserves – the world-famous Ranthambore National Park, the Sariska Tiger Reserve, and the Mukundra Hill Tiger Reserve!
The capital and largest city is Jaipur.
Otherwise known as the Pink City, due to the pink-ish colour of the buildings in the city!
Jaipur has been around since 1727 and is a major tourist destination because of not one (1), but two (2) UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the rather wonderful Jantar Mantar which is home to an Observatory with a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, and the most impressive Amer Fort and Amer Palace, also known as the Amber Fort and Amber Palace!
It’s very close to Jodhpur which is 348 km/216 miles away, Jaisalmer 571 km/ 355 miles away, Udaipur 421 km/262 miles away, Kota 252 km/156 miles away, Mount Abu 520 km, 323 miles away and Shimla, which is 616 km /383 miles away!
WHY GO TO JAIPUR?
As if you have to ask!
Well, Jaipur is in India!
It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!
It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of India enviable.
And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!
It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.
With lots of things to see and do.
And plenty of shopping!
HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS!
Did you know?
- Jaipur is famously known as the Pink City!
- It became pink or terra cotta pink, in order to welcome Prince Albert Edward in 1876, who later became King Edward VII
- The colour made the city so distinctive that by law, they have to keep it like that!
- Jaipur is in Rajasthan, otherwise known as the Land of Kings!
- You can see leopards at the Jhalana Safari Park!
- One of the most interesting cinemas in the world is the Raj Mandir Cinema, and looks like a wedding cake!
- Jaipur is India’s first planned city and was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727!
- The Palace Of The Winds or Hawa Mahal is one of the most iconic and easily recognised spots in the city, and was made for the sole purpose of sinply letting the royal queens and ladies, have a sneak peak into life outside the palace, without being seen!
- The Palace Of The Winds or Hawa Mahal in Jaipur has 953 windows!
- The Palace Of The Winds or Hawa Mahal was built without a foundation, and is the tallest such building in the world!
- Jaipur is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Amer Fort and Amer Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also known as the Amber Fort and Amber Palace!
- Jantar Mantar which is home to an Observatory with a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, was built in 1734 and is considered to be one of the most architectural wonders of the world. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
- The largest stone sundial in the world can be found at Jantar Mantar!
- There were in fact five (5) Jantar Mantars constructed by Jai Singh II in Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. Sadly, only two of them – Jaipur and Delhi – managed to survive attacks, invaders and the test of time!
- The oldest mountain range in India – Aravalli Range – cuts through Jaipur
- Jaipur hosts the Jaipur Literature Festival, which is the largest free literary festival in the world!
- Jaipur is famous for handicraft work, textiles and jewellery
TAKE ME THERE?
As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel.
On our trip from Delhi to Agra, we took the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra (Agra Cantt). We used a local agent to book first class seats in the Executive Chair Car , so we didn’t have to pay $264!!!
You can read more about it here!
This time around, we booked aircon chair car class or AC chair car, otherwise known as CC seats on the AF AII Superfast train from Agra (Agra Fort) via Jaipur (Jaipur Junction) to Ajmer Junction railway station!
Yes, we did!
And as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!
In short, €5.60 / $6.34 or £5.00 per person!
You can rent a car or go by taxi of course, but after the horrible night train experience that I had 14 years ago, I really wanted to put that ghost to rest and strangely, travel with the Indian train once again!
We opted to use an Indian agent recommended to me by an American expat blogger who was living in Goa at the time, so for peace of mind and ease of travel, we worked with an Indian agent who booked every train that I asked for, with my exact specifications, four (4) months ahead of time.
If you have any questions about him, just ask me.
In short, I paid a I-can-get-a-stressfree-refund-if-it-doesnt-work-out-difference of €2.95/ $3.30 or £2.60 per person, which I’m comfortable with ‘cos I’ve been to India before, and the stress of organising things when you’re on a solo Indian journey can sometimes make your hair or skin, turn grey!
If you’re on a tight budget then there are many other trains that also go to Jaipur, but be aware that the fastest routes are usually sold out pretty quickly!
And it was a little uncomfortable, but an acceptable 4.5 hours, which turned into 6 hours, train journey! In fact, you can see my brown leather laptop bag in the photograph below!
Take a look for yourself!
It wasn’t easy.
We were a little nervous ‘cos by the time we actually arrived in Jaipur, it was 20:30.
And we were finding it difficult to leave the train station in one piece as it was quite crowded and a couple of “helpful” locals wouldn’t leave us alone, told us that we would never find a taxi on our own, and tried to grab our bags!
It took a lot of effort to stay polite, look as if we knew where we were going, and
run walk briskly away!
By the time we finally got out of the scrum, we were so anxious, that we almost rejected the Uber taxi that we had reserved!
Thank goodness for Uber in India!
I mean, we were paying prices such as ₹219 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.80 / $3.10 / £2.40.
In fact, we even paid ₹85 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €1.10 / $1.22 / £0.95 in a proper taxi vehicle.
With seat belts!
This would never in a million years happen, if we had “negotiated” rides ourselves.
In fact, I vividly remember trying NOT to pay ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) in 2005, for a ride that we discussed would be ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) to simply go to the book market that was a 10-minute ride away, and which ultimately took 2-hours as the rickshaw driver took me from shop to shop for “commissions” instead!
I was so frustrated!
Here’s my link!
I’M TRAVELLING SOLO, IS JAIPUR SAFE?
It can be.
Most people are really nice, eager to help and respectful.
In fact, I was surprised at how many people actually asked if they could take photographs with me.
And if they asked, I would usually accept.
Local Indians don’t often see Western tourists and their way of greeting and excitement can be over-whelming.
Take a look at this video taken by German YouTubers – The Nile Brothers (Nick and Lenny)
It’s crazy, these fellows were travelling together, and they’re blokes!
Indian men can be over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.
It’s awful that as strong independent women today, if you’re travelling solo, YOU have to watch how you come across, rather than the obvious use of common sense and if-you-don’t-have-permission-or-clearly-worded-stated-consent, don’t touch.
It’s as simple as that.
In the spirit of #MeToo, both men and women in Western nations are working towards this.
This blog isn’t the place to debate the battle of the sexes, it’s about how to get the best experience you possibly can, when you travel.
Whoever you may be.
Regardless of your sex, gender or sexual orientation.
Here’s what to do:
- Be firm and stand your ground
- Insist that they don’t take photographs or videos of you without your permission
I was travelling with my husband and my teenage son and when we were together, there was a respectful distance, but when I wandered off to make my own photography, the peeping and candid photography would begin!
I was firm.
I stated clearly that I didn’t want to be photographed and if I did, it usually involved a woman or children, rather than random lone men!
In one instance, an Indian chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept following me about, so I turned around swiftly and demanded his camera.
He was so shocked that he gave it to me, so I deleted his pictures, handed him his phone back and walked off!
- Watch and take care of your belongings
- Dress conservatively
- Don’t wander around late at night
- Be aware of body language as sadly, it’s all too interpreted as “flirty” or “available”
- Keep your drinking to a reasonable level ‘cos India isn’t the place to “go on a bender and get pissed!”
- Use Uber
- If you don’t feel safe, get yourself out of there as quickly as possible and if that’s not an option, go straight to the nearest shop, restaurant, hotel, or group of people and ask for help
- Do your research on local scams
- Don’t let a low-budget be the reason that you’re booked in a hotel that is dodgy as hell!
- Take your time, spend a euro/dollar/pound or two more, and book a slightly better one
And to be honest, I wouldn’t let my driver (a complete stranger), arrange my accommodation either, use booking.com and book your own!
Here’s the link!
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
Well, it’s India!
But it’s not as crowded as you might think!
And in many of my photographs, there’s quite a lot of space without any bother at all!
So don’t let anyone say that the Amer or Amber Fort / Amer or Amber Palace / Palace Of The Winds or Hawa Mahal / Jantar Mantar or the Jaipur Observatory is far too crowded.
Because it isn’t!
You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn unless you really want to.
Why would you want to?
Of course, Amer Fort (Amber Fort), Amer Palace (Amber Palace) and Jantar Mantar, are world-class UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and EVERYONE should see them, but they aren’t any more or less crowded than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Time Square in New York, would be.
A WALKING TOUR IN JAIPUR!
On our first day in Jaipur, we took a group waking tour with Yo Tours.
Even in India, it’s possible to find walking tours that don’t cost a penny (except for the tour guide tip), which you choose at your own discretion!
I always encourage that you do tip, but if you’re low on budget, this is an excellent way to see cities.
This walking tour introduced us to the secrets of Jaipur and then we did the Palace Of The Winds or Hawa Mahal by ourselves.
On our second day in Jaipur, we hired an Uber car and driver for the day so that we could go to the Amer Fort (Amber Fort), Amer Palace (Amber Palace) and Jantar Mantar after breakfast!
Hiring an Uber X car for 7 – 8 hours really took the stress out of searching for taxis and being ripped off, so that we could take our time wandering around, chattng to local tourists, and taking photos and videos, etc.
We paid just ₹800.68 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €10.30 / $11.50 / £9.15 for eight (8) hours!
We went in October, and there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season!”
In fact, we practically breezed into most places that required an entrance ticket because as foreign tourists, the tariffs were priced much greater than local tourists.
Considering the fact that most of the places we visited were world-class UNESCO monuments, the number of people who were there, is considerably less!
And there were plenty of spots to take photographs, in which absolutely no-one was anywhere near!
HOW MUCH ARE ENTRANCE TICKETS?
PALACE OF THE WINDS – HAWA MAHAL:
- Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.60 / $2.90 / £2.30 for adults
- ₹25 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.33 / $0.36 / £0.29 for students / pupils
- Absolutely nothing at all for children under 7 regardless of where they come from!
- In contrast to local tourists who pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.65 / $0.75 / £0.55
- ₹5 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.06 / $0.07 / £0.05 for local students
If you get a combined or composite tickets, you receive even greater value as you can visit one or all of the following tourist sites for a maximum of 48 hours or two (2) days!
The tourist sites an monuments included are:
- Palace of the winds or Hawa Mahal
- Amber Palace
- Jantar Mantar or Jaipur Observatory
- Nahargarh Fort
- The Albert Hall Museum
- Sisodia Garden
- Vidhyadhar Garden
- Isaralat or Sargasuli Tower
The combined or compsite entrance tickets are:
- Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹1,000 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.12.90 / $14.35 / £11.40 for adults
- ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.60 / $2.90 / £2.30 for foreign students / pupils
- Absolutely nothing at all for children under 7 regardless of where they come from!
- Local tourists pay ₹300 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €3.90 / $4.30 / £3.50
- ₹40 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.52 / $0.58 / £0.45 for local students
ANY TIPS OR TRICKS?
- Don’t let scammers take control, there are no entry fees for children under 7 years old, regardless of whether they’re foreign or Indian!
- If your children look mature or are tall for their age, take a school I.D. We used this pretty much everywhere as our son was 16 years old and looked like 20!
- Be assertive, you might have to use sharp elbows in order to get through the throng, but you don’t need an agent to simply buy your ticket. Follow the signs!
- There’s a separate queue for “high value ticket holders” / foreigners, you’ve paid for it, so don’t be shy to use it!
- You can buy your ticket at the ticket counter or online via: the Department of Archaeology & Museums, Govt. of Rajasthan
- To buy your entrance ticket, you MUST show your passport or government approved identity card. Don’t forget!
- Don’t give anyone anywhere a single penny for anything at all, except at the ticket counter. Just follow the signs!
- Use Uber to get around Jaipur. And once you get to your destination, simply follow the signs!
WHAT IS JAIPUR LIKE?
It’s very nice!
It’s easy to get around.
The locals are friendly
And there’s lots to see and do as well as being of historical and architectural interest.
And you know how much I adore history, culture, art and architecture.
It’s also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, so if you’re short on time or have never been to India before, then I absolutely recommend Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar and Udaipur, as the absolute minimum.
I DON’T SPEAK HINDI.
Not. A. Problem.
It’s amazing how many languages a typical Indian speaks.
Most speak a minimum of three (3)!
Hindi and English are the only two official national languages, and by far the most widely spoken language in India, but if you speak Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu or Punjabi, you’re good to go!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
It’s up to you!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
India isn’t as cheap as you think.
I mean, it can be reaaaaally cheap, but you’ll literally get what you pay for.
So unless you want to sleep on a rat-ridden, cockroach-crawling, dirty bedsheet, water-in-a-bucket sodden filthy room for ₹100 (INR – Indian Rupees) roughly €1.28 / $1.45 / £1.10, or to spend the rest of your holiday / break / finding yourself / adventure / spilling out your guts in the bathroom (if you can find one) because you drank tap water / ate food at a dodgy corner/ etc, cough up for a little more “quality!”
We were very pleased!
I find that when booking accomodation abroad, in order to have a sense of security and at the same time have 24 hour service in case anything goes wrong, I rent a room, hotel, hostel, villa or palace with the use of booking.com
In fact, I’m so confident of this, that I’m an affiliate partner of booking.com and trust them enormously.
We were in Jaipur for 3 nights and paid €375 or €125.00 / $140.00 / £110.00 per night (including the tax) for two Royal Deluxe double rooms. With breakfast. At €62.50 / $70.00 / £55.30 per room!
Our rooms were splendid!
We also had a very comfortable en-suite bedroom, a very large bed, an office section with a nice writing desk, sofas, a private bathroom, and a private terrace complete with a set of tables and chairs!
Honestly, I wished we had been able to stay longer than just 3 days. …
I utterly recommend the The Umaid Bhawan – Heritage Style Hotel!
Book ahead to get good prices.
I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?
Too many to write at the moment.
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Uber is fantastic in India.
If you’ve never used Uber before and you would like to. As a first-time customer, if you use my code – victoriaa12504ue – you’ll get €5.00 off your first AND second ride. It’s like riding for free!
To hire the car where the driver would wait for us for the day, cost us no more than ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €6.40 / $7.25 / £5.52!
And even for a Premier InterCity city-to-city pre-booking taxi hire for a journey of 153.95 km that took 4 hours and 51 minutes, was the ridiculously cheap price of just ₹1,399 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €18.00 / $20.00 / £15.50 and that was BEFORE the 20% discount for a first intercity ride price of ₹1,119.20 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.40 / $16.00 / £12.50!
I couldn’t believe it myself.
Be very, very cautious if you have allergies or food intolerances.
I’m allergic to all nuts but no matter how much I say it, or how well local staff indicate that they’ve understood, they certainly haven’t, as they then serve me the exact thing that I originally stated that I couldn’t eat or drink in the first place!
We all loved it!
Because, Game of Thrones!
Or am I?!
For many international visitors, India isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re feeling adventurous, want to push boundaries, willing to get out of your comfort zone, yadda yadda, make it a point of duty to spend a few
months weeks, in as many places as you can manage.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
This wasn’t my first trip to India and it probably won’t be my last.
India isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Let’s do it!
IF INDIA DOESN’T BREAK YOU, IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER ‘COS INDIA IS HARD!
And for those of you who are over 30 (ahem!).
This blog and the next couple of
months weeks, is for you.
India isn’t easy, but if you want to go there.
And of course, if you’re really nervous, I offer a consultancy, and can help you organise or advice you on many parts of your trip to India!
For more info, click here!
Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure?
Well, follow me over the next few months, and find out!
So what are you waiting for?
AN INTRODUCTION TO JAIPUR – THE PINK CITY IN RAJASTHAN! – INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This article isn’t sponsored, and all opinions and thoughts on Jaipur and Rajasthan, are utterly, my very own!
That’s it for now.
See you soon!
Watch this space!
Please note that there are three affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!