We had been planning for a vacation for so long and finally we thought it was high time we just packaged and started off. Fortunately we got to take break of 9 days during the last week of September and so we just got started . We were quick to first book the flight and train tickets . We had wanted to visit Rajsthan for long and we were in the process of deciding where to fly to. Vinod was clear that we had to visit Jaisalmer . Though there is an aiport listed at Jaisalmer , we couldn't find any flights from Bangalore. So we booked tickets to fly to Jaipur. So the vague itinerary was something like this : we would fly to Jaipur , go around for couple of days , take a train to Jaisalmer , spend time there for a couple of days , then visit the Sam Dunes towards Thar desert , then come back in the same route we started off with.
We didn't have enough time to google too much on the hotels . So we resorted to staying in RTDC all along. Fortunately they provide a centralized booking service which is slightly clumsy because their website doesn't provide payment service. You first need to send them the hotels and dates you wish to stay at Rajsthan and they would reply back with the cost. Subsequently you are expected to make the payment by deposting at their icici account and fax across the receipt. Now the hotels are neither too expensive nor too cheap. RTDC provides a range of hotels under different categories - classic , comfort and luxury and the rate varies.
Now that all the reservations were done , we were all set to go. Apart from our camera we didn't carry anything expensive. Money was always available at ATMs and we had already made all other payments. So we felt free and weightless :)
We reached Jaipur on a Sunday morning at 7:35 am and headed straight towards the Hotel-Hotel Swgatham. The pre-paid taxi rate gave us a hint that we had reached a Toruist Zone. Hotel Swagatham wasn't as welcoming as its name. The tricky part about all room bookings is that the check-in happens only at 12.00noon. So what happens when you reach at 8.00 am ? you do nothing ..you just wait..but they were kind and let us in. We hadn't got an A/c room and we were extremely tired due to the 5 hr break we had that morning at mumbai. We were hungry as well as our Jet Connect flight gave us only bottled water. An attendant at the hotel had followed us to help us out with the luggage. We gave an order for breakfast which was delivered shortly . The attendant promptly informed us that we had to pay and the bill was unexpectedly huge. Just before he left he informed us not to tell about his delivering us breakfast at the reception. I guess he had stolen it from the kitchen to make some quick bucks !!! We were terribly fooled.
We were not particularly happy with the room either. Apparently the hotel was being rennovated and our floor and room was extremely dusty and dirty.
After couple of hours nap we headed towards the city palace . The galli which took us out of the hotel was filled with the suffocating stench of ammonia from human urine.As soon as we entered the main street under nourished and under-washed cycle rickshaw drivers flocked around us in a bid to make some money-we very clearly looked like tourists . We looked so heavily fleshy with smoother and fresher skin, not to mention the clean cotton outfit . We looked foreign. it felt weird to feel indegineously foreign to one's countrymen. The cycle richshws dont charge much. its more of a 5 or 10 rs affair but we felt it was high time govt banned cycle rickshaws .So we opted for an auto. Auto rickshaws at Jaipur seemed more like a luxury . First most people preferred the cycle rics . Second they were huge diesel vehicles which rattled throughout and was generally hired by large families carrying a lot og luggage. Third they were costly because meters were never used. We headed for Badi Chaukatt . If you go to Badi Chaukatt, you can cover the City Palace & Museum , Hawa Mahal , Jantar Mantar and some shopping areas like the Bapu Bazaar and Johar Bazaar.
As it was already noon , we felt it best to have lunch before we started off. It was a time consuming job to find a restaurant. All we found around was an old city ready to crumble. Most things thrived in very unhygenic circumstances. The kitchen to all restaurants (restaurants would be an exageration)faces the streets and the atta is mixed with a lot of sweat instead of water. Out of desperation we finally walked into a dhaba and ordered some rotis . Rotis were really good and so was the curry but the rates were international tourist rates.
Soon after we headed for City Palace . We hadn't done a lot of google map research on where and what. But it was very easy to find tourist attarctions by silently following other tourists. The City palace is the place where the king used to stay and his descendants still stay. However some parts like the museum and courtyard had been lent out to the govt, i suppose. The real stuff was inside and the fee was a hefty 2000 rs. , much higher than the Windsor castle fee at England. As it is a private property , the fee amount would direclty go to the Royals. We didnt want to feed the couch potatotes more . so we opted not to see it.It was close to 5pm when we were done with the City Palace . There wasnt anything too astonishing inside , atleast the parts we could see without paying the 2k.As all tourist places close at 4:30-5pm we couldnt see anything else. So we started walking back home.
After having a nice Rajsthani dinner from Hotel Swgatham we hit the sack.