Manda Travels: India Part 2- Jaipur

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We spent four nights in Jaipur and really fell in love with the capital of Rajasthan – also known as “the pink city” because of the color of the terracotta buildings within the old city walls. We did so much shopping here, in addition to site seeing and, of course, eating.

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Day 4 continued …

We arrived in Jaipur in the early evening, hungry, thirsty and thrilled to be out of the car. I strategically booked us a night at the Tree House Resort so that we’d have a little bit of a rest after a busy beginning to our trip, and it worked out wonderfully! You reach the resort by driving down windy and hilly dirt roads into a valley outside of the city. We checked in and were taken to our “nest” – a free-standing tree house perched up in the trees with a real tree growing right through our room! We dropped our bags and headed to the Peacock Bar for a drink — the bar is actually a 400 year old small wooden room that they re-purposed into a bar. One of the quirky things about the resort is that they employ local people from the nearby village, rather than those trained in hospitality — I loved this, but the level of service was very different from what we experienced elsewhere… all of the staff was very friendly and helpful, but many were a little awkward and didn’t speak a lot of English. We spent the evening with wine in one hand and a book in the other the eventually found our way to dinner — we had paneer with peppers and onions, chicken tikka masala and okra with onions –great food, made with fresh local produce. The manager of the resort sat with us for a bit and told us more about the place its history – turns out it started as a single tree house, cute! After dinner we climbed up into our nest and hit the hay!

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Day 5: Settling into Jaipur

We had breakfast at the Tree House Resort (coffee, yogurt and some puffy fried bread that tasted like funnel cake) then went for a quick swim in the infinity pool. Our driver picked us up at noon and drove us into Jaipur city to our next hotel – Samode Haveli – our favorite hotel of the trip! We were given lemon water and sat in the most beautiful painted room while we checked in. Samode Haveli is an old mansion surrounded by gardens. Each room is different and you reach your room by climbing narrow staircases and walking through various courtyards. Our room was so pretty – filled with hand-painted columns and arches and it even had a private terrace (complete with monkeys – hah!) We had about an hour to kill before our first plan for the day so we had some prosecco at the pool, obviously. At 4pm we met our guide, Amit, for our Crafts & Cuisine tour with Jaipur Walks. We saw so many things – marble sculptors, bangle makers, copper and brass metal workers and flower vendors, plus various temples and havelis. We also felt super adventurous and had some “street food” — buffalo milk pudding with cardamom and almonds, fried dough filled with lentils and spices, and the best chai tea in town. An amazing tour that helped us understand the day to day life in Jaipur. Later on, we went for a night swim then had dinner at our hotel – butter chicken, cauliflower with peas and butter naan.

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Day 6: Busiest Day Ever in Jaipur

We woke up early for our Old City tour — we started at the wholesale flower market which was crazy busy and cool. Tons and tons of bushels of yellow and orange marigolds! We then walked through the Jantar Mantar observatory – an astrological observatory from the 19th century, including the world’s largest stone sundial (which is accurate to the minute!). We then walked through the City Palace – one of my favorite parts were the four different doors that lead into the main courtyard — one for each season. We learned a lot about the history of the royal family, and their role today – the current king is only 19! After the tour we had lunch at LMB – a popular restaurant and sweet shop. After lunch we wandered around Old City on a hunt for a bunch of shops that I had bookmarked — we bought rose and sandalwood oil from a fragrance shop, pom-pom flip flops from a shoe shop, and some earrings at a bangle shop. We also went into a textile store – Hassan’s – where we ended up buying some clothes and a rug. On our way to meet up with our driver, we found Tikam Chand — a third generation photographer in Jaipur who has been taking and developing photos on the street for years. I was SO excited to meet him. It was a highlight of the whole trip. We went back to the hotel for a swim and some rest, then headed back into the Old City for our appointment with Suresh Shastri – a seventh generation astrologer. We sat on a mattress on the floor with him in the back room of a building — such an interesting experience. We had drinks and dinner at Bar Palladio that night – really pretty restaurant but the food was just so-so.

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Day 7: Shopping Day in Jaipur

We spent the bulk of our day in two stores — Ridhi Sidhi Textiles and Manglam Arts Furnishings. Ridhi Sidhi was my dream come true – stacks upon stacks of hand block-printed fabric, plus cute shirts and dresses and amazing quilts. Harsh, the owner, even drove us in his car to their main factory just a few blocks away where we got to see the printing process live. They do a lot of printing for Pottery Barn and Roberta Roller Rabbit, so it was really interesting to see where it’s all made! We spent hours looking through fabric and ended up with a few dresses for me, two custom-made shirts for Brett, and a new quilt for our bed. We spent the afternoon at Manglam Arts – a furniture company that makes custom furniture for Anthropologie and ABC Home. It’s a series of warehouses filled with amazing chairs, couches, side tables, etc. We walked around and explored then picked out and designed some custom furniture for ourselves. This was a really fun day — we have a future plan of traveling back to these two places later in life when we need a wardrobe or furniture refresh 😛

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