There was no big group this time, it was only Anirban and I. We decided to travel at night and save a day. Our bus was from Bikaner house at around 9.00pm. So we came back from our respective offices at the usual time. I was not at Google then, so came back at 6.30pm ;) All the packing had been done a night before to avoid the last minute rush.
We reached Bikaner house on time. It was too cold. We had some hot coffee and waited for the bus eagerly. It was 10.00pm and we were still waiting...It was 10.30pm and we were still waiting. On inquiring at the counter we were told that the bus can be here any moment now. We were happy :). It was 11.00pm we found ourselves still waiting for the bus. But believe me it was not bad at all...
Chilled air, lots of people waiting - some families interacting and some losing their patience, - some reading without any effect of the bus getting late, - some like me sitting and observing people around and being happy about the fact that there is something unusual happening. Anirban was roaming around inquiring at the counter at times, busy talking to friends over the phone at times and talking to me at times..:)
Finally the bus arrived at around midnight. Nothing great about the journey though, as we were all sleeping ;) I woke up early in the morning to enjoy the early morning view and get the feel of the city. We reached at around 6.00 in the morning.
We, as usual, had come with no definite plans. Got down from the bus, took a rickshaw and told 'rickshaw walla' to take us around. There's nothing like riding a rickshaw in the early morning :). After inquiring at 2-3 places, finally got a good place to stay.
At reception while Anirban was busy negotiating, I went through the leaflets and information brochures about the city 'Jaipur'. Wow! found one interesting information. There is 'Elephant festival' today evening in the city :) So we only have today first half to go site seeing. There's Holi tomorrow and office day after. So we went up to the room, freshened up, had breakfast 'aaloo prantha' and meanwhile told the receptionist to arrange for a cab for us in an hours time.
And here starts 'exploring Jaipur city'. The cab driver, a middle aged man with big mustache, was more than happy to be our guide and tell us all the details about the city. The moment we sat in the car he started of... this is a city of glorious past....all the names of the rulers that ruled the city with all their family details. Though we were not very keen on hearing that but still looking at the enthusiasm with which he was narrating, we heard him patiently.
The first place we visited was 'Hawa Mahal'.
It was a nice bright day, with lots of interesting people around.
Then we went to a place where we could buy lots of Rajashani stuff...Jaipuri rajai, dress material, jewellery, decoration pieces...and many more things. Probably drivers have a kind of contract with these people...he was praising the stuff to a suspicious level ;). We didn't buy anything.
Next on the list was 'Amber fort'. On the way our driver cum guide narrated us the full history of the place. Don't want to get into which now :) Could see the fort from distance...it was awesome, couldn't wait to reach there.
The fort is beautifully built, surrounded by a boundary wall 12 km long.
Thereafter, we went to the only Meera Krishna temple in the world. It was quite near to the fort and is not very frequently visited by the tourists. It was very calm and quite there.
That was it for now. We were hungry, so decided to have lunch on our way back and get ready for the elephant festival.
We relaxed for a while in the hotel and then started for the Elephant Festival.
It was great. Beautiful ladies in colorful dresses were there to greet us all. A traditional welcome was done with Colors and Aarti. Most of the spectators were foreigners.
The inauguration was done by the tourist minister of the state. And then started a series of interesting things. The agenda items were - Elephants' fashion show, I mean decorated elephant parade :), Elephant Polo, Tug of war, Performances by locals, and much more...
Enjoyed it thoroughly!!!
To our surprise we were the only people in the hotel that night. It was fun ;).
The 'Holi' Day
Now starts our journey back home. Another great experience. We had not booked our return tickets, thinking that we will take a night bus as we came. But..... that day no vehicles on the road....Why didn't it occur to us earlier that we will not find anything on a festival day. Next day was our office so no taking chances. Somehow we managed to find an 'autowala' to take us to the railway station. Roads were all empty, except for a few boys groups roaming around with their painted faces and lots of policemen and police vehicles.
We were lucky enough to get the Shatabadi tickets for the same day afternoon, of course after much hard work. It was Anirban running around to arrange for the tickets. I did my favorite thing...sat and observed people. No, actually, I was taking care of our luggage as well. ;) The train was in the afternoon, so waited on the station for half a day. There was no hustle and bustle of the routine days at the station. It was all very quite. Had lunch at the railway canteen.
Journey back was comfortable. Office the next day better reach on time and rest.