Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Travel Diary: Jaipur Day- 2. Bapu Bazaar, Johri Bazaar and Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar + Jaipur Travel Tips.

Hello, hello!
So, on our second day in Jaipur, we got off to a bit of a late start. My sister had a ton of work to get through and she was busy trying to finish everything, so that she wouldn't have to work for the rest of her vacation.

We had a late brunch in our hotel room and then left at around 4:30 PM. Our hotel's courtyard was totally deserted and we couldn't resist but take some gorgeous pictures of the property!

Alsisar Haveli has a series of beautiful courtyards, which I find really charming. This is the one that led to our room and every morning the staff filled that marble urn with fresh flowers. 

This is the central courtyard of the haveli. As you can see, it is beautifully maintained. Towards the right is the swimming pool and on the left is the restaurant. 

This is the central portion of the courtyard. It houses the offices of the owners of the property and has a little seating area outside. 

Here's the view of the restaurant and more rooms. 

Now, before we get any further, I want to share a few tips on traveling within Jaipur
  • Jaipur is a very well connected city in terms of public transport. You have autos that ply all over the city, but beware that they do charge a lot more from tourists than from locals. 
  • Apart from autos, the old walled city also has e-rickshaws that charge a minimum of Rs. 10 to move from one point to another. These are really helpful if you want to move from, say, Bapu Bazaar to Johri Bazaar etc. within the walled city. 
  • Jaipur also has Uber and Ola. Now, we have not tried Ola in Jaipur, but on this day, we happened to use Uber to get from our hotel to Bapu Bazaar. Let's just get this out of the way in the clearest way possible- Uber in Jaipur SUCKS! Like big time! It is a very reasonable way to get around (compared to Bombay, at any rate) but most of the cars are in a terrible condition and the drivers are not at all keen on switching on the AC! Before you wonder, Jaipur's day temperatures during the five days that we were there ranged between 30-32 degrees Celcius- not the kind of weather where you'd be comfortable in a non-AC car! So, yeah, avoid Uber in Jaipur like the plague. Also, Uber drivers in Jaipur tend to cancel trips at the drop of a hat. One of our Uber drivers on this day, refused to show up at our location and kept saying he is parked in a gully and if we wanted a ride, we should come to him. We just let it be and waited for him to cancel the trip. So.. yeah.. avoid Uber like the plague! 
  • If you can budget for it, the best way to get around in Jaipur is by hiring a car for a full-day (8 hours, 80 kms kind of a deal) package. Depending on the car you want, you'll end up paying anywhere between Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,800 per day. If you plan your day properly, then this is a good and peaceful option to get around Jaipur. We hired a car for 4 out of 5 days and it was the best decision we made! 

So, anyway, we took an Uber to get to Bapu Bazaar from our hotel. Here's a glimpse of our outfits of the day. 

I wore an ikat dress and comfy shoes (Vans) and my sister wore a tunic from Anokhi and really soft jutis. Tip: Wear comfy shoes whilst in Jaipur; all the historical sites include a fair amount of walking as do all the main shopping areas. I wore my pink Vans even when it did not match with my outfits because I wanted to be able to walk and be comfy! 

Isn't my little bag cute?! I picked it up from one of the leather shops near Hawa Mahal the previous evening. It is tiny but holds a lot because it has a deep gusset. 

So, anyway, moving on. Bapu Bazaar is a series of shops on either side of a long stretch of road. The good news is that all the shops are in a covered pavement, so if you feel up to it, you could even do Bapu Bazaar in the day. We were a little overwhelmed with everything on display to take any pictures, plus there was a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic weaving in and out, which made taking pictures really difficult! 

Some tips on what to buy or what to look for at Bapu Bazaar: 
  • Bapu Bazaar has a lot of fabric and readymade garments on offer. They also have several shops selling bedsheets and sarees and such. However, please make sure you know what you are getting from there. Not all prints are genuine block prints (done by hand as they are meant to be) and, in fact, most of the block printed items sold at Bapu Bazaar are machine printed. 
  • We did buy three block printed bed sheets- they were not hand block printed- but the cloth was of really great quality and so, we didn't mind buying them. Make sure you negotiate, even if the shops claims it is fixed price. 
  • Bapu Bazaar has some really great wholesale shops selling really trendy readymade kurtas and dresses. One such store is called SASA and they have an excellent collection of really trendy and well-made kurtas and dresses made with a mix of traditional Indian fabrics and cotton-linen blends. We picked up quite a few outfits from there and their stuff is really well priced. 
  • While there are several shops in Bapu Bazaar selling traditional Rajasthani bags, but once again, just check to see if the embroidery is handmade or machine made. And if it is machine made (check for uniformity of stitches and overall cleaner look of the thread), then make sure that it costs less than Rs. 1,500-2,000 for sure! 
Overall, here's our take on Bapu Bazaar. It is a bit overwhelming with multiple shops and just the sheer variety of things available there. However, unless you find a great wholeseller or a store that has good quality stuff that you like, then it is a great market to pick up reasonably priced souvenirs for friends and family- like bags, stoles, dupattas etc.

Definitely carry a bottle or two of water because even though we did have a 1 litre bottle of water with us, we were parched after the first hour and there are no shops inside the market area that sell water or any beverages! Best to go prepared. 

Also, if you have any local contacts or friends, perhaps it is a good idea to ask them for any specific stores that you ought to visit in Bapu Bazaar to make it a little less overwhelming! 

After Bapu Bazaar, we took an e-rickshaw and headed to Jaipur's iconic Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar (LMB), which is situated in the middle of Johri Bazaar. Now, we did not have much luck finding or buying any silver jewellery in Johri Bazaar- most of the stores we walked into had imitation jewellery or gold-plated jewellery, none of which were of interest to us. So, instead, we decided to go grab a traditional Rajasthani thaali from LMB! 

Here's our Royal Rajasthani Thaali.. featuring traditional Rajasthani delicacies like Daal Baati Choorma, Ker Sanghvi, Gatte Ki Subzi and some other North Indian delicacies like Kadhi, Paneer etc. 

The thaali at LMB was quite yum and not very overwhelming! It was just enough and just right! 

After dinner, we called another Uber, which was as awful as the one we took earlier in the evening and headed back to our hotel. We made sure we reconfirmed our rental car booking for the next day because we had big plans! 

Hope you enjoyed this travelogue! 

More to come very soon!  

No comments: