Snippets of Jaipur, India.
Snippets of Jaipur, India.
Cover photo courtesy of Chinmaykp25.
Even within the parameters of my scaled down snippets series, this collection of memories from Jaipur has been particularly hard to pull off. This is due to the fact that 1: I have very few photos of our brief stay and 2: We had a largely awful time from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.
While I was furious with Jaipur at the time, I have since understood that our shit experience was just an unfortunate collision of circumstances. In fact, sometimes a place just isn’t meant to be. This can happen when you’re on the road, especially during a long cross-country trip like the one I embarked on in 2004. I won’t go into the whole sorry affair here, as I’ve already laid it all out in my short story Fear and Loathing in Jaipur.
Image courtesy of V. Argenberg.
Jaipur was supposed to be amazing. The Pink City… with its bustling bazaars, sandstone royal palace and towering fortress. But it all went wrong from the very beginning when our pre-booked accommodation inexplicably fell through. When we finally sorted out alternative digs, our host, a prejudiced local man called Mahatma, proved far from welcoming. However, his icy exterior thawed somewhat over the few days we stayed at The Ashiyana Guesthouse. So much so, that he even agreed to pose for a photograph with Allan and I.
Snippets of Jaipur.
As those who’ve read my short story know, we met some exceptionally unpleasant people in Jaipur. I don’t think I’ve ever had a similar experience anywhere else in the 22+ years I’ve been exploring the world. But it wasn’t all bad of course, as the below photo shows. This local man and his children were over the moon to meet us and simply wanted a brief chat and a photo. No ulterior motive… no lies … just “hi, how are you?”
We were only in Jaipur for a few days, so I cannot claim to have gotten a good feel for the place. But of course we did go and visit the Hawa Mahal, The Pink City’s so-called Palace of the Breeze. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, (grandson of Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of the city), this five-floor royal residence is a unique structure with its grand, 953-window honeycomb facade.
The building allowed Jaipur’s royal women a sweeping overview of everyday life without being seen themselves. The breeze from which the palace gets its nickname supposedly comes through the open windows, refreshing the curious faces of those peering out. Looking at recent photographs, the palace seems to have enjoyed a dramatic facelift in recent years. Indeed back in 2004 the old joint seemed on the verge of falling to bits
The Hawa Mahal.
Much of the building’s pinky colour had faded away altogether and there were networks of cracks in the brickwork. Moreover, as Allan and I climbed to the upper levels, we had to take care with loose steps, shattered tiles and broken handrails. Nevertheless, we enjoyed some decent views across the city, including the faint, distant form of the 18th century Nahargarh Fort perched high atop the Aravalli Hills.
As soon as we saw the fort we knew we had to go and find it. Thus the next morning we headed out to the zigzagging two-kilometre footpath that winds up to Nahargarh. It was quite the hike and, in true Jaipur style, riddled with challenges and frustrations. These included keeping our distance from troublesome monkeys. And getting screamed at by a horrible old woman who I’d dared to cheerfully say good morning to.
Furthermore, upon reaching the top, Jaipur had one last nasty surprise for us. Yes, the fort was closed. Having read a bit of its history, we’d been looking forward to exploring it. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II constructed the fort in 1734 as a lofty retreat from which he could rest and hunt. It was also the place he and his family could escape to in case of an invasion. Luckily for him, and indeed the people of Jaipur, the fortress never actually came under attack.
Snippets of Jaipur.
Taking this latest Jaipur disappointment firmly on the chin, we decided to relax atop the hill for a while. Just to get our breath back and drink in the views. It was a hazy day, but you could still see for miles, the entire city and its extensive suburbs stretched out before us.
This was my favourite moment of our Jaipur ordeal. Certainly the calmest by a country mile. Amusingly, I remember being grumpy even in that moment, declaring that heck, Jaipur wasn’t even pink! At least not for us. Looking back, I think we should have stayed longer and tried to explore deeper. But I was young… restless… impatient… and keen to get to the spectacular desert city of Jaisalmer.
Check out more of my travel reports from across India.
For a deeper look at my time in the country, have a read of my short story collection Incidents In India.
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Beautiful clicks … Beautiful pink city – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India 🇮🇳
Thanks for your comment!
I just read your fear and loathing article before continuing with this. Bloody hell, sounds like a nightmare! I had similar experiences in Jamaica. Its a shame as the places are nice but sometimes the people can be a bit… hard to deal with (thats me trying to be nice lol). I do love your stories Leighton, you tell a good tale!
Aw thanks Anna, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. It’s actually pretty funny to look back on but yeah, not so much when you’re living it in the moment. Curious to hear you had a rough time of it in Jamaica, which is very much on our to-do list one of these years. Thanks for taking the time to check out both articles.
Yeh being a single female traveller, and young at the time was no fun… basically I was constantly harrassed for sex and if I said no I was called horrible names. There were times I’d enter shops and then have the exit blocked by a man telling me if I didn’t buy there would be trouble. I really should write about that trip one day, it was my “worst travel experience ever”. If you are a couple, and stay in the resorts, you’re fine. Try and explore independently and be a white female – forget it!!!
Anna… that sounds awful. How did you get out of that situation in the end. Did you buy something?
Yes I had to buy something! And then they let me go. There is even more to the story though… I’ll try and get it on blog during Xmas break. You’ve inspired me to dig out the old diaries! Lol
I am very much looking forward to reading those India stories, definitely saving them for Christmas week when we will have plenty of chill time. I also just read Anna’s comments above…of course we’re a couple so it’s different, but we can dispel all of the bad stories about Jamaica. It’s been wonderful and the people incredibly friendly and welcoming. Anyway, I think I’m going to make Jaipur my first read over Christmas!
Appreciate you including my stories in your Christmas reading, Phil. All these years of travel and I have never had a truly horrible experience. In fact, the situations described in ‘Fear and Loathing…’ are probably as bad as it has ever gotten for me, so I should count my blessings. Stay safe and healthy out there and enjoy the break. Can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner.
We would say that Egypt this year was our worst ever, particularly Aswan. Dreadful dishonest aggressive people.
I remember reading about that!
despite your difficult time in Jaipur i think you manage show the positives too. The Pink Palace look incredible and the fort on the hill have delicious views across the city. Good blogwork.
Thanks so much Mavin, I appreciate you taking the time to leave this comment. I always try to be conscious not to downright trash a place when I had a rough time. There are usually some positives to take out of any period of travel and so it also proved in Jaipur.
Incidents in India is brilliant collection of story from India. Greatly recommending.
Thanks Daniyal, much appreciated.
Wow, Leighton, that’s a lot of bad vibe in one city. Your ‘fear and loathing in Jaipur’ story is an excellent read, and provides a full picture of how awful that stay was. I do hope that the makeover that Hawa Majal experienced since your long ago visit brought back some of its pink hues. Regarding the worst travel experiences, I’ve never had anything truly awful happen to me even during my solo trips. I might have only chosen safe places. The worst for me has been Sri Lanka: scam, scam, then pestering men offering massage and not really understanding the meaning of ‘no’. Nothing as terrible as Anna’s experience thankfully. Truly terrible, it is always different for women, especially solo travellers. My two friends went to Jamaica some years back and experienced pretty much the same level of harassment.
Thanks for sharing your experiences too, Amelie. I hadn’t foreseen the thread going in this direction. But as the old British Telecom advert once went: “It’s good to talk!” Sorry to read about your own harassment tale, but glad that, like Anna, it wasn’t worse. Thanks for reading both Jaipur articles!
It is tough when your expectations of something don’t match reality, especially when you’ve travelled a long way. I always want trips to be perfect and if something goes wrong it’s hard to go with the flow.
I can relate to that, especially in my younger years when I always had high expectations and everything planned out so carefully. Thanks for taking a look at my ‘Snippets of Jaipur’ Lyssy.
Just caught up on your experience in the other post. I also did not have a good visit to Jaipur, but what I describe as a ‘poor experience’ pales in comparison to yours! I am definitely open to revisiting it now that I am older and a more confident traveller.
Hey Amarachi, thanks for reading both pieces and for checking in with the thread. I’m curious, what was tour main beef with Jaipur?
It was a few things like the state of the old city, (i.e. cow poop everywhere and all that comes with that), I also had an aggressive encounter with a vendor. I travelled with a guide who quickly de-escalated the situation but after travelling in Pune, Delhi, Agra and Ranthambore, having mostly pleasant experiences, Jaipur was my least favourite stop.
It’s funny (as in peculiar) how these things can pan out. I know several bloggers who rave about Jaipur, what can you do?!
I had to quickly refresh my mind with your ordeal in Jaipur … and I can understand why there aren’t many fond memories of your stay there (although it seems you managed to conjure up some happy thoughts in this post). There are definitely a few lovely places to explore … maybe Jaipur would have been a good place on another day/year. Who knows, maybe, now that you’re older and wiser, it could be a different experience.
Yes, I’m totally on board with the different day/year theory. I’m sure that if I went back now I would see Jaipur through a different set of eyes. Cheers Corna! I hope you and Berto are well and looking forward to the festive period.
Thanks Leighton, we are busy dusting the tent and gathering all camping equipment … on Friday we are going to camp next to the cold Atlantic Ocean where temperatures promise to be scorching hot (and we’re probably going to be ‘off the grid’ as well). I hope you and Sladja are doing well and that you too can work in a break somewhere.
I had to go back and reread your original article Leighton. Yeah Jaipur was a S— Show. Amazing how some places with such promise can be ruined by the locals who do not like tourists. I can see why it still stirs up dark memories. Thanks for sharing. Allan
Thanks Allan. Despite all of Jaipur’s failings I wish we’d stayed a bit longer and made some redemptive memories. One day perhaps…
Knowing how much advance research that you do, it’s difficult to picture you having such a dismal experience. Glad though, that you were able to turn it into an interesting read. I guess, sometimes you just have to say, “Oh, well, mañana.” Looking forward to the next edition.
Ta, Memo. Sunday’s snippets will be a whole other kettle of fish, nothing but positive vibes. I’m sure you remember Lalou and Mr. Magoo.
ah yes jaipur the villain of the piece. i remember the short story well but was curious to see a few extra photos alongside some improved ones? continuing to enjoy these snippets leighton.
Yes, some photos have been “remastered”. Ha, makes me sound like a rock star producer. Thanks for keeping up with the India snippets Stan, perhaps my favourite collection of all coming up on Sunday.
Just re-read your Fear and Lothing article, and it brought back our awful memories with scammers and taxi drivers. I know you’re supposed to love Jaipur but it was our least favourite Rajasthan city. Maggie
Oh yes, I think I recall you revealing your own woes when the story was published. I suspect it would have been tough for Jaipur to compete with Jaisalmer and Udaipur anyway. I was just surprised by how miserably it failed.
I enjoyed the post and the short story, Leighton. What a terrible time you had, and it’s reflected in the photo of you taken at the fort. You don’t look very happy at all, and I certainly get it. I would’ve been utterly terrified by those two con men that you encountered. Can you laugh about your trip to Jaipur now, or will it always be a sore spot?
Oh yes, I can and often do laugh about that Jaipur trip. And I must admit that in a weird kinda way it was a really fun story to write up. Thanks for checking out these snippets Kellye. And for reading the story too!
I remember In the Golden Triangle being put against a wall with an automatic assault rifle pointing at me! The trials of travelling! However, for every one “Mahatma” there are at least fifty people who are stars!
Being shoved against a wall with a rifle pointed at you is indeed a next-level travel woe. You’re right, there are usually far more decent folk around than scoundrels. Just not for us on those dodgy days in Jaipur. Thanks for stopping by, Geoff!
There is always a redeeming point even in the worst places, and here I think hands down the redeeming point is that stunning architecture of the Hawa Mahal. Thank goodness there was that and a quiet moment there at the top of the hill to give some light to your less than awesome time there.
Absolutely Meg. Those two moments alone made Jaipur worthwhile I think. Not at the time ha ha, but in retrospect. Thanks for looking through my ‘Snippets of Jaipur’.
It looks a beautiful,pink city just disappointing that things didn’t work out as planned for you.
You win some you lose some. Thanks for your comment Marion.
A lot of those buildings are amazing looking buildings. However, between those taxi drivers and “no Israelis”, I think I’ll avoid that place. I visited Bangalore in business and I found that city friendly, but then it is a pretty modern.
Hey Thomas, thanks for reading both the story and these snippets. I’m glad you had a good experience in Bangalore, I’ve also heard good things.
It’s unfortunate you had a not-so-great experience in Jaipur, but admittedly, you had snippets of good memories from there, including the local man and his children, as well as views from the (closed) fort. A single, bad trip can deter anyone from returning, but it’s also good you’re aware that it was a situational experience, instead of a factual one. Can’t wait to see your next India report!
Thanks Rebecca. Going through the Jaipur ordeal was worth it simply because it broke up what would have been an extremely long journey to our next post.
I remember a very dusty Hawa Mahal, so you must be right it has had some renovation.
Yes it seems sparkling and deliciously pink from recent photos. An entirely different beast from what I remember.
Oh my, what a terrible, and potentially dangerous experience. I wonder what the screaming woman was saying. My mom and I had a similar experience in Hong Kong many years ago. We were sitting on a bench in a park when a woman approached us and began to tell us off, shaking her finger at us in the process. We had no idea what she was saying, and just sat there until she finished and left. We were eventually able to chuckle about it, but were always puzzled too.
I suspect, just like the woman you met in Hong Kong, that the Jaipur lady had a few issues going on upstairs. Thanks for keeping up with my India snippets Tricia, I hope you are both well and looking forward to the Christmas period.
Wow bad luck mate, we had a great time in the Oberoi but even better at another Oberoi in the Ranthambore seeing Tigers. I guess we were kept away from the undesirables as the two of us were escorted by Oberoi staff everywhere we went.
Hey Gary. If I ever go back to Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park will be top of my list. Jaipur was shit… but “character building” as they say.
Character building ?.That was last Sunday in the Loft 🙈🙈🙈
Ha ha, word.
Sorry to hear that you didn’t have a great experience in Jaipur, but at least you have some funny stories from it!!
Thanks for reading guys.
Sorry that your experience in what is probably among the most famous and photogenic places in India turned out not quite what you expected it to be. This happened to me in Kerala. Everyone raved about it, but I can’t say I had a great time exploring this southern Indian state. Some of the redeeming aspects from that leg of my journey in India was the food and the traditional dance — I loved the Kathakali performance I watched in Kochi!
I guess a lot of us have a place like this. Sorry to hear Kerala was that place for you, I had a good run of things there and also spent some time in Kochi. What was the main issue for you? Thanks for checking into my India snippets series Bama.
I guess I was really unlucky because I seemed to bump into very pushy/aggressive people wherever I went. This caused disappointment probably because of my own expectations of Kerala as a calm and peaceful place. Maybe things would have been different if I had gone at a different time. Who knows.
Ah ok, so just like my Jaipur experience. I think it’s especially disappointing because that was probably your one shot of seeing the place and it was a let down. At least that’s how I felt about Jaipur.
Jaipur sure looks wonderful, and I understand that you had high hopes for it, it’s too bad you didn’t have such a pleasant experience! Did you go back some years later? I love reading this “snippets” series of yours, it also shows the “human” aspect of traveling (meeting new people, random encounters and chats, etc.). I wonder if it would be the same now, with tourism becoming more and more widespread!
Thank you Juliette! I haven’t been back to Jaipur sadly, nor indeed India. I have this little idea in my head that I could do a grand return trip to celebrate 20 years since my visit. That would be… 2024. Sladja has never been to India, so let’s see, you never know. Appreciate your continued readership.
I love my country. The beauty is of my country. Hope you loved to visit this memorable places.
Hello, for the most part I loved travelling around India. As for Jaipur, did you read the article?
I love these snippets. That pink palace is just beautiful but I’m sorry you didn’t have a great time exploring
That is crazy that there are monkeys there! Great photos.
Yup, plenty of monkeys in India, Allie. Thanks for taking a look at my ‘Snippets of Jaipur’.
I really enjoyed the honesty of this read haha- it is so true that certain cities just are not meant to be and you don’t connect with them, despite your expectations. These snippet posts are great- they make me want to revisit many of my past travel memories!
Aw thanks Laura! Hope you do get to revisit more of your past travels and, if you feel inspired, share them. Appreciate you following this series!
Beautiful photography excellent shot! Well description! 👌👌
Thanks for your comment Priti.
whoa this sounded like a hellish experience leighton. but as others have said you can probably look back and realise you got some great travel stories. another fine collection of snippets for your series.
Cheers Health Coach, appreciate you reading and commenting!
Jaipur looks beautiful, but I am sure it’s one of those places where you would stick out like a sore thumb as a woman, even worse as a foreign woman. I heard some horror stories from my Turkish friends who traveled to India in the past and couldn’t walk for ten seconds without getting harassed. It’s sad 😞 I’ll read your Jaipur chronicles soon because I wonder what happened to you during your stay there!
Hey Bahanur, it’s great to have you back! Jaipur was the roughest time of my India trip. Nowhere near as unpleasant as some experiences I’ve read about, but enough to stain my memory of the place. As time has passed, I’ve been able to look back on it all and chuckle. I hope you ‘enjoy’ the short story!
I’ll keep coming back for more adventures! And it’s terrible that some experiences stain our memories of the place and ruin our image of it. Having said that, I’m sure there are some people out there who had a whale of a time in Jaipur. It reminds me of a controversial YouTube video of Drew Binsky. He claimed that Chad was one of the worst countries in the world, but then I watched another YouTuber’s video who met awesome friends and made unforgettable memories in Chad. Could it be luck? Could it be because some places aren’t meant for some people? I’ll never know.
Ah, good old Drew Binsky. With the exception of a few genuinely appalling places, I would very much lean towards the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ theory. Thanks for your contributions to the discussion, Bahanur!
great article from a great series. have been reading your snippets of India, jaipur is beautiful though I appreciate your difficult experience
Thanks for reading and commenting Harshita!
your blog is amazing, thanks for your work
Thanks for reading and commenting Dilranga!
[…] Snippets of Jaipur, India. […]
Thanks for the repost!
glad to have found your blogs, been reading all your snippets of India
Thanks Vanu, appreciate you reading and leaving a comment.
Great work, you are fine blogger
Thanks for reading and for your kind words.
Jaipur is the ultimate holiday destination if you are up for a lavish dose of imperial grandeur and architectural opulence. Nothing comes close to the timeless Charm of Hawa Mahal – it sort of resembles a honeycombed hive with all those small windows and it’s one of the places I would love to see one day. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx
Great to hear from you Aiva. You’re right, Jaipur is considered an architectural gem and we certainly got a few glimpses of that, despite the overall disappointment of our stay. From what I understand, many of its most historic buildings have been beautifully restored since my visit. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll give the Pink City a second chance.
Khamma Ghani Leighton, Jaipur is my fav. place. I visit there almost once a month I really liked the way you wrote about Jaipur
Khamma Ghani, secret blogger! Thanks for the kind words, even if Jaipur wasn’t my best experience while travelling around India. Could you tell me what you like best about Jaipur? You go there every month, so you must have some really great inside tips.
Sure, GT (Gaurav Tower) best place for shopping, Chokhi Dhani, Birla temple, Patrika gate (best for photos), Govindji Temple (my fav.) Jantar Mantar… BTW I am on my way to Jaipur now …
Thanks for your contribution to the comment thread! Enjoy Jaipur…
You’re right, there’s often one place on a trip that doesn’t live up to expectations and leaves a nasty taste. We’ve been lucky and enjoyed most places we’ve been, but Salinas in California sticks out as a guy there said something so awful to my husband about me that he’s never (30+ years later) felt able to repeat it to me! I noticed Anna’s comments about Jamaica above and I remember reading about her experiences on Virtual Tourist just before our own visit to the island. I was a bit concerned but I needn’t have been. Probably travelling with a man helped in my case, or maybe we were just luckier than her, but we had no hassle beyond the odd person trying to sell us ‘a smoke’ even though we didn’t stay in resorts and ventured out a lot. As for Jaipur, it wasn’t my favourite Rajasthani city but I liked what I saw and loved the Amber Fort nearby!
Oh dear, I find myself curious as to the context of the disagreeable encounter in Salinas. How did your husband react? I have heard a lot of bad stories from various people about Jamaica, but as said throughout this thread, fortune often plays a part in how people’s experiences play out. Thanks for checking out this piece, Sarah.
How did he react? ‘Get in the car, we’re leaving’ and ‘No, I’m not telling you what he said, we’re just going’. That was more than 30 years ago and today he still refuses to tell me!
Your India content is very interesting
Thanks for reading and leaving a comment 😊