I headed for a road trip to Jaipur again! Seriously, I just cannot get enough of this place , infact the whole of Rajasthan. Everytime I go, I think I have seen everything this mysterious land has to offer but then something from somewhere pops up and I simply cannot resist visiting the place again.
For New Year’s the trip was planned last minute , and it being Jaipur I was determined to make it a memorable one. After a lot research, I came up with an offbeat itinerary. Having seen all the forts , shopped at Johari Bazaar a zillion times and eaten the best of food Jaipur has to offer, coming up with this plan was a wee-bit challenging. But then what’s an explorer without the challenges of looking beyond the obvious-Ha!
So here are the top 3 offbeat things to do in Jaipur
- Visit Sambhar Salt Lake
- Visit Sanganer
- Visit Amber Fort (but in the night ,preferably under a moonlit sky!)
Sambhar Salt Lake
It is about 82 Kms from Jaipur by road. The journey from jaipur to sambhar lake is itself an interesting one, so it is a good idea to make a day trip to the place. As one leaves the city behind, one experiences a stark contrast in the landscape. Barren lands, clusters of huts , domestic cattle, a few pucca houses, men gathered in small groups playing cards or just gossiping under a tree, women sitting at their front doors catching up with each other in the afternoon, kids playing out, makes you feel you have done a time wrap. To me it seemed as if I had travelled back in time, but the entire experience brought a certain calm inside me. And an excellent road to Sambhar Lake just added to the wonderful time I had travelling to it.
Camels on the way to Sambhar Lake
Things to do in Sambhar Salt Lake
Birdwatching: A lot migratory birds come to the area-Flamingos, Shovellers, Pintails and many more. If you are lucky you can spot them on your first visit either early morning or during sunset. Otherwise it may take a day or two to spot these beauties ,with a pair of binoculars off course because the area is huge.
Driving around or ON the lake: As the water evaporates the lake is left dry with an unending stark -white surface which is mostly hard, but will have patches of soft mud too. So while driving on the lake in your car can be fun, one can get confused with the directions. To me driving on the lake, seemed being disrespectful to nature , so I preferred walking and exploring which believe me was a better idea, as the place has so much more to offer.
That’s unprocessed salt in my hand
Best Time to visit: During the day- either early morning or during the sunset. That is when you get a spectacular view of the place. November to March are the best months to visit the lake. As the place is still not known to many people, it is well preserved and thankfully not commercial, which means very few eateries along the way. So it is advisable to carry food and water. As it is not a protected area , the access is free.
Bollywood Connection: PK -the alien ship landing, Aamir Khan’s railway track poster, Highway – Alia Bhatt’s kidnapping scenes were all shot here.
Other than being known as one of the first cities in the world, to embrace urban planning and civil engineering, early on ( I’m talking 1727 , ya that early), tourist come to Jaipur for its rich heritage of art and culture. Be it bright colourful designs and patterns on fabric, intricate marble deigns or beautiful stone and silver jewellery ,Jaipur stands tall as the center of traditional craftsmanship in the country.
Talking about designs & patterns , Jaipur has successfully managed to keep the traditional art of block printing alive in the modern age. Two prominent style persist -Sanganeri & Bagru. Both get their names from the place of their origin.
Sanganer is a small town situated 16 kms south of Jaipur , which is mainly known for its block printed fabric. However, the place is also known to produce high-end handmade paper and related products which are mostly exported, world over.
Sanganer has a lot of local factories and workshops that produce high quality handmade paper. One can visit one of these factories to see how these bright and glossy handmade papers are manufactured.
One of the best places to witness the whole process is Kagzai Industries. To me it was an eye-opener. Never could have I imagined that the clothes we discard are recycled to produce beautiful paper products. Some of the top luxury brands in the world are being catered to by them. Infact most of the factories in Sanganer have an impressive client list to boost of.
Process of colouring handmade paper at the factory. From white it turned into a bright red paper
From old discarded clothes to bright and colourful gift wrappers, boxes, carry bags, stationary and many more.
At the Kagzi industry factory and to the right is one of the block printing workshop and stores.
Visit Amber Fort (but in the night ,under a moonlit sky!)
Jaipur’s forts are the best way to learn about the political and cultural history of Jaipur and Amber Fort happens to be the grandest of them all. Now there are two ways to go about it . One, visiting the fort during the day time and be awe-inspired by its grandeur and architecture. Seesh Mahal Or the mirror palace for example , will leave you spell-bound. The second way is to book a ticket to their lesser known Light & Sound show during the evening. If it is a full moon night, the roof top setting of the show makes for a perfect romantic set-up.
The show has the script done by Gulzar and the Hindi version narrated by Amitabh Bachchan. I attended the English one, but I am sure going back for the Hindi version for obvious reasons😊
The show narrates the story of Amber and how later Jaipur came into prominence. The dramatic backdrop of Amber fort combined with light effects and music, transports the audience into the world of Ranas and Maharajas.