Alok Choudhary - A Great Guide & Photographer
If you've read any of my other Indian city pages, then you know that I'm a huge believer in hiring a top-notch local guide. That way, you can get the informational cornucopia that only a local expert can supply - and yet you can get it on your timetable and at your direction. When we put together our itinerary, I had my main contact in India, Mr. Navin Pandey of Gatik Eventures, suggest local guides. His choice for Jaipur was Mr. Alok Choudhary.
What a terrific choice. Alok is prompt, organized, knowledgeable, and a consumate professional. On top of that, he has a wonderful sense of humor and fun, and is one of those guides who very quickly learns what you truly enjoy best. He then tailors your experience to your tastes.
Another major plus with Alok is that he's an excellent photographer. He had so many insightful photo and framing suggestions, it's obvious that he and the camera are good friends. And, he's quite useful in his willingness and competence in taking photos of his clients. So many of our best "family shots" from our trip are courtesy of Alok's assistance. He's clearly used many many different types of cameras and he knows what makes a good shot.
One other thing... in addition to speaking English, Alok's business card indicates that he also speaks German and Spanish.
To contact Alok, here is the information:
Tour Escort/Government of India
4/138, Malviya Nagar
Jaipur 302 017, Rajasthan, India
Mobile Phone : +91 98290 15567
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org I remember Alok being almost as glad to see our driver (Hawa) as we were, as we emerged from the sea of people exiting the Amber Fort. Even tour guides get their fill of touts and snake charmers.
Abhaneri - Chand Baoli (step well)
It is definitely off the beaten track and going to or from Jaipur it is approximately 100km off the beaten track but it is most definitely worth going to although without your own transport it is going to be a bit of an ordeal to get there!
I had taken my driver, Mahavir Yadav to the long forgotten Agrassen ki Baoli in Delhi so taking me to Abhaneri was his treat and surprise. It is simply astonishing. An absolutely outstanding, geometric site!
Baolis are step wells (the water can be reached by going down the steps) and the steps here zig and zag around in a most impressive manner.
Entrance was free but we felt obliged to pay the local "guide" to take us around. He did not give us much historical information but was most informative about the statues that were strewn about the place.
I did a bit of research and there really is not a lot of information about it. I did find out that It was built in the 9th century, has 3500 steps, 13 stories and is 100 feet deep.
Rickshaw English 101
In Jaipur, many of the rickshaw drivers do not have a very good understanding of English. Always have a map with you to help you out or a card with your lodging address on it. My driver got lost in the country in the dark outside Jaipur! It was an experience to say the least and it was the 1 time I did not bring the card from the hotel!
It is called the Suntemple/ (just before Galta Temple/monkey temple), You'll have to walk about ten minutes uphill, after you've arrived in Galtar. When you arrive, you'll find a very quiet en peaceful temple. The suntemple. When I was visiting, I met a Brahman giril who lives there. She is very smart and knows very much about her culture and India in general. So sit down and have a chat with her, you'll get to know a lot about India! O and it's free.
Climb to Jaigarh For a Bird's eyeview of Jaipur
This fort is on a hill named Cheel ka Teela- which translates into the Hill of Eagles. It is around 400 ft above Amer Fort. It truly is a spectacular fort offering you some great views .
The climb to this fort was arduous and one that proved quite difficult for an auto certainly! Even as we snailed up the tortuous paths we managed to get some good photos of the Jaimahal Palace and other sights enroute. A narrow alley is the only access to and fro from this fort ensuring a loss of time due to certain traffic jams both ways. If you are upto it we would definitely recommend parking your vehicle way outside the fort and walking up to the fort. It will certainly save you a good hour of waiting in the heat and pollution!!
Hordes of monkeys/langurs outside the fort are a sight to see! A short line to the tickets and we were inside. There is quite a bit to see in here, a map of the same helped us some what navigate inside on our own. The ‘thope’ or cannon (largest canon in the world) that famously shot to a village 43 kms away is showcased for all to see, ensure you have a ticket for the camera so that you are not sent back for the same as there is rigorous checking for the same here. We proceeded along the walls of the fort for some great pics of the adjoining Amer fort and the Jaimahal palace. We also got some good close up shots of some really healthy parrots here, such colorful birds really!
By now the heat was getting to us, so we decided to head back to the city for some lunch, however as already explained there was a nasty jam and by the time we got out to the roads our rick had a flat tyre!