Ranthambore National Park is only 130kms from Jaipur- certainly worth a day trip, or even a day/night trip. There is a very nice Government-run guest house in the park (we stayed here) and cost was reasonable.
The park is located in the eastern part of Rajasthan . Nestled between the Aravali and Vindhya mountain ranges, Ranthambore used to be the hunting ground of Maharajas of Jaipur. The Park is perfect for lovers of wild-life. Various natural rivers and man-made lakes flow here, and the park is especially beautiful after Monsoon.
Ranthambore National Park is purported to be one of the best tiger reserves in India. The tigers can sometimes be seen during the day, at the waterholes.
The park has dense deciduous forests and excellent birdlife, a wide variety of flora and fauna, water-buffalo ,buck and hippos
Ranthambore Park is also classified as a heritage site. There are ruins of old monuments, chattris and cenotaphs.
The oldest fort in Rajasthan is the imposing Ranthambore Fort. Quite a steep climb- but worth every step.
Hiring a car with driver to get to Ranthambore should not be a problem from Jaipur.
Once inside the park- private or shared jeeps, with experienced guides, will take you through the various routes- keep your eyes peeled- you may see a Tiger (or Tiger with cubs).
For more info on Ranthambore Park and Fort -see my Sawai Madhopur page
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.
The Diwan-I-Khas, or Hall of Private Audiences, is better known as Sheesh Mahal - The Hall of Mirrors. The Hall was built by Mirza Raja in year 1600.
As soon as Mirza had completed the Diwan-i-Khas the emperor Jahangir got to hear about this magnificent building, which he, in his jealousy, feared was more impressive than the Pink City itself with exquisite detail on the carved pillars. The emperor ordered that the Diwan-I-Khas should be demolished, and sent commissioners to Amber to fulfill his demand. Mirza, in order to save the structure, had the columns plastered over with stucco, so that the messengers from Agra should only find a plain palace and believe that the magnificence, which had been so much talked of, was after all pure invention. By knocking off some of the plaster one can get a glimpse of the sculptures, which are said to be as perfect as on the day they were carved.
Amber is a small town which once was an ancient capital of the Jaipur state until 1728. Today it lies below Amber Fort, around 8kms from Jaipur. Amber town is famous for its Hindu and Muslim architecture. You can also take an elephant ride from the town up to Amber Fort. There are many crumbling havelis and temples which can still be seen in the old town of Amber. The Jagat Shiromani temple and Sun temple are still in good condition.
The Jal Mahal, also known as the Water Palace, is in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, along the road somewherebetween Amber Fort and Jaipur. The first four floors of the palace is under water, only the top floor remains above.
A causeway leads to the Palace which was built in 1799 as a pleasure spot for royalty and was used for the royal duck shooting parties. It has also been home to one of the prime ministers of Jaipur estate.
We also visited the Temple of Kali, where no shoes, or anything made of leather, was allowed inside, and no photography inside or outside the temple.
Kali was the wife of Shiva, and the goddess of death and virginity. The temple was small, but very interesting, this was the first time I had been inside a Hindu temple.
There was a priset chanting and preaching, and placing a tika mark on the forehead of worshippers. Some tourists were going up for theri red mark, but I felt we were already trespassing and recieving a tika mark would be blasphemy.
The Johri Bazaar has the best sweet shop in Jaipur, looks to be true if you count the number of locals in the shop.
The cool cavernous shop is filled with a huge selection of sweets (and some savoury snack items) displayed behind glass counters.
The paneer ghewar (honeycomb soaked in treacle) is claimed to be the best in India, but I reckon the rasmalai was the best.
There is a restaurant leading off the sweet shop (see my restaurant tip section for the lowdown).
One of the views from Amber Fort looks down the Kanak Valley, which is formed by the Aravalli ranges. Sawai Jai Singh who was the founder of Jaipur discovered the valley and named it. Within the valley is a three centuries old temple complex dedicated to Govind Deoji and Natawarji. The garden there is called Kanak Bagh. At night time you can apparently see the temples lit up. Kanak Valley can be reached by bus.
Gaitore is 5 kilometers from the city of Jaipur. Each Maharaja has a chhatri (cenotaph) built in his honor. It is the final resting place of the Maharajas of Jaipur and is located just off the Jaipur - Amber Road. Situated in a narrow valley the cenotaphs of the former Maharajas are chhatris made in typical Rajput architecture. The chhatri of Sawai Jai Singh II is of special mention for its carvings peacocks, delicate carvings, and beautiful shapes that exaggerate it. Each chhatri is covered with carvings depicting the tastes of the person it commemorates.
Camera Rs 20
Surabhi turban museum is Located in the Pink City on old Amber Road in the Surabhi restaurant bulding.This is pivate museum have large collectinn of Rajasthani turbans. One can find myriad variations of turbans in the museum and it is said that the size and style of these turban changes in every 15 km.Seasonal Turbans, Different Turbans For Different Festivals, Weeding Turbans intersting to see.
Nestled in a deep gorge between two mountains, Galta is a sacred Hindu complex east of Jaipur. The complex is built on the site where a Hindu religious figure named Galav once lived, and now many pilgrims visit. It contains a number of temples, shrines, baradaris (monasteries) and kunds (water reservoirs). Locals believe that this area was once very arid, but the sage Galav meditated for a hundred years until natural water springs in Galta miraculously appeared. The most important religious edifice is the Temple of Galtaji, known as the "Monkey Temple", which is built between two cliffs and contains holy water reservoirs fed by water springs. Pilgrims routinely bathe in the reservoirs as part of their pilgrimage (see attached photos). A large number of monkeys roam the site freely and are venerated by the locals. Upon entering the site, the first two buildings on either side are baradaris decorated with beautiful, albeit fading, murals. Galta is rarely visited by tourists and it could be skipped if you are pressed for time, but if you do manage to make it here you will be rewarded with perhaps the most authentic, non-touristic experience in Jaipur's vicinity!
For photos of the baradaris, take a look at the travelogue: "Galta's Baradaris."
We travelled up the hill to Amber Palace in style - sitting in a howdah atop an elephant. It was surprisingly comfortable, but the ride was wobbly, and the edge was uncomfortably near - the drop was 50 feet to the ground below!
Nahargarh Fort is also known as Tiger Fort and is situated 15 kms from the city. There is a winding road which makes it way up the hill giving a wonderful view of the valley and Amber Fort. The Fort was built in 1734 and was used as a retreat for the royal family, it sits some 600ft above the city. The walls of the fort run along a ridge and within these walls are the Hawa Mandir and Madhvendra Bhawan.
The fort is open 10.00am to 16.00pm and there is a small entry fee.
High up on the hilltop is Jaigarh Fort or Victory Fort. The fort has palaces, granary, cannon foundry as well as a giant mounted cannon (Jaivan) which was built in 1720 and is said to be the largest cannon in the world. There are also numerous temples and a tall tower. The fort was built between the 15th and 18th centuries and is surrounded by high imposing ramparts. The fort was sealed for 7 years by the government while they checked out the rumour that a large amount of gold treasure was buried at the fort. The gold was never found and the fort was opened again to the public.
Location : 15kms from Jaipur.
Jaipur is set amongst a backdrop of the Aravali range which runs about 350 miles (560kms) and divide the State of Ragesthan through south-east and north-west. The range is rich in natural resources. There are several rivers and while generally bare and sparsely populated with large areas of sand, there are heavily forested areas in the south.