The Heritage Toy Train Journey - Childhood Memoir

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I wonder if it is natural to be nostalgic! Or is it due to the mental and emotional exhaustion invoked in us due to Covid -19 and its consequences? Do you also feel nostalgic at times! If yes, kindly share your moments of nostalgia in the comment box. One such nostalgic moment evoked by Ruskin Bond's book 'The Great Train journey' inspired me to write this blog. You must be wondering how! To explain this, let me take you to my childhood memories. I was born and brought up in the same small town Kalka which Ruskin Bond has beautifully mentioned in his book. Not only this, he also talked about the Toy Train, which happened to be the first train that I also ever saw.  Still confused! Let me explain further.  It was nostalgic because I also saw the train for the first time on the narrow gauge of the Kalka Shimla track that happens to pass just behind my house. I got excited every time the train blew its whistle. Waving to the passengers sitting at the window seat was a routine

Jaipur - Pink City

From Gwalior, we headed towards Indore. We enjoyed ourselves at Indore for two days (to know more about our Indore Trip CLICK HERE).

On 8 October, we took our return journey to Beas via Jaipur. 

When it comes to tourist offerings, Jaipur has no match. I clearly remember when I first visited Jaipur in 2002 as a school trip in charge, we had to extend our trip by one more day because we had so much to see. 

Jaipur is a culturally and historically rich city. Seeing pink buildings all around one can easily make out why Jaipur is called Pink City or Pink Pearl. On reaching Jaipur, we checked in Hotel Souvenir Premier. After quickly inspecting our rooms we took a big fat lunch in the restaurant and planned for our activities in the two days we had in hand.

Exterior and Room of Hotel Souvenir Premier one of the hotel in Jaipur
Hotel Souvenir Premier


Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal built from red, and pink sandstone is the paradigmatic landmark of Jaipur. It is famously called 'Palace of Winds'. Royal ladies strictly followed the purdah system so Hawa Mahal was specially constructed for them so that they could witness the activities and festival celebrations on the street hidden from the public view. Hawa Mahal has five storeys built in a pyramidal design. The front elevation looks like a honeycomb.

Hawa Mahal Jaipur
Hawa Mahal


Hawa Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799AD.

Maharaja was a devotee of Lord Krishna, so the facade of the palace is in the shape of Lord Krishna's crown. Maharaja's standing mannequin with the pen still in his hand showcases his intense love and faith for Lord Krishna. It depicts that he had just finished writing a poem in praise of the deity. 

Maharaja's standing mannequin at Hawa Mahal Jaipur with the pen still in his hand showcases his intense love and faith for Lord Krishna
Maharaja's standing mannequin with the pen still in his hand


The Mahal has 365 windows which allowed the free flow of the wind, and that is why the palace is called Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal is connected to the City Palace by a passage through which the royal ladies came to view the Teej, Gangaur and other processions passing through the main market streets. The names of the five storeys of Hawa Mahal are Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Vichitra Mandir and Hawa Mandir. One can see Jantar Mantar from the top of Hawa Mahal.

Jantar Mantar from the top of Hawa Mahal.
Jantar Mantar from the top of Hawa Mahal


Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory that was built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh I. It has 19 astronomical instruments made of stone. Jantar Mantar Observatory is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it has the world's largest sundial made of stone. A small hall runs a documentary showing the history and the use of each instrument. I would suggest that for more clarity, one should see the documentary first and then the astronomical devices. 

World's largest sundial made of stone
An astronomical instrument at Jantar Mantar


Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City palace are in close vicinity so one should see them all together. Since they all are located in the heart of Jaipur city, there is a parking problem, so hiring a cab to reach this place is advisable.   

City Palace Jaipur

City Palace Complex is a large complex with multiple halls, palaces, gardens, gateways and temples. Sawai Raja Jai Singh moved to this palace from Amber Fort due to the scarcity of water, and it continued to be the residence of the royal family even after Independence. Later it was converted into a museum.

City Palace Complex


One more interesting information that I must share with you before telling more about the City Palace is the usage of Sawai before the name of each king. Sawai means more than one ( one and a  quarter). The title is used as a prefix with the names of maharajas of Jaipur City as a symbol of their strength which they thought was more than one person.  One and a quarter flag is the insignia of the maharajas of Jaipur City and is flown on the top of the royal buildings. 

One and a quarter flag is flown on the top of the royal building


There are four City Palace doors at Pritam Chowk each representing a distinct season:-

        The Rose Gate - Winter                                        The Peacock Gate - Autumn



      The Green Leheriya Gate -Spring                     The Lotus Gate-Summer



Sabha Niwas

The hall of audience or Diwan-e-aam was the hall where kings met common people. In a large room, there are two thrones in the centre surrounded by a set of chairs. The painted portraits of Maharajas of Jaipur on the walls stare at us. Also on display here are the Military medals and Polo trophies of rulers of Jaipur.    

Sarvato Bhadra

Diwan-e Khas or Sarvato Bhadra is the hall for meetings with officials and nobles of the kingdom. Two colossal sterling silver vessels with a capacity of 4091 litres are on display in this hall. These vessels find mention in Guinness Book of World Records for their massive size. Each container weighs 345 kg. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh used these vessels to carry Gangajal to drink during his trip to England in 1901. So these vessels are also called Gangajalis.

Mubarak Mahal

Mubarak Mahal is now the textile gallery displaying the textiles and fabrics, rare pashmina carpets made in Lahore, polo outfits and billiard outfits.

Suleh Khana

This gallery showcases arms used by Rajputs of Jaipur. It has a variety of swords, guns, beautiful flasks used to carry gun powder, shields, military helmets, archer's rings and even back-scratching tools.

Painting and Photography Gallery

In this gallery, we saw paintings and photographs of 18th and 19th century, Jaipur.

Transport Gallery

This gallery showcases buggies, palkis, raths, and camel saddles.

Photography was not allowed in the galleries.

There is also a section allocated to the artisans that they use as a workshop to make souvenirs that they sell in the shops in City Palace.

Buggy Ride

In the end, we took the buggy ride. An old horse carriage took us for a ride near Mubarak Mahal. It is a short ride with extra cost, which takes you to yesteryear.

Buggy Ride

Raj Mandir
Raj Mandir is one of the largest cinema halls in Asia. It is a single screen movie hall famous amongst tourists for its grand structure and elegant interiors. Massive chandeliers hanging from the roof illuminate the hall giving a feel of stars in the sky. The capacity of the hall is 1165 seats. The rates of the seats are according to the categories of the seats. 

Raj Mandir, one of the largest cinema halls in Asia


There are many markets for shopping near Raj Mandir.

Jaipur Chokhi Dhani

If you want to experience the traditional lifestyle of Rajasthan, you must visit Chokhi Dhani. The main activities start at night so one can plan dinner at Chokhi Dhani after site seeing. It is a 5-star ethnic resort. You can enjoy folk songs, folk dances, puppet show, acrobats, magic show, camel rides and participate in several games at Chokhi Dhani.

The menu of the open-air restaurants comprises of a wide range of authentic Rajasthani cuisines.

It also has Haat Bazar, traditional photo studio, and museum. 

Jaipur Chokhi Dhani



After a hectic but enjoyable day, we returned to our hotel.

As I mentioned, there is endless diverseness in Jaipur; so next day we took a quick breakfast and set out on our quest. We wanted to see as much as we could. 

Amber Fort Jaipur

We first decided to see the Amber Fort. It is on the hilltop. The Mughal architecture is prominent in the fort. The fort constructed with red sandstone and marble. It overlooks Maota Lake which was also the primary source of water for the fort. 

Amber Fort Jaipur


The fort consists of 

Diwan-e-aam

Diwan-e-aam also called the hall of public audience, is a massive hall standing on ornamented pillars. The hall is open on three sides and was used by the king to address the ordinary people. 

Diwan-e-Khas

Diwan-e Khas was the hall for a private audience. Jai Mandir or Sheesh mahal is also part of Diwan-e Khas.

Sukh Mandir

This hall is made up of sandalwood and ivory. We saw the ancient cooling system in this hall. Sukh Mandir was the palace where kings and queens relaxed.

Sheesh Mahal

It is also called Mirror Palace and is seen in many movies. The ceiling and walls of the palace are carved with flowers and other paintings made of glass. It was built for a queen who loved to sleep under the stars. But during those days, women were not allowed to sleep in the open, so the king built this palace. Two lit candles placed in the palace make the ceiling glitter like thousand of stars. How romantic!



Sheesh Mahal, Amber Fort


Raja Man Singh had 12 queens, so he made 12 rooms in the fort, one for each queen. 

Elephant ride is also available in the fort till afternoon.

The light and sound show starts in the evening.

Albert Hall Jaipur

Albert Hall at day time
Albert Hall at night


The building of Albert Hall museum was built in 1876 as a concert hall. The museum is named after Queen Victoria's husband Albert because its architecture is similar to the Victoria and Albert Museum of England. As soon as we entered the main gate of the Albert Museum, thousands of pigeons took flight together. It was such a fantastic sight that we stopped there for some time to witness it and also tried to capture it.

Pigeons flying around Albert Hall

The corridors of the Albert Museum are adorned with mural paintings, Persian paintings, painting with the gambling scene in Mahabharata, abduction of the white horse, and others. There are 16 galleries in total.

Metal Art

This gallery showcases 19th-century metal works including bronze, zinc and brass vessels, figurines and shields representing battles of Ramayana and Mahabharata.



Arms and Armours

This gallery has weapons used by Rajputs, Mughals, Turks and Hyderabadis on display. We saw a wide variety of spears, bows arrows, daggers, battle-axes, helmets, leg arm and knuckle guards, swords, air guns and tiger knives. The shields are beautifully carved with paintings depicting scenes of Ramayan and Mahabharat. 


Pottery

This gallery showcases glazed pottery of Delhi, Multan and Peshawar region, unglazed pottery of Bikaner and Hyderabad, and iconic blue pottery of Jaipur. It also has Jalandhar ware on display. Paatan Kagazi Painted Ware and Bidri (Inlay work) captured my attention.


Sculptures

This gallery displays an extensive collection of statues of Hindu Gods.



Miniature Paintings

This gallery has a vast collection of miniature paintings of Mewar. Jain wood paintings made of lacquer and paintings of different local art schools can also be seen here.



Clay work

Clay figures showing various features of social life like caste  system, saints in yogic postures.





Lacquer work

Lacquer art is one of the oldest crafts in Rajasthan. Various articles made of lacquer collected from Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh, Agra, Bikaner and Jaipur have are on display in this gallery.


Coins Gallery

This gallery showcases a large variety of punch-marked and minted coins.



Marble Stone Idols

In this gallery, we could see beautiful idols and other items like boxes, photo frames, and others carved out of marble.





International gallery

It showcases Japanese dolls, Brass Buddha from Nepal and many other items brought from other countries.

Jewellery

The royal jewels and priceless ornaments that include golden waist belts, ear studs, earrings, anklets and other ornaments made of brass and silver are displayed in this gallery.

Ivory 

This gallery holds artwork made with ivory or elephant tusk. It includes statues, mirrors, medicine boxes etc.



Musical Instruments

Several Stringed Instruments - Harp, Sitar, Sarangi and Jhallari

Percussion Instruments- Dholak, Mridangam, Tabla and Nagada

Wind Instruments-Clarinet, Been, Mashak and Trumpet

Metal Percussion Instruments- Jhanjh, Ghungroo and  Khartal a few to mention, are on display in this gallery.

Garments

Rajasthani work like gota, saganeri, print, lacework, ancient embroidery, bandhish and Kota Doria work can be seen in this gallery.

Carpet Gallery

Carpet collection of various reigns and styles are on display in this gallery. Most stunning in these is a Persian carpet with a scene from the Persian garden.

Basement

The most exclusive item on display in this museum is the Mummy that is kept in the basement of the Albert Museum. The basement hall is dimly lit, and scary music is played so as to create the spooky atmosphere.

This Egyptian Mummy was brought to India in 1883.



According to the news on 18 August 2020, several antiques, files, maps and old documents were damaged in rains that took place on 14 August 2020. The Mummy was taken out of the box for the first time in over 130 years, to save it from drowning.

Masala Chowk

Just opposite the Albert Museum, is the open-air food court- Masala Chowk. There is an entry ticket to avoid the rush of people who may just come to pass their time.  Several booths are serving authentic Indian street food, and some items on the menu were the exclusive specialities of Rajasthan. We choose to eat Rajasthani cuisine. The cleanliness of this food court is worth mentioning. 

Masala Chowk Restaurant


I must say that with a glorious history, Jaipur is a window to Incredible India.

How to reach Jaipur

By Air-Nearest Airport is Sanganer Airport also known as Jaipur International  Airport.

By Road-Jaipur is linked with all major cities through NH 8, Nh 11 and NH 12 The distance from Delhi to Jaipur is 268 km, Agra to Jaipur is 239 km.

By Train-  Shatabdi Express connects Jaipur to many important cities of India. 

Places to see in Pink Pearl Jaipur

Hawa Mahal Jaipur

Jantar Mantar Jaipur

City Palace Jaipur

Amber Fort Jaipur

Jaipur Chokhi Dhani

Jal Mahal Jaipur

Albert Hall Jaipur

Where to go for Jaipur Shopping

Johari Bazar near City Palace for exquisite Jaipur Jewellery

Chandpol Bazar for handicraft and marble craft

Tripolia Bazar for lac jewellery especially lac bangles

Bapu Bazar is famous for leather products and mojari shoes.


After our adventurous road trip of 2800 km in 10 days, fully loaded with rich experience of three states- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, we finally reached Beas.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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