DAY 2: 9:00 AM – FATEHPUR SIKRI
August 14, 2015. Call time for Day 2 was 9:00AM. Breakfast was very good at the ITC Mughal. I took a raincheck on the free dining at the Peshawri restaurant in the ITC and instead took the in-room dinner which was also very good and prompt. I was all spent up from the long travel and the tour that I rather slept through the night instead of taking a night stroll as initially planned – bad decision. I will definitely be coming back to this place and check out local culture.
Check out was done efficiently. By 9:00AM I was ushered by the concierge to the main entrance and parking where Mr. Singh was already waiting. ITC Mughal was definitely worth the extra buck and well-stayed even just for a night. Downside of the hotel was that internet connection was not free. I paid an extra INR700 for the connection upon checking out.
En route to Jaipur from Agra on Day 2, the itinerary included a short stop to the Fatehpur Sikri. On the way, you would not surely miss the holy cows (no pun) freely roaming along and on the sides of the road. The driver did not even honk them away. Mr. Singh, I learned is a Hindu and told me that he had not eaten cow’s meat his entire life. Around 10:00 AM, we arrived at the entrance to the historical city. From there, I met another local guide who ushered me to a bus that took all tourists to the historical area since all cars were not allowed inside.
The local guide took me back in time of the reign of the mughal Emperor Akbar and all his exploits, his courtiers. He even had a courtyard/playground for all of his courtesans. All of them had their own special quarters inside the complex. The complex was so silent even with all the tourists inside. The complex is further divided into another section – the Sikri which was constructed to honor saint Salim Chisti who predicted a son for Akbar. The Sikri was considered holy place by both Muslims and Hindus and even Christians. You need to leave your footwear if you would like to enter the mosque inside the Sikri and explore on barefoot all there is to it. Local touts were as usual. You just have to decline politely but firmly that you would not buy anything.
3:00 PM Arrival in Jaipur
At around 3:00 PM, we arrived in the city of Jaipur. I know it is just not right to say but the city has a problem on garbage management. Rubbish of all sorts welcomed us on the both sides of the streets. Past 3:00 PM we checked-in at KK Royal Hotel & Convention Center.
Just a short time to recharge from the long travel and off we went to the City Palace of Jaipur where we were met by another local guide. He was very fluent in English and said to be learning the French and Italian languages also. Local guides should be well-trained to be accredited as tourist guides in India. Even the children selling souvenir items inside the sites were fluent of the Western and European languages.
Entrance to the City Palace was INR 150. The local guide ushered me to the different rooms inside the city palace. Although, most of the buildings did not allow photography inside but all the same the memorabilia and personal effects of the Maharaja were all well-preserved – from carpets and gold robes in the textile room down to his weapons and other vintage firearms — all were placed inside glass encasements. Outside you would see also the vintage chariots and carriages during the king’s reign. You would also get to see the Diwan-i Khas or Hall of Private Audience wherein the Maharaja had two large silver urns that said to have been used to distill the water from the Ganges River for drinking by the king. Lastly, the local guide asked me if I want to see how painting was made during Maharaja’s time. I carried on and bought a painting of an elephant on an ancient rice paper with the City Palace stamp that dates back to Maharaja’s reign.
It was past 5:00 PM when we left the City Palace. The local guide asked me if we would do the Hawa Mahal tour. He advised that there’s nothing to much see inside it so I decided to cut short the trip and instead just observed the building at the opposite side of the road. Hawa Mahal is located next to a busy market road in the central Jaipur.
Two days down the trip, already I felt I was over-traveled. It was fast-paced I had no time to digest them all. I was dead tired I wanted to sleep already so we ended the trip at around 6PM. Just before going back to the hotel I asked the driver if we could drop by any local store to try some local beer. Kingfisher, India’s most popular beer costs less than INR100 per bottle outside the hotel while a small bottle of Royal Challenge Whisky costs around the same price.