We headed out of Udaipur on the day train. It was seven hours long so we decided to try the e-catering service I mentioned a few posts back. It connects you with local restaurants willing to deliver food to your seat while you are stopped in a station. Most of the options are Indian restaurants but at one stop we found a Domino’s location. Both our bellies needed a reprieve from Indian food at that point so we decided to give Indian pizza a try and placed our order.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at our delivery stop so many people were trying to load onto the train in our carriage that the delivery guy was stuck on the platform. We could see him through our window but he wasn’t moving towards us. I was not about to let our pizza delivery go to waste so I told Steve I was going to go get it. I jumped off the train with my rupees, ran to the delivery guy and thrust the money at him, grabbed the pizza and turned to run back. I heard him call out to me so I turned back and he was holding the drinks we had ordered. By the time I grabbed those, the train had already started to move. I jumped up through the open carriage door, dodged a few families who had just loaded on and made it back to our seats just in time to feel the train really pick up speed. I think I almost gave Steve a heart attack as he watched the whole thing happen through the window but we laugh about it now. I was not the only person jumping on the train as it started to pull away from the station but I do think I was the only one doing it with a Domino’s pizza box.
We got into Jaipur in the evening and were able to walk to our guest house from the station. After staying in two hostels geared towards foreign travellers, this was our first Indian family-run guest house experience. We were greeted by a really sweet old man at the reception who chuckled at everything and kept telling us his son would be able to answer all our questions in the morning. Over the next few days, we had encounters with many of the other family members living in the multi-generational household. The grandmother didn’t interact with us much but we often saw her sitting outside in the shade during the day. The son ran the front of house and was very chatty. He helped connect us with a reliable tuk tuk driver, Raju, who called his vehicle “The Ferrari – If the roads are bad, it’s a tuk tuk. If the roads are good, it’s a Ferrari.”
The guest house kitchen was run by the frontman’s wife and she cooked the most delicious meals for the rooftop restaurant, including some of the best aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) I’ve ever had. Their pre-teen daughter was our shy waitress, practicing her English skills by repeating our order back to us and then repeating it back to her father every time. She opened up a little after Steve ordered a fancy ice cream sundae called “Hello to the Queen,” which caused her to erupt into a fit of giggles every time she repeated the name. There also appeared to be a son of similar age but it was unclear what his role was in the business other than following his sister around.
Jaipur was the first place we did any real sightseeing. There are many defense forts in the Rajasthan area, particularly near Jaipur. In fact, six forts in the area were grouped as the “Hill Forts of Rajasthan” and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. Steve wanted to see at least one fort so we chose to start with the Amber Fort. It was built in 1592 from red sandstone and marble. It was more of a palace, really, with several open courtyards and impressive decorative architecture.
My favourite part was the Sheesh Mahal, a mirrored palace room.
We had hoped to go to Jaigarh Fort as well, which is located right beside Amber Fort and was more strictly used for defense. Apparently the two are connected by an underground tunnel system only recently uncovered in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the tunnel system is not open to tourists and the only way to get between the two is via a steep climb or a long roundabout drive.
After already climbing up to the Amber Fort and wandering around for an hour or so, the heat had become unbearable and we got Raju to take us directly back to the guest house.
We did go to the old part of Jaipur in the evening for a bit of shopping and dinner but it reminded us too much of Delhi and we retreated back to the guest house. I did buy some bangles and home decor things and Steve got a kurta but space is at a premium in our packs so I had to restrain myself despite all the beautiful pashminas, tunics and bags.