Thursday, February 28, 2013


Birders Inn – Bird Sanctuary Road; 011-91-056-4422-7346;; clean but Spartan; pretty garden.
Laxmi Vilas Palace – Sagar Road (Kakaji Ki Kothi); 011-91-056-4422-3523;; 19th Century Palace.
Sights & Sites
Keoladeo National Park –; World Heritage site; famous avifauna sanctuary that sees Ks rare birds (such as Siberian Crane); 230-400 species.

Royal Tents Pushkar – 011-91-029-1257-2321;

JAIPUR (includes Alwar, Amer, Tehsil Amer & Tehsil Ballupura)
Bars & Nightclubs
Bar Palladio – Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road (at Narain Niwas Palace Hotel); 011-91-014-1256-5556;; chic & frequented by expats.
Polo Bar – Bhawani Singh Road (in Rambagh Palace); 011-91-014-1221-1919;; home of perfect gin & tonic.
Amanbagh – Ajabgarh (Alwar); 011-91-014-6522-3333 or 800-477-9180;; beautiful, romantic hideaway in Aravali Hills; walled oasis; beautiful gardens.
Devi Ratn – Jamdoli, Agra Road (Tehsil Ballupura); 011-91-014-1305-0211;; 60-suite, 3-villa hotel outside Jaipur; newly-constructed buildings inspired by area’s historic sites; suites in jeweled colors set off by black-&-white zigzag terrazzo floors.
Diggi Palace – Sawai Ram Singh Road (Shivaji Marg); 011-91-014-1237-3091;; best budget option in Jaipur; overnight in this rambling, 200-year-old haveli for fraction of rates charged elsewhere; drawbacks of this budget-value haven are that it can be busy and is long walk from Old City; surrounded by big, open lawn; within walking distance of Ram Niwas Gardens and Central Museum; brand-new pool; rooms vary in size, but all feature clean, cool, white tiles and whitewashed walls; some have antique furniture; book air-conditioned room set around cool, open courtyard; substantially larger and still great value; #108 is gorgeous 1st-floor room with large, 4-poster metal frame bed and big bathroom; alternatively, book cool, quiet cottage rooms, which have marble floors and bright block-print fabrics (all have tubs and showers), away from potentially noisy main building and overlook garden; for access to semiprivate veranda, ask for #209, spacious suite with large bathroom and shared balcony overlooking courtyard; must book ahead.
Nana Ki Haveli – Fateh Tiba, Moti Dongri Road; 011-91-014-1261-5502;; cozy B&B with 15 stylish rooms and delicious home-cooked food.
Narain Niwas Hotel – Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; 011-91-014-1256-1291; 1 of best heritage hotels in India; built in 1928 in Anglo-Indian style.
Oberoi Rajvilas – Goner Road; 800-562-3764;; nestled amid beautifully maintained gardens and pools, sunken baths; teak-floored tents; spa; library bar.
Ram Jharokha Guest House – Peelwa Gardens; 011-91-014-1260-3745; spacious double rooms, friendly owner, and decent home-cooked meals.
Rambagh Palace – Bhawani Singh Road; 011-91-014-1221-1919;; Taj flagship; 1st palace in India to become hotel; paramount service; Rajmata Gayatri Devi still in residence; 47-acre estate; occasional elephant polo games; 46 rooms (all opulent); 33 suites, many with original chandaliers and fountains are most interesting; Suryavanshi and Prince Suites have terraces; Pothikhana Suite was once Maharaja’s study.
Rasa Resort – Kunda, NH-8 (Tehsil Amer); 011-91-012-4488-8011;; 40 square tents with glass wall facades and canvas sides, blending modern design with nature-based tourism; futuristic compound adjoins 16th Century fortress; affordable.
Samode Haveli – Gangapole; 011-91-014-1263-2407;; 200 year-old residence converted into 30-room hotel, tucked in hillside in old, walled city; many original frescoes and mosaics remain; series of courtyards provide town views at different levels; large pool with daybeds; rooms appointed with antiques; request room with courtyard or terrace; Sheesh Mahal (Mirrors Palace) Suite #114 (make sure you do not get #115) is most romantic, with original, carved archways.
Kitchen – 51 Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-014-1411-3000;; shockingly good Italian food.
Royal Treat – New Ramgarh Mod, Amer Road; 011-91-014-1263-0795; upscale restaurant; furnished in dark woods; good food.
Anantaya – B-6/A-1 Prithviraj Road; 011-91-014-1236-4863; modern furniture and lighting store.
Anokhi – KK Square, C-11 Prithviraj Road; 011-91-014-1400-7244;; home furnishings; 300 craftsmen create well-priced cotton bedspreads, cushion covers, and napkins at on-site workshop; dyes are often vegetable-based.
Best Jaipurnagra Shoe Stores – 56 Johari Bazaar (Pink City); 011-91-09-8284-5688; leather shoes and slip-ons.
Gem Palace – Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1237-4175;; jewelry; 17th Century Moghul reproductions, as well as Victorian pieces; every kind of loose stone.
Hot Pink – Narain Niwa Palace, Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road; 011-91-014-1510-8932;; in Narain Niwas Hotel; run by Gem Palace’s Munnu Kasliwal and jeweler Marie-Helene de Taillac; home furnishings.
Hot Pink Amer – Amber Fort (near Maan Singh Mahal, Amer); 011-91-014-1253-0178;; in Narain Niwas Hotel; run by Gem Palace’s Munnu Kasliwal and jeweler Marie-Helene de Taillac; home furnishings.
Jaipur Modern – 51 Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-014-1411-2000;; concept store; modern homewares & clothing.
Kripal Kumbh – B18 A Shiv Marg, Bani Park; 011-91-014-1220-1127; blue pottery; beautifully executed; on display throughout eccentric family home.
Nayika – Tholia Building, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1236-2664;; quilted, featherweight jackets in every color.
Rajasthan Fabrics & Arts – Laxman Dwara, City Palace; 011-91-014-1260-1432; museum quality textiles, saris, miniature paintings, and lithographs; vintage fabrics (available for viewing by appointment only).
Rana’s – 1 Ganpati Plaza, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1510-4100;; for well-heeled brides; also, embellished jackets and skirts, and cotton and silk block prints.
Royal Gems & Arts – Saras Sadan, Gangore Bazaar; 011-91-014-1232-1334;; sterling silver designs accented with emerald, topaz, and turquoise; located in 18th Century haveli.
Salim’s Handmade Paper – Gramodyog Road, Sanganer; 011-91-014-1730-222;; place to buy cards, delicate sheet wrapping paper, diaries, and tote bags, trimmed with appliqués, dried flowers, and ribbons.
Sankhala Handicrafts – Pink City (opposite Hawa Mahal); 011-91-014-1261-0597; embroidered saris and silks.
Satayam – 174 Laxman Dwara (outside City Palace); 011-91-014-1260-0555; pashmina and silk quilts and shawls, all embroidered and woven by hand; also, short tunics.
Saurashtra Oriental Arts – 3-4 Jowarsingh Gate, Amber Palace Road; 011-91-014-1263-5647;; ethnic textiles from as far as Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, as well as all over India.
Soma – 5 Jacob Road, Civil Lines (near Jai Mahal Palace); 011-91-014-1222-2778;; block-print quilts and bedding.
Taluka Tent Overseas – Sardar Patel Marg; 011-91-098-2901-7995;; over-the-top tents and umbrellas; scalloped borders, oversize finge, and vibrant lining; gorgeous showpieces.
Tholia’s Kuber – Tholia Building, Mirza Ismail Road; 011-91-014-1237-7416; inexpensive semi-precious stone strands (amethyst to spinels to topaz).
Sights & Sites
Amber (Amer) Fort – Delhi-Jaipur Highway (Amer, 20 minutes north of Jaipur); 011-91-014-1253-0293;; above small Maota Sagar Lake; Mughal and Rajput style mix, surrounded by cool gardens (Dilaram Bagh).
Bapu Bazaar – 1 of many colorful markets in old city, just west of Sanganeri Gate; textiles and leather shoes.
Central Museum (Albert Hall) – Adarsh Nagar (south of Old City); 011-91-014-1257-0099; or; housed in recently renovated Albert Hall; costumes, decorative arts, drawings, musical instruments, and tribal-ware.
City Palace – Pink City; 011-91-014-1260-8055; Jaipur’s main attraction; Diwan-i-Khas hall houses 2 urns, largest silver items ever manufactured; also, see 18th Century Chavi Niwas (“Hall of Images”); make sure to see Blue Room.
Gem Palace – M.I. Road (near Mahavir Marg); 011-91-014-1237-4175;; when Rajasthan maharajahs deprived of “privy purses” in 1972, many sell family jewels; Gem Palace, whose owners had served their needs for 4 generations, discreet place to do so; these items now displayed, along with Mughal period antiques; can also view craftspeople creating new pieces.
Hawa Mahal – Hawa Mahal Road (Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Pink City); 011-91-014-1261-8862;; Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark; extraordinary pink-painted, delicately honeycombed hive that rises 5 stories; constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable royal household ladies to watch city’s life & processions; top offers stunning views over Jantar Mantar & City Palace, as well as over Sireh Deori Bazaar; small museum (Saturday-Thursday), with miniature paintings & some rich relics, such as ceremonial armor; claustrophobes should be aware that narrow corridors can sometimes get extremely cramped & crowded; entrance is from back of complex; valid Amber Fort composite ticket will also gain you entry.
Kanak Vrindavan Valley – Amber-Jaipur Road (adjoining Amber Fort);; at Nahargarh hills’ bottom, adjoining ex-Amber Fort; Govind Deoji Temple, with its beautiful and delicate carvings, spreads holy aura of spirituality all over with its chhatris, lattice, and mirror work; covered with Dhok and Kadama trees, water cascades, blossoms, brook, and ponds; divided into 8 sections, garden comprises fountain series.
Neemrana Fort-Palace – 122nd milestone Delhi-Jaipur Highway (Alwar, near Neemrana); 011-91-011-4666-1666 or 011-91-094-1405-0044;; 2-hour drive from Delhi; 15th Century fort is among oldest and most accessible heritage hotels in Rajasthan; ruins make up 11 floors; audio tour available.
Pink City – city’s old, walled quarter; endless market stall rows.
Ram Niwas Gardens – Ajmeri Gate (near Albert Hall);; historical garden and zoo; 33 acres; built by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh in 1868; within garden is Central (Albert) Hall Museum; also has bird park, the Zoo, Ravindra Rang Manch Theatre, art gallery, exhibition ground, gymnasium, and several cafes and picnic spots; run-down.
Shri Pratap Singh Museum – Lal Mandi, Hazuri Bagh; 011-91-019-4231-3440;; old maharajah palace with textile and papier-mache collection; barely preserved.

Serai – Bherwa (Chandan); 011-91-029-9720-0014;; luxurious desert camp & spa, close to medieval city of Jaisalmer; on 100-acre private estate (indigenous desert scrub).
Suryagarh – Kahala Phata, Sam Road; 011-91-029-9226-9269;; dramatic and elegant; highly-reviewed.
Sights & Sites
Jaisalmer Fort – Trikuta Hill;; among world’s largest forts; built in 1156 in Thar Desert; sandstone walls are lion color during day, fading to honey-gold as sun sets, thereby camouflaging fort in yellow desert.

Jawai Leopard Camp – Jawai Dam (Pali District); 011-91-011-4617-2700;; on 20 acres in isolated, rural area; 12 white-canvas tents, raised wooden deck, infinity pool; not in national park so no pesky rules; also, leopards very friendly (not afraid of people) and frequently seen.

JODHPUR (includes Osian)
Bars & Nightclubs
J Bar – Ajit Bhawan Palace, Circuit House Road (at Ajit Bhawan hotel); 011-91-029-1251-3333;; cozy.
Reggie’s Camel Camp – behind Tagore School (High Court Colony, India Safari Club, 1 hour outside Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1243-7023;; few places recall maharajah era better; dark woods, mounted trophies, royal hunting party pictures.
Trophy Bar – near Circuit House Road (at Umaid Bhawan Palace); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; bar servicing sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum; evokes colonial hunting lodge; try signature cocktail, Mathania (martini infused with chilies).
Ajit Bhawan – Ajit Bhawan Palace, Circuit House Road; 011-91-029-1251-3333;; inviting and warm; bar is especially cozy; gravel paths and tiny lanes connecting rooms give spacious outdoor vibe; big rooms; mud walls give earthy smell, though.
Bal Samand Garden Retreat – Mandore Road; 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Heritage Kuchaman Haveli – inside Merti Gate; 011-91-029-1254-7787;; tucked on residential side street; converted 18th Century mansion.
Raas – old city; 011-91-029-1263-6455; bold mix of new and old (3 uncompromisingly modern buildings attached to large, internal courtyard of 18th Century haveli (townhouse); 32 rooms and 7 suites; restaurant and spa; pink sandstone pool.
Reggie’s Camel Camp Oslan – behind Tagore School (High Court Colony, India Safari Club, 1 hour outside Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1243-7023;; few places recall maharajah era better; dark woods, mounted trophies, royal hunting party pictures; if you stay anywhere in India, stay here.
Royal Tents Mehrangarh Fort – 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Sardar Samand Lake Palace – Sardar Samand Lake (Jodhpur); 011-91-029-1257-2321;
Umaid Bhawan Palace – (near Circuit House Road); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum; some rooms have fireplaces and/or verandas; Art Deco furnishings; royal family still in residence.
Vivanta by Taj Hari Mahal – 5 Residency Road; 011-91-029-1243-9700;; good for businessmen.
Pillars – (near Circuit House Road, at Umaid Bhawan Palace); 011-91-029-1251-0101;; restaurant servicing sandstone palace with 15 gardens and private museum.
Sights & Sites
Jaswant Thada Cenotaph – built in 1889 for king, Jaswant Singh II, as memorial temple; marble cut so thin can see through it.
Mehrangarh Fort – Fort; 011-91-029-1254-8790;; perhaps best-preserved of Rajasthan’s 100s of forts; excellent audio guide in English; make sure to visit Chokelao Bagh, fragrant garden with exotic flora (sweet white kamini and chandni flowers).
Ranakpur – among most spectacular, Jain-faith temples; hillside resort.

Connaught House – Rajendra Marg (Mount Abu); 011-91-029-7423-8560;

Ranvas – Ahhichatragarh Fort; 011-91-011-4603-5500;; means “Hooded Cobra Fort”; renovated from 12th Century ancient mud fort.
Royal Camp – Ahhichatragarh Fort; 011-91-022-6150-6363;; tents; open only from October to March.
Sights & Sites
Ahhichatragarh Naguar Fort –; "Hooded Cobra" fort; massive, 12th Century restored ruins; unique water-recycling system; at ruins’ heart, richly painted Rajput–Mughal palace complex.
Camel Fair – January-February.

Rawla Narlai – Jodhpur National Highway (near Desuri, Pali District); 011-91-029-3426-0425;; located halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur; former hunting lodge for Jodhpur royal family since 17th Century; now tranquil retreat, fusing somewhat rustic local village aesthetic with majestic splendor; 20 rooms and 5 tents scattered over 3-acre property; room #9 is oldest and most atmospheric, with original frescoes; visit nearby stepwell, Amba Bagh.

Chhatra Sagar Nimaj – Pali-Marwar District; 011-91-029-3923-0118;; luxury birdwatching base.

Rohet Garh – Pali District; 011-91-029-3626-8231;; hour’s drive from Jodhpur, near Thar Desert edge; 36-room heritage property; well-appointed rooms have gentle luster; 1 of India’s finest stables of Marwari horses; provides customized excursions.

Samode Palace – Gangapole; 011-91-014-2324-0014;; less than hour north of Jaipur, in Aravalli Hills; 400 year-old, 43 room palace with village views; destination in and of itself: private dinners, village strolls, spa; 2 pools, 1 mosaic-tiled and 1 infinity; 4 “royal suites” have fireplaces, courtyards, and outdoor whirlpools; rooms #s 104, 106 & 110 are large enough to qualify as suites, with balconies that overlook hotel’s entrance.

Aman-I-Khas – Sherpur Kiljipur; 011-91-074-6225-2052;; at Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve) entrance; 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; paya homage to customary Moghul traveling tents; elegant; traditional stepwell and spa; tremendous bird-watching at hotel and twice daily safaris into tiger preserve; good, organic food.
Khem Villas – Sherpur Khiljipur; 011-91-074-1403-0262;; at entrance to Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve); 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; all-inclusive, 15-unit camp on 10 acres; safari experience; evening cocktails by private lake or organic, vegetarian meals taken family style in game lodge fashion (ask for Indian menu, western dishes are hit-or-miss); main lodge furnished in Rajasthani style with Anokhi hand-blocked printed quilts and colorful cushions; rooms within lodge, as well as tents, and 6 thatch roof cottages come with massive stone tub in private courtyard, illuminated by candles in rose petal-strewn bowls; evening game drives bring close alligators, sloth bears, and wild boar, as well as leopards and tigers; April-June best time for game viewing; either of 2 cottages with open views of farmland, ponds, and Ranthambhore’s rocky escarpment are best units.
Oberoi Vanyavilas – Ranthambhore Road; 011-91-074-6222-3999 or 800-562-3764;; at Ranthambhore National Park (Tiger Preserve) entrance; 3-hours southeast of Jaipur; nightly hot water bottles in bed to warm up feet; main building recreates hunting palace with elephant and peacock murals; air-conditioned tents among lemon and mango trees have embroidered, interior canopies; excellent food.
Sher Bagh – Sherpur-Khiljipur (in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve); 011-91-074-6225-2120;; luxury tented camp.

SION (includes Chunabhatti, Kelwara & Ranakpur)
Maharani Bagh Orchard Retreat – A-205 Godrej Coliseum (Chunabhatti, behind Everard Nagar, off Eastern Express Highway); 011-091-022-6150-6363;; situated between Jodhpur, Mount Abu, and Udaipur; set among orchards, surrounded by Aravalli hills; laid out in late 19th Century by Jodhpur Maharani; only 4 km from Ranakpur Temples and 50 Km from imposing Kumbalgarh Fort.
Sights & Sites
Kumbalgarh Fort – Kelwara (56 miles from Udaipur, 2-hr. drive one-way; 1 hr. from Ranakpur Temples); 011-91-014-1511-0598; or; Mewar fortress in Rajsamand District built in 15th Century.
Ranakpur Temples – Ranakpur (40 miles from Udaipur, 2.5-hr. drive one-way); 011-91-029-3428-5019;; Jain Temple, in particular, among faith’s most spectacular temples; built in 1439 around measurements based on number 72, age at which Jainism founder achieved enlightenment; hand-carved marble pillar maze.

UDAIPUR – considered India’s Venice
Devi Garh – Delwara; 011-91-029-5328-9211;; 18th Century palace, nestled in Aravali Hills; 39 suites; spa.
Oberoi Udaivilas – Haridasji Ki Magri; 011-91-029-4243-3300 or 800-562-3764;; top-scoring property in Asia, Australia, and Pacific Nations; surprisingly low-tech, of 36 rooms, all have private courtyards; 4 luxury suites are best, with private pools; location is former hunting grounds by Lake Pichola; perfect food, setting, and views; spa.
Taj Lake Palace – Lake Pichola; 011-91-029-4252-8800;; 18th Century palace (white marble) in Lake Pichola with courtyards, corridors, and pavilions inlaid with stone and gilt molding and mirrors; 83 rooms; Khush Mahal Suite has particularly warm ambiance; Sajjan Niwas Suite has terrace; spa; small pool.
Café Edelweiss – 73 Gangaur Ghat; 011-91-094-1423-3571; German bakery and coffee shop.
Darikhana Restaurant – in middle Lake Pichola (at Jagmandir Island Palace); 011-29-4242-4186;; stunning, with exotic birds wheeling overhead and elephants guarding nearby garden.
Sights & Sites
City Palace – City Palace Complex; 011-91-029-4252-8016; sprawling maharana’s palace (largest in Rajasthan); on ridge overlooking lake; rises 5 stories, with balconies, cupolas, and towers connected by narrow passageway maze; rooms inside City Palace Museum contain decorative art: antique furniture, enamels, glasswork, and paintings.
Jagmandir Island Palace – in middle Lake Pichola; 011-029-4242-4186;; stunning complex built by Maharana Karan Singh for his son to use as pleasure palace.
Lake Pichola – made in 1300s.

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