A few weekends ago we took our first trip out of Delhi. This sounds like a simple thing: take a long weekend to see some of the many interesting sights within driving distance of the capital. And if we were still in Europe, it would be quite easy to skip on over to a place like Jaipur, the gorgeous pink city of Rajasthan, just 160 odd miles southwest of Delhi.
But it’s India. So that kind of trip involves taking a very long train ride at the crack of dawn or hiring a driver familiar with the area to make the 5+ hour trek with you. Why, might you ask, does it take 5+ hours to go 160 miles? Well, because the highways are really more like rugged streets filled with trucks and camels. From the back our our minivan it felt like we were on an off road adventure. A really, really long off road adventure.
But we made it. And although just as dusty and hazy as Delhi, Jaipur was gorgeous with it’s salmon-pink walls and painted elephants. And it was a suprisingly kid friendly trip. Our first stop, after settling in to the quaint little hotel Madhuban: the city palace.
We did a guided tour, saw some snake charmers, then hit up the handicraft hall for some souvenirs. Oh, and we sold The Babe off to a local weaver to help pay for the trip.
That night, we made a stop at Chokhi Dhani, a recreated Rajasthani village, complete with games, food, entertainers, elephant rides and a playground for good measure. It felt a little bit like an Indian version of Ocean City, or maybe how Disney would interpret an Indian village. But the kids loved it.
The next morning we got up early to ride an elephant up to the Amer Fort. This was definitely the most touristy part of our trip, but also totally awesome. I mean, when an elephant is offered, you take it.
But by far the highlight of the trip was Elephant Polo. Yep, that night we drove out to an old hunting lodge turned into polo grounds so I could climb a ladder, sit on an elephant and try to knock around a soccer ball with a very long stick. After sipping gin and tonics while my kids fed camels. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
If you want to get in on the Elephant polo action and see the pink walls of Jaipur, here are a few tips:
– We stayed at the Madhuban, a beautiful old haveli with very friendly staff and a nice garden. But this place seems like an even better option.
– The elephant polo portion of the trip was booked through Csar Tours. Beaty is a gem and she will help wrangle together lodging, train tickets, driver…whatever you need.
– If the kids need to burn some energy, we drove by a nice looking playground at Nehru Children’s Park. Sometimes they can only take so many hours of historic fort exploring before demanding something FUN.
– Food is SPICY, and lunch and dinner are much later in India. Pack lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the littles. And hand sanitizer. Lots and lots of hand sanitizer.