A resort holiday is not my typical style as I spend very little time in the hotel or resort when I travel. However, having heard about Chokhi Dhani from many friends and relatives, when I did decide to take a short luxury vacation with my family, it definitely was one of the top choices. No this is not a hotel review but insight into Jaipur travel and since the Chokhi Dhani village is now one of the attractions there, sharing my experiences of the resort as well.
Here are a few reasons why one would select Chokhi Dhani, the village resort in Jaipur.
- Cottages that look like village huts but are laden with all luxury goodies inside. There are a variety of cottages from 1 room to 8 rooms. The cost of course is pretty premium but caters to all kinds of group sizes. If you travel with a big family, you can take one of the bigger havelis vs multiple rooms.
- Multi cuisine restaurants – from Rajasthani food, to street food to continental cuisine, the 3 different restaurants offer all varieties of food for different palates. I wouldn’t say they are the best meals in Jaipur, but if you don’t want to venture out of the resort, there are options available inside only.
- Proximity to Jaipur – the resort is just 30 minutes drive away from the City center and you can easily book a day long cab at disposal for yourself.
- Free access to Chokhi Dhani village fair – There is a village fair every evening at Chokhi Dhani. Residents have free access to the village and non-residents can purchase tickets for access for the evening including a meal. As the name suggests, the set-up is like a typical village fair with various rides, folk dances, puppet show, stalls with various fun games for kids, astrologers, even local masseurs for a hard head and shoulder massage. The crafts bazaar has stalls where local craftsmen display their goods and the prices are fairly reasonable. For dinner there are multiple options. You can either have it the traditional style sitting on the floor or in a more elite style in the royal restaurant with a ghazal program as well. The meals served are unlimited and cost per head varies for each restaurant. You get authentic vegetarian Rajasthani meals at the village and the staff is more than happy to serve you again and again. If you would like to try Rajasthani non-vegetarian food, you can try it at the restaurant in the resort. If you are staying at the resort you can go to the village every evening. Would recommend a meal at the village on one of the days.
In short since shopping and eating are two of the best things in Jaipur, if you don’t want to venture out too much, Chokhi Dhani offers a wholesome experience in one place!
Now for those like me who just cannot spend a vacation in resorts and have to step out. Here are a few suggestions on things to do:
- Have a meal at the Om revolving restaurant- the restaurant on the 14th floor serves good Rajasthani thalis and you can enjoy the view of the entire Jaipur city while you munch on your baati and choorma. The thali is pretty sumptuous and more than enough for one person so save your appetite for it. You get to taste everything from gatte ki sabzi to baati, baajre ki roti, Rajasthani kadhi, ghevar etc. I have been to this restaurant thrice and it is never crowded so seating is easily available and you would typically find families who are staying in the hotel there.
- For a taste of the not to missed Laal Maas, visit Handi Restaurant on Mirza Ismail Road ( MI Road). Beware if you have a low spice tolerance. Laal maas is not your type in that case.
Visit the Amber fort, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal – While Amber fort does not boast of the most majestic forts in Rajasthan, for first timers, it definitely talks of the valor of Rajputs as you at the massive stone wall cutting across the huge rocky mountain to protect the state from invaders. The exteriors of the fort are more impressive than the interiors except the Sheesh Mahal intricately carved with glass. The poor elephants waiting for a rider look malnourished and unkempt. I hope they come up with more self service options like segway tours vs the elephant rides. It’s better to walk around the fort. The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory, a reflection of the farsightedness and knowledge of our ancestors. Would recommend going there in the morning to avoid crowds. The Hawa Mahal can just been seen from the car. It could be a blink and miss it moment so keep an eye out for it. Would not recommend stopping there as the main charm is the wall with the air vents that you can just see from outside as you drive past.
- Buy local block prints from Bapu Bazaar – You will get much cheaper rates and choice than anywhere else. The trick is in bargaining hard as every second shop is selling the same craft. If you buy any sarees or bed covers, do check the length as the size may not be the same as what the shopkeeper is telling you. If you like any particular print then go ahead and buy as there are so many shops that returning to the same one may be difficult. Don’t buy any precious stones from this market as you may be sold fake stuff. This is good for general souvenirs, trinkets and cotton block prints.
- Buy semi- precious stones from Johri bazaar – There are many shops selling semi-precious stones. This is a very unregulated market and you may find the same stuff being sold at different prices. Try 2-3 stores before buying and do bargain.
- Buy doodh ke ladoo from Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar ( LMB) – while other Rajasthani stuff like pyaaz kachori is easily available elsewhere in India , doodh ke ladoo ( a form of boondi ladoos where the boondi is made of besan soaked in milk) are not easy to find anywhere else and continue to be a Rajasthan specialty. While many shops in Jaipur sell it, given the history and success of LMB ( its now a multi-storey hotel), you should experience buying from there once. The LMB sweet shop on the ground floor is so crowded that you will get lost . There are staff available in uniform to help you. Catch one of them and they will make your buying experience much easier. Best way is to look like a lost puppy and take their help as much as possible to get your goodies quickly. However, beware, the delicacies around you are so tempting that it is difficult to walk out of LMB with just one thing!
These were some of the must dos from my lens. Jaipur has spread much beyond the pink city and otherwise has everything else that big cities have from movie theaters to exquisite shopping and eating places to spend time.