The verandas have recently been vacated after a long and protracted battle with the shop owners and are safe to walk on. There is no fear of being knocked down by speeding traffic. This is how the markets were originally planned. Keep your eyes on the buildings because despite new commercial complexes having come up there are still some original buildings left, like the building located behind shop number 56 on the left.
A little distance away is the famous restaurant called LMB or Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar, a very popular sweets shop of Jaipur. Try the dahi bada, mishri mawa or ghewar.
There are buildings on both sides of the road and as you go along, you will see a huge building with Standard Pharmacy written on it. It is Deorhiji temple and still retains its original look. On the right again, between shops number 266 and 267 is Shri Ratan Behariji's temple. On the left is Shri Chandrabehariji's temple.
The best of Rajasthan's rich craft heritage that includes fabulous fabrics in lovely prints, precious and semi-precious stones, Kundan, Meenakari jewellery, embroidered leather work, other hand crafted items of lac, glass, brass, silver and gold can be found here. The best time to get a feel of this area is during the wedding season when people throng to these shops for trousseau shopping.
When you are getting closer to the Badi Chaupad, you will find two lanes on either side. What makes these lanes interesting is the fact that the Gopal Ji Ka Rasta on the left is famous for its Indian sweets and jewellery shops. If you want to see the local delicacies being prepared, walk in. Fortunately, these shops are right at the beginning so one needn't go too much into the interior to see the interesting activity of ladoos and jalebies being made with deft hands. A must see item is the famous ghewar, a honeycomb disc shaped sweet fried to a golden brown and dipped in sugar syrup and topped with cream. This is available during the festival of Gangaur and Teej. Hundreds of people wait patiently for their turn to buy these sweets.
The lane on the right is called Haldiyon ka Raasta named after a rich banker. Surana, the famous jeweller's old haveli-showroom is in this lane. The smaller lanes contain the original jeweller workstations - orgaddis - inhabited by these craftsmen since time immemorial. These jewellers are known the world over for their skills in the craft of meenakari and kundan.
Meenakari. Meenakari is known as the setting of precious stones into gold and the enamelling of gold. Raja Man Singh of Amber brought this intricate art to Jaipur when he invited some skilled workers from Lahore. The art has grown over the years and the meenakari here is famous for its delicacy and brilliant use of colour.
Kundan. This was the form of setting for stones in gold until claw settings were introduced. It is a very tedious process and one that requires a lot of expertise. The pieces are first shaped by specialized craftsmen and soldered together if the shape is complicated. Holes are cut for the stones, any engraving or chasing is carried out, and the pieces are enamelled. When the stones are to be set, lac is inserted in the back and is then visible in the front through the holes. Highly refined gold, kundan, is then used to cover the lac and the stone is pushed into the kundan. More kundan is applied around the edges to strengthen the setting and give it a neat appearance. Several craftsmen are involved in the making of a single piece of jewellery - the chiterias make the design, the ghaarias the engraving, the meenakar is the enameller and the sunar is the goldsmith.
After you have explored both these lanes, come back on to Johari Bazaar and keep going straight towards Badi Chaupad. There is an important mosque (it was named Jama Masjid, see photograph below) on the left of the road and just before the mosque, look over shop no. 161 and you will see a very interesting facade of a carved exterior. Directly opposite is another building that has retained its original look.
You will now get to Badi Chaupad that was designed as an important cross-section and it still continues to hold that place. It is very crowded during peak hours and needs very careful manoeuvring when you cross over to go on to the Sireh Deori or Hawa Mahal Bazaar. Keep on the left side, the one that will take you below Hawa Mahal. What you see from the road is merely the back of the building. This must be the only monument in the world where the rear portion is far better recognised and more famous than the front side!
For photographs, it is better to cross over and get a better view of this monument. Right across from Hawa Mahal, the huge building in the corner is the Maharaja High School, one of the many old structures you will see on this road. This market, Sireh Deorhi Bazar has one of the best skylines in Jaipur.
There are countless shops near Hawa Mahal and on the opposite side that cater to the tourists. Miniature paintings, antique dealers, leather footwear, saddles and other equestrian goods can be purchased here but be prepared to bargain.
Adjoining the Hawa Mahal, the huge block that you see is the Town Hall. The old Rajasthan Legislative Assembly building that now lies vacant with its reuse yet to be decided. Directly opposite the Town Hall are several shops, under a huge tree, that sell the famed Jaipuri quilt. These quilts are special because they are very light - only five hundred gm of cotton wool is used in the filling.
Some important temples and havelies here are Bhatt Raja ki Haveli, Vidhayak Niwas, Kalki temple, Dhabhai ji ki Haveli and Shri Goverdhan Nathji temple.
Shri Goverdhan Nathji has wide-open courtyards, elegantly carved marble pillars, and a worship hall with immaculate geometrical perfection floral patterns and designs shown in plaster.
Next to it is the Shri Ram Chandraji temple that is a fine example of Jaipur architecture. All possible elements of Hindu, Jain, Mughal traditions have been used to adorn its facade and decorate its interiors. There are numerous jharokhas, brackets and chhajjas. The design of stone parapets is common in all parts of building. It is certainly worth a closer look.
The office of the Devasthan Vibhag, or the department that looks after temples in Rajasthan is also located here if you want more information on the temples that you have visited.
Cross over to the left and you will go past the Sireh Deorhi Gate that leads to the City Palace. Keep walking on this side but look out for the imposing Khwasji ki haveli on the right. In fact, there is so much to see here that if you don't look carefully enough you'll miss some real gems - like the small building next to the huge Shimla Hotel. Stop and admire the original iron grills on this building.
On the left is a famous Pandit Kulfi Bhandar that sells kulfi or Indian ice cream. A little further, also on the left, hidden behind the buses that are parked in front, is the first theatre of Jaipur - the Ram Prakash Theatre. Built by Maharaja Ram Singh II, this is now defunct and awaits revival. It was later converted into a cinema hall and screened movies up to the early eighties. It was better known as khatmal wala hall or the bedbug hall because one always came out of the hall scratching wildly!
Keep going straight on this road. It is a little crowded as dozens of mini buses are parked here waiting to pick up passengers. Walk carefully and cross the road when the main road turns right to go on to Amber through Zorawar Singh Gate.
Right in front of you is the sidewall of a temple called Kale Hanumanji ka Mandir. This temple is located on the Girdhariji ke Mandir ka Raasta. It is a very old temple built by Sawai Jai Singh in 1740 and has beautiful carved marble pillars and painted interiors. Go straight ahead and you will see the temple of Shri Girdhariji. There is a road going all around it, the entrance is on the left. It is a huge complex and parts of it have been put to commercial use but it is worth going in to explore.