The drive from Jodhpur to Jaipur was 6 hours plus a stop in Pushkar, and the whole time, visions of textiles floated in front of my eyes. Jaipur is a city that is absolutely booming these days. We’ve been going for 10 years and we’ve really noticed how much busier and more touristy it has become (there were giant tour buses at every turn- ugh). But my favorite supplier of blockprinted fabric and vintage kantha quilts is in Jaipur, so I will always return. I am hopelessly devoted to this decades-old, family-owned shop, whose business is run with such integrity. I am super picky about what I purchase while in India because so much is mass produced and cheaply made. To find a place that you trust is really special. I spent about 4 hours sourcing goods for the pop-up shop, and the boys were with me the whole time. The staff was so sweet, entertaining the boys by teaching them all about blockprinting, and letting them give it a whirl.
From there, we had about a day and a half left in Jaipur. We managed to fit in a few outings, although I’ll be honest, our visit to the City Palace left a bad taste in our mouths and pretty much killed any desire we had to tour other spots. It was an absolute mob scene, with large tour buses unloading hundreds of people. The tour guides had microphones and flags to lead their huge groups. And you couldn’t walk three feet without getting whacked by a selfie stick. We snapped a few pictures (had to get my Christmas card locked up!) and then ran for the hills.
Perhaps my favorite places in Jaipur are those that still have a somewhat undiscovered feel. The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing had that feeling. I left the boys at the hotel so that I could geek out over the history of block printing, and when I arrived, I was the only one at the museum. They had to flip on the lights for me! On the roof of the museum, a man sits and carves blocks. He’s been doing it for over 40 years, and his tools and knowledge were passed down by his father. Watching him work left me awestruck. The blocks that he carves are true works of art. One day, when my kids have flown the coop, I’ll study blockprinting in Rajasthan for six months, I swear it. I imagine my day starting at sun up (I’ll have magically become a morning person) with a cup of milky, sweet chai, and I’ll spend the day studying the art of carving, and learning about natural dyes and hand stitching the results in kantha-style quilts. My day will end with photography walks in the golden light. Yes, I have it all planned out.
But back to reality…after the Museum, I decided to seek out this cafe and bar that I had been seeing all over design magazines and blogs. Located inside the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel and designed by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans, Bar Palladio takes its inspiration from Mughal design, and it is truly breathtaking.
And just down the street is Caffé Palladio Jaipur, where I ended up having a late lunch, and the best iced chai and almond cake ever!
In all our time in Jaipur was lovely, though I was more than happy to move on to our next destination, Varanasi. The famous quote from Mark Twain reads, “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” It was truly as if we arrived at the most mystical, spiritual place on earth…more on that next.
In the meantime, I promised a peek at the pop-up shop goods that will be launching tomorrow morning, Friday, March 31 at 10am EST. There is only one of each item, so if something catches your eye, move quickly. There will be kantha quilts, yards of blockprinted fabric, wooden blocks, leather shoes, vintage door hangings, notebooks and more. Hope you’ll stop by tomorrow at 10am, when the link will go live! If you live internationally and are hoping to order, shoot me an email so we can figure out shipping (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, orders over $100 will receive a free blockprinted zippered pouch (while supplies last!).