Some of you out there might feel overwhelmed planning a trip to a giant country like India. There are so many different types of regions and cities that it’s hard to know where to start. Well, my number one tip for anyone visiting India is to balance the larger cities and most famous destinations with a few smaller villages and off the beaten track places. That’s why I suggest spending 24 hours in Bijaipur.
It’s very unlikely that anyone reading this blog post has heard of Bijaipur because it is so tiny. In fact, it’s just a small village by the much larger city Chittorgarh. But that’s just what makes Bijaipur so special! When you visit here, you’ll get a glimpse of rural Indian life. Then you’ll get an even bigger glimpse of the Royal Indian life by staying in Bijaipur Castle! What more could you ask for?
Keep in mind that, unlike most of my 24 hour itineraries, I did this one on a group tour with Intrepid Travel’s Classic Rajasthan tour. I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like exploring a huge country like India solo. The Intrepid tour arranged most of our activities in this itinerary, but you could certainly experience the same 24 hours in Bijaipur on your own. I’ll give you all the tips you need!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours in Bijaipur, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Bijaipur.
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24 Hours in Bijaipur
Morning: Explore Bijaipur
This entire 24 hours in Bijaipur is really only possible if you book a room at the Castle Bijaipur Hotel. (Just take a train to Chittorgarh and the hotel can pick you up there.) I doubt I’ll have to twist your arm to get you to stay here. What could possibly be more fun than spending the night in an actual castle? And the hotel will arrange all of the activities in this itinerary for you. (For a small fee, naturally.)
I recommend starting the day with an exploration of the surrounding countryside, like with their Jeep Safari tour. (Ignore the description on the hotel website because it makes no sense.) In just a few short hours, you can learn about Indian agriculture and industry, meet some very cute children, and chillax by the lake. Let’s dive a little deeper with…
three fun facts: 24 hours in bijaipur
1) what do you mean about agriculture?
Bijaipur and the surrounding area has a perfect climate for growing many crops. I know you’re thinking, “Blah, blah, blah! I didn’t come to this blog to learn dry agricultural facts! I came to learn how to stay in a Very Fancy Castle!” But there’s nothing dry about standing in a working field, especially if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool urbanite from New York City like me.
One of the best crops to grow in this region is cotton. You’ll have a blast squishing the raw cotton in your very own hands. It feels so much softer than the cotton T-shirts at Uniqlo! But our guide told us that there’s also a less desirable crop that grows well in this area: opium. Don’t get too excited, Internet Stranger! No free opium samples are given out on the tour.
2) what was that about industry?
Never fear! I’m not going to bore you with stuffy details about imports and widgets. I don’t even know what a widget it! But you can’t understand village life in India without knowing a little about industry. Even though the villages in this area aren’t industrial, they depend on industry to function. Mostly because they need farm equipment in order to tend to the fields.
Our guide told us that the tractor is the most important piece of equipment for the farmers in this area. However, the villagers were being exploited by middlemen selling the tractors to them for way too high a price. So the Indian government stepped in and cut out the middleman. Now the tractors are more affordable and the village is doing better economically. Smart of the government to do that! Now the villagers will be voters for their party for life!
Of course if the tractors aren’t working, you can always get non-mechanical help from the omnipresent water buffalo. (Seriously, watch out for the water buffalo if you go for a walk in this area. They seem to be everywhere, and they are super cranky.)
3) what was that about a lake?
One of the prettiest places to see in your 24 hours in Bijaipur is Pangarh Lake. The resort at the lake is owned by the same family that owns the Bijaipur Castle, so you’ll have no problem going for a stroll here. (And if glamping is more your speed than staying in a castle, book one of the 17 tents here. They are equipped with real beds and working showers. Seriously, I’ve stayed in many motels that were much worse. *looks at you, Birmingham, Alabama*)
Don’t just poke your head out of the jeep, stare at the lake for a few minutes, then hop back in. Really take the time to stop and smell the flowers. Just keep an eye out for a few things when you stroll about.
First, if there are any kids around, they will definitely beg you to take a picture with them. (The kids I ran into had their own camera, and they wanted a picture with me. But sometimes kids wanted me to take their picture. I obliged, but I would never share those pictures on this blog. It would feel weirdly exploitative.)
Second, look out for any of those stray water buffalo, especially if they aren’t tied up. All the ones I met were as cranky as me in the morning before I’ve had my coffee.
24 hour tip
Try to reserve a spot at the lunch buffet at the resort in Pangarh Lake, if possible. There were plenty of veggie-friendly options, and it’s extremely filling. They keep the spice level down for the tourists, but there are lots of sauces available if you want to kick it closer to Indian levels of spice.
24 Hours in Bijaipur
Afternoon: Relax at Castle Bijaipur
And now for the moment we’ve been waiting for: our Real Life Very Own Castle. Castle Bijaipur is an authentic 16th century castle. It’s actually still owned by the royal family, but they now open it up to guests. That’s one way to bring monarchy and aristocracy into the 21st century!
Most of the 24 hour itineraries I have written for India are jam-packed full of activities. This is one time when you can just kick back and relax, Rajput-stylez. I hope you’ve dedicated at least a couple of weeks to your time in India, so you’re going to need to balance the busy days with ones like these where you can just enjoy the amenities. And now let the question and answer period commence!
1) what was that about amenities?
The owners of Castle Bijaipur really want to make you feel like you are royalty when you stay with them. That includes a glass of VFL (Very Fancy Lemonade) filled with pomegranate seeds when you arrive. My mother’s family is from New Orleans, so to me a welcome drink should properly mean booze! But especially since India has such a large Muslim population, it’s kind and considerate to offer a non-alcoholic drink to everyone.
The best amenity at the hotel is this stunner of a pool. It was too chilly when we visited to go for a swim, but it was almost as much fun just zoning out with a book by the pool’s glistening waters.
2) are there any activities?
This unassuming building by the pool is home to the hotel’s spa. They offer every kind of pampering service you can think of, but you have to book in advance. The number one treatment I recommend is the massage with oil. The masseuse pulled me and stomped on me in every direction until I felt like a piece of salt water taffy. (That’s a compliment.)
You might have to wait a while if you want the female massage artist because they only had two on staff and the other masseur is a man. I felt kind of sorry for him because no one in our group, not even the men, wanted to be massaged by a man. I almost wanted to use his services just to be nice, but being pulled on by a dude I don’t know is not how I like spending my Saturday nights.
Sometimes it can seem like I just talk about how much I loved everything on this blog, but I do finally have something to criticize. I wasn’t crazy about the quality of the manicure at this spa–the paint job was only one coat and a little blotchy. Just stick to the massage and you’ll be a bundle of glee.
The other activity at Castle Bijaipur is henna painting. The other girls in my group participated and they looked lovely afterwards. (I opted out and went for a manicure instead.) Just be aware that you should book the spa before the henna otherwise the henna won’t be able to dry.
3) what about in the evening?
The place to be in the evening in Castle Bijaipur is the lovely courtyard. (Plus the wifi is stronger in the courtyard than it is in the rooms.) Here’s what the courtyard looks like in the daytime…
And voila the glamour of the evening! You never know what will be on at Castle Bijaipur at night! There could be singing, dancing, psychotic clowns…(OK, probably not those last ones). And during the entire performance, you’ll be able to watch the stars. Don’t worry about a surcharge, Internet Stranger. Unlike the henna or the spa, you don’t have to pay for the performance.
While the singing/dancing/clown murdering is going on, there’s also a full bar available. The gin and tonics/Kingfisher beers/blood of the clown’s mortal enemy were flowing like water! I think one Australian guy in our group drank ten or so beers without batting an eyelash. How do those Aussie blokes do it?
24 Hours in Bijaipur
Evening: Dinner at Castle Bijaipur
You’re hardly going to be able to head out to dinner tonight, Internet Stranger! Not unless you want to hunt a water buffalo and cook it for supper. (Please don’t do that.) So stay in the castle and have dinner in their restaurant. Just let them know in advance that you would like to dine that evening.
The food in the restaurant was a little hit or miss and service was a bit pokey, but I don’t want to blame the restaurant. We were staying there on New Year’s Day, and they didn’t have their entire kitchen working. The one dish I can recommend without reservation is the vegetable biryani. (Everyone in our group who ate this enjoyed it.) This spice-riffic dish is made with cooked rice and just about any meat or vegetable fixings your little heart desires. It reminded me of my mother’s home cooked jambalaya!
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Bijaipur!
What would you do with 24 hours in Bijaipur? Would you let that poor dude at the Castle Bijaipur give you a massage to improve his self-esteem? And why are water buffalo so mean, and would they be nicer if I gave them coffee? Please leave your thoughts below!