Team Sivalya visited India and as expected it was an unforgettable experience. We met with cultural shocks at the speed of lighting almost every day and visited multiple places in seven Indian cities. Right from people to smells to food to language, India is a sensory overload not easy for the mild hearted. But the love, laughter and pure happiness we saw on every one’s faces we met, was enough for us to feel accepted and we were part of the culture before we knew it. On purpose we decided not to stay in expensive resort hotels so we could live and feel the real India and not a watered down touristy version. Team Sivalya presents to you India Chronicles through our eyes and hope it will help you some if and when you plan your vacation to any of these Indian cities.
Our first story features the extraordinary city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, also known as the pink city. This is where most of our artisans are from and our jewelry, apparel and home decor ideas come to life. We visited with them, discussed designs for our upcoming collections and even met with some of their kids and families. We had a chance to see how they put their art into production and give life to ideas and sketches on paper, how you help them with purchases you make and what joy it is to see mothers earning enough to be able send their daughters to school. More of all that in future posts and for now here are some of our fave Jaipur digs!
Jaipur is a colorful, creative city full of artisans and small mom and pop shops thriving on an ancient heritage of designing, crafting and creating based on rich folklores. Way of doing things in Jaipur seems to have stalled in time and that is the feel you get as you set out for your exploratory journey. Elephants still ferry people around, horse drawn carriages are oh! so common and things still get made and repaired by hand using traditional methods as were prevalent in times of kings and queens. Your days can be packed with things to do and places to visit from day to night and we found the Indian version of Uber the best way to go around. Uber format in India is managed and run by local city taxi companies (I know right! If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em!) and they are easily available and cheap. But as with almost all things in India, always be careful and preferably never be alone whilst going out anywhere.
Err on the side of caution! Jaipur is famous for some unique dishes with a rich cuisine inspired by it’s fascinating cultural history of Hindu Kings and Mughal Empire takeover battles. You can find some awesome game meat prepared the old fashioned way but if you’re a vegetarian, your food options are unlimited since folks here are mostly so. A place quite popular with locals and tourists alike is Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar which has some good options, albeit a busy and loud crowd. We ate here a coupe times but had to stick to safer food options in our inn's restaurant as some or the other teamie kept going down with tummy issues. Be sure to mention Zero spice for your meals as their version of low spice was way too hot by our standards!
We visited famous palaces in and around the city, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort. Incredibly gorgeous, each palace has a unique historical story which we lapped up like eager beavers. It’s advisable to get a local guide at the places which interest you, they are cheap plus can relate a bunch of information and stories unknown otherwise. Shopping in Jaipur is a real treat and from small shops selling antiques to newer shopping malls with modern day essentials, they are a delight to explore. Team Sivalya went crazy in Tripolia Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar in old Jaipur city famous for lac bangles, jewelry, shoes etc. and in Sanganer, a little outside of city for hand block print fabrics and home décor furnishings. MI Road is another famous strip shopping place in center of the city, but we found it expensive and traffic clogged at best of times.
Jaipur is by far our most favorite city in India for work. It showcases multiple artisans who have learnt their art from their ancestors and are trying to preserve it in the best possible way. Their incredible talent, understanding of designs and hardworking attitude will blow you away! Right from the beginning of our label, we have worked with small artisan families and they have delivered with love and passion for our designs which matches ours! We discovered small gemstone nooks, stone graders and setters and artists who would let us sit with them in their workshops and design jewelry with them. We’d bring sketches or patters of designs we'd hoarded and get them to make our dream necklace/earrings/ring.
We learnt a,b,c's of gemstones and diamonds sitting in small outlets who trade in them and became little magpies in our own rights with rare, exclusive stones and jewels which were one-of-a-kind! The sounds, smells and abundance of stray animals and garbage dumps of the inner city might be a little hard to oversee, but once you get used to them, you're hooked for life.
Leave your favorite Jaipur tips below, we'd love to hear! xoxo - Team Sivalya