For The Love Of Blue Pottery And Ker Sangri

What’s not to love about Jaipur, despite the insane traffic in the old part of the city? It’s got history, amazing food and most of all, blue pottery and beautiful people.

Published On Apr 19, 2024 | Updated On Apr 19, 2024


My trip to Jaipur a couple of months ago was interesting, and I say this because I was there for work and never did think I’d be able to spare a moment to actually enjoy the city. A delayed flight and an exhausted brain are bound to discourage you. But then you end that first day as quickly as possible and wake up to sun rising right outside your balcony, a pot of piping hot masala chai and like every other tourist, you go ‘I could live here’. I am that tourist. 

But I was not just there for pleasure, I was on work and to try out food, but three days in Jaipur is never enough. Ever. But when you’re by yourself and don’t really have to do what someone else wants, you could pack a lot in in that time, aside from eating of course. 


For instance, learn block printing where you can run your fingers through the grooves of the handcrafted blocks of well-seasoned teak and wonder why you can’t ever do this back at home. I went through a whole training programme in 20 minutes or so, learning how to dip the block in the dye, add the exact amount of weight so the colour won’t stain the pristine white cloth or bleed from the sides, and how to align these blocks without earning a frown from your trainer. It’s complicated and as hard as the topography classes in high school, but after a few ‘stamps’ of coloured patterns, it’s almost therapeutic. The good news is that I did manage to create something that didn’t look like a mistake. 

Next stop, which was probably 15 steps away, was a thorough lesson in blue pottery. There’s not much of that left in Rajasthan, at least not the real deal. Made by hand from scratch, it can take up to months for one single product to be ready — it depends on the size of course — and if you aren’t careful with it, can break in a second. 


Blue Pottery’s roots are Persian, brought in by the Mughals whose potters eventually trained the locals to turn out some of the most incredible pieces of art work. Jaipur’s Blue Pottery however evolved over time, adopting its own style and motifs to create its distinct identity. And while I tried to make a mold and gave up because I really shouldn’t be shaping anything, I watched intently how delicately the raw materials are handled. Two ladies sat quietly in another room, painting the finished products, their hands never quivered and occasionally they would look up and smiled or have a quick conversation and then go back to their work. 


Jaipur isn’t always about the forts and palaces, but it sure helps with the old-world charm as you walk down the old streets, meandering through the crowded streets and shops that sell everything from jewellery to snacks to chaat to furniture. And doing this alone brings it a different sense of adventure. 

After spending the whole day learning about textiles and pottery, I was driven back to my lovely hotel room at the Intercontinental Jaipur – the hotel can be held responsible for trying to bring out the artist in me – where I resisted the urge to crash because a proper Rajasthani thali would await me for dinner. After a refreshing hour or so at the spa, I was all set for dinner. 


Let me tell you about my dinner on the first night, and why it is a meal I am not likely to forget any time soon. First, two things were completely out of place; I rarely dine alone and I hardly go to an Indian restaurant by choice. I prefer that food at home. Now, Royal Root, which is the hotel’s north Indian restaurant is not only as classic as it can get — the décor and place settings and the cutlery took me back to some palace I must have lived in a past life — the menu is what one would call ‘north Indian’, and while it does sound fascinatingly generic, the food here is anything but. 

From the moment I took a bite of their Broccoli Dak Bangla, I went quiet. Marinated in cream cheese and kasundi, how dare they make broccoli taste so good. With that, just to indulge the Bengali in me, I forked morsels of the Mahi Kagzi tikka, where pieces of rawas are marinated in spices and curry leaves and roasted in a clay oven. Absolutely delicious. 

But I was in Jaipur and while I was sold on the fact that their Royal Root Ke Khaas Dal Makhani may very well be one of the best in the country (and I am not kidding), I wanted ker sangri. The only time I get to eat this seasonal dish is at someone’s home, and therefore I devoured a full bowl of this Rajasthani specialty. Walking back alone after dinner felt liberating (the restaurant is not more than 30 seconds away from the hotel’s lobby), and I told myself I should do this often. 


Back to my thali at the hotel’s all-day diner. It has to be ordered in advance and am pretty sure three people can share a plate. Complete with dal, kadhi, mangori, churma, gatte ki sabzi, roti and of course laal maas because I must manifest cliches onto my plate, I only managed to eat 10 per cent of what was served, and I also have never loved chaas as much as I did that night. The next morning, hours before I was to check out and move to a different hotel, I spent a few quiet moments at my rather large balcony, watching the sun come up. Winters in Jaipur can be quite unbeatable. 

Yes, it’s interesting travelling alone in Rajasthan, especially in a city like Jaipur that’s so maddeningly crowded at times that you want to scream. But then again, I live in Bengaluru. 

If you aren’t making a pitstop on your way to Ranthambore — the Tonk Road hotels are often used as that — you could venture into the old city and do all sorts of touristy things. 

Explore the forts and pretend to be the queen of one, shop for mojris, leheriyas, camel leather bags at Bapu Bazaar, visit the elephant farm on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway or check out the zoo (not a fan of zoos though), walk through Central Park (Yes, Jaipur has one of those) and enjoy the sheer peace, indulge in a street food crawl (can you really say no to Jaipur omelettes and jalebis, not necessarily together?) or tap into the urban cool in you and find a bar and get some drinks. The best way to do a solo trip in Jaipur is to make your own plans. Just make them in winter because summers are a different story.

Photo: Shutterstock; Priyadarshini Nandy; The Intercontinental Jaipur