Jaipur - the pink city
Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
9Trip End Feb 25, 2010
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Where I stayed
Indian Maharaja Train
Our first stop was to be the Amber Fort an incredible structure and the ancient citadel of the ruling Kachhawa clan of Amber. Built in 1572 by Man Singh I it was modified by a succession of rulers over the next 150 years. We were originally to go up by elephant but the huge queues meant this was not a possibility so we took a procession of jeeps
The fort is made from white marble and red sandstone and it has an amazingly lavish interior particularly the carvings and mirror work on the walls. Externally some of the archways are beautifully decorated. A highlight is the Sheesh Mahal with its intricate inlaid mirror work, here the flame of just one candle could light the whole hall. It is quite beautiful and supposedly has the largest number of mirrored tiles in the world.
Located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur is the Jal Mahal or 'Water Palace'. It was built in the 18th century as a pleasure palace and looks quite beautiful with the first four floors being submerged under the water with only the top floor showing - hence its abandonment.
The morning was ended with a visit to a jewelery place but the designs were far to garish and ornate, not to mention expensive so Andy's visa card was kept safely under wraps
Lunch was at the Jai Mahal Palace where they were preparing for a huge Hindu wedding. There were garlands of marigolds draped over the walls in the garden and they were putting up gazebos and setting out chairs. There was the canopy where the ceremony would take place called the mandap and this was swathed in satin drapes and covered in flowers.
In the afternoon we visited the famous Jaipur Observatory. It was like nothing I had expected as this observatory contained fourteen huge geometric devices for measuring time and tracking stars and planets. Built by Ja Singh between 1724 and 1734 the structures are huge and built from local stone and marble. The largest structure a sundial known as Samrat Yantra, it can tell the time to an accuracy of two seconds and the shadow it casts moves up to 13 feet an hour. It was strange that this was built in an age when you would think they were not so worried about time but it was very important to them for festivals and astrology
From here we made our way to the City Palace a beautiful building of Mughal and Rajastan architecture. You go through a fabulous entrance arch that takes you into a complex of palaces, pavilions, gardens and temples. The Chandra Mahal is the main building and it is here that the present maharaja lives, a flag of the royal family flies from the roof if he is in residence. In the inner courtyard there are four beautiful gates each representing one of the four seasons, the most stunning is the Peacock Gate representing autumn.
Another highlight is the Diwan-I-Khas a private audience hall. Here stands two huge silver bowls over five foot in height made from 14000 melted silver coins. Don't be persuaded to take photos of the guards who are only to happy to step into your picture for the necessary rupees of course.
The day would not have been complete without another rickshaw ride, an incredible if frightening experience. This time we were lucky enough to have a driver who was not at death's door and was well able take two rather large tourists. The most memorable part of the trip was crossing the huge roundabout in Jaipur with motorcycles and cars virtually touching us as we forced our way into the heavy stream of traffic
We were given some time to walk around the bazaar and I took the opportunity to pick up a few souvenirs for family and friends. As we walked back to the coach we were followed by the normal array of hawkers but I ended up buying bangles, elephants, puppets and boxes from them I couldn't resist the price.
Back on the coach we witnessed our first near miss of the holiday. A motorcycle and pillion were in front of us and they stopped suddenly. How the coach driver breaked in time I am not sure but I think the front of the coach must have been touching the back of the bike. It appeared that a kite string had become entangled around the neck of the motorbike's driver!