We arrived in Jaipur around noon on Tuesday, Dec 4. We stopped for lunch at the Green Pigeon in the old city. The food was very good but the reason that I am mentioning this particular restaurant is that we had entertainment while we ate. A father played an Indian string instrument called a Ravenahatha while his son danced. The boy was probably about 10 years old and he was quite the little ham. He had us all clapping in delight and then he would choose ladies from the tables to come up and dance with him. It was very entertaining and we enjoyed it immensely.
After lunch we headed to the Amber Fort and Palace. Maharaja Man Singh I, who led Mughal Emperor Akbar’s army, commenced its construction in 1592 on the remains of an 11th-century fort. Made out of sandstone and marble, Amber Fort consists of a series of four courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens. We wandered through the palace that housed the king’s twelve wives and 200 concubines. We gaped at the mirrored hall (Sheesh Mahal) where the walls and ceiling are covered in mirror mosaic. The craftsmanship on the marble pillars was breathtaking and the gardens beautiful. All too soon it was time to leave but not before we witnessed a crew from Bollywood filming a dance number in the main courtyard. It was quite fun!
We got to our hotel and said goodbye to our bus driver. From here on in, we’re back to tuks tuks and trains.
The next morning we went to the old city by tuk tuk. The traffic is still crazy but seems a little more organized than Delhi and Varanasi. There are even a few traffic lights!! AJay took us for a walk around the old city. It is called the Pink City because in 1875, Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales was coming for a visit to India with a stop at Jaipur which at that time was the capital city. The Maharaja (Sawai Ram Singh) decided to paint all the buildings a terracotta (pink) colour which is the welcoming colour in India. This colour is so significant to the heritage of the city that it is enforced under local law. In fact, there were many bamboo scaffoldings across the streets where people were repainting the walls to bring out the pink. We saw spice markets where mountains of red chili peppers lined the streets. There was also barrels of saffron, curry, cumin, cinnamon sticks and many others too numerous to mention. We went down a lane of tea shops and most of the group stopped to buy some Chai tea to take back home with them. We wound our way to the largest functioning Observatory in all of India. Called Jantar Mantar it is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734. It features the world’s largest stone sundial. What is amazing is how precise these large marble stone instruments are. Of course I did not really understand a lot of what our guide told us, but he could tell time to the second on the large sundial. Now that was impressive!!
The rest of the day was our own free time so Richard and I wandered around the streets for a while, had a quick lunch and headed back to the hotel. Louis and Lisa arrived shortly after us and we spent a pleasant afternoon out on the terrace discussing politics, history and religion. It only reinforced to us again that travel is a great way to learn about the world that we live in.
We were up bright and early this morning and caught a train to Delhi which should arrive by noon. This is our last full day in India and I believe are going to the Ghandi museum followed by a food crawl. I can’t believe that 11 days has flown by so quickly!!
The Amber Palace.
The Floating Palace
The Worlds Biggest Sundial.
The Spice Market and the Pink City.
You never know what you will come across in India.