Escape to Jaipur

We arrived in Jaipur at around 5, lots of traffic but not like Delhi. We were delighted to find the hotel we booked was inside the pink city which is a small area with the Palace, all the bazaars and right in the centre of the city. The hotel is fab, a recently restored building amongst small businesses. This area is where a lot of the film the marigold hotel was shot. The manager of the hotel was falling over himself to help us and couldn’t do enough.

We parked our bags and went out to explore. We sat and drank several cups of chai and watched the world and his elephant go by, literally!!

We walked for 10 minutes and found the Jaipur Albert Hall based on the London one built in 1876 and the foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales. There must have been a concert on before as it was playing loud Bhangra music on huge speakers outside.

We walked to the back of the city palace, a small square, and listened to a band who were playing for a posh wedding. There was an elephant and a horse that was all dressed up to take the groom after the music and dancing to the party, it was fab. Lots of people stopped and talked to us; where are you from? Where are you going? Let me take you to the winter palace in my Indian helicopter (tuk tuk) or I have a jewellery, clothes, something shop, come and look. It’s funny, they are friendly and want to talk but all have something to sell. One of the first phrases I learned was Nahi jai which means ‘no need’. It seems to work.

We were picked up early to go to the Amer Fort before all the big tourist coaches arrived. We stopped first at the Winter Palace the Hawa Mahal which has 362 windows and allegedly the maharajah had 360 wives almost one for every day!!. You cannot go in.

The Amer fort was the residence of the Rajput Maharajahs from the mid 1500’s. It’s on a ridge outside the city. We walked up not wanting the elephant ride to the top. It does look spectacular 30 or so elephants all dressed up and painted, with tourists sat on top winding their way up. But not for us. It was £6 each to go in, we refused the offer of guides and wandered around. It was spectacular. The soldiers who were dotted around followed us and asked if we both wanted to be in a picture and once he had taken the photo demanded money.

As we walked back down some of the elephants were refusing to move and were being beaten with big thick sticks on the top of their heads, not good to watch. This is how it is and they had a long days work ahead of them. Poor things.

We then stopped at the water palace which is where the king has parties in the middle of the lake. There is a wide track down from the fort for the elephants to take the King and his party guests to the lake. How the other half live….

Young girls on the street kept grabbing my hands and kissing them. I am in so many pictures and dozens of selfies. Not sure why they want pictures of me and Chris. Is it the blue eyed ginger alien thing again? It’s a bit weird but very sweet. In the Janta Mantar I had loads of pictures taken with a huge group of schoolchildren and their teachers. Also in the monkey temple, weird.

We left town to visit the Galta Temple, a Hindu Temple high on a hill. It has 3 pools fed by a sacred natural spring. People come to bathe in the waters and pay homage to Surya the sun god. It is also called the monkey temple. We stopped on the way to the temple and picked up Kanhaiya Sharma otherwise known as the ‘monkey man’. He is famous for being on a BBC documentary and a National Geographic programme about monkeys called ‘monkey thieves’. Such a nice guy who is a real life monkey whisperer. As we approached the temple the monkeys saw him and started to follow. He got some peas in pods off a vendor and we had to hold our arms out and hold the peas with a closed hand. The monkeys first sat on your head and then made their way along your arms to the booty. They prised your fingers open to get the peas. It was good fun. I only wish I didn’t have a white t shirt on! We stayed chatting and drinking chai with Kanha a very interesting man.

Our driver realised we didn’t particularly want a posh tourist restaurant so we sat in a car park at the back of the palace and ate chapatis and pickle and biryani and yellow soupy stuff? with all the taxi drivers. A feast for less than £3 for 3 of us with water. Brilliant.

We left the driver and headed for the City Palace, built in 1730 which has many buildings and large open courtyards and gardens. It was very beautiful.The museum and armoury was fantastic and all the textiles and especially the pictures. One of the maharajahs, Ram Singh Il, was a keen early photographer in the late 1860’s. He was known as ‘the photographer prince’.

Some of his pictures were amazing. He had adopted some western clothing and culture as the Raj were becoming more modern. He took lots of pictures of his harem. There were pictures much later of King George V in 1911 and Lord Mountbatten and his wife on state visits. The whole city was painted pink in honour of the visit of the Prince of Wales later to become Edward Vll and has become a trademark of the city.

From the palace we went to the Jantar Mantar which is a collection of 19 astronomical instruments and was completed in 1734. The monuments are huge and Chris was in his element. They measure time, predict eclipses, track stars and lots of other stuff Very clever for its time.

On the way back to Delhi the following morning we noticed hundreds of pilgrims in different groups with different flags on a walk to a temple 150 km away. There were tents set up in villages along the way for them to sleep in and eat. Impressive.

I would like to go back to Jaipur and hopefully stay longer. It has a really nice feel to the place and friendly people.

2 thoughts on “Escape to Jaipur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s