No place in India seemed so colorful and vivid as Jaipur.
The tour around town pulled by a bike was super, and the contact with people in the streets and bazaars was easy and extremely friendly.
Of course, with lots of things to see, I wished I had more time for Jaipur.
All the concepts of India
Riding an elephant uphill seems a cliché for tourists. And it is. But it really helps feeling the ambiance and plunging deeper in India.
I had a personal experience in Fort Amber… well… I describe it in “Personal memories” section. However, the visit to the fort, going up by elephant, on foot, or by helicopter, is something no one can miss.
Palace of Winds
I’m not going to repeat everything you can read in most texts about this palace, in Wikipedia, or something alike.
My special feeling, besides the confirmation of the beauty of its facade, was the way it is integrated with the city, dominating the image of the area, but very well integrated in the whole.
Not the usual outstanding luxury apart from the city and contrasting with it, but something being part of the street, living with it, still hiding the faces of gone women, behind its delicate windows.
The city palace complex still has some areas reserved as royal residence, but several buildings are opened to public as a museum.
Different buildings and yards, arches and rooms, provide a very interesting visit.
Be prepared to pay the same than 5 Indian citizens to enter, doubling the price if carrying a camera, however, for occidental uses, it is not expensive – about 2€ to enter
A very beautiful gate to City Palace is made of white marble, flanked by two elephants also in marble, carved in a single block,and added later to celebrate the birth of Maharaja’s son is called Rajendra Pol, which means gateway of princess.
Diwan-I-Khas is a very harmonious hall, with beautiful floor and chandeliers, but where the top attraction is a pair of huge silver vessels, the biggest in the world, according to Guinness Book of Records.
Pitam Niwas Chowk
Pitam Niwas Chowk is the inner courtyard, accessing the main palace, Chandra Mahal. It has four gates representing the four seasons and Hindu gods.
In the Northeast is Peacock Gate representing autumn and dedicated to Vishnu, in the Southwest is Lotus Gate (summer and Shiva-Parvati), in the Northwest Green Gate, (spring and Ganesha), and the Rose Gate representing winter and dedicated to Devi.
The complex of city palace is composed by a few specific and distinct areas.
The Maharani’s palace impresses for its delicacy, with wonderful stone carvings and frescoes painted with dust of precious stones. Today it is a museum of the weapons of the Maharajah’s family.
There are two silver urns placed prominently in the City Palace. Visitors often express themselves puzzled by their presence…
Yes, we did to! But let me continue to reproduce what I read in internet:
… particularly since the attendants are quick to point out that these are the largest silver objects in the world, as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
More interesting is the reason these urns — there were three altogether, but one has since been lost — came to be made.
According to Hindu belief, crossing the seas to journey to distant lands inhabited by heathen races was an act so unholy, it brought upon the perpetrator untold calamities. Not content with that, it was deemed that the contaminated person would also lose his caste in the Indian social context.
Yes, interesting, but to continue reading you’d better go to Gangajalis
Albert Hall Museum
Built in the 19th century, this fabulous palace is now converted in Jaipur central museum.
It displays a large and interesting collection of local art and crafts.
Website: Albert Hall
Astronomy Jantar Mantar
Jantar Mantar is referred as a set of constructions used to astrological observation, but, nowadays, it is difficult to understand the purpose and use of each element.
This was the first time that we loved to loose ourselves inside the hotel, with the feelings of being in a featured monument.
All the space is absolutely fantastic, and, if it is open only for the guests, it’s a good reason to stay at least one night there.
Samode – Only one of the 1001 Nights
It was nice to be one of the Maharaja’s guests. At least, it seemed to it.
It was not only a night in one more hotel, but it was also a real entrance to the feelings and sensations on one of 1001 nights. The dinner in the gardens was the cherry atop the cake. Perfect stay.
Unique Qualities: It’s unique
Address: GANGAPOLE, Jaipur, RA 302002
Along the roads it’s common to see several stalls with sleeping places.
Comfort is absent, such as privacy, but in a so populated and hot country, this must be the cheapest “civilized” solution in India.
Street vendors: You will have to buy
It is almost impossible to a western citizen, to walk in India without a flock of people around you, offering all kind of crafts.
So tiring, that we have not enough patience to enter a shop and face the same pressure of the sellers that come to you like flies.
As a first experience, it’s a nice sensation, but when you are interested in using your time to see the local wonders, it turns… boring. And tiring!
Rugs… or not: Tea Time
In the Muslim world, when they put a tea cup in your hand, in 80% of the cases you will be negotiating rugs in the next minutes (in 15% you will be bargaining other crafts, and, in the remaining 5% you went out of touristy circuit and met a local family, gentle as they use to be).
India follows the standards with the same natural or professional sympathy, but with a wider range of articles.
I was specially fascinated by some (expensive) inlaid stone works, (fortunately…) too heavy to carry to Europe. The same doesn’t apply to miniature paintings.
From cheap apprentice work to expensive beautiful compositions, there’s a wide choice. And some of them found the way to Turquel.
Directions: Don’t worry. You’ll be taken there!
Maybe you feel some constraint (as I did) to accept being pulled around by the effort of a man. But remember, it’s their job, and life will be harder with… no clients.
So, be aware that the rickshaw is the best way to tour the city at a cheap price.
After all, cycling around such a plane city is not the toughest job they may choose.
Maybe you’ll be attracted by the colors and smells of India.
They are really gorgeous, but not in the market, specially in the areas reserved for chicken or milk.
There, if you don’t skip them, you have to be strong. Nor even in the tanneries of Morocco I found such a awful smell.
And the dirt… True India…
Well, out of the markets things are a little better, but religion creates the normal constraints…
Public toilets are available in Jaipur, but their privacy is… none.
We saw everything, even people defecating in the walkways. In those hard conditions who cares about privacy and cleanliness?
Memories of Jaipur
I am always the target: anywhere I go, Fernanda’s incapacity to show indifference makes me the bad guy that, after having dozens of rugs at his feet, ends buying none, because what he said in the beginning of the “performance” was true – after thirty years travelling, I have no more space at home for rugs or carpets (thanks God, but I didn’t escape in Morocco, and Turkey, and…).
Of course, buying in the origin is usually cheaper, and with great choice. But it is also a risk, and, sometimes, a waste of time.
India is a good place to buy, but… no more rugs for me!
The Imperial Toilet
Now let me share my strongest memories of Jaipur;
On my first day in India, I got diarrhea, as it always happens anywhere I go. Generally, it uses to be something light, disappearing after one or two days. Not this time. I was only cured after two days at home. But with lots of pills I always could wait until reaching the hotel. Always, except… in Fort Amber.
I had to ask the guide for toilets.
What have I done!
The guide said something to the other guys, and suddenly there where several men running in all directions and shouting to each other. The guide explained at last:
– They are going to open to you the toilet of honor of the palace.
A few minutes later a large smile in a man’s face, came with a monstrous key. Another man ran, and both opened a large door of the palace. I didn’t see the trumpets, by I heard them sounding, because the solemnity was complete. And about 15 people calmed down, smiling at me, really happy for their kind and luxurious service. I stepped inside the space, and…
Let me describe it.
A large dark room, about 3×3 meters, and looking around… nothing. After a few moments to adapt my eyes to the darkness I finally noticed in one corner a hole in the floor, something like a Turkish sink. Exploring again the space (with India smiling at my back) I saw near the opposite corner a tap, about 40 cm from the floor with nothing under it. In a 3rd corner… a bucket. Ok. I closed the door and… absolute darkness. Opened it again and… India waiting and smiling at me.
After closing the door, leaving only a small opening to enter the light, and using the paper I always put in my trousers back pocket the first time I leave the first hotel (and that usually ends in my washing machine), and the bucket, everything ended well, and when exiting, again under the trumpets acclaim, I noticed that the Indian smiles were so released as mine.