Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jaipur, India - The Pink City

We woke up to the sound of peacocks outside our villa and got ready to leave Bharatpur for Jaipur. On the way, our driver asked us if we were hungry and wanted to stop. We weren't and said so but he said we were going to stop anyway because he was hungry. Really, he wanted us to stop in at another tourist trap of a restaurant and shops. One friend did buy a bracelet and actually saw the driver go up and get his commission. Once we got back in the car, he noticed a necklace that another friend had on. He asked her if she got it at the shop, probably wondering why he hadn't received the commission from that one, but she had brought the necklace with her from home. Silly driver. By this time in our trip, we were ready to get rid of him. We saw some great vehicles and passengers on the drive to Jaipur.

Jaipur is called the Pink City because in 1876 the Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire city painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII). They say the tradition has been maintained but we didn't think the old city looked very pink. Jaipur was a little too noisy and busy for us but we did have another beautiful place to stay and saw some amazing sites. Also, there was a little bit of home on the street for me:

On Christmas Eve, we went out to dinner and asked the waiter to take our photo. Even with all of our suggestions to hold the camera higher, this is the best photo we got that night:

We visited the Amber Fort but decided to walk instead of riding the elephants up. Our guide book questioned the treatment of the animals and we didn't like the look of the spike the men used to control them so we passed. Once we entered the walls, we got wonderfully and helplessly lost in the halls and rooms for several hours. Construction of this fort began in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh.
Our favorite shop was owned by a family who had originally come from Afghanistan. They had beautiful jewelry, boxes, and enamel bowls. After visiting their shop a couple of times, the son invited us to their home for dinner. This happened to be our Christmas dinner but it didn't end up being as we expected. His parents didn't come and goat was the only thing on the menu. The son also began talking quite passionately about everything - from gems, to history, to more disturbing things like the Taliban. As the only American in the group, I was relived when he stopped talking passionately about how terrible America is and switched to talking about the plight of tigers in Indian reserves.

The next day we visited the City Palace. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732 but has had addition up to the 20th century.

On our last morning, we stopped by the Palace of Winds. The Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal, is a five-storey building which was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawaj Pratap Singh. Its purpose was to enable ladies to the royal household to watch the goings-on of the city without being seen themselves.

Our hotel in Jaipur was a nice respite from the bustle of the city.

We headed to Pushkar in the late morning.

More photos at flickr.


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