India & Nepal

November 2005

Part 8:

Rajasthan


<< Part 7: Gwalior and Agra    -   Back to Index   -    Part 9: Punjab >>


November 22th (day 25): Jaipur and Amber

Jaipur was founded in the 18th century and is now the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is called the pink city because when the Prince of Wales visited in 1875, the houses in the city center were all painted in that colour of welcome and it was never changed. It looks nice but it's not even remotely pink, it's a rusty orange. Indians must be colour blind.

Jaipur is by far the nicest looking of all the cities we visited in India. It has wide streets, nice buildings painted in that orangy colour, and it even has parks. A pleasant change from the concrete mess in every other city.

While Jaipur is a nice city, there's little that's particularly worth visiting in my opinion. It's strange that it's a top tourist destination along with Delhi and Agra - these three are called the golden triangle of Indian tourism. I'd rank Jodhpur, Orchha and especially Gwalior far above Jaipur as a tourist destination. On the other hand, if I had to live in India I'd like to live in Jaipur.

Hawa Mahal

The most famous monument of Jaipur is the lovely Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, which was built in 1799. It is only about 2 meter deep and was meant to allow the women of the maharaja's harem to watch the street without being seen.

Amber

After visiting the Hawa Mahal we took an autorikshaw to Amber Palace, a 16th century palace fortress 10km outside Jaipur. Tourists can ride to the top of the citadel on an elephant, which was the main reason we came here because Danny wanted to do that. When we arrived, we saw elephants bathing in the lake before the palace, so we had a look.
Amber Palace was built in a rock by a lake. The entire area around it is walled in by a fortress wall that runs over the backs of the hills around the palace. It's an impressive sight, not unlike the Chinese Wall I think.
When we arrived at the foot of the palace we found out that the elephants would only start carrying tourists up in the afternoon, so we decided to keep that for later and went up by ourselves.

We were suffering from some palace fatigue by now, and this one wasn't up to par with the Mughal palaces, so we weren't too impressed. It is huge though; at one point we didn't find the way out of an unrestored part that we'd wandered into.
When we descended again from the palace, we crossed elephants that had started carrying tourists up to the fort. It turned out that while before we were too early, we were now too late because all the elephants were reserved.

Danny really wanted that elephant ride though, so we arranged something with an elephant owner who still had an elephant in his stable. We all took a bus there, his assistant put a seat on the elephant's back, and then rode Danny around for a while while I ran along to take pictures.
We took a bus back to Amber village, had lunch in a snack bar, found our autorikshaw driver and drove back to Jaipur. Along the way we passed a palace built on an island in a lake, really pretty.

Yantra Mandir

Back in Jaipur we walked around a bit. There is a big palace in the city but we didn't feel like visiting yet another one, so instead we visited the Yantra Mandir observatorium. This "Temple of Instruments" was built right next to the palace by the founder of Jaipur, maharaja Jai Singh II, who was an avid astronomer.

The Yantra Mandir is a garden full of big instruments for tracking stars and planets. The instruments were so big to allow for more precision. The biggest is the Samrat Jantar which is 27m tall and is essentially a sundial.
Outside the observatorium we saw snake charmers for the second and last time this trip. In the evening we took a train to Jodhpur, where we arrived at night and immediately checked into a hotel - the usual drill.


November 23rd (day 26): Jodhpur

Jodhpur is the second city of Rajasthan. Danny had wanted to go to Jaipur, which didn't interest me much, and I had wanted to go to Jodhpur, which didn't interest him much. We ended up visiting both places, and in the end we both liked Jodhpur the most :)

The reason I'd wanted to visit Jodhpur was a picture I'd seen on the internet. On it was a view on the city from the fort, but I had no idea of the size or shape of the fort, since it wasn't on the picture itself. So, imagine our delight when in the morning we had breakfast on the roof of our hotel, and saw this:
I had to stand as far back on the hotel roof as I could to get the whole thing on picture. That is one massive fort! Its name is Mehrangarh, which means... "majestic fort". Well, good name. Mehrangarh was first built in 1459 but most of the current fort dates from the 17th century.
The fort contains a series of palace buildings that have been turned into a museum, and it is run very professionally. We used the audioguides, which were very well done and interesting throughout, and there were no hasslers. We spent about half a day exploring the fort. The main attraction to me was the palace architecture, which was the most beautiful we've seen in India.
When Danny was resting in an alcove somewhere he leant back to lie down and saw this above him...
From the fort's walls you have a splendid view on the city. For some reason, much of Jodhpur has been painted light blue, and it's a lovely sight - the sight that had made me want to come to Jodhpur in the first place. On the walls a series of old canons were lined up, all aimed at the city.
When we left the fort it was already late afternoon. Back in the city we walked around a bit but didn't find anything of interest, so we just spent some time on the local market.
There's not much else to see in Jodhpur besides the fort, but that alone made it well worth it. We both ranked Jodhpur the 4th best place we'd visited, after Agra, Delhi and Gwalior.

In the evening we took a night train to Delhi, where we arrived early in the morning and spent the whole day before going on to Amritsar in the evening. If you're reading this chronologically, you can go read about our 2nd visit to Delhi here, otherwise just continue with the next part.


<< Part 7: Gwalior and Agra    -   Back to Index   -    Part 9: Punjab >>





Godsmurf Sun 04 Nov 2007 @ 14:52
Assuming you're talking about Everest BC trek: I didn't see any snakes and can't imagine there being any that high.

Carole Davt Fri 02 Nov 2007 @ 13:59
Wonderful pictures and story-----a real girly question--are there any snakes up there??? and how tough is it to complete??


Della Sat 25 Mar 2006 @ 23:55
Nice pictures and writing! Your photos really bring back to my mind the days i spent in Nepal!
Go ahead and share with us more your travel notes and experience in the future!

Godsmurf Tue 21 Mar 2006 @ 13:41
Hehe. Should be up within a few days!

eleni Tue 21 Mar 2006 @ 01:56
Great! i was anxious and still am for no. 7 :)
It's like you are reading a book and when it starts to get really interesting you realise that some pages are missing...


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