The Amber Fort.
The sundial at Jantar Mandar.
View of Jaipur from the hills.
August 14, 2006
Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan that is home to about 4.5 million people. The first thing a person learns when
coming to Jaipur is that it is known as ‘The Pink City’. This will be pointed out by every Indian person that you cross paths
with when they find out that Jaipur is one of your planned destinations.
Upon getting into town, we stopped at the hotel where I am staying. I should correct myself and say ‘palace’. This is far
different than palaces in, say, Italy. The style is completely different. After all, this is India. I am in what was a maharaja’s
palace back in the day and it has pretty much stayed true to its roots. This is not one of the exclusive palace hotels out here…it
is more like a residence. I am currently even in the maharani’s (the maharaja’s wife) room which is definitely suite-status.
After stowing my stuff in my room, Kumar drove me through the city of Jaipur. When we were rolling through town, I noticed
something. I am not one to diss a city’s nickname but it seemed like the buildings were less of a pink color than they were
almost a dark rusty orange. But maybe that is considered ‘pink’ in these parts? Color of the city aside…in addition to cows, I
was now seeing camels and pigs in the streets. And on one of the streets, there were even elephants (obviously here for tourist
entertainment). I was also now accustomed to children and adults knocking on our car windows asking for money (as this
happened many times along the way from Agra).
We headed into the hills (that were as green as could be due to all of the rainfall this area gets with monsoon season) as the sun
was setting. It was a beautiful sight though it was hard to see the ‘pink’ of the city with all of the haze in the air.
I checked out some of the shops last night and stumbled upon a place where I would buy my very own Indian outfit. It is
orange. I know I will risk looking like a giant orange but that is okay. I will at least have an outfit for the rest of this month
when I choose to go out for a nice evening. ‘Indian Jen’ will be out in full force.
Today it was time to see some of the sights that Jaipur offers. We first headed out to Amber to see the fort-palace. Here people
can opt to take an elephant up to the top. After being rather idle for the past day or two, I chose to walk (I also knew that I
would be riding an elephant when I go to Thailand so I thought I would save the experience for then). The views from the fort
were absolutely superb. On one side there was something that looked like the Great Wall of China (or at least what I assume it
to look like) mixed into the bright green landscape. This fort was more-or-less a maze. I still can’t believe I found my way
Kumar informed me that he was going to take me to the City Palace next. Truthfully, I almost cringed. I was getting to the
point of being ‘forted’ and ‘palaced’ out. This would be my fourth in two days. This is when everything starts blurring together
for me (to be honest, I need to see pictures of the Agra Fort now to even trigger my memory of what that one looked like). I
decided to go since Jaipur is far from being a city that you can relax in. I figure that when I get to the places that are more
peaceful I will opt out of ‘sites to see’ in lieu of some down-time just taking in the scenery. I can say that the City Palace was
different from the others I had seen. For starters, the current maharaja lives there (of course, those quarters were off limits).
This also houses the world’s biggest piece of silver (as noted by the Guinness Book of World Records). My favorite thing was
the courtyard that had four beautiful doorways representing the four seasons. The one I liked the most was the one that had
peacocks (though it beats me as to which season it represented).
Next door to the palace was the Jantar Mantar. This is an observatory. Sounds boring, huh? In fact, I found this to be one of
the coolest things I saw today (even though I resisted going at first). It is entirely outdoors and almost felt like a being in a
funhouse. The former maharaja (Jai Singh) was big into astronomy. Everything here was essentially an instrument – the
largest being the massive sundial. There is a structure for each Zodiac sign, as well. Honestly, I have no idea what the purposes
of these were. All I knew was that I was going to head straight to ‘Virgo’ (though it looked just about identical to all of the
others) since that is my sign.
I had done all of the sightseeing that a girl can do in a day and told Kumar that I wanted to buy a ticket to go see a movie. He
decided that he would come, too. So we saw the new release that was close to 3 ½ hours long (see: Bollywood, Baby).
This more-or-less wrapped up Jaipur for me as the rest of the evening consisted of me taking a nap and then heading out to
dinner (where I met a great group of Spaniards and attempted to brush up on my now-almost-non-existent Spanish).
It is now time to say ‘good-bye’ to Jaipur and ‘hello’ to the rest of Rajasthan…