Thumper…

January 31, 2017

India Day 19 – Jaipur City Palace

19/10/16
Earlier in the day was the Amber Fort. In the arvo, I headed to the city palace, in Jaipur itself, another opulent palace with extravagant decorative structures and fittings. There was a textile museum with both mens and womens clothing from centuries ago that was ornately decorated with beetle wings. Polo and billiards were introduced by the British around 1819 with sample costumes of the era in display. A weapons museum and the royal room were another couple of highlights and the four peacock doors in another section where one was restored looked magnificent.

Pink buildings at the City Palace

Pink buildings at the City Palace

Unfortunately Jantar Mantar Observatory, literally just across the road, closed at 5pm, just after I’d left the palace, and headed there. I would have liked to have gone there as well, but the palace was definitely worth visiting. Beware of the tuk tuk drivers outside of the palace, they’ll hassle you as much as they can and become your shadow outside the palace.

Outside the City Palace

Outside the City Palace

From there a few of us headed toward the bazaar in the city centre area for a few last minute souvenirs. Before we even got there though, we found a cool shop, Pachouli, that had a vast array of clothes, scarves and homewares that were well made and very reasonably priced. That’s near the city palace and the Tripolia Gate Bazar, they are well worth a visit if you’re looking for any reasonably priced small gifts for friends, or clothes for men, women or children or any kind of homewares like tea towels, towels or tablecloths.

It was around here that we encountered our “follower” for the second time. He’d introduced himself in the city palace to us, then “appeared” just as we were leaving Pachouli. He popped up again a couple of times in the bazar streets, then as he popped up again, we decided it was time to get out of there fast. You can’t accidentally bump into people around those crowded street bazars that many times – and we’d walked a fair way.

The bazar area was a tour through different areas with similar shops, a heap of stationery and book shops, some clothes areas, and general goods. Crowded narrow streets decorated with lights for the upcoming Diwali festival added to the atmosphere.

The streets at night, Jaipur

The streets at night, Jaipur

Our tuk tuk ride back was interesting – 5 of us jumped into a tuktuk for 4, got a few weird looks from the locals as normally it’s them travelling like that, not us! And the traffic at that time of the night was crazy. Jaipur is also getting ready for diwali, the annual hindu festival of lights, equivalent to Christmas for us. It’s next week, if it’s crazy now, I imagine it will be much worse next week.
Had a nice evening sitting in the lawn area of the Hotel Arya Niwas to finish up the day. Excellent hotel if you’re looking for a place to stay in Jaipur. Lovely lawns, restaurant (vegetarian), rooms and library. There’s also a nice little gift shop with a good selection of very reasonably priced souvenirs.

January 29, 2017

India Day 19 – Jaipur, Amber Palace

19/10/16
Fort, palace and shopping filled in the day today.
We drove past Hawa Mahal on our little scenic detour last night, not realising what it was. Actually even when we stopped to take photos this morning, I didn’t realise what it was. It wasn’t explained to us then, but at least I knew what it was called. It was built in 1799 for the ladies of the royal household to watch what was going on in the city, such as processions and general life, so that they didn’t have to mingle with the people.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

From there we went to Amber Fort or Amber palace. The fort is actually higher up the hill, and it’s the palace that you look around, but it’s mostly referred to as Amber Fort. Either way, it was really stunning. The steps up to the fort look more difficult than they are but the elephants make light work of it. The elephant drivers are typical drivers and a few could be seen on their mobile phones while driving the elephants! Not sure how good the conditions are that they’re kept in.

Talking and driving on the elephant

Talking and driving on the elephant

The entrance to the fort consisted of food vans, snake charmers and of course people, but would have to have been the worst I’ve encountered in terms of hawkers (at least in India). They were persistent, in your face and extremely annoying, not taking no for an answer. They were selling a great variety of things, with not much actually related to the fort.

Pigeons reach plague proportions in India (much like the hawkers)

Pigeons reach plague proportions in India (much like the hawkers)

The fort stands on the hill, an impressive structure, visible from the surrounding plains, an ever present reminder of the dynasties that flourished, but no longer exist, the concentrated opulence of a few, on display for the world to see, a reminder of times past, existing now to serve the town in tourism only.

Amber Palace from the outside

Amber Palace from the outside

It is well preserved, the walls able to tell stories dating hundreds of years. The large courtyard in the fort was once home to the hustle and bustle of markets and town life, the fort walls containing the town of Jaipur until it was moved to the plains, part of the reason being the plains were more suited to the <a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jantar_Mantar,_JaipurJantar Mantar observatory.

Jaipur

Jaipur

Mirrors decorate different parts of the palace in the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). Shining a light on the mirrors makes the ceiling twinkle like stars at night, a spectacular feature of the palace. In other areas marble wall carvings, columns and arches abound.

Mirrored Ceiling, Amber Palace

Mirrored Ceiling, Amber Palace

The golden cage was interesting. It was where the wives and harem of the king lived. 12 wives, 132 others. The 12 rooms of the wives looked on to the courtyard, but all were kept separate. There were secret passages inside the walls so that the king could walk between each and nobody could see where he was visiting. The area had hot and cold running water, latrines, wheelchair access and a special area set aside for the women to give birth. It was ahead of its time, but if I was a woman from that era, I wouldn’t want to live there: the “golden cage” nickname a clue as to how the women were treated.

Some rooms of the golden cage, Amber Palace

Some rooms of the golden cage, Amber Palace

The drive back in the tuk tuk was through some narrow crowded lanes – and for the first – and surprisingly only – time our tuk tuk was involved in a little scrape after we were nudged from behind by a bus I think. It was significantly bigger than us, but our driver jumped out and was ready to have a fight with the other driver who took great amusement at our drivers animated antics.

The old and newer... Elephant and Tuk Tuk

The old and newer… Elephant and Tuk Tuk

Lunch at the the Hotel Arya Niwas was good as usual. More on today later…

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