Two pretty cool cities
In the original plan, I wasn't even going to
Jaipur. Jaipur is one point of the golden triangle, the other two
being Delhi and Agra. There is an amazing fort here, high end
hotels and even an airport to avoid the not so great roads connecting
Jaipur to Agra. When I changed my itinerary, I got two nights in
Jaipur and a day to see the sights.
My first sight was the winds palace. It was actually just down
the street from my hotel and is one of those attractions that looks
neat from the street but (my guide told me) isn't worth going into.
If the Taj Mahal is the first sight of India,
possible that the Amber Fort is second. If you come to
India for a week and do the Golden Triangle trip you are seeing three
cities - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. In Jaipur, the #1 attraction
(besides the markets) is the Amber fort. Dozens of tour buses
park in front and you can tell the money, sheparded tourists are in
abundance. That said, the Amber Fort is actually pretty good.
I walked up the back set of ramps and came to
large courtyard outside of the royal residence area. Elephants
with money tourists (it only costs 200 rupies - $5 - for the ride up)
roam from the gate to the unloading area. The Elephants are well
decorated and as my first experience seeing Elephants in India, I was
impressed. These really are magnificent animals.
We spent some time exploring the
There is a large raised area where the Raj would meet the common people
and hear their complaints. The gate seperated the bounds of the
royal family (and probably an army of servants) from the common
people. The walk in is twisty (lots of opportunities to kill
people they didn't like a lot) and then you come into the inner palace.
I was quite struck by the gardens. You are actually looking at
three different palaces - a winter, a summer and a monsoon
palace. Each has engineering tricks to make the weather more
The most impressive palace is the winter
palace. Normally this
area would be enclosed in hanging rugs and rugs would cover the
floor. Candles would light the space and the millions of mirror
would provide a star lit environment. It must have been magical.
We toured other parts of the fort. We saw the appartments
for the queens (each with secret stairways so people could move up
without being noticed) and the other palaces (water works to keep the
The tiger fort was down the ridge closer to town. It was built
durring the period of British occupation so while it still retains
Indian design, there are a number of distinctly british influences such
as the fireplace in the wall. This fort was almost empty - no
people to get in pictures.
This fort is built around 9 "households" for 9 wives. Around the
top is a an accessway so that guards (and possibly a Raj) can look into
any of the households. Being built on top of cliff, I really
wonder how water worked.
Mantar - The Astronomical Observatory
We drove back to town and then stopped at Jantar
Mantar - the Astronomical Observatory. It's a large complex of
buildings using the sun to figure out first what time it is, and
then where they are in the season.
While they are made of stone and don't include lenses,
their sheer scale makes them high precision instruments. The
several story sun dial can tell time to within minutes. A number
of other instruments (which are largely redundant) are beautiful to
look at just because of the construction quality.
The Cenotaphs were kind of a surprise for
They didn't show up big in my internet search, but they turned out to
be quite a sight. In India, if you are Raj or have the means,
after you die your body is cremated and your ashes spread in the
Ganges. That doesn't leave much to comemorate you. So while
they aren't graves, there are Cenotaphs. These opulent marbled
buildings are built for rulers and their children, often when the ruler
is still alive.
You can walk through the complex (there is no
for admission or even staff, but there is a temple next door). In
general in India, in Holy places you take off your shoes and this place
is no exception.
The detail is amazing. Touching the surface you can feel detail
that isn't obvious to the eye in day light. I was amazed.
We did a bit of shopping (I purchased some fabrics) and then I went
back to the hotel. I had room service while I watched stupid
movies on HBO. It's amazing what helps you get over the culture
shock. The next day we left by car and drove the 200km down to
Sawai Madhopur and my hotel next to Ranthambore
After my stay at the park I wanted to go for a
camel safari in the Thar
desert. I wound up overnighting in Jodhpur because there was
reasonable way I could get to Jaisalmer in one day. I stayed at a
small hotel I booked myself, arriving at midnight. The night
guard checked me in and I went to bed waiting to see what the new city
would be like.
isn't one of the big three and it doesn't take very long before
it sinks in. The traffic is a little thinner and the markets that
much less spoiled by catering to tourists only. I wound
My first Tourist destination was the fort that
skyline. I picked up a taxi at the gate of my hotel (he had the
name of the hotel on the front of the tuk tuk) and he turned into my
driver for the whole day for about 300 rupees.
We stopped at a few places on the way up (he obviously understood what
tourists want) and then told me to meet him when I got out - pay
later. A bit of trust, but it got him my business for the day.
The fort was spectacular - best on I saw on my
trip. This fort was used in war and was never conqured so it
remained in good shape. The audio program that went along was
also top notch.
Inside the fort buildings is a museum of weapons and carriers for
royalty. While it was all top notch, I was already tired of
museum tourism - I wanted something more lively.
I asked my driver to take me to
the market so I could go for a walk. Tourists being the big
money, it was no problem to find a nice internet cafe ($1 an hour)
where the owner will get you whatever snack or drink you want while you
use their computer. India being 12 hours out, the afternoon is
the worst time to try and talk to people in Vancouver, but it's not a
bad time to catch up on e-mail. E-mail (along with the movie
channel) can do wonders for dispelling culture shock.
Jodhpur's markets are well known for their spices. Rajastani food
can be quite spicy (sadly, most tourist serving establishments default
to "painfully mild") so I can imagine the spice is consumed in large
quanities. A few vendors have figured out how to make "travel"
packaging, but there was no way I was carrying food for two more weeks
I had to be up really early the next morning
to take my train to Jaisalmer
so I came back to the hotel early and retired with room service and a
movie on the TV. At this point, I really enjoyed traveling in
Tags: India(43), fort(11), market(11), architectural decoration(7), palace(7), clock tower(5)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > India > Western Rajasthan
From: John Harvey Photo > India > Western Rajasthan
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:18:35 Edit
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