Jaunt around Jaipur
Jaipur Travel Blog› entry 18 of 23 › view all entries
Jaipur, the "Pink City", is big, 2.5 million people, and capital of Rajasthan. It was founded by Mararajah Jai Singh only in the 18th century, and named after him. The original part, painted a reddy-ochre colour, rather than pink ( the Reddy- Ochre City doesn't quite have the same ring) was laid out in a grid pattern. The walled bazaar area with its wide avenues, is unlike any other Indian town we have seen, although it still has hundreds and hundreds of little shops. The contradictions of India are here. Outside the old town, there's the "India Shining" of high class shops, big cars, espresso coffee (we had some!) and land development. "JMD: Turning land into landmarks". "Trimurty: Think nature, think quality, think " Then there's also the cycle rickshaws, child beggars, street sleepers and shanties.
We did the city sights. The Maharaja's city palace was grand. Two high spots. In the Armoury. "Welcome" was spelt out in knives, and "Good by" (sic) in pistols. In the cafe, the waiter whispered, "There's the king" and the Maharajah in light linen suit (but no regalia) ambled through - probably checking on his profits. His family still has a private 7 story section of the palace. The city's iconic building, the Palace of the Winds, was covered in wooden scaffolding. The Health and Safety Exec would have had a field day, examining the working conditions.
We went out to Amber Fort, the home of the Kachhwaha/Jaipur maharajas before Jaipur. Elephants are sadly still used to take tourists up the steep hill - but not us. Poor things should be pensioned off to a nice forest park. If our guide was to be believed, the maharajas' only exercise was based on the Kama Sutra. The zenana was interesting, with lots of ramps, as the women, in their jewel encrusted dresses and silk slippers were pushed around in carriages by the eunuchs. Then our guide announced to us he thought we must be "medium old". His tip was reduced!
On our last day, we did some shopping. In a big upmarket bookshop (like Waterstones but a lot less stock and many more assistants) Hil was asked by an assistant if she was Maggie Smith. She told the truth.
We'd been warned by quite a few travellers about Jaipur - the touts, the hassle, the scams. Yes, it was noisier and busier than anywhere we've been except Delhi, but it was not more "difficult". We had a good visit.