Elephants and pink sandstone
Jaipur Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
We are not covering huge distances by Australian standards but the roads and drivers are so bad that 275 kms takes many, many hours. There are no driving lanes marked and the roundabout rules are confounding. Roundabouts were a legacy of the British but the rules differ dramatically. It seems that anyone wishing to get on to a roundabout has right of way over those who are already on it and it sometimes seemed that it was just better if we didn't watch the road ahead! We are seeing camels now pulling huge wooden agricultural carts though we are told that they ( the camels) don't like this new innovation. Donkeys are everywhere in carts and so are water buffalo. We knew that the cow was a sacred animal to the Hindus but are surprised that water buffalo don't fit into this category.
On the way to Jaipur we visit the city of Fatehpur Sikri which was the Mughal Empire's capital from 1571 to 1585 before it was abandoned for lack of water. The red sandstone is remarkably preserved and the carved decorations in the palace so intricate. We continue on to Peharsar and the Chandra Haveli for lunch. It is a small remote village in semi-desert with narrow streets in the sand. After a superb lunch in the cool of the haveli we are able to walk through the village and observe village life and the owner of the haveli asks us not to give the children money or gifts as they do not want to teach them to beg.
Jaipur is up in the mountains and the city has the perfect terrain for defence, plus walls were built to enhance the natural crags. The walls and houses were built of the sandstone which is pink hence Jaipur is known as the Pink City. In the late afternoon we arrive at our beautiful hotel Shahpura House where we are greeted in the first courtyard with a garland of french marigolds, a bindi (blessing mark) is dabbed on our foreheads and we receive a glass of juice. The rooms are just massive and shout of the grandeur of the 1950's. There is a swimming pool and we are left to our own devices for dinner.
Another day in paradise and we visit the Old City and the City Palace. First we head to the Pink Fort and are taken up the mountain by elephants! Tourist touts call for our attention and take photos telling us to remember their names ( Remember me, I am Ali!) and they will have our photos ready for us when we come down.
Again it is 40oC and we are reminded about the vendors.
Over the road at Jantar Mantar is the observatory built by Jah Singh in 1728. It is so hot that I can barely walk out in the heat to look at the world's largest sun dial, the 12 separate structures that align the signs of the zodiac.
Next stop is at a carpet shop where Mike ( our oldest person at 73 years from Devon) buys a beautiful red carpet to be shipped home. We had learned our lesson in Morroco and expressed no interest whatsoever in the carpets lest we be hounded across Jaipur. Most of us really wanted to "karee darri" (go shopping) at the colourful shops we saw from the bus but Atul was very reluctant to let us go as he told us that when past tourists went to them they were ripped off, bought shoddy goods that fell apart, shrunk, faded etc.
Dinner was at a restaurant where a group of dancers and musicians entertained us. The food was very good but again quite pricey. Another night in the wonderful hotel!