7 o' clock the alarm went off. After spending the night beneath a bed sheet that smelled like a frying pan, I was more then happy to jump out of bed. Breakfast at the DiggiPalace was good; there was a diverse buffet with lots of choices to fill up for a busy day. Bart liked the little sesame cookies so much I think he must have confiscated the whole hotel's stock.
Kimi picked us up at eight, after which we went to see the Hama Mahal again, which now was basking in the bright light of sunset.
Ambert Fort, Jaipur, India.
Even more impressive was the view of Amber fort, 11 km from Jaipur. This was without a doubt the main attraction in the area, and since it also carried the name of my late daughter it was something not to be missed. Amber, which means ' high' in this case, was the fort-like palace that acted as the capital before Jai Singh II built Jaipur. It was an enormous complex and the sight of the yellowish structure on the hill was something you wouldn't easily forget.
Instead of taking the elephant ride that was so popular with tourists, but which was also rumoured to come with far from optimal treatment of the animals, we had Kimi drive us uphill. We had a nice cup of instant coffee and proceeded with the audio guide that the Lonely Planet had recommended. This actually proved to be lots of fun since the narrator described the fort's buildings and courts as if it was the most thrilling story ever told.
Naubathkana musicians at Ambert Fort, Jaipur, India.
Voice-overs of movie trailers were nothing compared to this guy. Furthermore, most of the sights at the fort were acted out as persons by a female narrator. All in all a nice way to spice up a historical tour.
The Amber fort was built in a remarkable Hindu-Muslim style and had been a royal palace for the 17th and part of the 18th century. There were many impressive things to be seen, among which the mirror covered Sheesh Mahal, the lovely Diwan-e-khas garden square, the spaciousJaleb Chowk main court (where Naubatkhana musicians welcomed the visitors with large kettle drums and strangely shaped trumpets), the many magnificent ceilings and gates, the Jaignath fort on the ridge of the hill above Amber, the garden section in the lake beneath the fort, the Zenana Mahal with the quarters of the harem, and much much more than I can mention here.
After having a rest and a coke we walked downhill and met Kimi at the car park.
Jaleb Chowk square, Ambert Fort, Jaipur, India.
By now we had spent so much time in the fort that he'd become worried we might have got lost. After a quick stop to take a few pictures of the wonderfully situated Jal Mahal palace (a.k.a. the WaterPalace, since it's situated in the big lake at the edge of Jaipur), we had a short stop at a big handicraft centre. We weren't really interested in shopping and didn't want to waste too much time here, but since it got Kimi a couple of 'bonus points' with this place we agreed to a 10 minute stop. Admitted, they had some stunning statues, carpets, paintings and more, but as mentioned, we were on a holiday, not a shopping spree.
The next stop was another highlight. The Jantar Mantar, in the old city, was a most remarkable collection of huge sculptures, each of which functioned as an astronomical object to measure time, the location of the sun, predict eclipses, trackthe orbits of stars and more.
Elephants at the Amber Fort, Jaipur, India.
This place felt like stepping into a world created by Escher and the most eye-catching of all constructions that Jai Singh II built here was a 27 meter high sundial. It's hard to describe this place in words, so please refer to the pictures instead. ;-)
The final attraction of the day proved to be a lot less fascinating than the Amber fort and Jantar Mantar; the CityPalace was mostly a collection of clothing and weapons of the Maharaja's. The buildings were nice but Bart and I would have preferred the old Amber Fort above this newer residence of Jai Singh any day.
It was by now and since we hadn't had any lunch yet we asked Kimi to drive us back to the hotel.
Walls around Amber, Jaipur, India.
After all of the impressions of this day it was high time for some food and cold beers in the hotel's garden. We invited Kimi to come along for some food and a drink, which he did, although he seemed seriously uncomfortable at first. This might have been caused by the fact that Bart had zipped down the lower part of his pants, or by the fact that Kimi had his brother's wedding on his mind, which he might not be able to attend this week because he had to work. With our Sikh driver, you never knew what the real reason was. Anyway, when food arrived he warmed up and we were able to bring a smile on his face again. He even performed some fortune-telling by reading our hands, for whatever that was worth. However doubtful his stories, he was fun to have around.
Since we had decided to go see a Bollywood movie that evening, Kimi went off to buy some tickets, while Bart caught the last rays of sunshine of the day and I worked on the blog in the garden, enjoying some more Indus Pride beer.
Kimi was back at with bad news.
Diwan-e-khas, Ambert Fort, Jaipur, India.
Seemingly (you're never sure with our Sikh friend) he had waited in line for more than an hour at the cinema booth to find that the tickets had sold out. He had been offered tickets on the black market (!) but had refused to buy these. So, no cinema tonight.
Instead we opted for a restaurant that Kimi (of course) recommended. This place, Indiana, had good food and traditional Rajasthan dancing, he said. Okay, as long as they had cold beer it was as good as any a place for us. Kimi joined us for a drink and I have to admit having a lot of fun with our loosened up driver. We discussed the Singh is Kinng movie and before long Bart was nicknamed Singh is Kinng. After Kimi had left the mood stayed silly and Bart and I continued to make bizarre jokes while a raga band and female dancers provided the evening's entertainment. Quite a tourist thing really; the dancers would come and drag unsuspecting tourists from their tables to perform with them. Among them Bart, who acted out a stunning dance that was a piece of authentic folklore ... although I haven't yet figured out from what country.
This was my third fully veggie day and I still wasn't craving for meat.
Sheesh Mahal, Ambert Fort, Jaipur, India.
Today's dishes were again delicious and we even dared to try the soaked dough balls. After a ten minute stroll back to the hotel and one last drink at the restaurant it was time for bed. Tomorrow would bring us a new Indian state ... Uttar Pradesh.