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Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Tiger Fort and a "spiritual" meeting

Jaipur Travel Blog

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Jal Mahal

In the morning I´m going to the GPO to send a postcard to a special person. But being in India, you need your elbows to send one. About 20 Indians are wrestling their way towards the only open counter window, behind which sits a lady who seems to be meditating instead of doing her job, that´s how slow she is. In order to get to the window you have no choice but to use your elbows, shovel your way through the crowd, shout for attention and wave some rupee notes in front of the clerk´s face. Indian people are so peaceful but one thing they have yet to learn is how to stand in line.

After the post office episode I walk to Hawa Mahal, from where I take a bus to Jal Mahal. This “water palace” is located on the middle of Man Sagar lake, just a bit north of Jaipur. I take a few pictures, then have a muffin and a latte machiato (served in an espresso cup) at the café of a petrol station.

Amber Fort in all its glory
Then I flag down a bus on the street, which takes me to Amber Fort. After leaving the lake behind, the road continues uphill and finally passes through a gate, after which the majesty of the Amber Fort is immediately revealed. Many walls line the mountain ridges, the city of Amber seems dead but at the same time retains a somewhat medieval character. There are jeeps and elefants which take the hordes of tourists up to the fort for inflated prices. And unless you really feel the need for riding an elephant, it´s easy to walk as well and only takes ten minutes. The elephants with their coloured trunks seem to be trudging up the hill in a laborious manner, their eyes having a sad look. Nobody has asked them their opinion. Once you reach the entrance, you pass through the first gate and enter a big square, where you have to pay the entrance fee of 150 Rs. On the right hand side next to the second gate is a small temple, where you have to take off your shoes and belt and leave your camera outside. Inside is a small room with bells hanging from the ceiling and an altar boy collecting donations and flower garlands. Outside there are monkeys jumping up and down the walls. Then I enter the main complex and just wander through the narrow side alleys as though in a daze. Walking through the narrow alleys with its lovable nooks and crannies is great.
tourists on elephants
Cool wind blows through holes in the walls and the light shines magically through windows and gaps. Everything has a a crumbled, battered look. When a wall is crumbling it crumbles and it should be left like that because a crumbled wall is always more beautiful than a renovated, smooth wall.

Indians love to have their picture taken with a foreigner. Sometimes you notice them trying to secretly take a picture of you, like pretending to take a picture of a wall or something but it´s obvious that you´re in the picture as well. When you notice them, they are even more happy when you allow them to take a good shot at least and in return you can take their picture as well. It´s like a digital culture exchange. Curious children and shy girls greet you with a hesitant “hi” and young men are happy for a handshake. Well, what else to say, the Amber Fort is simply beautiful and should not be missed when in Jaipur.

After having walked around the complex for a good hour, I leave Amber Fort again and from the bus stop take a rickshaw up the mountain to Jaigarh Fort, which stands above Amber Fort.

Amber Fort
From up there you have an amazing view of Jal Mahal on the lake, Amber Fort and the surrounding hills. Jaigarh Fort also seems to be the gathering place for monkeys, as they can be found here in great numbers: jumping around the walls and trees, petting their little ones and defleaing their loved ones.

People in uniforms strike up a conversation and then just start telling you the history of the place or a story about some landmark. It´s obvious they want to be your guide but what they´re telling you is not particularly interesting so it´s best to tell them you don´t need a guide and shake them off. They might say that they are not guides but in the end they´ll want money nonetheless.

After enjoying the views from Jaigarh Fort, I decide to walk the 5 kms to the Tiger Fort. After having walked for about half an hour, I hear a motorbike approaching behind me and even before they overtake me I hear them saying “gora, gora” (gora or gaura means light-skinned person and you hear this word many times when in India).

picture with some Indians
The two guys on one bike stop next to me and ask me where I was headed, then offer me a lift, so I squeeze onto the motorbike and the three of us speed towards the Tiger Fort, past the entrance where I should normally pay the entry fee (the guy saw me and shouted after me to pay the fee but my driver didn´t stop) and drops me in front of the main building. Entering the inner courtyard I´m surprised at how pretty it is. Just like at the Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort everything had a beautiful used and torn look and the colours of India come to life in the late afternoon sun. There are also some nice rooms to both sides of the courtyard and at the end of it a window with a great view of the Pink City, which isn´t all that pink after all. Inside the fort is the Durga Café, where I eat a delicious Thali and drink a lassi, before punctually climbing the fortress wall for viewing the gorgeous sunset. A great moment. Birds are chirping and racing around the air above my head. What a perfect way to end a lovely day.

“Such a feelin´s coming over me. There is wonder in most everything I see. Not a cloud in the sky. Got the sun in my eyes.

Amber Fort
And I won´t be surprised if it´s a dream.” (The Carpenters - Top of the World)

As if destiny thinks my day hasn´t been wonderful enough, it introduces me to Rajeev who is sitting on the wall next to me. He´s a diplomat who has been working in Cairo and Kabul before and is about to head to Syria for his next assignment. Rajeev looks like the Indian version of Bud Spencer, and maybe next to him I might even look like Terence Hill. One thing I knew about Rajeev immediately is that he´s a very interesting person. Next to Rajeev there are James from England and Ben from San Francisco. Rajeev offers to give us a lift down to the city. Sitting in his car, the four of us talk about books, recommending our favourite read. From Siddharta to Shantaram to Krishnamurti, on the road and into the wild, a diverse mixture of books.

Back at city level, Rajeev invites us to have dinner with him and his good friend Mohin. We all agree and meet Mohin at a roundabout.

dude, what´s over there...?
Parking one car and going all together in the other, we´re driving to a restaurant. In the car, don´t ask me how, the conversation has switched to Rajeev´s theory on how to treat a wife, quote: “You have to treat your wife like a brute. Even when you have sex with her just once a month, you have to make her cry, it must hurt her, she will love you for it and never leave you!” He then rejoices in telling a particular episode of his marriage, in which his wife, in an unprecedented and overwhelming expression of pure love, raised her long finger nails - like a tigress ready to jump at its prey - and brutally rammed them into Rajeev´s chest, scratching along his upper part of the body and thereby leaving marks behind that lets an attack by T-Rex himself come to mind. And she did all this not because she hated Rajeev or was angry with him, she did it out of love. According to Rajeev, every expression, brutal or smooth, is an expression of love. Love can have many valves through which it escapes and sometimes it shows itself in the most peculiar ways. The only thing important is that you should never hide your love and instead express it in whatever form you feel like because everything can be an embodiment of love. That´s the love of Rajeev.

Arriving at a beautiful rooftop restaurant we take a seat at a table and order food, Kingfisher Beer and a sheesha with apple-mint flavour.

...let´s have a look

James, at being 32 years old, finds himself in a state of doubt and confusion and wants to be more productive. He has been working as an English teacher in Seoul for two years. He admits he drinks too much and takes too much acid. He hasn´t had a girlfriend from the age of 21 to 29, during which time he only “fucked around” and had “like 10 or 20 one night stands”. Now, for the last two years he has been with a 40-year-old American who is a “nutter” but “fucks like a rail”, so since the sex is incredible he doesn´t leave her.

Ben, on the other hand, hasn´t fucked like a rail for at least three years, as he has been celibate due to an enviable decision to find himself first before finding a woman. “The essence of what I have taken from my years alone is this: the trick to finding a woman is first to find yourself! If we can come to know ourselves, even a little, and step away from all of these exterior projections of 'who we are,' our profile as it were, women will come from the fields and the mountains.

I can´t be bothered
They will gather under us and even worship us for a splinter of our attention. Literally, they will be attracted as if by some spiritual or magnetic pull.”

 

Ben sleeps on rooftops, and I don´t mean in rooftop restaurants or the like, I mean on bare concrete rooftops. He is hitchhiking around India, the country to which an inner calling has brought him, and when he meditated in sheer silence next to a busy road, he found Rajeev and Rajeev found us.

“Rajeev found all of us. First he found me and within moments there was a connection. Oh, how the world opens to a man with a big heart, and how I fall into it. Then in some spontaneous convergence you both came along for the ride. Surely there is no reason for any of this. Reasons happen only afterwards. The truth is we have all been blessed by our meeting and the words and the love we have shared.

inside Tiger Fort

Ben is also an aspiring and upcoming writer and with his skill of eloquent ways of expressing himself, with his verbal and written artistry, I have no doubt he will succeed in his goal. He´s only 21 years old but already managed to sometimes sweep us off our feet with his words and thoughts. I´m usually the skeptical kind of guy who is sometimes reluctant to let other people´s spiritual half-wisdom convince or transform me, but with Ben´s intelligence and wise words even I am convinced after a while that his words are true and real and indeed very special.

In the course of an evening with many drags from the sheesha and some sips of beer, the conversation becomes quite spiritual and changes topics in an irrepressible way, our united search leading it to many unknown directions. It´s a whirlwind of thoughts:

- doubting equals searching

- we are all confused

- love, what we have here is pure love

- passion

- this moment

- enlightenment (?)

- path

- killing time

- karma

- dharma (Ben: “In India there is an understanding of the sexes and their rolls.

beautiful light
This is deeply rooted in Indian society/culture/living-body-of-truth, i.e. dharma. But we know no such balance in the West. Whereas Indians find their mates through community, culture, and marriage, we westerners grope in confusion.”)

- media in America

- Nietzsche and Radiohead

- asshole syndrome (Ben: “This is where women, dissatisfied with what they are/have/etc go looking. And what do they find? What do they really want in a most primal and even animal way... a brute! And this is easy to come by, or relatively.

window to the city
This is because the brute asserts himself, puts himself out there and is violent with his desire, and there are results for a time. However, this too is not exactly what our dissatisfied woman is looking for. She is probably looking for a refuge. The truth is that beyond the asshole syndrome, women want the same thing men do: security. They want what we want but if we men can find it before them, they will not be able to resist us. This 'it' I am referring to is first and foremost the self, who we are. So, who are you? Can any set of words, pictures, status updates, etc even do justice? Obviously not, right? But is it that they grope and fail to hit the mark, the me, the self? Or is it that they actually obscure who we really are?”

- androgyny

- beeeaaauutiful

- money is the killer of society

- the way to a higher caste is the search for a life without money

- consumption

- drugs

- marijuana destroys you but helps for spiritual reasons

- head wiggling

- regret is only an illusion

- feeling is the point; not god, grace, or a belief of any kind

- Rajeev like a mighty buddha with a soft soul

- connected with everything

- the golden cup

 - Life "Life is experience, experience in relationship.

sunset
.. Now if we examine our life, our relationship with another, we shall see that it is a process of isolation. We are really not concerned with another; though we talk a great deal about it, actually we are not concerned. We are related to someone only so long as that relationship gratifies us, so long as it gives us a refuge, so long as it satisfies us. But the moment there is a disturbance in the relationship which produces discomfort in ourselves, we discard that relationship. In other words, there is relationship only so long as we are gratified. This may sound harsh, but if you really examine your life very closely you will see it is a fact; and to avoid a fact is to live in ignorance, which can never produce right relationship. If we look into our lives and observe relationship, we see it is a process of building resistance against another, a wall over which we look and observe the other; but we always retain the wall and remain behind it... So long as we live in isolation, behind a wall, there is no relationship with another..."

 

At midnight Rajeev takes us drink-driving to our respective places in Jaipur.

Ben, James, Rajeev, Mohin and me
First he drives to the bus station where James will get a bus to Delhi, then he drops me at Chameliwala Market. As a farewell, Rajeev gives me a hug for about 20 seconds that feel like an eternity. It was the best hug I ever had in my life.

 

“Within this space of alertness and non-western intelligence, there is the profound feeling of being blessed.  Always remember: YOU ARE ALIVE!

To be continued...

James1985 says:
Another awesome entry mate.
Posted on: Feb 25, 2012
Morle says:
Ich führe Tagebuch, wenn ich reise und da schreibe ich mir manchmal auch Konversationen auf, aber dass was Ben sagt, stammt auch teilweise aus einer Email von ihm :-)
Posted on: Apr 20, 2010
strangemystic says:
Interessante Begegnungen hattest Du da gehabt!
Machst Du Dir eigentlich Notizen von den Konversationen, die Ihr da habt? Ich wundere mich nur, dass Du Dir so gut an Bens Weisspruechen erinnerst.
Gruss,
D.
Posted on: Apr 20, 2010
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Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal
Amber Fort in all its glory
Amber Fort in all its glory
tourists on elephants
tourists on elephants
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
picture with some Indians
picture with some Indians
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
dude, what´s over there...?
dude, what´s over there...?
...let´s have a look
...let´s have a look
I can´t be bothered
I can´t be bothered
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
beautiful light
beautiful light
window to the city
window to the city
sunset
sunset
Ben, James, Rajeev, Mohin and me
Ben, James, Rajeev, Mohin and me
beautiful light
beautiful light
bird resting place
bird resting place
Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort
Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort
Amber Fort with a frame
Amber Fort with a frame
crumbled buildings
crumbled buildings
the stairs up to the fort
the stairs up to the fort
Amber Fort´s entrance and Jaigarh…
Amber Fort´s entrance and Jaigar…
Amber Fort entrance
Amber Fort entrance
monkey
monkey
monkey likes flowers
monkey likes flowers
the monkey likes to have a view of…
the monkey likes to have a view o…
detail
detail
view through columns
view through columns
columns at Amber Fort
columns at Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
column arches at Amber Fort
column arches at Amber Fort
view of Amber
view of Amber
part of Amber fort with Jaigarh Fo…
part of Amber fort with Jaigarh F…
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
peep holes
peep holes
detail
detail
me at Amber Fort
me at Amber Fort
walls on mountain ridges
walls on mountain ridges
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
inside Amber Fort
inside Amber Fort
mirror portray
mirror portray
detail
detail
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
detail
detail
Indian tour group
Indian tour group
me at Amber Fort
me at Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
the entrance gate
the entrance gate
Amber Fort
Amber Fort
walls on mountain ridge
walls on mountain ridge
view of lake with Jal Mahal
view of lake with Jal Mahal
the tower at Jaigarh Fort
the tower at Jaigarh Fort
Amber seen from Jaigarh Fort
Amber seen from Jaigarh Fort
inside Jaigarh Fort
inside Jaigarh Fort
beautiful tree at Jaigarh Fort
beautiful tree at Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
incredible Amber Fort
incredible Amber Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
view of walled mountain ridges
view of walled mountain ridges
Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort
inside Jaigarh Fort
inside Jaigarh Fort
view of Jal Mahal on lake
view of Jal Mahal on lake
nice windows
nice windows
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
me at Tiger Fort
me at Tiger Fort
nice window
nice window
inside Tiger Fort
inside Tiger Fort
Thali
Thali
Jaipur
Jaipur
Jaipur
photo by: oxangu2