River Princess, Jodhpur, Jaipur

Jaipur Travel Blog

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  On the way out from , I decided to take a last minute look at the River Princess.  The River Princess is a massive oil tanker that has been stuck on Candolim beach since the early 1990s.  Apparently, the company that owned the River Princess went belly-up shortly after the ship was marooned.  Supposedly, the Indian government raised the funds to remove the ship, but instead the money was somehow squandered through corrupt outlets.  Nevertheless, it was visually contradictory to see a massive, rusty old tanker marooned on this lovely, serene beach.

            That day, I flew back to Jaipur to meet up with , and the following day we went to a.k.a the ‘.’  is a really dirty city: the air quality was completely degraded by the burning of garbage and the fumes from cars and auto-rickshaws. The acrimonious stench emanating from the open sewage system added to the overall squalor.  Yet, is definitely a city with character and an extensive history.  A main focal point is the Mehrangarh which is a giant fort/palace that is embedded into rocky plateau that overlooks the city.  It took nearly three hundred years to build the fort of which the most advanced architectural method of the day was used to fortify its structure.  Behind the battlements, the displays a more delicate side with rooms inlaid with mirror, gold, and ivory.  The Mehrangarh is by far one of the most impressive landmarks I’ve seen, and, in my opinion, serves as a memento of Rajasthani opulence and power from a bygone era. 

            When you first enter the fort, you see this interesting plaque with around 15 or so hand imprints of Maharaj Man Singh’s widows.  As the story goes, after the Maharaj died, all his wives made the ultimate sacrifice of committing suicide, or sati, by throwing themselves into his funeral pyre. What devotion! Well yes, I suppose, but did the women really have any other options?  Before the reforms that resulted from ’s independence, widows (and women in general) were perceived to have no social or familial value.  Often times, widows were sent away to prison-like houses to live the rest of their lives.  Even after independence, widows struggled to gain social and political rights.  This is still very apparent in small villages where women are still married off as early as 12 years of age.  This is all in spite of the fact that one of ’s strongest leaders, Indira Ghandi, was a woman.  

            This concept ties in with the Gangaur festival that was occurring in Jodpur while Sandy and I were there. Gangaur is the women’s holiday.  Women dress to the nines and parade through town toward the temple in order to ask for (1) a good husband if she is unmarried, or (2) the longevity of her husband. Hence, even though is rapidly modernizing, there are still many traditions that are deeply imbedded in the culture, of which may continue to exist for many years to come.

            I returned to Jaipur for the third time. This time I decided to see some of the local attractions.  One day I went up to see the Amber Fort which hosts a massive palace. The palace was like a giant maze with hundreds of rooms and passageways.  I actually got lost in the palace and ended up in some dark hallway that was actually closed off to the public.  I’m not sure how I ended up there!  Then I went to the Jaigarh Fort which housed the world’s largest cannon on wheels.  The guide told me that the one time they lit the cannon, the blast was so loud that it made all the soldiers that were present deaf.  The Maharaj decided to put a longer fuse on the cannon, and in case they had to use it, the soldiers would light the fuse, make a run for it, and dive into the fort’s water supply in order to muffle the cannon’s blast.  I figured that was just a good of a strategy as any other!

            The last excursion in Jaipur was a trip to the monkey temple – well it is not actually a monkey (Hanuman) temple, but it definitely had a lot of monkeys!  There were monkeys everywhere!  There was a guy who lived there who was convinced he could speak to the monkeys – I’m still skeptical.  We arrived just in time to see some religious pilgrims bathe in the ghats. It was a great scene: people bathing in the ghats, thousands of monkeys running around, cows, dogs, and even snake charmers. What a sight to be seen!  

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photo by: oxangu2