Jaipur lies in the usually visited triangle by both national and foreign tourists, so you might probably know this famous destination as the “Pink City”. Pink symbolized hospitality (although to me this one looks more orange-ish), so in 1876 Maharaja Ram Singh ordered to have all the buildings painted in this color for the visit of British King Edward VII (by then Prince of Wales). This earned the place its fame and now the law compels citizens to preserve this color on their houses.
The name of Jaipur comes from its founder, Maharaja Jai Singh II, who was a warrior but also an astronomer with an excellent educational background. For this reason, next to Jaipur’s city palace lies Jantar Mantar, an impressive astronomy complex with small buildings used as measurement tools where the Maharaja used to study the sky.
The palace is again a mixture of Rajasthani and Mughal arquitecture, colorful and with intricated designs, housing many halls, gardens and courts, and exhibits about clothing, weaponry, paintings and even huge metallic vases.
After our visit we go around the palace following the archway of a bazaar in search of typical Indian copper bowls. We also try some super tasty street food hoping we won’t get sick (we don’t) before entering Hawa Mahal, a historic multi-leveled building whose function was to let royal women peep the citizens below without being seen (any woman in my town would love to have this!).
For sunset viewing we need to haggle hard until finding a rickshaw that would take us the 7km away to the top of Nahargarh Fort. The monument is already closed, but there is a cafe where one can sit and have good views of the city. We barely make it in time for sunset pictures at the top (where the scenery is not that good) but we enjoy the better views on the way up. We make up for our deception with some cold drinks and return to the parking lot. There, we take Gill and Adrian, a very nice British couple who have no other means of coming down but to walk again back to Jaipur, and we distribute ourselves between the back seat and the hard but fun baggage compartment. This is travelling after all!
Outside the city center there are tons of other monuments, but we focus on the famous Amber Fort. Carlos had come here on his first visit to India 12 years ago, but back then there weren’t as many closed areas to the public as today. 12 years ago there also were elephant rides climbing the stairs to the fort as a tourist attraction, but now they seem to be gone, thankfully since we don’t support elephant riding for tourism . Unfortunately, after asking some local people we discover that today is an exception, and that touristy elephant rides are still going on some days in the fort. Damn it!
Many people are hanging out in the gardens next to the main entrance, and they all seem to stare at us as we pass by. The building is incredible, even with so many visitors. This is one of the forts we enjoy the most after Jodhpur.
Then, what looks like an innocent snap with Irene and an Indian woman becomes a photoshoot with a whole family of some 20 people; now with the sisters, now with her only, now with the men, then with him only (Can I put my hand on your shoulder?). We still don’t know why, but Indians love their pics with random tourists and Irene sure loves the interaction with them, so it is a win-win situation.
After the Amber Fort and before leaving Jaipur our rickshaw driver takes us to the monkey temple, lying on a very high hill with views of the city. Monkeys are fed by visitors with fruits sold by local vendors and are present around the beginning of the hill until the 76415374630th step upstairs (the day is so hot that the climb seems twice as hard, lol). Although the site is not that interesting, the views are nice.
We ask our driver to stop for food anywhere before taking us to the train station, so we end up in a random restaurant where they make pastries of all kinds and artisanal lassi in clay cups. Finally, we see the real lassi.
In another new rush, we run for our train to the last must see destination of our Indian wanderings before returning to Delhi. Can you guess where…?