Day 10 & 11 & 12 - Jaipur
Shot of the day- The King, flying a kite
Jaipur is full of history and connections leading back to the times of British rule. A specific area of the city gained the name the “Pink City” in 1853 when the city was welcoming the British monarchy Prince Albert for a visit. In his honor the entire main area of Jaipur was painted pink. A colour achieved by mixing powdered red sandstone into the paint. The only area of the pink city that was not painted pink, was the King’s palace which was painted yellow, to ensure it stood out. In this area of the city, no building could be taller than 5 stories since the king’s residence was 7 stories and no building could be higher than him. Jaipur seemed to me to be cleaner and more modern than any Indian city we visited to date.
Our first stop was to the Amber Fort, its name also comes from its colour. A huge, imposing and beautiful fort built up on the hilltop and surrounded by a wall reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. To reach the fort, one has three choices: 1) walk, 2) take a car, or 3) take an elephant ride - Elephant ride was the only choice for us. Paula finally got her chance to ride atop her favourite animal. The elephants are all painted in beautiful colours, and they are extremely obedient at the hand of their master drivers. Up the ramp we proceeded in a long procession with other elephants carrying tourists. Photographers stacked like paparazzi, were stationed half way up the hill, to take stake shots of the tourists who were at their mercy as they funnelled by. We really enjoyed the ride, it was first for us.
The fort itself, has its share of wonderful courtyards and residences, similar to most of the forts we had already seen in India. However, the highlight of this fort was the famous hall of mirrors. This spectacular creation was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Millions of small parabolic and flat mirrors of various sizes, inlaid into the walls and ceilings. This sight is so striking. Reflections everywhere, the ceiling seems to twinkle as you look at it from various angles. It is said that at night, the King had the room lit by candles, and produced an effect that resembled stars in the sky.
We then drove by the “Lake Palace,”, which was the summer home for the King Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and his wife. A 65 room palace on an island, which appeared to look like a building floating on water – magnificent. It was recently purchased by the Taj Hotel chain, and soon to be converted to a luxury hotel. It is spectacular. That will be one stunning hotel.
We then visited a fabric printer, whose main technique is to use an age-old ink stamping, which uses custom pattern blocks and vegetable dyes. We watched in fascination as to how they manually and painstakingly hand pressed the desired pattern of each dye onto the cotton fabric, which would then be left out in the sun to have the color “set” into the fabric. We were compelled to purchase a few items to support this traditional method of manufacturing.
In the afternoon, we visited the King’s Palace and its wonderful “Astronomical” museum. As an engineer and someone who love watches, this was truly fascinating. This King was named a “Sawai” or learned one. He was compelled to dedicate a greater part of his life to create a series of large outdoor instruments, that would allow him the ability to accurately tell time. I was astonished as to how accurate the sun based instruments were. The largest clock was accurate to 2 seconds. Other instruments, involved the measuring of the inclination of the sun, the direction of true north, telling what season it was, providing horoscope details, etc. this King was brilliant. And because I love this engineer king so much, I have adopted a new nickname – “Maharaja Sawai Ricky Singh”.
We stopped by a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu and Lakshmi. While it was fairly new temple and made of white marble, the most interesting aspect of this temple was the clothing that adorned the two deities. Their jewelled encrusted costumes were made by local people. Amazingly, these costumes were changed “everyday”, and the old ones donated to local charities
The next day, we spent a significant amount of time at the King’s palace. The current King of Rajasthan is 18 years old and was crowned King at the age of 13. He is totally Bollywood and GQ material – he’s got it all; charm, good looks, and the title “King”. We were excited to learn he was going to be attending the launch of the “kite festival” which was started by his grandfather many decades before him. As we waited for the King to arrive, we partied with the locals and they all began to fly kites, eat local dishes as prepared to meet the King. The King finally arrived and as he was getting into position to speak to the people, he climbed up the stairs and stood right beside me – pretty thrilling. The King appears to be a good man and one who supports his people and they love him.
After more touring around, our super guide Manush invited us back to meet with his family. It was wonderful meet his lovely wife, son, some of his brothers and sisters, and his aunt and uncle. We shared some special food they had prepared for the next days kite celebration. Manush and his family are truly special people, embodying the very best of hospitality of the Indian peoples. Tomorrow, it’s off to Mumbai.
- Paula dances on stage Bollywood style with traditional Indian dancers over dinner
- Paula gets interviewed by two TV stations, and Rick by one
- Met a painter who paints all his work with a brush made of a single squirrel hair, the work is so detailed
- Visit to the Wind Palace Walked through the market to see spices, flowers and all kinds equipment for your home – kink of a Home Depot for India.