Jaipur

Pink city
Jaipur, India

The bus this morning was at a more reasonable hour – leaving at 7.30am.

It was a fairly short (for Indian trips!) 4 hour drive to Jaipur.

The first time we’ve been along ‘motorways’ as well. At one point, we started driving along the wrong side of the road, on a dual carriageway – driving into the oncoming traffic. Apparently just to get to a service station. That was a bit scary!

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and the first place we’ve been stuck in traffic! Our hotel is in the middle of the city, but outside the old walled city.

Sadly no swimming pool this time.

After lunch, we went back out in tuk tuks into the old walled city.

Jaipur is known as the ‘pink city’ due to the colour the buildings have been painted. I thought it was more a terracotta colour though.

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The roads through the market were so busy! Small ‘pink’ shops lining the roads and market stalls sprawled out around them. We went up onto a roof top to look out over the buildings. It was pretty – the white minarets of a nearby mosque poking out from all the ‘pink’ buildings and the tuktuks/bikes zooming around beneath us. I’m not sure how they don’t crash all the time!

The Raj Mandir cinema is the oldest in Rajasthan and is famous all over India. When it was built it was really ornate inside – it still is quite fancy (but rather like a standard west end cinema in London). It costs about £2 for a ticket and only one film is shown, on repeat, all day. I was disappointed at the range of snacks, no sweet popcorn, no sweets or icecream. Just salty popcorn and samosas!

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We were there for the 3pm screening of Ek thi Daayan. A Bollywood film. They don’t do western films here!

I was expecting a few hours of pretty outfits and Indian dancing. But no. It was a horror film! All about witches and the boy who released them and had to kill them. I spent most of the time with my eyes closed. Not what I had expected! And there was even an interval half way through. The whole thing lasted about 3 hours, so by the time we left it was 6pm.

The shops all around the cinema were rather western – Sony, Panasonic, Adidas. Nothing very exciting! Although there was a McDonald’s….selling masala burgers!

We went to a lassi shop – they served them in one-use terracotta pots here. Bit of a waste. Tasted good though!

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Then dinner time. This time quite a fancy restaurant – apparently one of the oldest in Jaipur and the food was so good! I had stuffed potatoes in a red curry sauce. My favourite so far.

Saturday 27 April 2013

The Amber Fort is 13km out of Jaipur, in the town of Amber. Originally built as a palace in 1592, it was later taken over and turned into a military fort. It was built using pale yellow and pink sand-stone with white marble.

The fort is divided into four main sections and each has its own courtyard. Some say it rivals the Taj. I’m not too sure about that!

We stopped on the road opposite the fort for some nice views across the lake with the fort on the hill.

Along here were some snake charmers – playing a funny pipe while the cobra sat in a basket infront of them. I’m not sure what is supposed to happen but the cobra didn’t move much. Apparently they have had their fangs taken out, so are not poisonous anymore.

The walk upto the fort was hot. Uphill in the morning sun, already a ridiculous 40 degrees! There were lots of elephants walking up, you could ride them but I’ve done that before. The elephants were nice looking – with paint across their faces!

The courtyards were really pretty. One had a huge ornate entrance gate, covered in frescos. The views out from the hill position back towards the surrounding hills and town was really pretty. For the other courtyards, one was terracotta colour, another was covered in glass mirrors and one was totally plain. It was a lot smaller than I expected, but so ornate.

We stopped opposite the Lake Palace (Jal Mahal) for some photos. Built in 1799 as a summer resort for the royal family, it was also used for duck hunting. You are not allowed to visit, just view from across the Man Sagar lake. It was pretty with the surrounding hills.

Next up, we went to a printing shop where the guys showed us how they print onto fabrics using different colours and stamps. Then they started to sell us fabrics – always some compulsory shopping on days out!

After lunch, we went to the Jantar Mantar. This is an observatory – the largest in India. It was built by Jai Singh in 1728 and resembles a collection of strange sculptures. In 2010 it was added to India’’s list of World Heritage Sites. From the instruments it’s possible to tell the time, which month it is, see star constellations and tell horoscopes. It’s no longer used, but has been left as an attraction. The sundial here is the largest in the world. We stopped by the City Palace which was also built by Jai Singh.

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The outer courtyard was pretty, but we didn’t have much time to see inside. The Palace of the Winds, also known as Hawa Mahal was just up the road. The front is so ornate – its like a beehive with elaborately carved comb sections. Built in 1799 it allowed the royal women to watch below the life in the city.

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Back at the hotel for a (very!) short break before heading off to a cricket match! It’s not really my kind of thing, but when in India. So at just £6 for a ticket, I’m going. The match was held at the Jaipur IPL stadium.

Getting in was a palava.

Two security checks, then a bag check – the lady took my water (apparently you are not allowed them!) and just threw it onto the floor! Then through a scanner, another security check, a ticket check, 1m later another ticket check. For gods sake!!!! Actually ridiculous.

By the time we palava-ed about through all the silly checks, it had already started. So we found our seats and had to move a few people out of the way.

The game is between the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrises Hyderabad. I don’t know a lot about cricket so had a running commentary going from all the people around.

They really get into it here – screaming and shouting, cheerleaders (white girls and not wearing a lot) and a lot of jumping up and down. The match went on for over 3 hours and the Rajasthan Royals ended up winning, which was lucky as we’re in the state of Rajasthan and the majority of people here are the Rajasthan supporters!

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Leaving was chaotically busy. We had tuktuk drivers waiting for us and no clue how we were going to find them in the crowds of people. But we (as the only white people there!) must standout a lot as they managed to find us so quickly!

After eating so much rubbish (crisps, icecream and pizza!) at the cricket, I couldn’t possibly eat any dinner. So a nice early night.

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