The Pink City And Amber Fort
Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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We arrived in Jaipur and checked on some recommended tours, but decided not to book anything right away. A helpful gentleman introduced us to his taxi driver friend who gave us a ride to our hotel for a discounted rate.
On the way he pulled out his book of testimonials and offered to show us around the city. Does that sound familiar? We politely declined, paid the fare and checked in at Hotel Royal CM. It was apparently another deluxe place by Indian standards which, at that point in the trip, suited us just fine.
We haggled our way into another rickshaw, then bounced and jolted our way out to Amber Fort. Its walls looked out over lovely Maota Lake.
Inside, the mazelike structure of massive proportions had us going up and down stairs and trying to avoid dead ends with every turn. It had all the usual components, including public and private halls, Turkish baths and separate rooms for each of the maharaja's wives and concubines.
We also had wonderful views of Jaigarh Fort, with its walls rolling all along the hills in a manner resembling the Great Wall Of China. For the first time, India appeared to possess a landscape.
On the way back into town we stopped at the Jal Mahal. Seemingly floating on the surface of another small lake, its yellow hue looked wondrous as the sun went down.
Back at the hotel, hot water trouble killed another hour of our precious time. The staff were trying to deal with it and 'trying' to deal with at the same time.
The next morning we were wondering how to go about researching and booking a few more short train rides so Jason called the front desk and found out that our hotel did in fact have free wifi. Despite his urgings to eat first, Sylvia went to work immediately. Jason had three omelet sandwiches, two bananas, some poori parantha and several cups of masala chai. Sylvia ate soon after, then went upstairs exhausted and with a little tummy trouble.
Feeling underwhelmed about diving into the city's mad streets again, we did it anyway. This time we visited the Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and City Palace in one busy afternoon.
First was the Hawa Mahal, a five storey structure built in 1799 for the purpose of offering royal ladies views of all the goings-on in the courtyards and on the streets below.
The highlight for both of us was the Jantar Mantar. Begun by Jai Singh in 1728, his obsession with astronomy was evident from the multitude of devices filling the complex. Massive marble, stone and metal structures measured the angles and heights of celestial objects and told the time and date
Finally, we entered the City Palace. We started in the armoury, which housed an impressive collection of ornately decorated weapons.
Next was the Hall of Private Audience. On display were the largest silver objects in the world: two large water vessels in which holy water from the Ganges River was once carried all the way to England.
In another courtyard were the four seasons gates. Fall was well represented by the colourful Peacock Gate.
We finished with the Welcome Palace, now home to a textiles museum. A large space was occupied by the 250 kg former maharaja's ginormous outfits.
Afterward, we enjoyed a great dinner at Natraj. Sylvia had palak kofta and Jason went for the vegetable bomb curry with chapati. On the way out, Sylvia caught sight of, and couldn't resist, the sweets counter. Once again we had to show the rickshaw driver the way to our hotel.