India, Days 34-36: Jaipur

On Tuesday we set out to see the old city of Jaipur. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and the historic capital of the Rajathani state. The old city is about 300 years old and is a (rare) example of a planned city. The streets are broad and are laid out on a regular grid. This isn’t to say that in modern times the streets aren’t jammed – they are full of the buses, cars, rickshaws, bicycles, people, cows, pigs, and occasional elephants just like any other indian city – but, the area is much easier to navigate than others that we’ve visited.

We first visited the Hawa Mahal, a palace built for the the wives and concubines of the maharajah of jaipur. The building is quite unique. from the street, it appears to be just a honey-combed facade, but in fact it is an entire building full of courtyards and many rooms filled with stained glass windows. We took a picture of sarah pretending to be a rajathani queen :)

We also visited an observatory built by the same maharajah who build the Hawa Mahal. It is full of various astronomical instruments including the worlds largest astrolabe. Our guide demonstrated how these instruments can be used to tell the exact time according to the shadow cast by the sun. I was impressed, but then i thought i saw him checking his cell phone before he declared what time it was — who knows.

Wednesday morning we slept later than we are accustomed and inertia kept us relaxing in the room and reading till around 2:30. We still aren’t 100% after our food poisoning episode, so it felt good to take it easy. In the afternoon, we visited the Jaipur city palace – home of the historical (and present) Jaipur royal family. Jaipur still maintains its royal family who seem to operate in a ceremonial fashion. The palace was striking particularly because it was so well maintained. While many of the monuments we’ve seen in India are are grand in scale and architecture, their maintenance leaves something to be desired. We figured that because the palace is still privately held (i.e. not government owned) they can keep the place much tidier. The palace featured a grand thrown room and a courtyard with colorfully decorated doorways. Our audio guide said that this courtyard is a popular location for bollywood movies…

And speaking of which, after our tour of the palace we went to our first bollywood film in India. We saw Milenge, Milenge (We will meet, we will meet). The film was entirely in Hindi, but honestly, it didn’t really matter that much. The film wasn’t particularly complex – a pretty formulaic love story: bad guy, nice girl, he changes for her and they get married – but the crowd loved it, random dance interludes in the desert and all. It was surely an experience we won’t forget.

Today, our last day in Jaipur, we visited the Amber Fort. Prior to the founding of Jaipur, the city of Amber was the capital of Rajasthan and it’s fort was the home of the Maharajah. This was another beautiful monument in Rajasthan. It’s built into the hills outside the modern city, and it’s walls crawl up the mountainside – almost great wall of china-esque. We got some elephant and camel pictures (you can ride an elephant up to the fort, but we opted not to). By the way, camels are much larger than I thought they were.

Now we are back in Jaipur and have about 6 hours to kill before our overnight train to Udaipur – our last destination in India. Exactly one week from now we’ll be on our way home (actually we’ll be in Hong Kong airport on a 12+ hour layover). We’ve had a truly wonderful and unforgettable time in India, but I know we’re both really looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

2 Responses to “India, Days 34-36: Jaipur”

  1. Matt H

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories – you should gather them with your pictures and put together a coffee table book.

  2. Dante

    thanks matt! Yeah, we were definitely planning on doing that once we are back. We have like 2k+ photos to go through, so once we’ve paired that down to something reasonable, we’ll share them as well!