Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rajasthan 2015 - Feb 5th - Day 2: Jaipur Sight-seeing I

To read the previous post, click HERE.

We began our drive-back from Ranthambore to Jaipur the next morning. Before we left, we took a good breakfast in the dining hall of the Tiger Machan. Our driver came by at half past eight, and presently, we were on the road back to Jaipur. The road to Jaipur from Ranthambore is pretty straightforward, as it goes over NH 62, also known as Sawai Mansingh Road all the way from Jaipur for several miles.

On the way, we stopped (and not just today, but pretty much on all travelling days) at a road-side canteen to have tea and biscuits. We reached Jaipur around 12.30 p.m. Instead of proceeding to our hotel, we began Jaipur sight-seeing from today itself. The itinerary was to go to Amer and see its famous fort and palace today, but as it transpired, we realised that it would be futile to go to Amer today as the elephant rides from the base of Amer fort to its top are closed after noon each day. Hence, we decided to visit the other attractions of Jaipur today.

We began with a visit to the famous HAWA MAHAL - the five-storeyed palace of an erstwhile king that symbolises Jaipur as nothing else. This is a magnificent structure that looks like a cardboard cut-out from the outside, but expands into a huge building once you enter it from a non-specific gateway that is situated inside a niche next to a garments shop. We hired a guide, who, as it turned out, also knew French and Russian. He would regale Hannah with his French, and after we had finished, we found him entertaining a Russian female with a native Russian song.

The palace itself has five floors, each signifying something different. As you ascend upwards (there are ramps and long passages to climb up, and stairs only occasionally), the rooms become slightly smaller, until, at the very top, you see spires, domes and small rooms with look-outs for the Jaipuri royal women. We learned that Hawa Mahal was meant only for the royal females, who, in those times, had to stay behind walls, and reveal nothing of themselves. They were allowed to "look out" of small face-windows, of which there were tens on each floor. Here are some pics we took.

After this, we went to visit to the CITY PALACE. This is a private palace owned by the present king of Jaipur. He loans out the grounds to the people at large to conduct their weddings, so, when we arrived there, preparations were on for a new wedding for that evening. It was immediately apparent that this was no ordinary people's wedding, but something exclusive - for some billionaire family. The mandap was huge; floral decorations alone would have cost lakhs of rupees, since they were mostly made from imported flowers. 

Outside the main gate
This is the portion you enter once you go in
This is 1 of the two silver pots the ex-king filled with Ganga-jal and took with him to London in the 1960s
Floral decorations for an evening wedding

After this, when we entered the palace proper, there was a stiff camera fee, so we passed. Whenever we had the chance, we took pictures with our mobiles. It was a good palace, no doubt. There have been additions made to it by successive kings over the past 400 or more years. However, the present king still lives here in one of the large wings of the palace. 

To read the next instalment, click HERE

My Trip Advisor on Jaipur

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