Monday, November 11, 2013

Jaipur: The Pink City

The early finish of the cricket test in Delhi meant that we got to squeeze in a trip to Jaipur after all, at the end of my 5 weeks in India. A bonus, because it was one of the places I really wanted to go - the Pink City is something to see!

We hired a van and a driver, and he took a group of us over to the remaining point of the Golden Triangle. We arrived around Amber Fort in time for the lighting show, before trailing into town to secure lodgings for the night. Up the next morning, we returned to the Fort to explore it, and take in the familiar layout.

We took a couple of jeeps up to the Fort, rather than riding the elephants up the ridiculously steep incline.

Walking through the outer gates, and up the stairs into the main courtyard, called the Jaleb Chowk, you are hit by the beauty of the yellow and pink sandstone Ganesh Gate. So much detail, intricate, and lovingly preserved. It was worth waiting for the crowds to move to get a good, clear and full view it.

Ganesh is the god who is meant to move all obstacles in life - what a stunning tribute to such a powerful Hindu legend!

One side of this courtyard featured lattice screens and archways, and gave a full view over the mountains and lakes for as far as the eye could see.

Moving through the gate to the next courtyard, the Hall of Audiences, and then again into the next one, which houses the Hall of Victory. Victory here is celebrated with mirrored mosaics, caricatures, and marble relief panels. Stunning, and so detailed, and extravagant.

The next section of the Fort was a massive complex of rooms and corridors, many floors up, like a labyrinth. Made like this so that the maharaja could visits his many wives without the others knowing.

Back into town, we then explored the City Palace, which was more courtyards and pink marble. We stumbled across a dancing, singing celebration within the first palace in the first courtyard, before we explored the many rooms from here.

The Palace is really two main courtyards, with the main one centred with the Welcome Palace, which now shows off the many royal costumes, mammoth dress shawls, and sports outfits.

But the most impressive spot of Jaipur for me was exploring the grand red sandstone facade of the Hawa Mahal. The most distinctive landmark of the city, this honeycombed hive of windows overshadows one of the busiest streets - of course it was covered in scaffolding on out day there!

This structure was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and was designed so that the women of the royal household could watch the world outside through all the little windows.

A pretty limited view of the street, but conversely a full view of the City Palace and surrounding land. Hidden away women, watching the processions below.

You enter the complex from a back gate, and through a courtyard, and work your way through tunnel after tunnel to get to the top. It's like wandering through something from a fairytale book.

We ended our hot day of intense exploring with a little interlude into a scene straight out of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, by making our way to the Rambagh Palace Hotel for a drink at the Polo Bar.

A couple of our group managed to get there early, and had a classy high tea. The rest of us arrived disheveled, hot, sweaty and loud...bloody Aussies! We delighted in the fresh smell of the place, the cleanness, and the air con!

Jaipur and all it's pink. Such a special travel day, to a really beautiful place.

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