Saturday, September 3, 2011

Jaipur - the pink city

We had a little change of plans and left Agra a day early to head to Jaipur. Agra was nice, but there wasn't a whole lot to see outside of the Taj. So we set off for the pink city.

We arrived in Jaipur around six and went straight for our hotel. When we walked in, there was an immediate weird vibe. We were finally taken to our room by the hotel manager, Erik Williams. There was just something about him that screamed creepy used car salesman. After they dropped off our luggage we evaluated the price and the lonely planet book to realize we were getting ripped off. Luckily there were similar hotels recommended by LP, just down the street for more than half the price. We viewed a couple and made a switch. We were pretty pleased with our decision. We ended up in a quaint little place, and they even had a Dachshund running around the courtyard. That sealed the deal for me. See you later Erik Williams!
Vishnu and our tour guide came to pick us up for the day. Kate and I both find astrology pretty interesting, and noticed a place that uses Vedic astrology (moon signs, US uses sun signs) in the lonely planet. We thought it would be fun to hear our horoscope, but turns out he charges pretty high and we didn't feel it was worth it. Probably for the best!

BK, our guide, then took us to Jantar Mantar (means instrument of calculation). This was an observatory with several sun dial sculptures. This was pretty interesting, especially the sun dial sculptures, arranged for the 12 zodiac signs. All the zodiac sculptures in sight of your own are said to make good partners for you. So, for Kelley and I - the Sagittarius twins - Leos, Scorpios, Virgos, and Libras would all make good partners.

After that we ventured into city palace. BK definitely had great pride for his city and the places he took us. He was very eager to show us everything, even if it wasn't something we weren't to keen on seeing - armory/weaponry. He didn't wamt us to miss out on anything. He finally convinced us to enter,
and there was a pretty sweet ceiling with gems. It was funny how he kept pointing out weapons saying, "come, don't look at the weapon but see these stones in the handle."

The afternoon heat was pretty hot and we had seen a good deal, so we decided to head back to the hotel for lunch and relaxation. We did make one stop at a gem wholesaler first. They showed us how they cut and polish the stones, which was pretty cool to see. Then we drove back through the old city, also known as the pink city, a cute little town. We kept passing this beautiful building when we drove through, called Hawa Mahal. It was a pink sandstone, honeycombed building with stain glassed windows. I managed to get a few good pictures from the car. The more we drove through Jaipur, the more I grew to like the city.

In the evening, Vishnu picked us up and we drove up this curvy, steepish hill to Nahargarh, a fort that overlooks the city. I sat up front for this adventure, and quickly wished I hadn't with my fear of heights. Vishnu was doing a great job driving, but I was more concerned about other drivers coming down the windy road, especially after witnessing the crazy driving in India. With sweaty palms, we made it up safe and sound. We sat at the top, enjoying some beers and snacks, and taking in the awesome views. We invited Vishnu to join us, and it was a lot of fun hanging out, even if there was a bit of a language barrier. We really grew to like Vishnu, and he also was very protective of us everywhere we went. Couldn't have asked for better company.

Day 2 in Jaipur, we packed our bags up to go back to Delhi with a stop at the Amber Fort first. We rode elephants up to the top, and explored the fort on our own this time. My favorite thing at the fort, other than the elephant ride, was the Jai Mandir (hall of victory). It's this hall with intricate mirror designs in the ceiling and walls. Beautiful! We wandered a bit more and then ventured back to meet Vishnu. Of course as we were leaving there was a street performer with a cobra. By this point in the trip, Kelley and Kate were getting good at helping me avoid the sight of them. Chills just thinking about it.

And then back to Delhi we went.

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