We arrived off the 14283 Train with high spirits as we had arrived in the pink city -Jaipur!!
The city was painted pink to celebrate the visit of King Edward VII of the Britons in 1876. Our only hope was that after our shenanigans it would be painted red!
We bungled into our prepaid taxi and headed to our sweet shop , sorry, our hotel on the edge of town.
The Ace Hotel promised us a “Royal Stay” but that was only true if we were the King and Queen of Dirtville. Oh well you cannot win them all.
We headed around the corner and after dodging some wandering bovine (see below) we settled into the rooftop lounge of the Ozone Restaurant for some nice Thali dinner.
The next day we had the half day tour lined up. If you are ever in Jaipur, the Tourist Office on Platform 1 of the Train Station is highly recommended. There were 11 of us on the tour and we became friends with Patrick, a teacher from Seoul, Korea. We were transported around Jaipur in this old army-style truck and our first stop was the Jantar Mantar ( Observatory).
The Observatory was completely out in the open and all instruments represented a garden of bizarre sculptures and in 2010 was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After this we crossed the road and entered the City Palace originally built by Jai Singh.
The palace was quite large with an impressive array of weaponry and hall of public audience that was used to host Lord Mountbatten once. Unfortunately all photography inside is not permitted.
At that point our tour guide shouted “Mobilise” and we scurried to the van.
Our next stop was the famous Amber Fort in the hills outside Jaipur. On our way we stopped outside two other landmarks, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, and the “Government Approved” Textile shop.
The former was a magnificent pink sandstone honeycombed hive that was constructed to enable ladies of the royal household to ‘snoop’ on the goings on in the city below. I bet they gossiped as well! The latter was the usual ducking and dodging of the amazing deals to be had and although Karen tried very hard to land me in it by saying that it was I who had all the money there was to be no sale for these gentlemen today.
The Amber Fort was, to overuse the word, amazing. The views to be had from the ramparts were breathtaking and the size of the and layout of the concubines quarters left little to be imagined. The Maharaja had over 30 wives and concubines and the unique layout meant he could visit each one without the others knowing.(A bit like George Lazenby in that Health Spa run by Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
We finished the day taking in the sights of Jaipurs rooftops by starlight from the dizzying heights of the Nahargarh or Tigers Fort. (Please note this is called Tigers Fort as it was used as a hunting lodge rather than being made up of Tigers!)
Tomorrow we would head further east, but still in Rajesthan, to Jodhpur – The Blue City.
Editors note: This blog entry is very wordy but that is because when I was 11 I kissed the Blarney Stone and now I can’t help yapping on and on…