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Published: January 26th 2012
our guide on left
You may have wondered why we alluded to the Pink City yesterday in our Blog. Briefly, Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, is known as the Pink City. Originally the buildings were grey with white borders and motifs but in honour of our Prince Albert Prince of Wales’ visit in 1883 it was ordered to be painted pink – the traditional colour of welcome.
After breakfast we met Vikram, our guide for the day who took us to the Amber Fort which we entered in a traditional manner – on an elephant. Vikram treated us to a long and detailed tour which we enjoyed.
Stopped off for lunch at a very small local restaurant – we haven’t mentioned food yet – needless to say curry prevails but there are other options and the curries don’t have to be hot. Today we tried some Rajasthan specialities – potatoes with cumin seeds; fresh green vegetables with pineapple, fruit and nuts; chick pea dumplings; corn and peas in fenugreek sauce and, of course, dal which is served with every meal. Dal is indian for lentil and could be any variety of yellow dal, black dal, red
dal, green dal and is used like gravy…. Garlic naan bread is mandatory and there is plenty of it. We also partook of fresh lime soda. The Indian food we have so far tasted here is nothing like the Indian meals often found in the UK – no orange goo up to now.
The afternoon took us to the Observatory. Not a night sky telescope as we had all imagined. Jantar Mantra – the Observatory – now a World Heritage Site - showing sixteen colossal geometric structures built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1727. Each structure performs an astronomical function, for example, the largest sundial in the world – exact to between 2 and 5 seconds depending on who you lisen to – but who’s counting…
Why in those days was such accuracy required? No trains to catch…
Because the exact time of a child’s birth must be recorded in order to calculate their horoscope which was and still is extremely important in India. For example at weddings, 18 stars out of the 32 must match or the partnership will be deemed unsuitable.
Apart from the Pink City, Jaipur is
also world renowned for its jewellry and its expertise in polishing and cutting the local stone – pink sapphire, blue sapphire, rubies, emeralds and tiger eye, turquoise, amethyst, lapis lazuli, garnet, malachite, aqua marine, and crystal – to name a few. Vikram took us to a family jewelers who showed us lots of fabulous gems included rubies (AKA Kaiser Chiefs)
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