Visit to the Pink City of Jaipur

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February 8th 2018
Published: February 9th 2018
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First full day in India and we enjoyed it immensely.

Woke to blue sky and sunshine which is always an excellent way to start the day.

Having decided it was too far to walk to the old Pink City area of Jaipur, we booked one of the taxis outside the hotel. Still totally unsure as to whether they belong to the hotel or not.

Once we set off it was quite clear that we will not be walking far from the hotel. The roads are bedlam, that's the best word I can find to describe them.
We've visited Vietnam where 6 or even 8 abreast scooters and mopeds at every traffic junction are a normal sight.

Here, it's not just motorised 2- wheels, it's also white taxis, multi-coloured and multi-sized tuk-tuks, buffalo carts, horse carts, bicycle 'trucks', rickshaws, hand-pulled carts, filthy buses, tractors pulling water bowsers, a cow or two, multiple dogs, monkeys, goats, boar and not forgetting the odd camel and of course policemen waving ineffectual sticks in the air and pedestrians hanging about in the road or even worse, trying to get across to the other side. Not seen any fatalities yet but give it time.

So, you name it, it's on the streets in Jaipur and it is indeed bedlam.

The Pink City is the original city area and is walled. There are lots of gateways in. We went in through narrow lanes, only wide enough for the taxi but astonishingly made it to the central area unscathed though slightly harder of hearing than when we left. There is only one way to drive in Jaipur it seems and that is to shut your eyes, breath in to make the vehicle smaller thus allowing maybe 1 inch all round then honk on the horn if you are about to move or if the car / cars in front do not move, or if the cars to the side move towards you, then put car in motion and go for it. I use the word car lightly, just as likely to be a 90-year old gent on a push bike with a sack on his back or a young lad carrying a car bonnet or even a 2 seater tuk-tuk with 12 occupants.

Our taxi driver took us to the car park where we would find him when ready in 4 hours or so and we set off to explore.

Only got a few yards when we realised from the noise that something was going on just round the corner so went to find out what. This was amazing and the best introduction to a day's sightseeing we have ever had. A Hindu religious parade from a Jaipur temple to another temple 50 km away. We watched it for 20 minutes but it must have taken at least half an hour for a veritable army of ladies in traditional costumes, incredibly colourful, to march past. Surprisingly, to us, they were all carrying a water pot and a coconut on their heads. It seems coconuts are always taken as offering at Hindu temples. There must have been at least 2000 exuberantly happy ladies, all ages, sizes and shapes, many barefoot, making their way out through the gate out of the city. They were then followed by tractors and trucks and then another wave of celebrants, this time men carrying blue flags and obviously intent on enjoying themselves. What a brilliant spectacle and we were so glad we arrived when we did.

Next stop the City Palace. We were going to buy the cheaper tickets for the museum but somehow found ourselves in possession of tickets for a full, guided tour of the Palace. At 5,000 rupees that was not cheap (£50+) but it was an exceedingly good visit and there were not many others doing this tour so it was pleasantly unbusy. We collected our guide who proved to be a treasure. Excellent English, always handy for us, and a fountain of knowledge of all things Rajasthan. We discovered later that he is a published author on the history of the Jaipur Royal Family.

The City Palace is occupied by the King of Jaipur and his family and entourage. We visited several areas of the palace, all exquisitely decorated. One area was Wedgewood blue, another covered in mirrored tiles. We also had our photo taken, quite a lot. This by the Palace guards who were intent on getting the very best shots of Bob and I and have to say am delighted with most of them. Some are included for your delectation or otherwise. It soon became obvious that the budding photographer guards also required payment in the form of a tip for their photographic services. We are now endeavouring to keep wallets full of small notes !

We also visited a Royal artist and of course bought a rather lovely picture from him and an elephant for the fireplace collection from another area of the Palace. One day we will run out of elephant space.

The views from the top of the palace, across the extensive grounds, Jaipur city and beyond to the hills, which are topped with forts, are superb. Really a brilliant place to visit and worth every rupee.

After the Palace we bought tickets (200 rupee each as foreigners) to visit Jantar Mantar. A collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh II, and completed in 1734. When we considered they had been built such a long time ago with none of our modern technological aids we were amazed at the skill and incredible accuracy. They can measure time to within 20 seconds. They also made a wonderful and quite unique display and well worthy of the World Heritage accreditation.

'500' photos later it was time to return to our taxi and the hotel for a swim in the icy cold pool, a drink on the rooftop bar followed by a lovely dinner there. Laas Maas my choice for the day, a local speciality of lamb and delicious. Really getting to enjoy the Indian foods we are being introduced to.

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