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Published: April 21st 2005
Palace of the winds
This is a palace constructed especially so the women of the palace could look out on the locals. The women weren't allowed to leave the palace so this was their only view of the world.
We arrived at Jaipur train station at the ungodly hour of 5am tired and dirty. The numerous taxi and tour touts didn't make it any easier - every single one of them hassled us - so much so that I actually worked up enough courage to yell at one and tell him to get lost.
First stop was a hotel recommended by the hotel in Jaisalmer where we apparently could get a room to have a shower for a minimal price. We then headed into Jaipur to wander through the streets until afternoon.
Jaipur was a tad boring. The walls and buildings were all a musky pink which was interesting, but there wasn't much else to see in the old city itself apart from too many shopkeepers and taxi drivers. We did stop and admire a few palaces and stuff, but by now we were kind of fed up with Indian palaces.
Perhaps the coolest thing we saw in Jaipur was a real genuine snake charmer. He played his little flute and cobra would stand at attention. Unfortunately, thats about all the cobra did - he just stood up straight - didn't wiggle much at all. I kind
of wondered whether it was a fake snake.
That afternoon, we hired a taxi to drive us to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. This was a 6 hour journey, but on the way we stopped at a really beautiful old palace city called Fatehpur Sikri.
This was actually a palace built by Akbar, a great Mughal king of India. He spent heaps of money building this immense complex, but then after 12 years, decided to leave it and head back to Delhi.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Akbar was that he made his own religion up - one that fused all religions together - Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. We suspected that main reason for this was because he had 3 wives - a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian, and rather than play favourites, it was easier just to adhere to his own new religion that pleased them all.
The other cool thing was this massive Ludo board where Akbar used to play Ludo on using servant girls as the pieces. He would play against his wives, and the wife that won was the one that was graced with his company that night.
Never trust a monkey with a stick
Especially when he's wielding such a big long stick and he's only 2 meters from you.
We also managed to get scammed (we suspect) quite severely as well. Our guide told us that many people give donations of cloth to the local temple holy man and these pieces of cloth are distributed to local poor people. We thought we would be kind and give something so we agreed to buy a piece of cloth. He recommened buying a bridal cloth which was used by locals to get married in - 'this would bring much happiness because many locals cannot afford this'. So we agreed to buy one. Then he hit us with the price - 1200 Rupees ($40 AUD). Okay, normally we would have no problems donating that amount of money, but we were kind of worried because its not as if this was some kind of well known charity. However, this whole thing was done in such a way that we felt too embarassed to withdraw our donation. Then to make matters worse, they assumed that we would buy 2 cloths - one for each one of us. So there we were, forced to donate $80 to some people whom we hope weren't scam artists. Thankfully, we were able to actually take the cloth
Its a clean city
At least they've confined the rubbish to a nice tight rectangle.
and give it to the local temple directly, so we're hoping that it goes to the right place!!
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