Incredible India – Jaipur – The Pink City

Jaipur – The Pink City- after our long, long trek from Delhi and a good night rest we were ready to tour the Pink City, so-called because before the visit of Prince Albert of England (the consort of Queen Victoria) current city ruler Sawai Ram Singh ordered the city to be painted in pink since that color is associated with “Welcome”. We found Jaipur a really nice place and we were happy we had three days to tour around its many beautiful forts, tombs and lively markets. The city dates back to 1721 and his founder being Jai Singh.

Jai Singh was an amazing individual; born in the city of Amber (about 15 km outside of Jaipur) he was the one that moved the city center from Amber to what is now Jaipur. Jai Singh was legendary for his ability in astronomy and mathematics; while in Jaipur we visited Jantar Matar – an amazing open air astronomical observatory (one of five he built) that is simply amazing. We heard about Jaipur when we saw the movie – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – highly recommended and really another reason I wanted to come to India as the city looked so alive.

This post has more than the usual number of pictures mainly because I find it very difficult to narrow them down. Not every place we visited will be covered with pictures simply because there are too many. I am selecting the most amazing spots and those that will give you a feel for the city and its people (people photography being my favorite type). So take it easy-going through it and hope you enjoy them.

It is early morning and the stores are not yet open (10 AM to 8 PM), but these ladies are ready to get started with their daily purchases. Reminds me of when I was a boy in Lima, my mother would do grocery shopping just about each day. Nothing like fresh, fresh food and those days buying your groceries for the meal of that day was the best way to do it.

 

The Hawa Mahal – one of the most famous landmarks in Jaipur. It was built-in 1799 by the poet king Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies to enjoy the procession and day-to-day activities from the cool confinement of this majestic facade. It is one of the most recognizable structures in Jaipur; it resembles the crown of Lord Krishna (Sawai Pratap Singh was a great Krishna devotee). The structure is built from red sandstone a very popular building material in the area. It has 953 niches and 152 windows.

 

Wondering if these are the breakfast dishes being cleaned… you must do with what you have and this people certainly adapt to their conditions. Photo taken as we drive by on our way to Amber Fort.

 

A panoramic view of Amber Fort. Amber city was the capital of the Kachhawaha’s for six over centuries before the birth of Jaipur. This mighty fort stands atop a range of craggy hills about 11 km from Jaipur. The original fort was built-in 1558, with additions made over the next several decades.

 

It is a long walk from where cars must drop passengers to the main entrance; what to do? Duh…elephants of course! Locals are doing a great job capitalizing on tourism; good to see, but hope they reinvest some into maintaining and or refurbish these wonderful sights. Here you can see the road we took with our elephant; it took about 20 minutes to get to the main gate.

 

Elephant #24 was ours. Good ride, swaying right to left about 3 feet was not so pleasant, but a fun ride nevertheless. I felt like a maharaja, except from when the elephant we were riding on decided to blow her trunk and spray all over our feet…biggest mucus discharge ever.

 

Up we go, as you can see you are pretty high when seated on an elephant. It feels much higher than what it is, I think.

 

As we ascended we had many angles of the Maota lakes and structures dotting the fort’s front.

 

As we go in this is the view from the left. A huge court-yard to welcome the king and his guests.

 

View of Amber city from the back of Amber fort; as mentioned before it used to be the capital of the Kachhawaha’s for over six centuries. In the  back hills you see the old city walls snaking through them still intact.

 

From the main court, we see the  entrance to the Ganesh Pol or the Ganesh Gate. The weather was really nice as you can see. A bit cool in the shade, but real comfortable when bathed by sun rays. Many tourists around the fort; told they get about 1.5 million visitors per year.

 

From the top of the previous view – you can get a feel for the size of the main courtyard.

 

My wife striking a pose in front of the Ganesh Pol – the main structure in the background was the maharaja’s private palace.

 

Beautifully detailed structure with much detail and rooms inside. It has three levels and has many beautiful frescoes with royal scenes on them.

 

side note… be careful how you hold your lens when you are having your picture taken.

 

Another angle of the palace with detail of its three levels.

 

One of the many courts used for public audiences.

 

From one of the fort’s towers looking onto the city. Again you see portions of the old gate circling the old city.

 

Looking at the center court with beautifully decorated gardens with symmetrical shapes looking just like designs out of a Persian carpet.

 

Detail from the Diwan-I-Khas or Hall of Private Audience. Before entering this building our guide told us that it had 3 million mirrors. What? no way…when we saw it we must say it is possible.

 

The building is filled with concave mirrors arranged in beautiful and complex shapes. If you get close enough your reflection can be seen in hundreds of them due to their concave shape.

 

Our guide told us that they used to place on the floor carpets that reflected from the mirrors so depending on the carpet color the room could change it overall feel. Never seen a room with so many mirrors positioned in such beautiful patterns. Must see if in Jaipur.

 

Restorations are ongoing on the fort. As we moved to another section we saw many ladies carrying building materials into a room being restored. This one caught my eye and lens as she was also carrying a little one on her back. There is no rest for the weary.

 

Another center court used for public audiences and also to cool off during hot summer days when the temperature can reach 45 degrees C (113 degrees F).

 

On our way back to Jaipur center we stopped to see the Jal Mahal (Water Palace). The lake covers about 300 acres and the palace was used during summer months by the royals to keep cool. Tourist/visitors are not allowed in the palace, but was told that there are plans in place to open a restaurant on the top floor. As you can see in this picture, if and when done it should be an amazing spot to have an evening meal and bask in the beauty around you.

 

Meet a team of Jaipuring Langur monkeys having some fun. Not sure if they are trying to steal the bike, but they did look suspicious. You see these types of monkey all around Jaipur; especially in the markets.  We were told they work in teams to distract the produce and fruit vendors as some “borrow” some edibles.

 

Color. color and more color wherever you look. Street clothing vendor with an array of cotton offerings.

 

Yes, you do see cows here and there and everywhere.  Sometimes you see a few together and sometimes only one. In this case, this heifer is getting her dinner at a pile of rubbish that unfortunately is a common sight in every place we visited on this tour. There is a campaign to educate people not to throw plastic bags into these rubbish piles because the cows eat the bags because they smell like food only to get sick and some die as a result of being unable to digest them. I can think of other ways to prevent this from happening, but to each its own.

 

Not sure what service the couple was offering, but it had to do with metal and heat. Just awaiting for one more customer as the day comes to a close.

 

…what do you think?…how does he look?… the man on the right (barber) seems to be asking. We take much from granted for sure. This is also a common sight in China.

 

We came by a young girl working on the side of the road, unloading items from a large sack to a smaller container. I took a picture as she was working, but then she looked at me I could not resist taking this picture as her eyes look sad, maybe hoping for a break that would take her some place else. After taking the picture she continued looking at me a bit longer with the same expression and then went back to work. I debated about posting this picture, but thought I should as it shows the contrast of a young boy that may not be yet familiar or able to reason the conditions and daily trials that awaits him against this sweet beautiful girl having a clear understanding of them. I may be wrong, but she looks sad and tired; of course only God knows what is truly going through her mind.

 

 

Taking pictures from a moving car is always challenging and I find myself missing more than what I am willing to admit. In this case, I caught this guy looking at me at the same time I was about to press the trigger. Glad I did. He followed me as we went by and then turned away and continued to talk to the guy in front of him.

 

My wife on the left ready to haggle for some scarfs and other Jaipurian originals.

 

Tight quarters and endless options as you can see.

 

Love the beard on this fine-looking gentleman selling lemons. It does seem like it has been a long day though.

 

Evening rush hour; many are taking public transportation to their homes or second jobs perhaps.

 

Waited for three days to get a picture such as this one. In the evening you see many ladies in traditional garb shopping in the market. As we looked for spices and a couple of trinkets saw this young lady and I waited until she turned towards me.

 

Tea time! it seems like anytime is tea time in India. Indians prefer milk and lots of sugar in their tea. Here we see a street vendor making a pot for some eager looking customers. No, we did not buy any here.

Next post will be the last one from our India tour. Stay tuned!

Sarah XieFebruary 26, 2013 - 11:25 AM

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