How one can visit Jaipur in the North of India and not be delighted by the pretty pink city is beyond me. The fort nestled on the rocky mountain range, the elephants meandering down the streets and the palace resting on the lake are splendours which must be experienced when in India.
During my recent visit to India I was told on the afternoon I arrived that the next day a tour had been arranged for Jaipur. Would I like to attend? Well I’m not going to say no! So 7am the next morning 20 of the guests for the wedding we were there to attend headed off to Jaipur.
A mere 7.5 hours later we arrived. It is no easy journey and with a large bus trying to navigate the traffic out of Delhi and onto country roads, it is bound to be a lengthy trip. I would suggest spending at least one night, if not two, if you can afford the time. The best way to do the trip is actually as part of the Golden Triangle of Rajasthan, Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.
We had a lovely buffet lunch at the Trident Hotel located in the more modern part of the city. Apparently arriving this way is like coming through the back entrance and the correct way is to arrive in the old pink city via the lake. We were met here by our Tour guide Vijay (V.V.Singh, details at the bottom) who explained the wonder that is Jaipur.
As I mentioned, it is better to go through the old city first as I was expecting to be dazzled by pink everywhere and was rather let down when the city looked like any other Rajasthan city. The more modern part of the city is actually one of the fastest growing cities in India, and is expected to take over Bangalore in terms of Business within the next few years.
Jaipur is known as the pink city because in 1853, when Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted in Pink color to welcome him. Still, the neat and wide avenues, painted in pink provide a magical charm to the city. I must say, that it is more of a terracotta colour but it still stands out and maintains a lovely them throughout the city, making you feel warm and welcome. The city was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a Kachhwaha Rajput, in 1727. Jaipur is the first planned city of India and the King took great interest while designing this city of victory.
We made a quick stop at the phenomenal palace with a speedy tour through the great archways, painted buildings and intricate and elaborate gateways. I must admit that I was more interested in taking photos of the fabulous buildings at the time with the afternoon sun illuminating their colour. For this reason, I did miss a large part of the tour and have asked Vijay to send me more information about the interesting life that went on here hundreds of years ago. Most palaces in India,especially Rajasthan, have now been turned into museums, hotels and function centres to continue earning wealth for their royal families.
After fighting our way through the crowds of hawkers and sellers, we were back on the bus and driving past the incredible lake palace. Insert gasps and expression of awe here. The palace on the lake is the true Gem of the city that is famous for it’s jewels. Afternoon is also a lovely time to see it as the water is a deep blue and the building lights up with suns golden rays.
Our last stop was at the Amber Fort in Amber 11km from Jaipur which was the original capital of the Raj who founded the city. The fort is made of brilliant white marble and vibrant red sandstone giving it a striking appearance in its high place on the mountain. A jeep or elephant ride up to the top through the narrow lanes and along the rocky path is the only way to get up there. Once there, we again had our guided tour through the Incredible fort which is till in a great condition. There are rooms, museums and many viewpoints from which you can see the entire area which the fort protected. Monkeys are also present at this site so hold on to your bags!
The view from the top through the delicately designed windows and frames is breathtaking as the sun begins to set. The dessert colours are a brilliant contrast to the white and yellow buildings dotted over the hills.
Once we were finished here it was back to the old city to visit some textiles and material outlets. The cloth wasn’t particularly cheap and we had already seen some fantastic shopping in Delhi. With limited time, this was the best we were going to get. We next went to an emporium of Jaipur arts and I was tempted to buy a swinging chair worth $7000 US. The small matter of me not having that much money did not stop me planning how I would get it home, but it did somewhat hinder the purchasing process. Alas, I will have to return to Jaipur for shopping next time.
As we waited for the stragglers of the group to finish shopping we heard the sounds of a marching band. I was familiar with the musical sounds drifting in the evening air and shouted to the others ” A wedding procession is coming”. We ran to the street to find over a hundred of the grooms family dancing, singing and clapping as they walked him to meet his bride. This is traditional of Indian ceremonies as is it tradition to invite anyone they see on the street to join. Next thing I know, I’m thrust in the middle of the circle of women dancing with the many relatives of the groom. I was then asked to pose for photos and introduced to the proud grandfather who hugged me and thanked me for joining in. A typical day in India it seems, but a genuinely unique experience for us foreigners.
It was a long trip home again and we only managed to reach Delhi at 2am in the morning. Again I suggest to stay at least one night in Jaipur to truly take in the magic this city can sprinkle into your trip. Well worth it though and glad to finally have seen Jaipur after hearing so many good things over the past 5 years.
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