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Jaipur

As mentioned in my last post we did a Deluxe Sleeper bus from Amritsar to Jaipur and was a tad disappointed to say the least – if not terrified – about the condition of this bus we got presented with. It looked like it had been through a war zone and had a few collisions under its belt already. We’re surprised it made it all the journey there. Compared to the local buses this one was actually quite luxurious of course, but not to the standards we’re used to. Also, thinking we wanted a more relaxing trip we opted for the sleeper berths rather than seated – this turned out to be a bad mistake as we ended up in the compartment furthest back where the effects of bumps in the road are the most felt. With the roads being full of potholes we were in for a ride of a lifetime. Because of the comedy of it all we were cracking up laughing but it was very uncomfortable and we suffered a few bruises and nasty dents in our heads on the way (yes we were flung that high in the air). Needless to say we were not feeling fresh and rested by the time we arrived in Jaipur.

Jaipur is also a bit testing on the senses with loud heavy traffic, dust everywhere, people having a wee in the streets, loud and frantic with some very persistent rickshaw and auto-rickshaw (tuk tuk) drivers. It is however slightly cleaner than Amritsar (in general) and seems more modern and affluent.

[caption id="attachment_368" align="aligncenter" width="545"] New Gate, The Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_369" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Within the Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_370" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Within the Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_371" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Within the Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_372" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Within the Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_373" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_374" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_376" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jaipur.[/caption]

We decided on doing an arranged full day tour with the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) and this turned out to be a very good experience (although they could skip the two visits to their “certified” workshops/emporiums). The guide spoke quite good English and it was nice to get sites explained for once rather than having to read up on everything. Most of our fellow tourists on the bus were from other parts of India and to our relief –in a sense – we found they were also very much hassled by sellers and touts, so it’s not just us as foreigners that get hit. Our bus was some old army vehicle without windows and slightly crammed full – over-booked of course. This made us a bit sceptic in the beginning but we soon realised it was great for getting a good view of everything happening around us as we were dodging our way through the mad traffic and on the winding roads up to some of the forts in the hills outside of the city. The full day trip starts at 09:00 and is to finish at about 18:00, so it really is a fully packed day. The sights on the tour were:

Most sites explained in detail and walking around, but some literally just a view of the facade (not to worry this was explained in the program when booking, so for once not an attempt to con us off)

Some of the highlights of the tour: [caption id="attachment_375" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Laxminarayan Temple, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_377" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Snake charmers, Jaipur.[/caption]

Jantar Mantar Observatory: One of five observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh. Situated inside the Old City walls (The Pink City) and regarded the best of them all. It also features the largest sundial in the world, as well as sundials and instruments for star signs and various other astrological measurements.

[caption id="attachment_378" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jantar Mantar Observatory, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_379" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Hannah by her Taurus Starsign Sundial at Jantar Mantar Observatory, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_380" align="aligncenter" width="545"] The world's largest Sundial. Jantar Mantar Observatory, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_381" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jantar Mantar Observatory, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_382" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jantar Mantar Observatory, Jaipur.[/caption]

City Palace & Museum: A good little museum with textiles, armoury, art gallery and of course the architecture of the buildings themselves.

[caption id="attachment_383" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_384" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_385" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_386" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_387" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_388" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_389" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_390" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_391" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace and Museum, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_392" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_393" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jal Mahal, Jaipur.[/caption]

Tiger Fort & Palace: Constructed to defend Jaipur City when the Capital of Rajasthan was moved there from nearby Amber.

[caption id="attachment_394" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Nahargarh Fort & Palace (Tiger Fort), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_395" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Nahargarh Fort & Palace (Tiger Fort), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_396" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah at Nahargarh Fort & Palace (Tiger Fort), Jaipur.[/caption]

Jaigarh Fort: At Jaigarh Fort we got to see the world’s largest cannon on wheels, weighing in at an impressive 250 tonnes. It was only test-fired once with a load of 100 Kg of gunpowder and a 50 Kg cannonball. Because of the enormous bang when fired, the Maharaja decided not to use it again.

[caption id="attachment_435" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jaigarh Fort, and the world's largest wheeled cannon, Jaipur.
Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_398" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur.[/caption]

Amber Fort: An impressive fort high up on a hill above the town of Amber. We got transported up by jeep, and to save on cost we over-crammed the poor old vehicle to the extent that the driver had a fully grown man on his lap while trying to manoeuvre the car around cows, oxen, pigs, people, motorcycles, cars, carts and every other thing you could think of. All of the above and more seemed to hurl itself towards us as if they had a death-wish it’s a miracle we didn’t crash on a multiple of occasions on the ten minute drive up the hill. Amber fort has some magnificent architecture and very much a palace and focused on how the Maharaja could discreetly entertain his many wives – this seemed to be a common theme with all the palaces strangely enough.

[caption id="attachment_399" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_400" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_401" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_402" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah at Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_403" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_404" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah at Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_405" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_406" align="aligncenter" width="545"] View from Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_407" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_408" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Amber Fort & Palace, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_409" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Gujarghati, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_410" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Kanak Vrindavan Garden, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_411" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Kanak Vrindavan Garden, Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_412" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Gujarghati, Jaipur.[/caption]

Started our last day in Jaipur rather relaxed after a few beers the night before – greatly helped by a very nice British couple Jay and Charlotte we met on the roof terrace restaurant of our hotel. We asked in our hotel reception about how much we should expect to pay for a tuk-tuk to the Galta & Surya Mandir (Monkey Temple & Temple Of The Sun God) and we were told about 100 one way and 150 with the driver waiting and taking us back. The receptionist also informed us it would be better to walk a bit further away from the hotel to get a better price – this with a flick of the wrist in disgust towards the mob of drivers waiting on the road outside. We took on our armour to face the vultures outside and went out to war. Lo and behold there was no chance we could get the price down far enough just outside the hotel, so we started walking up the road not knowing whether we were heading in the right direction. We finally got far enough away from our hotel and started negotiating for a better price. After a few more failed attempts we finally found one that we can get down to the right price (or so we thought). Much mad traffic and one crash later we finally arrived at the start of our ascent, and our driver suddenly wants 550 rupees for waiting and taking us back – armour back on and swords drawn we completely refuse of course, and keep reminding him of what we agreed to before he kindly tried to kill us in the Jaipur traffic. In the end we give him a 100 Rupees and walk off. We’ve obviously been dropped at the least attractive entrance to the Monkey Temple with a small slum next to it, and dirty not healthy looking farm animals roaming around. First we go to the little Temple Of The Sun God perched on the top of the hill overlooking Jaipur. After a little break we proceed on our way down to the valley where we find the crumbling, once magnificent Monkey Temple. It’s an eerie place and of course as the name suggest have flocks of monkeys swarming around. We’re both thinking – why don’t they restore these buildings and grounds, and it could be a goldmine of a tourist attraction.

[caption id="attachment_413" align="aligncenter" width="545"] On our way up to the Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_414" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way up to the Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_415" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way up to the Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_416" align="aligncenter" width="545"] View from Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_417" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_418" align="aligncenter" width="545"] By Surya Mandir (Temple Of The Sun God), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_419" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way to Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_420" align="aligncenter" width="545"] On our way to Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_421" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_422" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_423" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_424" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_425" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_426" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Overview of Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_427" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_428" align="aligncenter" width="545"] On our way back from Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_429" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way back from Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_430" align="aligncenter" width="545"] On our way back from Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_431" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way back from Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_432" align="aligncenter" width="533"] On our way back from Galta (The Monkey Temple), Jaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_433" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Within the Pink City, Jaipur.[/caption]

On our way back to our hotel to pick up our backpacks we stop by a Lassi Walla place for a lovely Mango Lassie and something called Aloo Tikka – a fried potato cake placed in the bottom of a bowl with a very nice sauce covering it – very tasty.

[caption id="attachment_434" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Some nice street food at Lassi Walla, Jaipur.[/caption]

All the sites we’ve been to in Jaipur, with the exception of Galta (Monkey Temple) appear to be much better looked after than what we’ve seen previous on our trip. There is visible signs of restoration works being done every here and there, which is good to see after being so disappointed with the state of some sites.

We got our backpacks finally and headed off to the bus station, fearing the worst after our previous experience, but were relieved to find that this time we’d made the right choice with an “A/C Volvo Bus” as they call it. Comfy reclining seats was a big contrast to the feeling of being shook around like matches in a matchbox.

Next stop Udaipur.