05.14.2010 - 05.14.2010 110 °F
After a refreshing evening at a nice hotel with all the amenities, I am ready to see Jaipur! Hired a taxi for the day to take me to the sights. My driver was Mr. Subhash Bajra. He has been driving for 25 years and his English was very good.
We started by a morning visit to the Hawa Mahal, better known as the Palace of the Winds. It was built in 1799 and overlooks a main street bazaar. This five-story building has really tiny windows, about 10” square. That were for the royal ladies to view street life below. They were never allowed to go out and mingle with common folk. The top of the building is capped by small domes with gold plated “Christmas tree toppers”, as I call them. I met Drummond and his daughter, Sabra (from New York) while at the Hawa Mahal. They are staying at the same hotel and invited me to have dinner with them. We agreed to meet up around 6:00 pm.
The next stop was the Amber Palace located on a mountainside a few miles outside of town. Monkeys with long tails sat "chilling" by the entrance. They should have trained them to take tickets…they looked smarter than some of the staff! It takes about 15 minutes to climb to the front gates by cobblestone road. Elephants are available for hire for those willing to shell out some Rupees.
The Amber Palace is quite amazing. It’s very large and takes a few hours to cover most of the rooms. I think M.C Escher has been here before as his crazy illustrations have design elements featured at the palace. But, no upside-down stairs, sorry. A visit to India wouldn’t be complete without a snake in a basket and its charmer. I heard they remove the venomous fangs…just in case the snake has a bad day. Nonetheless, it was a good photo op.
On the second level there was a market of local artisans selling their wares. I purchased some trinkets and the seller was happy. He proceeded to tell me about the big wine amphora next to his stall. If you take it for face value, it appears he is very proud of his huge ball… Who wouldn’t be?
By the time I got out of the palace it was a blistering 108 degrees. Found my driver and we headed to the famous Jal Mahal, the palace on the lake. No visitors allowed, just a few quick snaps from the shore.
Next up, the Jaipur City Palace.