Jaipur – Rajasthan’s Pink Panther
Retina tickling pink is traditionally Rajasthan‘s colour of hospitality. To the Rajputs this symbolic colour is so much important that their capital’s Old Town once got a Barbie-like coat of paint. Jaipur is like a panther on the jump: graceful, but full of energy that is waiting to get released. It is the buzzing and bustling home of more than 2 million people as well as university city, industrial town and a shining light for all things called culture. Maharaja Jai Singh II. formed Jaipur and built impressive monuments like the Palace of the Winds, the Palace of Water or World’s biggest solar clock; all got framed by imposing fortifications like picturesque Fort Jaigarh or massive Fort Nahargarh.
It is dry season. Having arrived Jaipur in the evening, a sudden Sturzregen made the puddles on streets as big as small lakes. Now the Tuk-Tuks look like small amphibian vehicle when crossing the water. Also the day after the sun doesn’t want to show itself, making a photographer without light feeling worse than George W. Bush without war and lies. Such days can be used for an extensive Ayurveda massage though, which is reasonably priced in Jaipur.
Also the second began shrouded in clouds, which made the photographic soul almost thinking about suicide. However, the situation changed within 20 minutes and the sky gave the sun a chance to illuminate the Amber Fort as well as the Water Palace being located along the way.
Ali starts his Tuk-Tuk and took me straight to both places. While cruising through Jaipur’s traffic I was stunned about the fact that people are stopping at red traffic lights. It’s the first time in India I am seeing this. When compared with other Indian cities Jaipur is also noticeably cleaner.
It takes no 10 minutes of sun shine and the tourist busses are already rolling towards Amber Fort like 7th Russian tank division. More and more the fortification gets flooded with people. As a special mean of public transportation an elephant can be hired to take you on its back to the fort. The animals are queuing up while taking visitors up the hill. Though, when looking into a pachyderm’s eye you see how much it is suffering. Being painted like adorned oxen, the elephants are walking up the hill and back, stoically looking to the ground as if being surrounded by blinders. It is sad to see such a proud animal being broken.
Well, Amber Fort’s rooms are not really exciting and extraordinarily furbished. Here and there you’ll witness the love of Anish and Kehala carved in stone, and if you’re way too curious, then you’ll even bump into the one or other loo. On the other hand that is exactly what is making the Amber Fort being so interesting: You can live out an illimitable curiosity. And of course you’ll run into the “graces” from the nearby village trying to charge you the equivalent of 2 Euros for a photo while following you through the whole caste complex like blue-arsed flies.
Having experienced a place like Amber Fort an unorthodox and illimitable way will remain in your mind a life long. Hence let the Indian cops use their whistle until they’re hopping mad as except an admonition nothing else is really ever happening. The castle side towards the east houses two rooms, one in the North, one other in the South, having extra-ordinarily ornamented ceilings. Many tourists don’t notice those gems when running remote controlled by their audio guide through the fortification premises.
Sitting above Amber Fort the Jaigarh Fort (also Jal Garh) is dominating scenery. On good days you can watch dozens of kilometres far; can see the Amber Fort from above, enjoy the Maharaja Garden as well as taking a closer look at the wall that is surrounding both fortifications. Merely having crossed Jaigarh’s doorstep, soldiers turn up and take you around. Of course that doesn’t happen for free. The chance to earn 50 Rupees makes the uniform becoming forgotten quite quickly.
Jaigarh Fort also houses the largest classic cannon in the world. About 100kg of black powder were needed to fire the 50kg weighting iron bullet about 35km far. Due to test purposes this 250 tons heavy beast got fired only one single time, though people got killed as the pressure was so high that faint hearted soldiers got killed.
Jai Singh‘s II. Palace is the dominating element of Jaipur’s Old Town. Due to hundreds of windows its eastern portal is also called Wind Palace. Back in the days crossing the streets was surely nothing to fear. If I only would be a cow…
Ok, on the other hand cows don’t get admitted to the observatory, the place accommodating the largest solar clock in the world. The clock is taking earth curvature into consideration; hence it is able to display the correct local time at any place in the world. With an absolute deviation of only 3 seconds per year this clock is to boot declassifying some of its digital rivals.
Feel free to spank the monkey after having got bitten at Jaipur’s Monkey Temple, which is actually a Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god Surya. Don’t make the mistake and buy some peanuts from the omnipresent boys welcoming every foreigner at the bottom of the hill. Once you feed the monkey you will never ever get rid of them. Also watch your shoes when entering the simple temple. The view over Jaipur is nice and enjoyable though.
Also my driver Ali drags me to a dealer. Having crossing the doorstep sceptically, my eyes are wide open when seeing the beauty of countless excellent carpets and Pashmina shawls of highest quality. Those colours…! The quality of the goods is amazing and with a maximum of 20 Euro per shawl (depending on colour, pattern, material) also quite affordable. The same applies to the carpet that I can call mine after having bargained for about 5 hours and having enjoyed about 4000 cups of tea; Kashmir and silk to walk on it, with an outstanding design and brilliancy.
To friends of culinary delights I am recommending the Venus Restaurant and its gorgeous Chicken Tikka Butter Masala basing on yoghurt, as well as the Rainbow Restaurant which is serving an outstanding Rice Chicken Biryani. Also the Moti Mahal Deluxe did a great job and cooked a better fish curry than you can have in West Bengal. Tea in Rajasthan gets prepared with ginger and upon your wish also with black pepper. Delicious!
Ali, thank you so much! You saved my travel and impressions of India. Being treated by you of your own accord and as a normal human but no rip-off, was chicken soup for the soul. People wanting to get to know this small reliable guy can get in touch via Email JaipurAli@hotmail.com or calling him on his mobile +91 9829 1198 76. I am rarely giving away my name, but this man definitely deserves it as he did a great job!