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Jaipur – the Pink City

February 16, 2009

This weekend we set out on another family adventure. We went to complete the Golden Triangle. We have been to Delhi and Agra – now on to Jaipur, India.

The ride to Jaipur was easier than the ride to Agra. The roads were more like highways – although it seems everywhere we go we pass village areas with tons of interesting people. They capture my attention fully and interest me at least as much as the monuments. I am going to do a post soon about the people I have seen. They are striking and beautiful and busy with their lives.

There was a McDonalds along the way and several rest stops. Some of them have one European toilet – some do not – just remember, capris, toilet paper, diaper wipes, and Purell. There are several tolls.

Jaipur was the first planned city in India. Its construction began in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. You can tell a difference from Agra and Delhi. The streets are much wider and more organized – more perpendicular to each other and much less random – but they seemed to us much more crowded with people and animals in the street. The traffic seemed busier than Delhi’s traffic. That could simply be because the street are wider – more room surely equals more congestion.

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It is rumored (at least according to Wikipedia) that in 1853, when the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to welcome him. Most of the downtown area is still pink. The buildings carry intricate designs – look closely at them and you will find amazing details. If you aren’t interested in architecture, you can still enjoy their pinkness.

We stayed at the BellaCasa. My husband had told me about “service on service” but it is hard to understand without experiencing it. The BellaCasa was a good hotel for us – it was Western enough (although don’t believe everything you read on the menu) and we are not fancy pants – so 5 stars are certainly not necessary – or even desired. The tv got some American shows (in English – that is not always a given) which was nice for winding down at the end of the day. And there is a pool on the roof. Yippee Skippee.

Wait one minute – what’s “service on service” you want to know. Well, besides slightly annoying – it’s the staff asking you at every turn if everything is to your liking. I am not sure anything would change if you said no, but they want you to know they are interested – very interested. It’s the waiter putting my daughter’s syrup on her pancakes for her – I am sorry but – are her fingers broken? Don’t make her think that is normal. That would be no fun for me on our U.S. return. (Yes, sometimes it’s all about me.) And, really, she does not mind pouring her own syrup. She is an expert you might say. Leave her to her craft, por favor.

My children don’t have to walk anywhere, do dishes, wash clothes, take out the trash, or clean the litter. I am frankly drawing the line at them not having to add their own condiments to their own food.

We got lost in the city so we got to see quite a bit of it. At least from the car. Traffic is no less intimidating. But the sights of the city are marvelous.

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This castle/fort is privately owned. I was told that the owner is 92 and that she “is not doing well” so if you are in the market for a home away from home, you might just get a good deal.

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This is called the Palace of Winds or the Palace of Windows. It is a facade. It was built so that the women who observed very strict purdah (covering of their faces from public view) could still enjoy watching the festivals in the streets from the privacy of the palace. It is lovely. There seem to be more women in Jaipur than Delhi who still cover their entire face. Some let their eyes show, some do not. We were told that Jaipur is more old fashioned than Delhi.

And, yes, I am biting my tongue as to not comment on the sheer number of windows this palace sports. I know multiple wives were in favor here, but really, there are a lot of windows. Ouch. Still biting.

The old fashioned nature of Jaipur will probably be changing soon because there is a huge business corridor for businesses who outsource to India. Bring on the Western influences. Please let me apologize in advance for that. You might find some of our influences offensive. Others you will surely embrace. Let’s just hope that all the veils don’t drop.

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This is a statue of Ghandi walking. It did not come out too clearly because we were driving past it (for the 3rd time) but it is unmistakeably him.

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Also in Jaipur is the Jantar Mantar or House of Instruments. It is a fascinating park with 18 instruments to read the celestial bodies in the universe. An astrologer’s sanctuary if you will. This picture is of a gigantic sun dial. Here I am checking it against my watch. It was accurate. Amazing. Truly amazing.

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And then there is the matter of the snake charmer. Charming he was. I am not a fan of all things reptile – but my kids were interested and number one hubby was willing – so a charming we will go.

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The snake was not as impressed with us. Where is that Riki Tiki Tavi when you need him? Bring on the mongoose.

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My little bear loves soccer and I came upon this. Are you kidding me? I did not buy it but, oh, how I wanted to! There was no room in the car for it – otherwise you might just see it in the glen. I really am not clear who would ever buy this except for me. Maybe the owners of the store consulted the astrologers at the House of Instruments and deemed me a sucker. But maybe it was truly coincidental. We’ll never really know.

This was day one of our journey – tomorrow I will write about the Amber Fort – stay tuned.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rinku Rawat permalink
    September 17, 2010 2:07 am

    plz Send the history of jaipur and also tell me what is the reason pink city as well as jaipur.

    thanks.

  2. February 16, 2009 2:19 pm

    My lazy kid would love it there!

  3. February 16, 2009 9:22 am

    And before you get to the Amber fort, you might wanna read this…

    http://double-dolphin.blogspot.com/2009/02/cultural-rape-bollywood-style.html

  4. February 16, 2009 3:59 am

    About Hawa Mahal, the millions of windows you see on the facade are mostly fake. But you probably knew that. Please do pick up stuff made of yellow limestone which comes from Jaisalmer. It looks awesome. And if you have the time, please watch this film…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonar_Kella

    It is by Ray, my favorite director, and although pretty old, can tell you a lot about the place.

    About Gandhi, you’ll find him everywhere in India. He is not called the “father of the nation” for nothing. He’s also on our currency. Sorta our take on Ben Franklin!

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