31 Oct 2013
The beds were really hard so I didn’t get a good night’s sleep but the shower in the morning was lovely and warm. I went outside and sat writing my diary and watching the dawn. Breakfast was up on the rooftop, watching village life – we didn’t want to leave.
We said goodbye to the lovely staff and set off in a minibus for Jaipur. The roads in Rajasthan are so much better than we have encountered elsewhere and we reach Jaipur after 1.5hrs.
First stop is the Amber Palace and we meet our local guide for the tour. We walk up the hill, ‘walking the gauntlet’ of people trying to sell us all sorts of souvenirs. You could hire an elephant to take you up to the palace but we are told that the elephants are not treated well here so we walk up (dodging all the elephants on the way).
Before going into the palace we use a public loo and are amused to discover that it has squat toilets in an open space with just a small barrier that you can see over whilst squatting and open-fronted. After checking that no-one else actually needed it, as first one in I got to use the only fully screened toilet. Other Sue & Eke got to be more ‘intimate’ – definitely worth a good laugh and a picture (once they’d finished of course).
It is an amazing palace and we are amazed again by the engineering for heating (using hot water) and cooling, running water, privacy and generally catering for hundreds of people. It is full of secret passageways for the maharajah to reach his various concubines, for the Queen not to be seen and for the ladies to escape to different parts, including to the fort on the hill above in times of danger. There is one chief Queen in charge of all the wives but the King has the power to change this at whim. (Can’t imagine it would be a fun place to be, even with all the luxury). There is one room called the Hall of Mirrors, patterned after Versailles. Lots of glass used in the wall decorations that would reflect light and heat. For cooling they used big wet curtains hanging from the walls.
By this stage it is really hot and most of us are wilting. Martin and I both have headaches brewing. But no rest yet – we stop to photograph the Water Palace built in the middle of a lake – and then go to a place where we are shown how they polish gem stones and of course the shop where there is a magnificent array of precious and semiprecious stones and jewellery.
We convince Naveen to stop for lunch before visiting the textile factory and shop. After fortification everyone purchased something! It was very interesting – we were shown the handcrafted wooden stamps and paints/dyes and how they hand stamp the printed cottons and silks. If the pattern has more than one colour, the first stamp makes the outline, the second one has all the outlines of a second colour etc. The man who does the stamping has calluses on his hand from ‘hammering’ the stamp on the fabric. Inside we are shown beautiful examples of woven and embroidered woollens, cottons and silks. E&B purchase a duvet cover for home. I purchase a stamp and a few bits and pieces.
On the way to the hotel we drive through central Jaipur and see why it is called the Pink City. All the buildings and palaces are decorated in deep pink with white trim. Jaipur has a much nicer feel than Delhi – as though they have more pride and respect for the city. Generally it appears cleaner too although there are still piles of rubbish and cows everywhere.
Our Wall Street Hotel is a business hotel and very comfortable – I head straight for a lie down and sleep as my headache is very bad.
Some go out to dinner but Sue, Eke and I opt for a snack and a chat in the hotel restaurant and an early night. Martin is very unwell and Brian isn’t hungry. We have a short evening adventure to find a pharmacy.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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