It's raining, it's pouring ...
Jaipur! This was the home of India's legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region. Called the "pink city" for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago. (for those who are impressed: this is from the Odysseys itinerary, hahaha)
We stopped briefly at Hawa Mahal, the elaborately carved "Place of the Winds", whose pink sandstone facade allowed the ladies of the court to view the streets of the city from behind its 953 small windows - which also allowed for cooling breezes inside.
We saw the row of little windows along along the street and around the corner - a long way.
Picture from the moving bus: the milk market!
Elephant ride: yes, no, yes, no, yes ....
Probably yes. Standing in line.
Still standing in line. But it wasn't really too bad. Praveen took care of us. Otherwise a riot would have broken out. Some people just love to skip queuing.
Uuhh, James, our turn next!
Why is our elephant stopping? Oh!
You have no idea how big the bladder of an elephant is. Oh, and a dump too. Nice!
The photographers! Praveen told us about them. The pictures will be ready and offered to us when we are done visiting the fort.
Entering the court yard of the Amber Fort, built by the Kachhawah Rajputs as their capital from 1037 to 1728 and considered the pinnacle of Rajput architecture: fresco-covered portal, impressive room of mirrors, walls of jewel-encrusted marble.
The lovely court yard which was used for audiences with the Maharajahs.
The screens for the ladies' view.
It's chiseled marble
A minute ago there were more mountains. The fog (rain) is coming in again.
There is a wall surrounding the area similar to the Great Wall of China. Also the kitchen garden surrounded by an artificial lake to provide water during the dry season.
The cleaning ladies are happy to have their picture taken ... for a little baksheesh.
The wall in the distance.
Leaving trying to dodge the rain.
Elephants for the way up - jeeps for the way down.
And yes, the professional picture:
James and Christa on the Elephant.
(I took a photo of the photo)
Short bus stop photo opportunity:
Jal Mahal was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 A.D. in the midst of the Man Sagar Lake as a pleasure spot. It was built for royal duck shooting.
Haha, tried to think WHERE did I take this photo? Oh, yes, the 'optional' visit to Bhandari Jeweler's. You might have guessed by now ... I like elephants ... trunk up ... trunk down ... any way.
One of the eight historic gates. I think we walked through this one to visit the City Palace.
You can't visit India and not see a snake charmer.
We were told that the snake's poisonous teeth have been removed. Suddenly not quite as scary any more.
Lunch in The Palace Cafe.
The City Palace (now a museum) has been home to the rulers of Jaipur since the first half of the 18th century. It houses the magnificent art collections of the Maharajahs of Jaipur.
The seven story Chandra Mahal in the background is still the home of the Maharajah. He is home when 'his' flag is flying = just like the Queen of England. By the way: HE has received an invitation to the upcoming royal wedding (William and Catherine) in London.
Two giant silver urns in the Diwan-i-Khas, listed in the Guinness Book as the largest silver objects in the world, carried sacred Ganges water for Madho Singh II's visit to London in 1901.
These two gentlemen demonstrated how to tie a turban.
You can see it in the video below.
Look at the detail.
Flanking the gateway are two large elephants, each carved from a single block of marble.
The Jantar Mantar, the incredible open-air Royal Observatory (ca. 1728) housing oversized astronomical instruments. The large ramp is a sundial, accurate to 2 seconds!
Praveen explaining the sundial.
Bus stop photo opportunity: the Albert Hall. Designed by an English architect
Short stop at the foot of Moti Dungri Fort ...
... with Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple in walking distance.
Outdoor chess set at our hotel Jai Mahal Palace.
A window from our bedroom to the bathroom?
The Rajasthani Dances at the hotel.
Next day visit to Sanganer to see a handmade paper factory.
Leftover shredded cotton is being used in the pulp.
The handmade paper is either embossed ...
... or screen printed.
We saw lots of folding by hand (into gift bags)
The ladies are adding handles or labels and such.
Every truck in India is highly decorated and painted. It always says "Blow Horne" at the back. And they certainly do that.
Visit to the famous Blue Pottery.
I bought beads for dividers for my lacemaking friends.
A very pretty "ordinary" house (not royalty, not museum etc)
And a visit to Channi Carpets & Textile Store.
Blockprinting is one of the crafts in the area.
After the cloth is put into a special solution, the color changes.
Any volunteer want a print on his/her shirt?
As James volunteers (for a little print on the breast pocket) he is told that a tall guy like him needs a big print.
James is very proud of his "special" shirt.
(And it washed well once we were home)
I have a little elephant on my right capri pants leg above the knee.
The same place also made carpets.
We got all of the different stages in the process explained.
Of course there was a sales room. But it was all interesting and in good fun. Praveen always gave us the option of going straight to the hotel.
Back at the hotel James talked himself into a dip in the pool. He said that it was rather cold. Well, it is winter in India too.
Another dinner in a private home. This time we all went together. And it was rather special.
This family had been in the Maharajah's service for many years. Obviously well-to-do people. Everywhere incredible pictures, photos, mementos, pieces of art. Eye candy!
The family members chatted with us and it was very nice.
We were taken on a tour of some of the mansion. The rooms downstairs like the living room we were in first and the dining room are open to the court yard.
One of the four sons' living quarters.
This display case is see-through to the bedroom.
The meal was very Indian and very delicious.
My empty bowl.