Rajasthan – the jewels of Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. In 2013 I was lucky to be invited over from Delhi by my friends Vishaal and Jiji who were working on a school theatre show in Jaipur. While they were at work in the day time, I went on tours of the main sights with Vishaal’s mum and dad.

My map of the city with all of the places below that we visited is here.

First we visited the City Palace with its stunning doorways representing the different seasons. Click on the photos to get a better view of my favourite, the peacock doorway.

Right next door is Jantar Mantar, another astronomical observatory like the one at the bottom of my road in Delhi, but in much better condition. It was one of five built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the in the early eighteenth century.

Nearby is the Hawa Mahal, another palace but this time with an unusual five-storey facade punctuated by many small windows, the purpose of which was to allow the royal ladies to watch festivities in the street below without being seen.

Then out to the country where we drove past the Jal Mahal aka ‘The Water Palace’. Four of the its five floors are submerged when the lake is full.

Then a short drive out to the country to see the beautiful Amber Fort (or Amer Fort) and its impressive walls running around the neighbouring hills. I understand it’s one of the first examples of the Islamic and Hindu architectural and decorative styles blending.

And nearby is the smaller but highly foritfied Nahargarh Fort and its monster canon.

After this we went to N Fort. Otherwise there’s not much to see here except for the brown stone walls and the ingenious canals and tanks for collecting water in the event of a siege. The best thing for me though was the view from the narrow roof of the restaurant here. You’re not really supposed to come up here but they made an exception for me and brought a plastic chair and a cold beer for me to sup while savouring the fantastic view. You can see the lake down in the bottom of the valley at Amber, and a lot of the 160km of walls running up and down the mountains. It was my first moment of complete peace and quiet since first coming to India.

We finished off the day with a visit to Galtaji, the so-called monkey temple. I say so-called because we saw plenty of cows but only four monkeys while we were there. We could have seen a lot more if we bought some peanuts to attract them but apparently they can be quite aggressive when feeding. Nuts aren’t particularly good for them anyway. Generally the place had quite a depressing atmosphere with a pervading sense of decay. On the way though we saw several wild peacocks and two wild mongooses which livened up the drive.

The next evening we drove out to the stunning Samode Palace www.samode.com an hours’ drive north of Jaipur in Tehsil Chomu.

The property is now a hotel, the kind of romantic place you’d go for your honeymoon. We had a very good Rajasthani thali in the restaurant one evening.

Unfortunately my photos of the beautifully decorated rooms didn’t come out very well due to the dim light, but I’d love to go back and see it by day, and stay there in the hotel if I could. It’s the Indian equivalent of an English country house, complete with its own village outside the gate.

And now for the food…

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