March 06, 2016
After a two-day visit to Ranthambore,we made our way to our next destination; Jaipur. On day one we did a walking tour of the city. The city of Jaipur is buzzing with energy and excitement. It is the largest city and capital of the state of Rajasthan. It was nicknamed “The Pink City” because of the pink sandstones stones that were used to build it (which I believe were also enhanced to appear more pink). The color was chosen by the Maharaja a sign of hospitality to the king of Wales and Queen Victoria.
During our walking tour we checked out several stores and art galleries. Jaipur is well-known for its textiles and jewellery. Some of the shops we visited gave us demonstrations of us how silk is woven, block printing is done, and also how precious stones are set into furniture and decorative pieces. We also visited an outdoor market. The market is composed of several bazaars that are all interwoven into a crazy labyrinth where one can shop for absolutely anything! The whole market is organized into sections. My favorite was the wedding section. I saw many beautiful wedding saris and extravagant jewellery. The market corridors are very narrow and traffic is insane. Cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, goats, and rickshaws all squeeze together and somehow manage to flow smoothly. Thankfully our guide was very streetwise, and gave us a tour of all the best areas without wasting too much time, loosing us or going trough any hassles.
During the walking tour we saw the outside of the Hawa Mahal which is also known as “The Wind Palace”. Due to having limited time we did not go inside, but managed to take some great photos from across the street. Next, we headed to the City Palace which contains several buildings within. We toured several courtyards, gardens, and even an armory! For me, the best complex was the Chandra Mahal where the Hall of Mirrors is located. This hall is decorated with intricate floral designs and thousands of tiny mirrors encrusted on the walls. The second area I loved was the inner courtyard where there are four gates called the Ridhi Sidhi Pol. Each gate is adorned in a different color, with a different theme which represents the four seasons and different Hindu gods. My favorite gate was the Northeast Peacock Gate which represents autumn and is dedicated to lord Vishnu (in the form of Krishna).
Another notable area is the Diwan-I Kahas which was a private audience hall. outside of the hall are two gigantic silver vessels on display. According to our guide, these were used by the Mararaja to carry water from the Ganges on his trips to Britain. The Maharaja refused to drink or bathe in any other type of water, and therefore had these vessels brought along with him on his trips.
The last monument we visited that day was the Jantar Mantar observatory. I did not take that many pictures there because it was really hot and all of the pieces looked the same to me. At that point I was tired and hungry and my excitement was waning.
On day two of our stay we visited The Agra fort. At the fort, one of the popular attractions is riding up to the fort on an elephant. We did not, we chose to walk because we have heard about the cruel treatment of the elephants by their handlers. We did however, snap some photos of the elephant trails from the top of the fort. My favorite part of the fort were the gardens. They are beautiful and radiate so much peace and harmony. The Ganesh Pol areas on the fort was also very beautiful. Although access is restricted in some parts, I did manage to snap a quick picture next to some of the latticed screens.
The second activity of the day was a visit to an elephant farm called Elefantastic. After doing research to make sure that the farm was humane, and that all proceeds did go to the aid of elephant rescue, I booked a visit. At the farm we learned about elephant communication, feeding habits, health, and behaviour. Although the staff seemed genuinely caring for the elephants, I still felt uncomfortable when they conducted painting activities and allowed us to ride on them. I personally would not engage in any similar activity again. I did not include photos of that day here because I do not feel it was right for me to have participated. The safari in Ranthambore where we observed animals from a distance, in their natural habitat feels to me more respectful.
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