Thursday, April 09, 2015

Jaipur Jaunts

Our arrival into Jaipur was in the evening, so, on our short journey to the hotel, there wasn't much to see. The hotel on the other hand was beautiful. Nahargarh Haveli, like many hotels in Rajasthan is a refurbished haveli, which meant lovely paintings and beautiful furniture. Even Pickwick our resident sceptic was won over. He thought the ornate mirrors were something else and the staff were lovely and courteous.
Our hunt for dinner took us to a Restaurant called the Copper Khurchan. Lovely parathas, and sides. But what really had me smiling was this sign at the bar:
Lovely patrons they were expecting, eh?

We hired a guide with a taxi the next day to take us to various places in and around Jaipur. first off, Amer fort. Our Guide wanted to know if we'd like to go up the fort by elephant (yes, that's right, elephant), but we politely declined his offer. So up we went, by taxi. En route were some pretty interesting buildings and people.
Some, falling apart from years of neglect.

Some, as bright as a new penny!
But all of them very interesting.
As we entered the fort, we were greeted by the sight of disembarking tourists off the string of elephants.

Having gawked sufficiently at the gentle giants lumbering away with their load, we turned our focus on the fort. And boy were we impressed.
Amer fort atop the Aravalli hills

The reservoir, The planned saffron gardens in the middle and the pathway for the elephants to get it to the overhead reservoirs. Yes, they had a system for running water (hot and cold) even back then in the 18th century
 You can also see the fortification walls which run all the way upto Jaigarh fort and beyond.
Ganesh Pol - the gates to the first courtyard. The colours are made of completely natural dyes.
There are several details that are completely unique in this fort.
Sheesh Mahal. Used as a royal resting day of yore, where a few candles would provide sufficient light and heat on cold nights

Murals made of natural pigments and gold

design details of the bath houses

Lock design on the main gate

We couldn't go back to Jaipur without visiting Jaigarh fort and and Nahargarh Fort, along the same range. In fact, the Jaigarh fort is supposed to be connected to Amer fort via a secret underground passage. It also, supposedly had the world's largest cannon. Once Pickwick heard that, there was no way we could leave without visiting this fort. So off we set.
And I must say, after Amer, we were slightly disappointed. Granted, we saw 'Jaivana' - the world's largest cannon, and some spectacular views of Jaipur, but that was it. The Architecture did not impress. But I don't suppose it was ever built as a residence. It seemed to be more of a military garrison. Also, apparently, this place was a canon foundry in the ancient days due to the abundance of iron ore found in the surrounding region.

Right, Nahargarh now which was a bit further up the hill. It was also the most recent of the three forts. This was originally built as a summer retreat for the royal family. It boasts of some fabulous roof terraces. This place showed a distinct European influence in Architecture.
The windows were a lovely mix of European design and the more traditional jharokhas

The kids of course, loved waving at me out of the myriad of windows

You can see the entire city of Jaipur on a good day. 

I love this whole windows-within-window-within door thing happening throughout this palace. 

The roofscape. Unmistakably Rajasthani. 
Just completing these places took us well into the afternoon and we broke for a quick lunch - at a roadside restaurant for samosa chaat and tea. What fun!
Then it was on to the City palace and Hawa Mahal.
The City Palace is, of course far more commercial and more touristy as compared to the forts, but I'd still give it a gander. Besides, Pickwick who is currently fascinated with all things biggest-and-largest-and-remotely-warrior-like wanted to see all the weapons that they had on display.
Imagine the fascination of the kids when they spotted this snake charmer just outside the palace door. Ohh, the squealing and delighted whoops! enough the melt the hardest of hearts, and I decided to save my lectures on endangered species and animal rights for another day.
Yes, that's a cobra eyeing you. 
One thing I loved in this place - they had the most amazing doors and entryways!

I'm going to get one such door one day. One day.

And here's Pickwick's fun fact of the day: This is the largest single- piece silver artefact in the world. I do not envy the polishers.

Here's where the current Prince lives. The baby promptly wanted to go say hello. had to distract her really quickly before she carried out that threat.

yeah, probably a pretty good example of the local architecture - and you can see why its called the pink city, but for me, the most beautiful of the structures was Hawa Mahal.

Beautiful, right? Of course, meant to be for the women of the royal families to watch the festivities unseen, and that's a bit sad, but shouldn't distract from the red sandstone beauty.
Now I know this post has far too many photos, but really, would it be fair to deprive you of the architecture the beautiful Hawa Mahal? I think not. So here goes:
The now-familiar roof scape

I know. Window-and-door obsession. But still, has character, no?

The internal courtyard with the fountains. can just about spot Jantar Mantar in the distance

Apologies for the slightly skewed internal fa├žade. I apparently lean to the right ;)

Pretty stain glass
All in all, we really loved Jaipur. It seems to have that perfect mix of old world charm and modern amenities (like running hot water), and happy, cheerful people. What a lovely start to our Rajasthan journey. Well rested, and I can't thank the wonderful people at Nahargarh Haveli for that, we were all set to head on to our next stop- Udaipur*

*That might take a little time coming - I went slightly berserk with the pictures and have to wade through it all to pick out a select few for the blog.

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