The Pink City!
I was ready to be disappointed.. the hotel was next to a Mc D.. so at least Cheeky finally would have a good meal.. (whats it with these kids and happy meals?) Finding a ride seemed to be herculean! We had to haggle with a bunch of taxi operators till we found a guy who would take us around for what seemed like a reasonable rate.. come the car we found the reason .. it was a non a/c mini van! Ouch! However we let ourselves be convinced that everything was so close together in Jaipur that the car hardly mattered! But trust me it does.. the heat was absolutely awful!
So with this rocky start, we headed off to old Jaipur.. the pink city! And now I know why Rajasthan is known to have the richest architecture in Asia if not the world. For there within the walls of the old city, Jaipur retains its ancient charm! The markets are so quaint and colorful.. the palaces are so rich in heritage and well preserved. It is hard to believe that Hawa Mahal is just a facade! Jantar Mantar with its fourteen huge geometric devices is awe inspiring. So much that despite the heat beating down on us, we stood around and found it hard to leave. Ofcourse, part of the reason was that Cheeky kept climbing up the steps of each device and calling it his royal throne!
At Birla mandir, this mom and son took pictures dressed in Rajastani clothes. The guy refused to give me soft copies, and also refused to let me take a picture. I managed to take one of Cheeky though after putting up a fight and gathering a group of onlookers! Following that we made some very bad deals in the stores just outside Birla Mandir and headed off! After the sweltering heat we decided to cool off with some shopping and that was good fun ofcourse!
The next day had us heading for the Amber fort, and although Rough guide says that Amber is not as beautiful as the City Palace or Albert Hall (with its victorian-rajput architecture, which is lovely but fails to compare to Amber), I thought Amber was the best piece of architecture I saw on this trip, perhaps next only to Taj. The gayily colored elephants carrying the hoardes of tourists and the drummers in colorful costumes only add to the charm of the place. For the rest, I will let the pictures speak for themselves!
The verdict.. even if it has been hit by mordernisation and is densely populated! The traffic and the poverty might strive to put you off, however the pink city is a charm in itself, and although the pollution adds to the sweltering heat, I would suggest you put up with it and explore this city, for it does not disappoint!