Monday, January 23, 2023

Jaipur, India, January 23, 2023

The night was pretty quiet which was unbelievable actually so I ended up sleeping well.  I had a slow morning and didn’t leave the hostel until about 11. I took a tuktuk down to the Hawa Mahal-


which was built in 1799.  It has five floors that look like a honeycomb and there are 953 windows called Jharokhad.  They are decorated with intricate latticework which allowed the Royal ladies to watch every day life and festivals in the street below-


without being seen.  The latticework also allows cool air to pass through making it more pleasant in the high summer temperatures. The street view is actually the back of the palace.

I went to a rooftop restaurant across the street for brunch and the view.  I ran into a woman from Spain I met on the train yesterday.  Even India is a small place!

After, I went to a travel agency to get my train ticket for Wednesday then caught a local bus to Amer to see the Amber/Amer Fort.  The Indian passengers on the bus were quite excited that I was with them. A man immediately gave me his seat and they giggled the whole way –


Amer Fort is 11 km north of Jaipur and set high on a hill-


There are 185 steps up.  Lake Maota was its water source-



Of course there are vendors along the steps with lots of things to buy including chapatti-


I’m getting closer-


Elephant rides are also available-


Amber Fort was founded by Alan Singh of the Chanda Dynasty of Meenas who ruled in the area until the 10th century.  It’s Rajput architecture and some buildings have Mughal influences.  A Mughal is a member of the Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin who ruled in the area from the 16th to 19th centuries. It’s made of red sandstone and marble and laid out on 4 levels each with a courtyard.  The palace was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas (great ruler) and their families.

The first entrance is the Sun Gate or Suraj Pol which leads to the main courtyard where victory parades took place –



Lion Gate or Singh Pol is the second entrance.  The lion signifies strength so many front gates were called this.  It was built between 1699 - 1749.  There are frescos on the outer surface and the gate does not go straight in but turns forcing enemy chariots and wagons to have difficulty entering –


The Ganesh Gate/Pol is-



named after god Lord Ganesh who removes all obstacles in life.  It is the entry into the private palaces of the Maharajas (king and queen).  It too has many frescos-


and was built from 1621–1627. Above the gate is where the ladies of the royal family used to watch functions held in the Diwan-I-Aam which is next to it through lattice-



In the Diwan - I - Am, the king held audience to listen to petitions from the public.  It was built during the late 16th century and amalgamates two different architectural styles – Mughal and Rajput-





It’s a raised platform with 27 colonnades-

made from red sandstone and white marble-

Each is mounted with an elephant shaped capital-

and other carvings above it-

 

The third courtyard is where the private quarters of the king and his family lived. There are two buildings opposite each other separated by a Mughal garden-


On the west side are the private rooms of the king called Sukh Niwas-







The walls are decorated with marble inlay work with niches called  chînî khâna-



On the east side of the garden is Sheesh Mahal or Diwan-e-Khaas where the king would meet close and important people-



 The walls and ceiling are covered with millions of mirrors-






The magic flower is carved in the marble slabs at the base of the pillars.  It has flowers, leaves, butterflies and also a scorpion, fishtail, a hooded cobra, a lotus flower, a trunk of an elephant, a lion’s tail, and a corn cob-


Other beautiful carvings found throughout the palace-



Mosaics-




Ivory mosaics-



The Zenana Deori were the personal chambers of the queens and royal women also known as the harem. The chambers were designed so that the king could find his way to any of the rooms discreetly to avoid jealousy among the women. The queen’s personal attendants also lived here –





I left through the Tripolia Gate - the third gate is around the corner-


Near to the fort-






is the Panna Meena Stepwell which is one of about 2000 stepwells found in India. It’s 200 m deep and is a water storage tank accessible by stairs. I had never seen one before and so this was very interesting for me –










It was amazing!

I walked to the main road and caught a bus back to Hawa Mahal. From there I walked to Albert Hall Museum which was built in 1887.  I didn’t go inside-





Carrying on - henna-




Tandoori chicken-


and sweets.  The one on the top left is hollow but filled with syrup.  The top right one is also very sweet and delicious-


Shops-


markets-


and altars-




Leaving north to Amer we drove through a gate-


and while walking south I passed through another-


I continued walking to Starbucks and walked through a very modern part of the city with high rise condos, hospitals, medical clinics and strip malls. The founder of Jaipur was curious and mathematical so it is one of the few cities in India on a grid. What an enjoyable difference that makes! A tuktuk driver came along who spoke really good English and he told me that he had sort of been adopted by a British couple who had come to Jaipur to teach English. He is from a very poor family and has never attended school. They took him under their wing and taught him English. He is forever grateful and sees them once a year when they come to visit. He took me to Starbucks and then waited while I had some coffee ground for the next part of my voyage. It was really cheap too and if I could have carried more I would’ve bought more because I am afraid I will run out and that would be a disaster. He gave me a ride home, I bought a couple of beer and then spent the evening resting in my room.

Indians have no awareness of anyone else and that must come from there being so many people around all the time. They play their music really loudly, they yell when they speak and it’s 10:30 pm and still noisy. I have been out to shut the door between the front desk and my hallway numerous times but I can watch them open the door to walk through it but not close it behind them. It certainly is a different culture, and that’s something else I’ve been thinking about.  What a place!  It isn’t even describable because you can see anything you can imagine on the streets - I saw a man reupholstering a couch beside the street.  I can’t think of another place except maybe Bangladesh that would be like this. I am really glad that I am experiencing this but it is hard to put into words what it is truly like.

Tomorrow I will see a few more sites!  



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