We’ve been in the Pink City for the past couple of days, and out of the three cities we’ve been to so far, it is my favourite. It’s got enough personality, but is a manageable size for exploring. That, on top of our growing confidence to navigate India, has made our first two days in Jaipur easier than the start of our trip. The cherry on top, though, was that on our first day of exploring Jaipur, we ran into (literally) a fellow blogger who had just emailed me recently from Delhi. Crazy stuff! So we made plans to join Tracy and Mohit for the rest of their day out in Jaipur. It made the day out super enjoyable, and since we’re in Jaipur for a few days, we let go of the reservations on food/drink consumption, and ate and drank with the locals, as they say. Good times, and let’s just take a moment to let the awe sink in that two North American food blog readers somehow connected on the other side of the world and met up in India! Gotta love them Interwebs.
From outside the Hawa Mahal
Alex and I started our day at the Hawa Mahal, where the concubines lived. It is the most representative photo of Jaipur, with the very pink Wind Palace facing the street as you approach it. Inside, the building is full of windows looking out to the street – apparently, that was the only way the wives/concubines were allowed to view royal processions.
Beautiful door (represents one of the four seasons) in City Palace
From Hawa Mahal, we continued on to the lavish City Palace. The architecture was amazing, but what really took my breath away was the inside of the buildings…and we weren’t allowed photography indoors. Boo. The ceilings were incredibly ornate with lots of painted detail, and were often more exciting to look at than the actual exhibits within the buildings. I took as many pictures as I could of the architecture and the details where photography was permitted – love the intricate patterns on the doors!
One of the buildings outside of Amber Fort – not the Fort itself!
We met up with Tracy and Mohit for lunch, and spent the afternoon on the outskirts of Jaipur at the forts. First up was Amber Fort, a labyrinth in the hills just outside Jaipur. We wandered around the fort with a very useless audio guide (let’s not discuss Alex’s nerdy need for audio guides everywhere), and got lost in the building. No jokes, we took many weird and wrong turns for about five to ten minutes before finally bursting out of one of the exits with glee (relief?)…I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been instances of tourists trapped there overnight!
From Amber Fort, we went up another hill to catch the sunset over Jaipur atop Nahargarh Fort. It was a very clear view over the large city, and the funny thing is, we could also see where the pollution set in vs. where the mountain air was clean…and we could STILL hear the horns honking constantly in the city even from being so far away. Alex took a manual time lapse of the sun setting over the city – we will make a video out of that at some point when we have more access to high tech equipment ;-)
Finally, we finished the evening at Chokhi Dhani a theme park-esque attraction featuring traditional Rajasthani food, activities, etc. We wandered around the park and tried a little bit of everything – including an elephant ride!! The elephant was almost human-like in its sweet, docile demeanor, that I started feeling guilty about animal cruelty halfway through the ride. He (or she) knew how to pose when people held up cameras, too – he’d curl up his trunk and look at the photographer! We didn’t get a photo of us on the elephant, though, since I didn’t really want to hand over our camera to a stranger while we strutted off with Dumbo.
Tracy and I also sat for the mehndi artists for some designs on our arms, although somehow the colour didn’t quite stick with us. Oh well, it was free. All I have to say about those artists though, is that I wish they would help me decorate cakes! I totally envy their steadiness and ability to freehand beautiful designs.
Sitting down for a traditional Rajasthani thali (set meal)
We finished off the evening with a feast! The set meal came with five small dishes filled with goodies like lentils, cauliflower, spinach, and lots of different types of breads. The neatest thing was that the dishes were all made out of dried leaves, folded into bowl or platter shapes. On top of the dishes and breads, the attentive servers also came by with basmati rice, two different types of sweets, and a couple more scoops of different veggie dishes. If you had asked me before if I could finish a bunch of small bowls of food for dinner, I would totally have said yes and proved it. However, with Indian food, I’ve realized it’s impossible. No matter how small the little dishes are, it is absolutely impossible to finish the thali. Indian food 1, Sandy 0.
All in all, we had a great first day exploring in Jaipur with Tracy and Mohit, and Alex and I are here for quite a few days, so lots more update to come. Alex has also placed an order and gotten measured for a custom-tailored three piece suit, that, if successful, he would wear to the wedding…so stay tuned and see how that turns out! In the mean time, stop by Tracy’s blog, Moments & Musings to check out her experiences in India so far!
One last thing – shopping in Jaipur is wonderful in that the selection for everything is incredible. I can’t even begin to describe the many things I’ve seen that I would buy if I could lug it all back home with me. The downside is, I actually really suck at bargaining. Like, Alex told me I’m too nice – unheard of. So as it stands, actually purchasing these lovely items remains a dark cloud looming over my head daily. That’s a completely separate post to come later.