Day Seven - Jaipur
We arrived at the Trident in the early evening the night before, to the understated and traditional Indian hotel. Upon reaching my room I opened up the balcony overlooking the garden and began the call to prayer at a nearby mosque. I don't know what it is about the call to prayer but it always gives me goosebumps, in a good way!
After another (bloody) buffet breakfast we set off on the drive to the nearby Amber Fort. Ensued another tale about battles and wine, wives and concubines and I wish I could remember an interesting point to retell right now, but palace amnesia has now taken full control.. and I bought the 'Holy Cow' book to cure this condition! Actually this Fort housed 12 wives at one point, in which they were kept separate from each other- I hadn't heard of this at other Palaces/Forts, sounds like hard work to me!
Our guide let us know the street hawkers were aggressive here, so don't look at or even say a single word to them- proved sound advice!
From the bottom of the mountain the Amber Fort is built on we could reach our destination by Jeep or Elephants owned and well cared for by the Royal family. I seriously ummed and ahhhed about this politically incorrect tourist activity since we were told about it, but was comfortable with the knowledge they were well cared for in this particular situation, and anyone I thought that might raise an eyebrow owns a domesticated animal, eats meat and probably has squashed a spider or two over time?!
The Amber Fort is a beautiful fusion of Hindu and Muslim architecture, with many areas quite plain, then others ornately decorated with silver coated onyx.
Next stop was Jantar Mantar, the largest stone observatory in the world. It was incredibly hot here and not much shelter, so I think we probably should have done that first. There were many ancient instruments there our guide walked us around and whilst I appreciated the knowledge at the time, me understanding the figures and measurements was as successful as staying away from the fresh cheese naan at lunch, not at all!
We then travelled on to the City Palace which is still operational. The Royal descendants allow tourists into areas including a weapons and Royal museum, of course for a fee. A 'Palace of the Winds' visit was again an example of the incredibly intricate skills of the artesian workers at the time but the 'purdahs' that line the palace walls were a new thing here. Purdahs are screened walls used throughout the building, looking over a royal court or even the street, ensured women could witness what was going on, but not be seen or heard!
Our tour guide then took us to a local rug factory where I got a quick chance to tie up a few strands of camel hair on a rug this time- cheaper than Delhi but still out of my price bracket! Upstairs was a tailors where my new friend Bob (the only other country agent on the trip with me) finally got the chance to get a tailor-made turban and a few shirts. This thoroughly entertained the local staff however he was left hanging by the group when one of them requested he stand majestically with a sword and traditionally dressed girl. I took one for the team, and Bob, and jumped into a sari! The local request for Bob to pose looking at me I couldn't for the life of me take seriously, thankfully the experience soon ended however the bindi peeled off faster than the embarrassment!
Dinner was hosted at the Jaipur Marriott hotel and it was nothing short of amazing, in fact the first class facilities were being enjoyed by an international cricket team currently. It was certainly an amazing hotel, but I was also happy to come back to the Trident, much more authentic and the staff are the best I have seen during my whole time in India.
The much anticipated free time at the markets is tomorrow... it's an early night for one and all!