Woke up in Jaipur quite early and had my first indian breakfast served to my room. Quite spicy!!! Don’t know how they can eat this for breakfast, haha.
Then for the first time my driver Mahender was staying at the same hotel, so we met up about 7.45 to drive to the city of Amber.
I noticed the first time that neither motorbikes have rear windows installed at all! I know cars and tuk tuks pull them in, but yeah… must be difficult! The horn is the law here! Haha. Another thing I’ve noticed is that nobody has GPS, not the taxis, the drivers or the tuktuks. It’s like in South America, they often stop to ask people along the way, or they call ahead to the place they are going to get directions. I wouldn’t survive without GPS anymore I think, I’m so used to always have it with me in the phone.
We drove past Jaipur, saw plenty of monkeys running around the pink walls!!
I also saw my first roadkill here in India :( I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more, you always pass by some pore dead animal in Sweden but our animals are often smaller and it’s usually on roads close to the forest. Here I’ve seen thousands of cows cross the road slowly without getting harmed, even in rough traffic. Also donkeys, sheep, elephants, camels, dogs, horses… They are just in the middle of town crossing the streets!
We got up in the hills above Jaipur, to visit Amber (Amer, apparently it’s called both). It’s about 11 km north of central Jaipur. It’s beautiful around there!
My guide told me though that the vendors up there work for the Jaipur mafia, if I understood it correctly, and since he didn’t want to get any problems with them because he is there everyday, he said that he will be quiet in front of them. I understood what he meant later, they are on to you sooo much, like trying to sell things up your face all the time, you had to be quite rude to them for them to understand!
If you get to the bottom of the hill early in the morning you can take an elephant-ride up to the fort. It was quite expensive, 1100 INR ( 15€/USD) but I think it was worth it, it was my first elephant ride and I enjoyed it. It was super tranquil and nice smooth ride, you just kept moving from one side to the other slowly, having a beautiful view over the sunrise over the Maota lake.
It’s a quite touristic thing to do though, so you have to be there early if you don’t want to stay in cue for hours. I’ve read many bad things about the elephant rides, that they treat them bad and all, but my guide told me that these elephants belongs to the “driver”, and they treat them as a part of their family. They actually have a whole elephant-village where the families with elephants live. They work, eat and sleep together. I’d love to visit that village! Along the way up there are many photographers too that takes your picture and then sell it to you (yes, I bought it, but bargained it down from 1500 rupees to 500)
Oh, another thing about elephants. They are only female elephants! There is only one male elephant in whole Jaipur, and it’s only for breeding for new elephants (haha, he must have a good life :). Earlier they had male elephants doing the rides, but they often got into fights with the other elephants, and many tourists died! So now it’s forbidden to use the male elephant for it!
Anyhow, when we came up to the entry gate of the fort, the Sun Gate, I had to little money with me, the entrance was 500 INR, I had misunderstood the guide that said that the car was going up too, but apparently it was after the visit. So the guide borrowed some money from some of his friends up there that also comes everyday, and they arranged to borrow me money. So sweet! They always help each other out here. The same earlier when I was going to tip the elephant-driver, he exchanged a 500 rupees bill to hundreds with the help from 5 other elephant drivers along the way up, haha.
Amber Fort is a massive fort-palace complex built with a mix of Muslim and Hindu architecture. It’s constructed of red sandstone and marble. It’s on 4 levels with different courtyards, palaces and gardens. It and has a lot of history, definitively worth to have a good guide there!
The fort is originally believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh, The king of Amber, during 967 CE. The structure was expanded by his descendants and successive rulers over the next 150 years, but when the population grew the Kachwahas decided to shift capital and make a new city lower on the ground were it’s easier to expand and have water and food for everyone , so that’s why Jaipur is the first planned city (1727).
The main sight within includes the Shees Mahal (“Mirror palace”), a saloon adorned with thousands of mirrors on the walls and ceiling. During winter they put up a curtain around the saloon and light up many candles, so it reflects everywhere, and they had a dance there under the sparkling lights :)
I was surprise of how complex the construction was in the fort, everything was so well planned! They had a winter house and summer house, created in different ways, for it to either get hot or cooled down.
Like the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure) – it has marble inlay work with perforations looking down, because they know that the heat goes up, so the heat will leave the inside to go out, but it will not come back. It also has a piped water supply that flows through a open channel that runs through the room, going out to the garden just cross the hall. It’s aircondition, old style!
Along this they also have a hall of public audience, private audience, a jacuzzi, a part where all the Maharajans 12 wives lived in – they had different apartments, all with own entrances from the corridor so that the Maharajan could visit them without the other wife knowing of it. They have their own system for taking up water from the lake, and also they have this nice kind of closed balcony with honey comb windows, and just beside that there was so many beehives!!
After the Amber tour we went back to Jaipur to drop Gaurau of (my guide). I forgot to tell you in the last entry, but he does yoga every morning at 4am in front of the water palace! Then he walks around the lake for about 1 hour before starting working around 7am. So cool! Yoga is so incorporated in everybodies life here in India!!
His wife called yesterday just when the tour was about to end and asked where he was, because she was waiting for him for the afternoon tea. Haha. So sweet. Maybe that’s a custom that still remains from the British rulers? Wouldn’t surprice me :)
We said goodbye to our great guide and me and Mahender started the journey back to Delhi. I’m surprised that there are so many hotels, motels, restaurants and kiosks – everywhere! In the middle of nowhere. But there are so many Indians on the go, so I guess some people stop there to sleep and eat.
Like this place we ate at just along the high way- Sagar Ratna. It was really great food and cheap and superb service! It’s like a great road-restaurant! How many customers go there? I don’t know. I hope they get a lot!
I had a Pesarattu MLA Dosa, made with whole green gram and stuffed with nutritious upma. To that I had a lassi – delicious!! Total price about 4 €/USD. Across me I had a businessman that seemed very wealthy, he was eating with sunglasses, had like 5 different golden rings on EACH hand, expensive clothes and was talking in his Iphone 6 plus all the time.
That’s one thing that feels good here compared to South America – that I can bring my iphone here without it being weird. Almost everyone has smart phones here.
Mahender asked me what I did last night, I said I watched some TV. He asked me if I watch Discovery Channel. Yeah I do, he said “My kids watch Discovery Channel” I said “That’s good if they watch that instead of crappy tv!” he says “Yes! I say: No movies, no cartoon, only discovery channel! They can watch for it for 1 hour only, and my sons loves it” . Oh! I’m gonna miss Mahender :)
We arrived around 17 to Delhi and I checked in at my hostel, Stops Hostel. Great hostel! Quite much security, had metal detectors, tv cameras everywhere, security gards. They have their own bar, a biljard hall, a outside terrace with ping pong, a quiet room area, they arrange tours on different days of the week, they had 3 dogs :) And the staff was so friendly and helpful!!
After fixing my stuff I was hungry and asked for recommendations for a restaurant. They had one a few hundred of meters from our hostel, a nice vegetarian indian restaurant. On my way there I had to step out in the traffic because the whole pavement (that has roof) was filled with people sleeping under. Hurts my heart.
Punjabi Khana, the restaurant, was great! I had some Dal (Lentils) and Garlic Naan bread. Next to me there was a big big indian family, about 15 people, from babies to grandmothers. It was lovely to watch them. The restaurant was packed with indian families this Friday night. :)
Then I got back to the hostel and tried to sleep, but one of my roomies (I was in a 4-dormitory) was snoring soooo loud! The rest of us 3 woke up plenty of times and knocked on the guy and threw pillows on him, but he wouldn’t stop. Luckily he left 4 am in the morning. Haha.