Part 3 – Jaipur
Any trip to India is incomplete without a train experience. So once we had crossed more than 1,300 km from Kolkata to Delhi via Varanasi by air, we decided to do the second leg of our trip totally by train. First destination: Jaipur.
The capital of the desert state Rajasthan is chaotic, hectic, dirty, congested, and aggressive. And we hated it. The moment we stepped out of the train station, a hoard of touts surrounded us like lions cornering their preys. They verbally “attacked” us like sharks, coercing us to use their taxi/auto-rickshaw/hotel service. When we boldly walked away, some of them even called after us, shouting “You should trust people more”. How could we trust them when they tried to drive the long way, stopped midway, and asked for more money than previously agreed?
Jaipur is very expensive compared to Kolkata and Varanasi. Meals, hotels, auto-rickshaw, everything is twice more expensive. But not twice the quality! We paid ~$45 for a room at Lapura Palace by the Dunes, and it was the worst hotel ever. The room was smelly. The toilet and sink were so dirty, but the hotel staff refused to clean them in our absence. The blankets were torn, with holes in them. There was no pillow. And worst of the worst, there was no hot water after 5pm. After a whole morning on the train, and a tiring afternoon walking around dirty streets, deafen by traffic noise & honks, blinded by swirling dirt, choked by the awful smell coming from open urinals at every street corner, and coerced by shop owners in busy bazaars, the last thing we wanted to hear was that we could not have a hot shower. After some complaints over the phone, and then a direct inquiry after the general manager, the staff somehow agreed to turn on the hot water for us. But the shower was so pathetic; we ended up washing up our hair in the sink, and filled a plastic bucket with hot water to wash up our bodies.
Luckily, a new dawn brought in a new day, a new experience, and a whole new wonder by the name of Amer Fort. Situated ~11km away from Jaipur, the formidable fort is a maze of gates, courtyards, colonnades, stairs, corridors, latticed windows, doors and stairways. Many of its walls are covered in beautiful frescoes, while the Mirror Palace with its thousands of mirror mosaics and colored glasses glittered like a jewel box. But what we loved the most about Amer Fort is neither its architecture nor its decoration, but its … pigeons. There were literally thousands of them. We arrived at ~10am, when not many tourists were around. The pigeons were happily eating in the front courtyard. When we gave them a run, hundreds of spread wings lifted up and fluttered like butterflies. Magical moments!
When you buy a train ticket in India, you have to give out details of your name, age, sex, contact numbers and address. And when you get to the station, this is what you get. All passengers’ names and seat numbers, including yours of course, are printed on long sheets of paper and stuck on the platform ^_^
Jaipur train station
An autorickshaw with a sticker of elephant God Ganesha and two other Gods
The old city of Jaipur is dubbed ‘the pink city’ as all houses are painted in this color (actually it’s more like orange than pink)
A snack stall
The most famous landmark in Jaipur – Palace of the Wind
Somewhere near Palace of the Wind
Jaipur at night
On the way to Amer Fort
Oh yeah baby
The magnificent Amer Fort
Lys – free as a bird
View from a pavilion at the foot of Amer Fort
A snake charmer, not so charming though. He demanded money from anyone taking a photo of this sleepy cobra. I just ignored him, and kept walking.
You can walk up to the Fort, or take an elephant ride
The beautiful frescoed Suraj Pole or Sun Gate
The lock of Suraj Pole (Sun Gate)
Colonnades mounted by elephant shared capitals in the second courtyard
The Mirror Palace in the third courtyard
The central courtyard of the Palace of Man Singh I
Red Pink – a beautiful shop with delightful decorations and lighting