Friday, October 07, 2016

Pinoy in Rajasthan - My unforgettable visits to Jaipur and Amber

Jaipur - Amber Fort window details bwI've seen Jaipur in many movies so seeing it upclose is like seeing a movie star in person. And I was star struck.

The grandeur of Jaipur's magnificent past is like a scene of right out of a fairy tale. I think magical is the right word.

Aside from the Taj Mahal, the romanticized images of India for me are from the movies I've seen where the backdrop is Rajasthan. And that particular location is usually in Jaipur. This is the reason why Jaipur was in our itinerary while in India.

Mijo and I arranged another tour to Jaipur in advance and the same drill we did from Delhi to Agra we did going to Jaipur but taking a different direction.

The drive from Delhi to Jaipur took longer than the one from Delhi to Agra. I could tell the change in topography when we got to Jaipur. I could tell it is more arid and I could see more hills and more mountains. I also saw camels on the streets.

The first destination was Amber Fort (or Amer Fort). It is located in the city near Jaipur called Amer. I spotted the fort right away because it is located on top of a hill. It looked big from the parking lot.
Jaipur - Amber Fort

There are several ways to get to the palace from the parking lot. Via elephant rides, via a jeep ride or by walking. We met our tour guide, Mr. Singh, and then we all transferred to our jeep ride. After a short ride through a maze of streets, we got off the jeep and we walked toward a gate called Moon Gate. The tourists who opted for the elephant ride came in through the Sun gate. The yellowish color of the walls, the winding alleyways and the topography surrounding it instantly gave it the fairytale look.
Jaipur - Amber Fort entry way

Jaipur - Amber Fort alleys Jaipur - Amber Fort Gate

The surrounding hills are lined with walls. Minus the cars going up and down the streets, this picture was like a scene hundreds of years ago. Going to the walls was not part of the tour. Watch out for better views and angles of the walls from inside the Fort.
Jaipur - Amber Fort views walls houses 
Jaipur - Amber Fort walls Jaipur - Amber Fort views

After we got through the Moon Gate, we reached a courtyard. I was going to discover in this tour that the Fort has several sections and each one has a courtyard. We were told that the Fort is in the Hindu style and built by Raja Man Singh but more structures were added during the succession of rulers.
Jaipur - Amber Fort view of the gates

 Jaipur - Amber Fort Entrance stairs Jaipur - Amber Fort Entrance gate 
Jaipur - Amber Fort Entrance frame Jaipur - Amber Fort Entrance elephants   Jaipur - Amber Fort hall

Here are more views from within the walls of the Fort. The hills  and the landscape surrounding the Fort created dramatic vistas. The many gates, courtyards, winding alleys were too many one could easy get lost. I was truly glad we arranged for a tour guide.
Jaipur - Amber Fort views outside   
Jaipur - Amber Fort garden Jaipur - Amber Fort garden fountains Jaipur - Amber Fort courtyard Jaipur - Amber Fort columns   

Of course, the details are amazing. The Fort is not only huge and imposing but also the details are intricate and the designs are opulent. I love the latticed screens, wall paintings and wall mosaics. Because the weather was hot, Mijo and I lingered in the Mirror Palace where there was shade and breeze.
Jaipur - Amber Fort windows details 
Jaipur - Amber Fort Jai Mandir Jaipur - Amber Fort Jai Mandir wall details Jaipur - Amber Fort window details 
Jaipur - Amber Fort wall paintings Jaipur - Amber Fort details wall 

Next, we drove to Jal Mahal or Water Palace but it was only a drive because it is in the middle of a lake.  The Water Palace is not only majestic from afar. It is also framed by a tranquil lake and the mountains behind it. It makes for a great photo.
  Jaipur - Jal Mahal 

The next destination was Jantar Mantar. This place is the royal observatory containing nineteen astronomical instruments and the world's largest stone sundial. There was not a lot of sunlight in the beginning of our tour so we couldn't test the instruments because we needed shadows to determine the time. Luckily, the sun came out will lot of sunlight sometime during our tour there.
  Jaipur - Jantar Mantar sun dials 
Jaipur - Jantar Mantar gate Jaipur - Jantar Mantar sun dial Jaipur - Jantar Mantar more sun dial Jaipur - Jantar Mantar giant sun dial

The next part of the tour was the City Palace. This is another place that shows the opulence and the grandeur of the rulers of that time in India's history. The architecture style of the the Palace is a fusion of India, Moghul and European.  It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Like other palaces, this complex is composed of several gates, smaller palaces and many courtyards. My favorite just because I haven't seen anything like it in my tours so far in India were the giant silver urns. They were used by the Maharaja in his trip to England to carry water for drinking taken from the Ganges River.  
  Jaipur - City Palace facade 
Jaipur - City Palace tea pot Jaipur - City Palace gate details Jaipur - City Palace pink gate 
Jaipur - City Palace courtyard Jaipur - City Palace pink courtyard Jaipur - City Palace gates Jaipur - City Palace gate
We also met several local artisans and artists in one of the Palace halls.
Jaipur - City Palace artist 

Afterward, we drove by this beautiful structure called Hawa Mahal or  Palace of the Winds.
Jaipur - Hawa Mahal

We decided to eat lunch as the last part of our tour. Delicious dishes. We were told this type of cooking is in the Mughal style.
  Jaipur - Lunch 

I saw these murals on the walls of the rest stops on our way back to Delhi.
  Jaipur - Mural 2 
Jaipur - Mural 3 Jaipur - Mural 1

Jaipur is truly magical. I am absolutely in awe and I am very thankful for this experience.


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