Jaipur: The Pink City

November 14, 2015
Currently: In denial that I’ve almost completed two-thirds of my trip!

En route to Jaipur, we stopped by another palace created by Akbar. Quick recap: he’s the grandfather of the man who ordered the construction of the Taj. You might also remember him as the Mughal’s very own royal casanova. We ended up visiting another one of his palaces, Fatehpur Sikri. Despite all of his womanizing, Akbar had some serious problems conceiving a male heir. He tried everything, including a visit to a renowned holy man named Salim Chishti deep in the desert. With Salim’s blessings, Akbar finally received a son. His gratitude was so great that he decided to build a new city in his honor. Because that’s what Akbar does. He builds things. Fatehpur was only the capital for fourteen years before Akbar moved the capital to Lahore, claiming a water shortage in the area as the reason. Historians, however, debate that it was a political move to stifle an impending rebellion in Lahore. My personal theory is that he wasn’t happy enough with his 800 concubines in Fatehpur. That’s 4,200 shy of his Agra palace numbers. Now the place resembles a ghost town… well a ghost town filled with tourists during the day and local boys playing hide-and-seek at night.

 the main complex area
 Buland Darwaza – the main entrance into the palace, the highest gateway in the world (because Akbar doesn’t do second best)
Jama Masjid – mosque on the left and the white tomb of the holy man Salim Chishti on the right
 
I love architecture. I’ve totally been nerding out this whole trip. At the end of this trip, I really should count how many UNESCO World Heritage sites I made it to. Anyways, on to Jaipur which is known as the Pink City of India. A long time ago, some king decided he wanted his city to look nice for Queen Victoria so he decreed that everyone paint their houses pink. Our first photo stop, the Hawa Mahal (translation: Palace of Winds), gives you a great example of that iconic pink color. Excuse the Diwali decorations!
Our next stop was the Am(b)er Palace, which has more amazing architecture.
a section of the Ganesh Pol Gate couldn’t believe the quality and intricacies of this artwork
Sheesh Mahal, the mirrored palace – the definite highlight of the day for me!
view from the fort
 
Another quick photo stop was necessary to capture the ever famous Jal Mahal or Water Palace.
Next was the observatory Jantar Mantar, where our tour leader, Kate, geeked out on some science. To be fair, it was super cool. This place looks like a playground for grown ups, filled with 19 astronomical instruments that are exceedingly simple and exceedingly complex all at the same time. It has the world’s largest sundial accurate to two seconds, a pole star locator, and lots of other nerdy stuff that give information about location of planets and stars in relation to Jaipur. My favorite moment was standing around in the heat arguing over the accuracy of birth charts with the tour guide. After much circular discussion, our final conclusion came to this: If it’s not accurate, they did it wrong.
largest sundial
 
Our final stop was the City Palace, which holds more impressive architecture and courtyards inside. We were pretty knackered at this point… you know with all the arguing about astrology in the sun… so my enthusiasm was pretty low. But it’s a staple tourist destination in Jaipur so we trudged our tired, sweaty selves around the museums and courtyards. I did quite enjoy the beautiful gates in the Pritam Niwas Chowk. Four gates for four seasons and Hindu gods. Really beautiful work! I also enjoyed the irony of being able to take photos of the Hall of Private Audience but not the Hall of Public Audience.
 Chandra Mahal – the most commanding building in the complex; the building behind it is where the Royal family lives when it visits Jaipur
Southwest Lotus Gate dedicated to Lord Shiva-Parvati and representing summer
 
Jaipur is a beautiful city filled with so much history. It was a great last hurrah for the group before the official end to the second leg in Delhi. It’s crazy to think how quickly it’s flying by. I’m already close to only two weeks left here in India and I’m trying to soak up as much as I can without wearing myself down. Touristing is exhausting! But don’t take that as any sort of complaint. It’s just more motivation to keep on keeping on. I love India and I don’t want to miss out on any possible experience. Especially considering me sitting around doesn’t make for good blog posts.
 
Lots of love,
 
Lena

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