Think of all the negative stereotypes you have heard about India and I think you will have summed up our first day in Jaipur. Massive rubbish piles in the streets with people sifting through said rubbish, aggressive leery looking stares from men, huge amounts of very poor people and everyone trying to get money from you. In the citiy’s defense we had arrived on an overnight train that was that jerky I think my kidneys got bruises. So needless to say we didn’t get much sleep and were not in the right frame of mind to tackle an Indian city.
We arrived at the train station and had the usual issue with the rickshaw drivers, though one took it a step further sarcastically calling Tim a nice man because we went with another guy who quoted us a reasonable price.
After a little rest in our hotel we headed out. We were staying a few kilometers out of the old city. We arrived at the gates of the old town and were inundated with people trying to sell us stuff. Normally you can just say no thanks once or twice and they get the picture but these guys were on another level and were almost angry that we didn’t buy from them because we are rich Westerners in their eyes. Jaipur is part of the golden triangle of Deli and Agra (Taj Mahal) so they are a lot of tourists but that is no excuse.
The old city is called the pink city and I suppose after Jaisalmer and Jodphur we were expecting big things but were a little disappointed. It was just a little underwhelming and dirty really. Which sounds strange as it is India and yes the streets can be dirty but normally they are swept up every day. Here it just seemed to be everywhere and had been festering for a while. The red/pink buildings were all very tired looking and instead of giving it character it just made it look worn.
By this stage I had had enough so we caught an Uber to a restaurant near us and had some dinner which just to top off the day was pretty average. Serves us right going to a place recommended in the travel guide.
The next day we thought we would reset and start again. We headed into the old town again to check out the sites around there. The first stop was the Jantar Mantar which was an observatory built in 1728. The instruments were bizarre and other than the sun dials we didn’t have a clue what we were looking at. Unfortunately there were not any plaques so had to hire a guide, who to be fair left us a little enlightened but not by much.
We then headed to the city palace which was just across the road. In typical Jaipur money grabbing fashion the composite ticket which was supposed to get us in to all the sites didn’t include the palace. What’s more is that they were asking 4 times the price of anything we had paid previously in India. Luckily one of the girls working the gate came over and explained that there was a separate cheaper ticket to get into the grounds. But they way they had advertised it, it seemed as if foreigners needed the more expensive ticket. Cheeky little monkeys! At first we were not that impressed with the place having seen quite a lot of amazing palaces but we warmed to the scenery. The pink of the walls were really pretty and the courtyards with painted doors very regal. Unfortunately we didn’t warm to the touts constantly trying to sell us their guide services or some trinket. To make matters worse in that department all the guards were saying we could take photos of them in costume but we kept declining knowing what they wanted but just to make sure we took a photo of one and straight away his hand came out and demanded a tip, so we deleted the photo out of principle. By this stage we were feeling a little annoyed with Jaipur really. We made a joke that we couldn’t go 5 mins without someone aggressively trying to sell us something.
By this stage the temps had risen so we thought we would go see one more iconic landmark before heading back to the hotel. Hawa Mahal is Jaipur’s most iconic building. The 5 story building was built in 1799 by the Maharaja to allow ladies of the Royal household to watch the comings and goings of the city around it. Although quite nice on the inside we didn’t really see what all the fuss was about.
Back home we realised that the reason why we didn’t get the Hawa Mahal was because we were viewing it from the wrong side. Yes you can go in and climb up where the ladies would have been but you are supposed to see it from the outside. Whoops. We decided to go back in and have a look when it cooled down.
Feeling a little more rested we headed back out and decided to tackle the Bazaars which Jaipur is famous for. Precious stones, silver, textiles, shoes, you name it Jaipur sells it. As soon as we walked down the street we were accosted by shop owners but as we were feeling a little better it didn’t get to us as much. I suppose it was also because we were actually in the Bazaar area so it’s kind of expected. We had a great time talking to the shop owners and doing some bargaining for goods. As usual my bargaining skills were rubbish but I was saved by Tim who swooped in and got me a better deal. Though it must not have been that good because at another shop they asked how much we paid and they said it was a good price but then proceeded to sell me the same bangles in a different colour for that price so it couldn’t have been that good! This was proven the next day when I lightly leaned against something and one of my bangles broke. But we met some really nice people and had a great time looking at all the wonderful wares.
We then headed back to Hawa Mahal and viewed the right side and sure enough it was really beautiful. The place was lit up with lights showcasing the beautiful stonework on the facade. We then went to a nice locals’ restaurant and had some delicious curries. Jaipur you have slowly started to redeem yourself. S
Streets of Jaipur.
The biggest sun dial in the world according to our guide.
More astrological instruments. These ones were to do with star signs.
The archways and pink and white detail was just so delegate and beautiful.
More amazing painted detail.
All around old town the pink and white colours were continued.
Some of the amazing detail on the buildings.
The internal side of the Hawa Mahal.
Views from the top of Hawa Mahal. You can see the big sun dial and Palace in the background.
One of the gates leading into Old Town. Once upon a time the whole city sat within the walls.
The Bazaar. Jaipor’s market was slightly different than others we have seen as it was more ordered with the stalls being actual shops lining the street instead of the usual stalls everywhere.
Ladies getting Hanna painted on their arms. These guys were so quick in their work. We sat down and watched them for a few minutes just mesmerised.
Ta-da! The Hawa Mahal from the outside.
My delicious Makhania lassi served in a clay glass.