Well yesterday was a bit of a battle but in the end we felt we had enjoyed ourselves and after having made a post dinner decision to upgrade our room to one with air conditioning we awoke excited for more. While the sights had been good in Jaipur we have to admit we expected more and we set off to Amber fort just outside the city.
There was a gaggle of rickshaw drivers stationed permanently outside our hostel and we had been forewarned by our host to make sure we haggled hard with them for they were notorious for charging high. We were scarred from all our arguments with them yesterday so booked an Uber. Usually we get to have a bit of friendly banter with the rickshaw drivers with lots of smiles but here in Jaipur there is more of an edge to it. It’s a bit sad as we haven’t experienced anything like it elsewhere and maybe it’s just down to the fact that these are probably the most popular tourist areas we are now visiting.
It was the usual exciting drive through the crazy traffic on our way to Amber Fort and by the time we had got there we were amazed as to the size of it. It was absolutely massive perched upon a hill top with walls spreading out in every direction. Once again we were mobbed as we got out of the car with demands for our tourist dollar and once again one or two no’s wasn’t enough so we tried to politely decline each one of them as we began our walk up the hill to the Fort.
I really enjoy our tactic of not looking at any photos of sights before we see them as it gives us much more of a sense of discovery when we arrive. The Amber Fort was no exception as we walked through the front gates to a huge courtyard, the first of many, which had stairs leading up from one side to a second entrance.
The first shock we had was the number of western tourists!! Having spent most of our time in India feeling like we were the only westerners in the country it was a bit strange to here all the English, American and European accents as we wandered around. To be fair it wasn’t that busy and we were able to wander freely around the Fort.
Once again in these Indian forts the exterior was plain and functional but inside the walls the place was decorated far more lavishly. There were painted walls and ornate doorways and you could imagine the Raj and his entourage living the high life within the safety of the huge exterior walls.
The third courtyard we came to was the most beautiful and contained a perfectly manicured garden on one side and the Jai Mander (Hall of Victory) on the other. This hall was decorated with marble and mirrors and the effect was beautiful. There wasn’t really a set route to walk around so we were able to just explore the rooms as we wanted and were able to climb through a veritable maze of passageways and stairs. It was actually quite fun and exciting.
It was great to see all the rooms where the entourage of the Raj would have lived and it was even interesting to see the toilets (things haven’t changed much in certain Indian public toilets in a long time) and the complex system of buckets and pipes which drew water up from a nearby well.
All in all we had a thoroughly great time exploring the fort and set off back to Jaipur. Outside we caught a rickshaw back and started with some friendly banter and had soon agreed a price. Once we were sat in the rickshaw however the driver casually changed the agreed price…I had had enough and so shouted that I was over it and that I was only going to pay what we agreed which was twice as much as we should have been paying anyway. Well they were all grinning at this stage and there was lots of assurances that it was all okay and of course we would get that price. It all settled down and we had a nice trip back and as we were getting out I asked if he had any change. The smile on his face was huge as he said no and was obviously expecting to pocket all the change…I have played this game a lot too though and was able to grin myself as I counted out the change in my pockets to pay him. It’s funny though as we shook hands as we parted as if it had all been some kind of game…I guess it is.
Our recent purchases of carpets, tapestries, sheets etc etc had meant that we had gained an extra bag so we decided to send it all back home. It has to have been one of the most bizarre visits to a DHL office we have had. The guys in the office insisted on packing the box for us and in the process said that they had to inspect every item. It wasn’t just that they inspected every item they also asked how much we had paid for them!! The worst was they were actually honest with their opinions as to how well we had done (or not). I think we passed though as most of the stuff we had managed to get for a fair price so we felt proud of ourselves. Let’s just hope it all arrives!
Back at the hostel our fantastic host Krishna, who spent almost all of his time bowing with his palms pressed together, offered to cook us dinner. He set us up on the rooftop with a beer and a bottle of water and we had a wonderful meal of curry and roti. T
Elephants were once used to attack this fort, now they are used to ferry tourists up and down.
The Fort looks as though it rises up out of the hill.
It all looks fairly impenetrable from the outside.
The entrance to the Palace on the inside was a while different story, absolutely beautiful.
Just simply a beautiful courtyard.
This area was where the Raj’s wives and concubines lived. Off of all of the walls are a series of apartments and rooms.
Incredible decorations adorning the walls too.
An animal, probably an oz would have driven this around to bring water up to the fort.
The pace was like a rabbit warren and the beauty of it was that we were allowed to explore where we wanted.
We stopped at this lake Palace on the way back. Yes that is rubbish in the foreground and I hope no one has to experience the stench we did while we looked at this sight. It is such a shame that some places are left to deteriorate in such a fashion.